Monday, April 29, 2013


First of all, I want to thank this man, Mr Kam who motivated me to finish the race!
And all the photos herein credit to him.

Day  1 – Touched Down To Philippines

·         Air Asia flight cost RM372-00 (LCCT to Clark field) scheduled at 8.55pm departure on 18/4/2013 bound to clark, estimate journey of 4 hours.
This photo was taken on our back to Malaysia.

·         We reached Clark airport at 1.00am (19/4/2013). Queued to clear immigration appx 40 minutes or so
         Purchased handphone sime card ‘Globe’ telephone company at PHP320 for data plan (which later turned out to be futile).

·         Took a taxi ride at PHP100 to Dau bus terminal, 8km away from the airport which took us 20 to 30 minutes.
·         Reached Dau bus terminal around 2.30am. Searching for bus to Baguio City. Asking around but we’ve been pushed from the end to another without success. 

·         There was a sign of hope, the info that we get saying that a bus operator namely Victory Liner was going to Baguio City but the bus haven’t arrived yet. So we wait.

·         Suddenly, a guy who I had met earlier greeted me and said “sir, you go to Baguio?”, I said “yes”. And he pointed to a bus nearby – ‘Genesis’. There was a word “Baguio” placard at the bus windscreen arrived at 3.30am.

·         We stored our bag and hopped on the bus. Luckily I found a seat but not KAM, he has to sit with only half of his butt on the chair because he need to share the 2 seater seat  with existing passenger.
·         Apparently, all the bus came from other part of the island especially from Manila, making Dau Terminal as one of their temporary stops.
Genesis bus. Mr KAM later moved to better seat.

·         Journey to Baguio had brought us through long and winding road through mountains. The journey took about 4 hours plus at night, but we were told by our compatriot that their day journey was 5 to 6 hours.

·         The bus put on music of the oldies 70’s and 80’s like ABBA, bon jovi – we feel more relaxing though we can’t sleep properly thanks to the uncomfortable seat which was not designed for tall people like us. The seats are two close apart we can’t even bend our knees properly.

The taxi

Checking the Globe telco that I just bought.

·      We reached baguio town around 7 am – 7.30am. It’s cold. Immediately we halt a taxi and headed to our hotel, La Maja hotel located at no. 15, Outlook Drive, 4 -5 km away where we will spend 4 nights strategizing and rejuvenate.
·         La Maja Hotel - The lobby is an organized of old furniture, native seats, wooden shelves, panels and ceilings and potted plants on various nooks.
Dining Hall

Our hall

·         Baguio town, 1,601 metres above sea level and because of this high altitude, it had been proclaimed a summer capital of Philippines.

·         Reading from Wikipedia, an altitude sickness is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by exposure to low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude and it commonly occurs above 2,400 metres (8,000 feet). 

·    It has effect our Maggie instant noodle Cup and several air tight sealed packaging whereby the low air pressure had caused the intensity of the air inside. It looks like it gonna burst any minute.

·         Within 10 to 15 minutes arrived at the hotel, our Ultra marathoner Mr Ray and Mr Chin Ann welcomed us
·         Without further a due, we headed to the race site at Le Monet hotel in Camp John Hay where the race will be started as according to the organizer, the race kit will be distributed here. Unfortunately when we arrived, we were told that the race kit will be given at the briefing site i.e Azalea Hotel , 4-5km away. 
At the race site

·         I’ve registered TNF Singapore and TNF Thailand before and the race kit collection was at the race site.
·         It looks like in TNF Philippines, they practiced differently which had caused a lot of inconveniences to the participants.

·         As the briefing will be conducted a little later i.e at 3.00pm, we decided to kill the time by having lunch at Session Road (3 -5 km away). It’s just like Bukit Bintang in Malaysia.
Street vendor

Session road

·         Mr Ray and Mr Chin Ann took us at Mabini Road where there was a muslim community and they have this small eating restaurant. We had fried rice with scrambled egg. It’s yummy!
Waiting to be served

 ·         Then headed to SM Mall where we continued our glove hunting (its Mr Ray’s idea). It’s gonna be cold in the mountain.

How do I look?

