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Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon

Endured and enjoyed ZMUM. Not too bad for my first!

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, Zamboanga City

Standing there before the starting mark was quite exciting. I'm about to run my first 50 km ultra marathon in the mountains of Zamboanga and I hope for nothing but to finish the race below 10 hours target time without injuries. Kenn stood beside me. He too has his own target time, which meant that it would be a solo run for me. "Run your pace." He said. I nod. Then few seconds before the bell rang to send us off, we exchanged "Good luck" and "I love you".

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, Zamboanga City
50 km runners before the gun start

I started with a conservative pace while I shadow the first female runner. I conditioned to maintain my pace until I got ahead of her after turning a street and up towards an opening climb to Pasonanca Park.

I moved my way up with ease and with concentration while the sunrise illumine Pasonanca, giving it a mesmerizing morning scene. As I slowly transitioned my pace after hitting a steep, rocky road, a local female runner from Zamboanga was already behind me. In as much as I wanted to worry, I chose not to because I don't want to chase one's tail all the while depleting my energy. Thing is, I'm a novice in ultra-running and my first ultra marathon was somewhat experimental.

A beautiful representation of what have been ..

I reached the first aid station at Dulian Elementary School (7 km mark). I dropped by to douse water on my head, neck and back and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade. From here, I can already tell how Zamboanga Runners' Club care for the well-being of each runners. They were there not only to staff the station but also to make sure that the participants were accommodated properly. At the second aid station, I also did a little chitchat with the marshals while I refill my hydration. The station was placed in an intersection so I was confused which way to take, then they told me that I will take the road on their left later on my way back to the finish line at Palmeras Restaurant. For the meantime, I should follow the road ahead of me. It was a winding downhill few meters away from the station. I wanted to increase speed right at that time but I was being careful not to trigger my injury at that early. Later, I saw a runner representing BFP Dipolog. I learned that he and his team did a time trial before signing up for the event. They were able to complete the course in 10 hours so I thought that I would hit my target if I stick with him. I didn't ask but I regard him as my pacer from that point onward.

When we passed by houses, I noticed that the residents were out to show support. They were even shouting my bib number, "15! 15! 15!" It was flattering; maybe they also found it amazing to see another female runner after a number of male runners. When we reached Zambales AS at 20 km mark, the marshals offered us foods, liniment and massage. There were many food set on the table (as with the other AS) like arroz caldo, rice, hotdog, chicken, and pancit but I only ingested fruits and drank a cup of coke. Kenn said that their arroz caldo was delicious. I then sat on the bench to spray liniment and did a quick stretch. I was good to go but the BFP runner stayed behind to recuperate.

Two police runners joined me on the way to turnaround. The BFP runner was also catching up. The terrain towards the turnaround was quite a challenge as well. We have to passsteep road, slippery red soil, rocky terrain, and single track trails where we occasionally met motorcycle drivers having a hard time maneuvering. After what seemed like forever, we finally reached the 25 km turning point. I did same drill at the aid station then the guys went ahead back to Zambales AS while I  still wore my knee support. When I got back to Zambales, I ate fruits and a piece of chicken then I left. The guys stayed longer so I was running alone but later found new companions with runners from Ipil and Butuan City. We talked to distract fatigue but it seemed like we already knew each other for a long time.

Hours passed and the three of us were still on our way to Gulod de Medio. We knew that it was an uphill but we don't have any idea as to how steep it would be. So when we were already at it, we conserved our energy as we passed the open trail. Hitting the road towards the exit, Kuya Mike,  an 80 km runner approached us saying that he asked a resident up there as to where Gulod de Medio is and he was told that he was already far from where it is so he went down the hill again. Gulod de Medio is the open trail and we we're heading to the exit , which is the uphill. According to him, the marshal said to backtrack after Gulod but it was not it; maybe Kuya was already confused due to exhaustion. After such argument, we agreed to go up the 'kiss your knees' paved uphill on a high noon. Has someone ever managed to run up this route? It was very steep!

Having arrived at 12 km AS in between Dulian and Bandera Elementary School (the second station I mentioned about earlier) was a relief. We stand by to relax while the marshals helped us douse ice and refill our water.

We all made it a goal to reach the finish line at 2 pm. We were just talking, running and walking on our way back to Palmeras. We even took groufies at Pasonanca overlooking the city. Since our knees took its toll on us, we were already slowed down but then hey! We still endured and enjoyed Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon.

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, Zamboanga City
We clocked in at 9:36, Kuya  Mike clocked in at 15:35. Not too bad for my first ultra marathon!

Now, I would understand why there are less photos circulating online about different terrains of ZMUM. Have I seen its course photos, it would spoil my curiosity. :D I strongly believe that its best to experience Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon and not lose the essence of surprise and fun in running this event.

Check out official race results here: ZMUM 2017

All photos except the cover photo is credited to Zamboanga Runners' Club.

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