My baby brother Sonnyboy, who loves to bike on mountain trails in between med school exams, has been telling me about the trails of Barangay Budlaan for the longest time.
Listening to him describe his route with streams, a mini river and mountains, right in the middle of Cebu City's busy Talamban area makes the place sound mythical and almost unbelievable, until I ran the 4th leg of Columbia Eco Trail.
Budlaan is well known amongst bikers, but I've never heard of a foot race being held there before. Also, there is something truly hardcore about having to climb mountains and cross rivers to get to the finishline, which is why it piqued my interest and made me sign up for the Eco Trail Run.
There were no more than 100 runners at the starting line early morning of Saturday. I saw the “usual suspects” from the previous leg of Columbia's trail run series and quite a number of trail running newbies like June Rabin of Monster Radio BT 105.9 and Marget Fernan-Villarica.
It was a no frills race.. Runners were required to bring their own hydration system as there was only one hydration refilling station halfway through the route.
While this would have raised howls of protest (not to mention a bashing on social networking sites) in a road race, I heard none last Saturday. It still baffles me how trail runners accept this with nary a complaint.
My only explanation is that hydration will not be an issue as long as you are candid with runners from the very start and say -- “Hey, because of the race terrain we have very limited logistics. So, we advice you to provide for your own supplies.”
Or maybe, trail runners are either just made of more hardy stuff ; or they are just too smitten by the beauty of the trails hidden to most regular people (even most runners) that complaining about lack of water stations seems petty.
To say that the trails and the 2-kilometer river trek were pretty is an understatement. Yes, the 60-degree climb plus 400-meter elevation (as indicated on my Garmin F-305) was a bitch and the descents toe-crushing, but the view from the top was priceless and beautiful beyond words.
Despite the beauty of the trails, the growth of trail running in Cebu is still slow compared to the explosion of road running and racing. There are two reasons why regular roadies, despite the high mileage under their belt can be quite intimidated by the trails – fear of getting lost and getting injured.
In trail running, runners are expected navigate their way through the lush vegetation with nary a soul in sight relying only trail markers and a few marshals. Runners have to rely on gut. If you feel that you are lost, then you probably are. The only way to find your way back is to retrace your steps and find the last marker to get your bearings. As Tabugok Mountaineer so aptly puts it, “Dili jud day pwede sa Trail Run ang 'puro lakas walang utak"!”
As for getting injured, I have only this to say: The road and the trail both present equal amount of chances for getting injured. It is not the trail's fault. It's the way we run it and the shoes we wear while running on trail that's to blame if we get injured.
For those unfamiliar with Budlaan, it's the barangay between Talamban and Busay. Getting there is easy. Just hop on a jeepney going to Talamban and get off at Sunny Hills subdivision where motorcycles wait to take passengers on a 4.5-kilometer ride to Budlaan Barangay Hall.
Of course you can also help reduce your carbon footprint by running from your house to Sunny Hills then on to Budlaan. When the road forks, your left leads to La Tegola in Busay and the right leads to Pit-os. Just ask the locals for directions. Be sure to bring your own hydration system and energy bars as stores can be few and far between.