After the loitering, we headed back to Azalea Hotel to attend the briefing

 The frontal area

    The cost of taxi ride around baguio town were between PHP 60 to PHP 80 (RM5 – RM8). Cheap! Moreover, we can share the cost among 4 of us..yeay!!

·         The briefing took about 1 hour, they also provided dinner buffet courtesy of Philippines tourism.
·         At the briefing we met with other fellow ultrarunners , Yim, Shine, Raymond, Michele and Agnes.

·         The setback of the organizer at the briefing were :
·          - There a lot of officials manning the counter but only few available with the participants lists.
·       -  The race kit for Online registration was only available 1 hour after (the briefing). Apparently, the race kit was coming from Manila by road. I think the organizer need to improve this
·         - Upon race kit collection, our numbers were not available (me and KAM). The numbers were not in their list. I don’t really know why. They just used unregistered numbers and make that ours. That settles it.

 Razif was ogling at the bebots

Step away marathon, this is endurance race!

·          Without having our dinner buffet at the briefing site because of the long queue, we decided to return back to hotel where we had our Brahim’s dinner courtesy of Mr Ray. 

·         We requested the hotel to heat the brahim’s chicken and beef curry prepare it for us . The rice was from the hotel at the cost of PHP25. Thanks Mr Ray for the scrumptious dinner. Mr Chin Ann however, joined other group for their dinner.

·         We need to sleep early because tomorrow the run will start at about 3.00am (100km) and 4.00am (50km).
·         The hotel is complete with Wifi connection so, we help ourselves with updates and messages to our loved one back home. Oh how I miss them so much!

·         In our room, preparing our gear for tomorrow’s race, nutrition, gel, bar, food, hydration etc,

What to expect for tomorrow's race: tadaaa.....
(100km route will be using the same route of 50km from AS 8 - 25km of it)

Day 2 – Race Day

·         Woke up at 12.00am. Mr Ray had an interrupted sleep probably due to the difficulty of the race course (he meticulously detailed the map back home)

Mr Chin Ann, KAM and me also woke up one after another. We headed to the race site, Le Monet hotel. We had been advised to bring a bit of cash for taxi fare back to hotel or buying food during race.

·         It’s freezing cold! I wore compression tights, dry fit salomon T, head buff, arm guard which had helped a little bit to contra the coldness but it’s just too damn cold!

·         As the 100km category started at 3.00am and we arrived at 2.00am, we make our way for compulsory inspection – hydration bag, food, blinkers, headlamp, phone, and whistle.

·         We decided to take photos of the runners and surrounding. Then, KAM and I break away from the crowd for a nice short nap at nearby hut in front of Le Monet Hotel.

·         It was dark and cold. Lying on the bench made of steel. A gust of chilly wind sometime breezed through
·         I can’t sleep though, just lied down to calm my mind and emotion.

·         We set the alarm 10 minutes before 3am, enough time to flag off our 100km compatriot – Yim, Shine, Ray and Chin Ann, but they nowhere to be seen.

·         And they’re off!! 100km runners with flickering lights disappearing to the dark woods.

·         KAM and I waited for another hour for our turn. We sat down on the cold pavement tried to make lousy conversation just to lift up the spirit.

·         It is time! 20 minutes before the start we already at the starting line. The announcer told us to switch on our head lamp and blinkers. And we’re off!

·       Running and walking slowly towards the woods behind Le Monet hotel. 1st section of the trail took us deeper in the forest. 

·         At strategic locations, there were race officials standing by to greet us and guided us to the correct path. It a long night for them.

·         Every 10 minutes or so I sipped my Hammer Perpetuem to keep me hydrated and become the source of energy. For the next 2 hours I will use this perpetuem (2 servings) mix with water (16 ounce) and 4 tabs of electrolytes, taken one each every half an hour.

A road beside loakan airport

Loakan Airport

·         Running for almost 2 hours, we reached Aid Station 10 at the Loakan Airport (1,311m). The time showed 6.00am. The distance 9.1km. It was bright, I turned off the blinkers and headlamp. Replenished my nutrition, this time it was Heed (3 servings) mix with 24 ounce of water, 4 tabs of electrolytes and Hammer Gel. Which I hope able to propelled me for the next 2 – 4 hours.

