Monday, May 2, 2011

The North Face 100 (CamSur)

Josiah and the other podium finishers for the TNF100 men's 50K in Camsur

The TNF100 CamSur has just finished and I was there to witness its kickoff with a sound of a gunshot at 0400hrs on the 30th of April and its culmination with the limping runners and their blistered feet on May 1st. I saw familiar faces like those of Jules Picato ( who finished 4th in the women’s 50K event, Charina Javier who finished 4th in the women’s 22K and other runners in the 2nd Annual Hungduan Climbathon. I was there not to run but to bring a dream ready to be realized.
I heard of Josiah's story during my stay in their home last month
When I climbed Mt Tabayoc in April my guide Santiago Ballagan told me of his son Josiah who competed in this year’s Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association (CARAA) bringing home two medals—a silver and a bronze in the men’s 5000m and 3000m distance runs respectively. He was scheduled to run in the 2011 Palarong Pambansa in Dapitan this May but his coach told him of his inclusion in the team when they were already on the ship bound for Dapitan and we were already in CamSur. The moment I heard the boy’s story, I knew I’ve found the golden boy in Philippine sky running and trail running. I had no second thoughts signing him up for the 50K event as soon as I got back to Manila from Benguet. I believed in him! He doesn’t train to run. Running is his lifestyle. Growing up in a remote sitio in Ballay, Kabayan, Benguet, he is used to travelling more than 30 kilometers on foot and at altitudes over 2000masl. His vegetarian diet also reassured me that Manila runners don’t stand a chance against him!
training in Baguio
And so after my Bakun Trio during the Holy Week, I watched him train in Baguio for a couple of days. Then I brought him to Manila and got him accustomed to the weather and thick air. April 28, we headed for Camsur. We stayed at Moraville Hotel with Xerxis Tan and his friends, one of whom was Carlisle Carly Dizon who finished 3rd in the women’s 50K.  Josiah promised to finish the 50K race within five hours. We both believed that it was a generous time frame. He can run from his school near the DENR office in Ambangeg to his house in Ballay (more than 45 kilometers away) within four hours without hydration and elite foot gear.

The 50K race started at 0500hrs. The route was on the slope of Mt Isarog. Josiah led the pack during the first 20K of the race. He roused marshals in around seven tents along the trail and from time to time he would be stopped by the marshals and media people to have his pictures taken for promotional purposes or to be interviewed. After the 27K water/aide station, he came upon a fork—one trail goes up and the other, relatively flat. There was a sign on the upward trail so he followed it for about five hundred meters until he realized he couldn’t see other trail signs anymore. He backtracked and this was the time he was overtaken by the two runners from Bukidnon, who also had gotten lost in the earlier phase of the race.  According to the marshal that he talked to, the sign must have been moved by local pranksters the night before. The sign was situated next to a local’s house. In the remainder of the trail, his legs got cramped one after the other. This was the time the runner from Laguna overtook him. Some 100K runners, who were running the trail in the opposite direction, offered help while he sat for about thirty minutes. When he recovered, it was already a downhill run so the pain was not much of an ordeal. 
the 1st and 2nd placers in the men's 50K (both from Bukidnon)
He finished the race fourth with a time of 6 hours and 32 minutes (unofficial time)—seventeen minutes behind the runner from Laguna. And everyone should know that the 1st and 2nd placers in the 50K this year were 4th and 3rd placers respectively in last year’s 100K event. The 3rd placer was also a runner-up in last year’s 22K event while the 5th placer this year was, I heard, the defending champion for the 50K event. Indeed that was an impressive performance for a first timer in an ultramarathon. And even more impressive knowing that he could have done much better if only he had had better training and a better coach.
GMA 7 crew
When he finished the race, he was a favorite among interviewers and even his fellow runners. And the organizers were wondering why the interviewers kept going up to him and setting interviews with him and not the top three finishers. The interviewers and the runners in the lead pack couldn’t help asking ‘Anong nangyari sa’yo?’ (What happened to you?!). They were all expecting him to finish first. When you’re a runner, you know whom you can catch up with and whom you can’t. And trust me! It’s difficult to keep up with this boy’s pace.
He may not have earned a title in this year’s Thrill of the Trail but I promise you all that you’ll be seeing his name in lists of top five’s in many more trail running and sky running races to come. He’s just turned seventeen. He’s got a long bright future ahead of him!
the Kenyan who ruled the men's 100K
with the 52-year-old Eduardo Villanueva who finished 2nd in the men's 100K
complete list @ 


  1. I met Josiah during TNF! Such a happy aura around him and he's definitely fast! Will look forward to seeing him in other trail running events. Very nice post! ^_^

    P.S. I'm the 5th female finisher. Thanks for the special mention! :)

  2. Did I read it correct that you are the boy's mentor in that race? Congrats in finding your golden boy!

    He's our guide in our Tabayoc climb last Dec. 2009. My regards.

  3. @Jules..yep you're right! this boy has a very positive outlook on life...I actually told him off for being so worry-free the night before the race...he was always laughing and cracking jokes..I was more anxious as if I was the one racing. And that's what I learned from him that day...if you lose a race and you worried a lot, you lose more...when you laugh and lose, you never really lost!

  4. @BPS...thanks for dropping a line. Yep, I assumed the role of a mentor - a role that nobody wanted to take. He was a very good listener...i hope I did my part well! I know I'll do better next time!

  5. wow thank you for the special mention. I'm one of the other runners in the 2nd Annual Hungduan Climbathon.

  6. The best ka talaga sir..your full of adventures.. Your everywhere.. Idol.

  7. Injured ako that time. Pero blessing in disguise kasi balak ko talaga sumali nun. Pag nagkaganun, siguradong bugbog katawan ko. Di ko pa alam dati na mahirap pala ang 50K. Next year, hopefully walang injury this year, sasabak ako sa 50k sa Baguio. hehe


YOU deserve a holiday!
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