Posted by: prometheuscometh | April 28, 2009

Breaking in the North Face : My Bataan Run

It’s that time of the year again when we make that trek to the beach in Bagac, Bataan. This time we would be leaving on Saturday and staying til Monday which meant that I would have to do my long run there. I was not looking forward to doing this run alone as the last time I ventured outside the gates of the resort 2 years ago, I was chased down by dogs quite a number of times. However, I had skipped an easy run Friday and a workout Saturday that I needed to do this long run or be burdened with extreme guilt.

For this run, I was planning to use my The North Face Arnuva 50 Boa shoes which I had gotten last December but had not used much. Earlier in the month, I had signed up for The North Face Trail Run on May 24 and I wanted to break in these shoes so that I could use them for the 20 Km race. I was also planning to resurrect my North Face Xenon Hydration Belt which was buried in my closet so that I could carry more drinks, energy gels, cell phone, ID and money.

I was going to run 30 Km and I would start from the gate of the resort which was 3 Km away from the Philippine Japanese Friendship Tower, the other Kilometer Zero of the Bataan Death March. From there, I would just keep running until I hit 13.5 Km then turn back. I would most pass several barangays and likely reach Balanga but I would certainly not reach the junction to Mt. Samat.

I woke up at 5 a.m. and started my run at 5:30 a.m.. By that time, dawn was already breaking. There was no use running any earlier as the roads I would be passing did not have any street lights and would be too dark and possibly dangerous to run on. It was very quiet at the start as I passed the lonely road leading out of the resort. On each side of the road were rice paddies quiet except for the slowly shifting carabaos tethered to their posts. I actually took a photo of this scene but my phone was acting up and somehow the picture was not saved. I passed my first barrio and those who were awake early stared at the unusual presence in their midst. I just smiled and kept on running .

Let's Go!

Let's Go!

I reached the Filipino Japanese Friendship Tower and imagined the American and Filipino POW’s who were weary from several weeks of battle without food, water, medicine, or rest and would begin a journey many would not survive. I wondered where this road would lead me and I actually felt a little scared as I restarted my run.

The Philippine Japanese Friendship Tower in the Waking Sky

The Philippine Japanese Friendship Tower in the Waking Sky

It was an up and down affair with the road snaking around several hills or mountains. There were grassy shoulders which made running with the Arnuva’s perfect and in a lot of areas, the trees formed a canopy which shaded me from the sun. I saw the Bataan peninsula and the mountains around it come into view as I made my way to higher ground and marveled at the beauty of nature around me.

What Goes Down Must Come Up Later

What Goes Down Must Come Up Later

As is my habit in Manila, I ran towards oncoming traffic but I would cross to the other shoulder when the vehicles were coming headed from a blind curve and headed downwards. I felt more comfortable with the slower moving vehicles climbing the incline from behind me. I also crossed the road when I spotted dogs on my side. I would slow down to a walk and keep my head low trying not to startle them or make any move that would seem threatening. However, as the sun climbed higher, even the dogs chose to stay in indoors under the shade.

Over the Mountains

Over the Mountains

Since it was a Sunday morning, I encountered a lot of people heading out to attend the early mass. They were all dressed in their Sunday best and when a child broke off to join me in my run, you would hear a parent call him back before his clothes were soiled with dirt and sweat.

By this time, the sun was high up in the sky and I could feel the stinging heat on my skin. I had to wipe my eyes free of the sweat which flowed from my forehead as I had to constantly keep watch on the road ahead of me. Running uphill in the heat was torture which would be replaced by the bliss of wind in my face on the downhill stretch. I checked in with my wife at the 20th kilometer and when I told her I still had about an hour to go since I was 10 Km away, she was concerned that the heat may be too much and offered to pick me up. Of course I refused.

I drank 500 ml of sports drink going and another 500 ml coming back, but I had run out by the 20th kilometer. The TNF hydration belt carried 1 liter of fluid and I found it heavy for road races, but for a long run with no stop for refueling, it was more than up to the task. By the time I reached my 24th kilometer, I stopped by a sari-sari store and bought 2 bottles of mineral water which were surprisingly ice cold. In fact, one bottle was mostly ice which I kept for the remainder of my run while I drank the other empty.

The last 3 kilometers were hellish as they were run thru the open fields again with no shade to shelter me from the sun. The last kilometer itself was a tough climb and I actually ended up walking some of it as I could feel my heart pounding uncontrollably. When I came through the resort gates, the guards asked me how my run was and I could only muster a grumble that it had been good, but very hot.

From there, it was only a few more minutes to the beach. I took off my shoes which had remained quite comfortable throughout the run and took a dive  into the cool waters.



  1. Good Job Jay. Somehow I never do this when I go to the beach. I either kayak or swim and I call it crosstraining so I don’t feel so guilty.

    Maybe next ime I’ll do this.

    Regards Mark

  2. Nice run, nice route, and nice apparel too.

    See you at TNF100.

    God bless.

  3. Aw, I’m glad your shoes worked out for you. It sounds like a beautiful run.

  4. good run and nice roads. congrats! go! hardcore!

  5. Good run, Jay. Good times. See you again.

  6. You make it sound so easy to do a 30k run even with the heat. I like your description of the scenery and surroundings that you passed while running. This is one thing I should do when I get to visit our homeland, do a long run and enjoy the local scenery, people and nature. Can’t you carry a stick to ward off an aggressive dog? I just wonder, because I am afraid of dogs. I got bitten by one in my right leg when I was a young kid.

  7. Hi Jay. Hope that the getting away went well. For me, 30K seems like a long ways right now although I’m running about 60K a week now.

    Take care and we’ll talk soon!

  8. Hi Jay, how’s the tnf trail run training? see you in sacobia. are you gonna carry the hydration belt in tnf20k?

  9. Sorry to be away for so long guys. I hate to look at my blog when I’m not running.

    Mark – I am afraid of the open water hahahaha!

    Ronnie – You know the saying, ” If you’re not good, you might as well look good!”

    LGG – Thanks!

    BR – Thanks! Hope to run these roads with you guys one day.

    Vener – I missed this!

    Bong – I eventually built up my mileage til 30K is comfortable but the route had its challenges. As for the heat, I made sure that I hydrated continuously and stayed under the shade as much as possible.

    Jer – See you at the TNF race. I joined the 20 km trail run.

    Wayne – Nice to hear from you. Hope all is well despite the current economic situation.

  10. Ayus, see you at TNF. I am doing the 20k. .

    Regards Mark

  11. Wow nice run and great pics. How’d you like your Arnuva’s?

  12. Jaymie – They were good for different surfaces but the ultimate test will be TNF. See you!

  13. This brings me to an idea:…

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