·         From Loakan Airport to the next Aid Station 9 was 5.8km through the rugged mountain, it was an unnoticed ascending and descending process. We began to run into a deep jungle. Endless Uphill and downhill.

compulsory pose with mountain background

The squatters zone. It's like a maze down here!

more hanging bridge

·         Reached Aid Station 9 (897 metre – Camp 6, Kennon Road)  in approximately in 1 hour plus or so. The distance was 14.1km. It was the lowest peak in the whole course. Didn’t stop here.
      This is Kennon Road, we need to turn left into the hanging bridge through the squatters leading to the mountain

·         From Aid Station 9 to Aid station 8 is 8.2km. So, I think I have enough fluid in my hydration pack to pursue. Continued through hanging bridge and up to the mountain Cabuyao.

The hanging bridge

·         It was a tiring and endless hope to reach the summit. I can’t run, I can’t breathe properly. My head was spinning. I felt giddy. But not my spirit. It’s too early to quit. Continued to climb.

·          Many fails attempt which I thought as the summit, all I encountered were giant rock and hills which telling me to go further and higher.
See that rock? and you thought the summit was  on that rock, ha, ha.....

We need to get to that tower

I thought we have reached the summit...but no. Few hikers along the way

·         The radar! I saw it in a distance. My hydration pack almost empty (3 servings of Heed). Damn! I need to get to the Radar. At one point I thought I reached the Aid Station 8, but it was a lookout point for hikers. Yet another setback.
 The radar on top - it is not a giant satellite dish as we thought it would be

·         I suffered 2  times of cramped on both of my thigh during the climb. Rested, massaged, rubbed and did whatever I can as a remedy. The cramps come and go as they pleased.

        Runners that completed the u-turn on their way back- unbelievable! They were ahead of us just like 2 hours!

·         Finally after gruelling 2 hours or so, I reached Aid Station 8 (1,988 metre). It’s on top of Mount Cabuyao. I’ve covered 23.1km at this point. The aid station was covered by mist. At some point I exhaled white smog. The time if I’m not mistaken was almost 10am. I’ve been running and climbing for 6 hours or so.

         Aid Station 8 was a food station, there were rice with soup, egg sandwich, instant noodle, sweet potatoes, banana, 100 plus and plain water. I stocked up my hydration pack with 100 plus isotonic drink and had egg sandwich.

·         The next station will be a U-turn point at 25km on top of Mount Santo Thomas the highest peak at 2,073 metre (another elevation map indicated that Mount Santo Thomas is 2,203 metres) and “it’s only 2.9km from here’, claimed the official. Oh really?

·         No time to lose, It’s 10.15 am (I think) and I’ve expected to reach the U-turn point in 6 hours. Oh well, thing not go as planned. 2.9km in 20 – 30 minutes should be ok. So, I shift the goal to  7 hours to reach the U-turn 25km mark. And off I go!

·         I’m running on structured concrete screed. It seems that in Philippines they used concrete instead of tarmac for their road.  The stretch mostly uphill. I will run when downhill and reduced to walking when going uphill.

just a little bit more

Check point with massage service

·         It’s an endless process of twist and turn uphill. I suffered twice of leg cramps here at the thigh. I can’t run. I can’t stop either. I need to do this. Every step I took was an agony. My spirit had long gone. I have few stops because of the cramp. Massaged it, relax a bit and continued – repeat a few times.

·         Adding salt to the injury, I’m also suffering from back pain which I ignored for few hours. It’s getting worse by the minute. I need a rest, a breather and where the hell is that U-turn!!

·         Finally, I reached the U-turn in 7 hours. The time was 11.00am. My cramps are gone but my headache and back pain were haunting me. Sadly to say that I succumbed to pain and thinking that if I continued the race, the pain will get worst and I will suffer a prolong injury. I don’t want to end up in hospital after the race. My flight is on Monday!.
Feeling dejected

End of the road soldier!

·         Then, I decided to quit. That’s it. No more running and suffering. I just tell the official that I want to quit and I can take a ride to the starting line, take a taxi to my hotel, sleep and laughing to all the suffering participants who still struggling to end the race. I will do that. You know what? It’s a relief if you had let it out your frustration and anger (plus cursing!).

