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Merrell Trail Adventure at It's Finest

The Adventure Run 2 Years Back

Two years ago, I got my taste of getting lost, talking to Carabao (water Buffalo) Marshals, finding our own way, and an excitement spoilage of finally crossing the finish line due to a detour towards the river boulders, which took me more than an hour for just a mere 5K trail run at Wawa, Montalban (more of the story from My 1st Trail Run). Then last year, victory revenge was reclaimed, more runners had fun and enjoyed the trails' challenge, and I learned more about trail running and got a Podium treat for a media award at Timberland, San Mateo (the story here).

Back then, I thought that the adventure of trails had its limit, and I have already conquered the adventure that I could get from running the trails -- specifically the challenges of the Merrell Adventure Run. So this year, I opted to increase my distance even if it takes me two (2) loops to complete the race course.

Given that it was already my third (3rd) time to run the trails of Timberland Heights, I thought I was already familiar with its hills and terrains; that even if the race route was different from the previous races, even with a waterfall, and an "imburnal", I thought that I will still get bored at the second loop. And given the past trail run experiences, I thought that this 3rd installment of Merrell Adventure Run will be much easier. But... with Typhoon Ambo on Sir Thumbie's side beginning Friday until the wee hours of the event day, just look what happened, I got buried, literally, at almost hips deep of orangey-muds along the course!

The 3rd Merrell Adventure

2012 Merrell Adventurers
The first few kilometers of the first loop seemed easy at first, the normal trails, and the same slippery tracks as last years'. But stepping on those sticky cake muds, even a minimalist shoe would gain a lot of weight, heavier than a normal trekking boots that you'll have to resort to a Bayani Casimiro-like tap dance to unload the bulky mud.

There were also river crossings, a lot of rivers with mother nature-formed sharp rocks of different levels of difficulty. Ropes were very essential and useful as one wrong move, wrong step, and a heavy slip might cause you a broken limb or perhaps, "see you down below"!

After the rivers, you will have to go back to the muddy surface, by of course, going up, up, and up, slippery up on some dark mud since the soil was nurtured with decomposed river-side trees and vegetations.

A muddy and slight uphill terrain was also part of the route, but before that, all runners must pass through a sewer full of cockroach and craps. Joking on that part! The sewer were slightly buried on watery yellow, or red, or orange mud however you see it, (I see it orange). Mother nature gave me a taste of unprocessed orange-milk breakfast (it tastes like mud though!).

Then comes the muddy-bloody uphill stretching to about 400 to 600 meters, that you wouldn't dare to run if you have not trained yourself with some weighted-hill repeats with crawling. Why? Because just a few steps going left at the top of the hill, comes the wet, wild, creamy mud obstacle that you have to pass, and it's required to crawl because you wouldn't also dare to step on those unstable bamboos.

Completing the first loop, I didn't realize that the second loop will be much harder to traverse, indeed it was more challenging. Besides the fact that I'll have to undergo the same obstacles as the first loop, the trails this time were already impassable by two legs alone. Even on four-limbs drive (including the arms), the muddy and slippery slopes would get your muscles, test your balance, and abuse your leg and core strength.

This second loop, gave me not just a heavy leg, but also a heavy chest. I was so concentrated on my balance, with the trails, where to step next, where to hold to, that I almost forgot to breathe deep and avoid the shortness of oxygen.

Almost dead-tired (photo by Jobert Dela Victoria)

Although this year's singlet was no way better or equal in quality than the previous two years, certainly, the 3rd Merrell Adventure Run really lived up to its monicker of adventure. Crossing the finish line, all I could think of was... nothing! I was blank for a few seconds while walking down towards the shower area - where I got a full reset and refreshed. But the fulfillment? Overflowing!

Unexpected Adventures

Oh, and the adventure didn't end there as my stubborn office-mate who registered for 21K category despite the given advice to take either the 5K or 10K as it is only his first trail run, was still left inside the trails. I was worried that he might have been injured for taking too long to cross the finish. Judging by the time, and seeing him on my second loop still about to complete his first loop, he wouldn't be able to make it until 12 noon. So at 11AM, I told Ms. Glaiza who generously offered their shuttle service to us (for the 3rd year) to go ahead. They left past 11AM after Vicky finished her magical "tadaaa" moment! Such a brave girl, you did it this year for the 2nd time, and now without malong and only jackets to cover you.

Going back to Roy, he arrived safely after almost 7 hours, with all booths, tarps, stage already packed out, and finish arch already getting dismantled. Absence of service going out from Timberland, we opted to ride with some of the stage crews on their truck going to Batasan. The ride was rougher than the trail run as the truck bounces roughly on the rough roads.

Take Home Loots

Everybody got their share of loots from sponsors, even those who crossed the finish line even after past 12noon still got their Finisher's medal. Wowww, that was really great! For me, aside from these, I get to take home the following:
  1. Two pails of mud from my shoes
  2. More than 3 pails of rinsed-off mud from my socks, shorts, and shirt
  3. Three soap rinses in two batch of my running apparels
  4. A resurrected Thorlos socks after three soap+clorox rinsing
  5. An arm full of minor scratches (left arm)
  6. A leg full of small wounds and scratches (right leg)
  7. DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) on my calves
  8. An accidental punch on my left cheek coming from another runner
  9. An adventure under the showers of Ambo
  10. Priceless fulfillment
Race Profile:
Distance: 21km Adventure Trail Run
Official Time: 03:03:26
Official Rank: 23rd out of 300+ Finishers

Race Info:
When: June 2, 2012.
Where: Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal
Event: Merrell Adventure Run 3

Race results may also be viewed from

Roy, still clueless of what he's about to face inside the trails
Allan, itching for the gun-start :)
with the ever-caring ladies of Agatep Associates, and Kuya Jay at the back =D
with the secretive Kuya Jay =)
Bearwin, also now into trail running
the new road kill, trail version
That's Roy, about to cross the finish line.
On the left, that's Kuya about to remove the final piece of the timer
Roy, bravely conquered his first trail run, Congratulations!
More photos may be found from my Facebook album.

Update (23Oct2013): Just recently found out after more than a year that there's an article from about this race, with my one-line testimonial on it. I remember though that the interview was made after I have crossed the finish line of the MAR 2011.


  1. Great post Atom... See you again on the next trail run... nakita kita eh kaso si peachy lang nakausap ko!

  2. hi Mhalot, sayang hindi kita nakita. Thanks for dropping by, see you on next events. :)

  3. Great post alfred! I agree with the brutality of the race and the priceless self-fullfillment :) will share this on facebook. Till we meet again.

  4. Wow! that was quite an adventure! Inggit much! hehehe! Dami pala naiuwi mo.. Mahal ang lupa ngayon don sa area n un ha. :)) Meron bang detergent soap n kasama ang loot bag? Sma ko nxt year ha.. :)

  5. You said so Edongski, and I'm glad to have seen you again. Thank you for sharing this on your facebook. Next adventure ulit, watch out for the Immuvit Fearless Trail Challenge ;)

  6. @DaddyCastle, yeap, super daming take-home, unfortunately, yung mga lupa nai-flush-out na sa inodoro haha. Detergent, wala eh, pero overflowing ung body wash na parang dishwashing soap sa shower area :D
    Why wait for next year? Abangan mo Immuvit Fearless Challenge coming very very SOON! :)


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