·         I walked down to an abandoned house just beneath the U-turn point to take a rest. Need for a short nap also. I texted KAM saying that I’m gonna quit and can’t go on. I waited for him. I lied down. My heartbeat turned to normal. Few of the runners, even asked me if I’m ok or not in tagalog. I said I’m ok. Philipinians are friendly. Even most of the runners I met were jolly.

This is the most valuable photo!! I sat there thinking of my faith. Thanks KAM!
"Mama please don't cry, I will be alright"

·         Then 25 minutes later, KAM came with his stick and he was smiling! “ijam” he greeted. He made the U-turn and came back to sit with me. He viewed his message and said “ala, dah 25km dah separuh dah, buat apa nak quit?” (it’s already 25km, half way already, why do you need to quit). I explained that my headache, my cramps and my back pain had forced me to do it. I got no energy left.

·         Mr KAM then told me to take a rest a little bit and after this, follow him and we walk. And so I thought.
waiting for my turn...decided to moved on due to long queue.

·         About 5-10 minutes later, KAM and I walking down the hill. Mr KAM asked me to jog a bit when going downhill as not to pressure the feet’s impact compared to just walking. I said I can’t, he said try. So, I walked a little bit fast then moderately turn it into a slow jog, then, suddenly without notice I left kam by running ahead of him. When I turned, I saw him in a distance walking and chit-chatting with a runner.
We need to go to that tower (extreme right)...again.

·         I said to myself, thanks KAM, I’ll see you at the Aid Station as we agreed to take a long break there to have our instant noodle party. I walked fast. I ran. KAM wasn’t in my sight anymore.

·         I reached Aid Station 8 again (we have U-turned remember?). Replenished my hydration pack with 100 plus. Took electrolytes. Had the sweet potatoes. And sat down when suddenly I saw KAM. He’s fast!.

The best instant noodle we've ever tested!.

·         We rested for 20 minutes or so, having the instant noodle using straw and ogling at few amois to lighten up our weakened spirit. We have covered 28.2km at this point. It’s cloudy and mist. The time I think was 12.00pm or so.

·         It’s back on the trail for another 8.2km descend back to Aid Station 9. It’s gruelling process of going down the steep hills, using my bare feet as an absorbent to the pounding impact. Well, KAM has his pole to minimize the impact.

·         I’m ahead of KAM during the descent and getting farther by the minute. At one section, we were walking together and suddenly we were apart. 

·         I made few stops to manage the potential blister at my toes by covering it up with band aid (Plaster) as to reduce the friction. It worked!

Having a blister is a signal of interrupt run

·         There were runners along the way which either overtook us or we ran passed them. We reached Aid Station 9 few hours later (the lowest peak-camp 6, kennon road), I don’t really remember the time, I think it was 3 or 4 pm. We stopped a few minutes, administered our soreness and replenished our hydration pack with plain water. I still had the remaining 100 plus in my bladder. We had conquered 39.3km at this point.

·         We plodded on. It’s another 5.8km to Loakan Air Field – Aid Station 10. From the lowest peak, we need to ascend back to yet another mountain.

·         As we continued through the maze around the squatter area, series of stairs and straight to the last mountain. We should have expected this route when we first came through here. It’s still daunting considering our jelly-leg at this time. I can feel my feet were shaking. Having a breather was essential. It’s scorching hot!

 I got my sunburn for nothing

hello again..

·         When we reached the vegetables farm, I said to KAM that I wanted to have a rest and maybe a short nap. Too tired to move on. I found a spot. I lay on the ground. But KAM was reluctant to take a rest, I asked him to proceed first and I’ll catch up with him later.

The mountain vegetable farm

·         As I shut my eyes and ignoring the passing by runners, the official suddenly interrupted my peaceful nap and asked am I ok, do I feel head spinning or want to lie down in a proper location, he pointed out at a comfortable bench in a short distance. I said I’m ok.

valuable photo no. 2!!..a breather and short nap

·         I stood up shortly after and continued the climb. I can’t see KAM anymore. He way too far.  My climbed was a super slow. A few steps taken followed by a short break. Sipped the 100 plus. Noticed that other runners were using that method too.

·         It’s one hell of a climbed! My back pain is back with a vengeance! Luckily I got a bit of heating rub from a kind Fhilippino runner. Thanks man. Yup, the burning sensation at my back relieved the pain.

·         It’s me and the Philippino runner climbing together. Encouraging each other to continued. It’s us all alone in the mountain. The sun was getting down sooner than I thought!

·         I’m back in the dark forest all alone, I left the philippino runner somewhere back there. I ran with unbelievable feeling that I still have the energy. Well, it’s a second wind they might say.

·         But not for long, I can see Loakan air field on the left but I don’t seem to find my way through it. I need to follow the marker which led to more confusing trail. I ran, walked and repeat the process.

·         Running alone in an unknown forest was not good. At some point, I can’t find the marker and wondering whether I followed the correct path. Scary. I can’t imagine the 100km will be using the same trail as I am in the dark!!
saw this girl behind the tree, shading from the sun...(just before I met KAM)

·         Suddenly I saw KAM!! In a distance, a blurry figure was painstakingly climbing with his pole stick. I soon catch up with him. I said it’s been a while that you left me.

·         We reached Aid Station 10 (Loakan Airfield) few minutes later. The sun will be setting in an hour or two. We’ve being told that the finish line only 6km away. Huuray!! Replenished my bladder with 100 plus, gulping electrolytes and hammer perpetuem solid. The time I think was 5 pm plus.

Aid station 10

·         My feet were too weak to run. We walked – at fast pace. Through the Loakan airfield, we noticed it was a spot for leisure as we saw few peoples running, walking and playing.

I can't believed its another 6km more...

·         At the exit of the airport, the official told us it’s straight ahead then turn left. We continued to walk on the tarmac. Through the streets of houses.

KAM was taking photos of the local kids playing. He some sort of enjoyed it. 

                 I think this one was on our way back after loakan airport. The big water bottle on his shoulder was the real deal and the bottle on his right hand was just playing.

          This one during our initial stage after loakan airport. He begged for something maybe food. But I don't have one, pity him. This photo made a thousands words.

         At the squatters area, we saw both of them playing cards and KAM asked them to posed for the camera. They do understand the gestures. It made my day. Thinking of my kids back home.

On our way back...street basketball

          During our descent, at one of the section. If KAM was here at this point, I'm just in front of him, taking care of my blister.

·         It’s getting dark. Through the streets and back to the woods. We switched on the headlamp and blinkers. I can’t imagine that we had been running for 14 hours. The way back was a little bit different.
some 'blair witch project'

·         The forest led us to the finishing line as we could hear the pounding music and yet it seems so far. We huff and puff ascending the hill. We can’t imagine there were still hills at this point. 

·         It’s a total darkness!! Depending on KAM’s head lamp I followed behind. We reached Le Monet hotel shortly after and to the tarmac of the finishing line. We accidentally bumped into Raymond, Michele and Agnes, who cheered us to victory and be kind enough to snap our photos and video.

·         The announcer mentioned our numbers when we crossed the finish line in 15 hours and 3 minutes. What a relief! We made it!! The time was 7.03 pm.

We did it!
How come a sub-5 marathoners above did 15 hours for just 50km? Well...we got news for you...and it ain't pretty.

The emcee...
·          I do admit that I shed a few tears at some point in the trail after the failed attempt to DNF (did not finish) as to proof that I can finish this race.

·         Thanks to Kam for lifting up my spirit and if it not for your motivation, I think I will not complete this race. Thanks man ! and Thanks for letting me using your hiking pole stick for a little while.

·      We hailed a taxi back to hotel. It was a colossal task to get down the stairs due to muscle soreness. Showered and having our dinner of plain rice, scrambled egg and onion soup. I can’t eat that much, and leaving KAM to finish it all. I dozed off after that. End of race day.

 Mr Kam's youtube :

Day 3 – Post Race

·        Woke up early. 7.00am. As we about to have our breakfast, suddenly Ray appeared out of nowhere! He just completed the 100km race! We were worried about him and Chin Ann as the race course was too tough even for us 50km.

·       He joined us for breakfast. Again, the same menu last night as our breakfast with an additional tuna sandwich. As we’re enjoying the meal, we were surprised by Mr Chin Ann appearance! He too completed the 100km race!! 

·    Congratulations to both of them! It was not easy, it’s double the hardwork and the trainings. We never expected that there were so many climbing and the elevation was crazy.

·         KAM and I were expected to get our highly anticipated finishing medal and cert starting at 10am at the race site. Yes, another setback by the organizer on why they can’t present the medal during the finishing. It took all the trouble to get back there. Imagine if we had to leave early – we have to forget about the medal.
KAM, Dennis and Me (salute)

I'm proud of you.

With Mr Andrew (middle) the kind guy that gave me the heating rub. Thanks man

With Mr Dennis, one of the participant, thanks for the ride bro

With Mr Rico, he made it in 13 hours. He kept me company along the course.

Ms Michele and Mr Raymond. Ms Michele won 2nd place in 22km. Congrats!

With Mr Dennis and his friend. He traveled from Manila (I think). 13 of them.
·     At the race site, it’s a race day for 11 km and 22km categories. By the time we arrived, both categories already finished. We need to queue to get our medal and it’s a long queue! Under the scorching hot sun.

·        We bumped into other participants who we knew during yesterday’s race. Mingled with them. As soon as we get our medal and cert, we get back to hotel and sleep.

·         In the evening, I, KAM and Ray proceed to Angbalao Mall in our search for halal food. We expected a mamak stall or something as according to Ray’s research. And it turns out to be some sort of Pakistan food. Wohoo! We had tandoori bread, noodle soup and burger. Headed down to SM Mall by walking and running in the heavy rain to have our hot cuppa.

Tandoori bread...oh I love you!

I need all of it

With the owner

Ice tea...I wanchu..!

·         Not long after chin Ann joined us. Then we headed to Victory Liner bus station by walking. Trying to get the glimpse of next bus schedule the next day. We are returning home!

Day 4 – I’m Coming Home!

·       Woke up at 6am. We need to board a 7.40am bus to Dau terminal. 5 to 6 hours journey from Baguio. Our flight was at 4.45pm. Managed to get to Victory Liner bus station. Bought the tickets (PHP306) unfortunately our bus was on 8.40 schedules.

The bus was almost full when we got in

·         We had our breakfast upstairs where they have this cafe shop. Boarded our bus at 8.30am. The bus has wifi connection. Yay!

·      We reached Dau terminal about almost to 1pm. Plenty of time to spent before our flight. Get in touch with Yim, Shine and Chin Ann at Jobillee, some sort of fast food chain restaurant. Shine successfully ate ‘balut’ – local delicacy of boiled duck egg with half-complete embryo inside. Eww..!

 Boarding time!

Check In

   Let me remind you that there will be a terminal fee of PHP450 (RM35.70) which need to be paid before you can leave the airport.

At Dau terminal transition area

 Waiting for our flight

·       The flight returning to home was a smooth one. We touched down at LCCT in 3 hours 55 minutes, at 8.30pm or so. Having our dinner at garden cafe before boarding aerobus to KL Sentral. Honey, I’m finally home in one peace! Will I repeat the TNF Philippines? Maybe no...but I have a lot of tips those who attempt to...

The TNF Asia pacific series will continue....


  1. Congrats IJam. 50km finisher of TNF Singapore, TNF Thailand and now TNF Philippines.

    You did great buddy, proud of you.

    Gambar nanges kat Rumah dgn gambar tido atas trail tu memang priceless!

    1. ha, ha...aku lagi salute kat kau, chin ann, yim dgn shine buat 100km!
      Sapa2 yg dapat finish 100km kat philippines memang extraordinary punya people la...
      congrats bro..!
      Gambar tu akan ku kenang sampai bila2..kah, kah

  2. Congrats bro..

    Rasa byk air mata tumpah sblum tido kat semak tu.. hahahaha.. Good experiance.. tahun dpn mai buat 100 pulak..

    1. ish mana ada (cover line). Kau jgn buat naya...aku tak larat dah, maklumlah dah senja ni..ha, ha..

  3. Good job Ijam!! I knew you can do it, just need some butt kicking. I don't know how you felt, but taking photos actually made me forget the agony I faced during the race, thus I enjoyed it so much. I would like to race there again but the traveling to Baguio from Clark takes so much hassles :P

    1. mwahaha...!! I really need that ass-kicking.
      tak payah philippines, bagi geng pacat buat plak...kita pegi tempat lain...
      thanks bro
      Aku pun suka ambik gambar tp stressfull gila siot hari tu

  4. Replies
    1. Tengkiu..apa lagi, jom pegi race oversea