Posted by: HighAltitude | May 28, 2009

The North Face 100 Challenge 2009: 20k trail run

Jerry Karundeng aka HighAltitudeI’m so fortunate that my picture is used as window poster in all The North Face shops in Manila 🙂

I’ve been faithfully attended all the races of The North Face in the past. Being a new freak ultra runner, I have to accept the fact that TNF100 this year was again fell on Saturday. How I wish that someday TNF100 would fall on at least Saturday night so that I could participate. Given no chance to my wish, 20k trail run is ultimately the option.

Compare to the previous two races in Nasugbu, I would say that the terrain in Sacobia is tougher and harder. Many race reports has blogged in regards to the race and this is my story…

I left Manila at 12.30pm. The race fever has been invaded my thoughts in the past two days. On my way, I was so surprised to see Bataan Death March km posts on the side of the road. My brain immediately recalled that fateful day when I passed those km markers. I could feel the mystic of Bataan Death March Ultramarathon as I passed that road. It was so strong that I could remember every single detail of that moment.

Having hard time to find the hotel, I phoned Mari, veteran BDM ultramarathon, and found out that I was in the wrong city. So, instead of taking a bus to Clark, I took a bus to Subic hahahaha…

4.30am, I found myself riding a shuttle prepared by the hotel to the starting line. A year ago, I broke my PR in 10k in this place, the 2008 Clark Freeport International Marathon. A place to remember…

There were crowded of runners at the start/finish area already when I arrived. I immediately inquired who has finished the TNF100 and discovered that Ed Villanueva, the champion of BDM ultramarathon, placed first and followed by Isidro, 5th placer of BDO ultramarathon and then Pepito, who was the champion of TNF100 last year. I also found out that many runners decided not to continue running due to bad weather and the tough terrain. However, all of them has finished the first loop, 50k, of the 100k distance, including some of the veteran BDO ultramarathon. Little did I know that there was a mini storm on Saturday which forced the race organizer to hold the race for about 2 hours.

5 minutes before the race started, I positioned myself in the front area together with Mari. As usual, the tension was so high. I was so excited to run in the lahars. Little did I know that it was tougher and harder. Thanks to Lester for the Gu.

TNF100 SacobiaStarting line of 20k runners. Thanks to Let for sending me this picture.

Having Coach Rio as the race director, the race starts on time. The runners ran through the cemented road for about 1k and it goes to a very narrow, slippery and descends trail leads to the lahars grounds and cogon grass. By this time, there were only 4 runners in front of me. Mari was already about 100m ahead of me. A runner passed me just before I stepped on the dirt road.

This is my first time to run in the lahars and crossing many rivers in Sacobia. As soon as I stepped on the lahars and rivers, my TNF BOA works very well. I didn’t care if my shoes and shocks will got wet, as a matter of fact, I love crossing the rivers though it slowed me down a little. Running in the lahars also serve a different experience. I enjoyed it very much and at the same time it was harder because of the loose sands. About 1k to the last water station before going up to a dirt road, another runner passed me.

Before we were guided to turn left to the sudden ascend with a rope, about 90 degrees up, I maintained my position as 6th placer. Yes, it was a sudden ascend where 20k runners should hold on the rope and I love uphill!!! After the ascend with a rope, I walked for a while and have a talk with a runner in front of me. I couldn’t recalled his name but I remember his face very well. When I started to run again, I overtook him. Reaching the downhill, I flew in 3.5 to 4 m/km. Thanks to the indigenous marshals, the  Aetas, who constantly giving me directions.

Reaching the highest point of the trail, I could see the runners down in a large bed of lahars running, walking and jumping. Touched down to the lahars again, I grabbed a bottle of water and keep pushing. While running against the current of 20k runners, they keep on reminding me that I placed 5th. Thanks for the encouraging words…

Somehow, there is an advantage of running behind. I could see that some runners ahead of me were still choosing a right pathway and tried to avoid rivers. In this way, they were making a big curve instead of tangent. I took the advantage of running by making a tangent line instead of a curve.

Somewhere about km15, a marshal guided me to turn left off from the lahars bed. However, before making a turn, I saw two runners who were ahead didn’t making a turn. The marshal was trying to called them back and made a turn. I took this advantage to sped up. Another sudden hill, but this time no rope was put there. Upon reaching the dirt road which was relatively flat and gradual descend, I sped up again to make sure that the two runners who got lost could not catch me up again.

I’ve noticed there was not a single water station on the first uphill to a narrow dirt road after the old bridge. And there was no water station also on the second dirt road where the 10k and 20k runners would merge each others. I remember I asked water from 10k runners for two times. Thanks to the two guys for the Gatorade and a lady for the water. This was the best moment for me.

It was a good run. I enjoyed the new experience running in lahars and crossing the rivers. During the awarding ceremony, my name was called to the podium. I placed 3rd overall and that was unexpected podium finish for me. Actually, I finished the 4th. However, later I knew that the 2nd placer was disqualified from the race. Probably, he got lost and took shortcut to the finish line.

Jerry Karundeng aka HighAltitudeApproaching to the finish line according to Let.

Jerry Karundeng aka HighAltitudeA few seconds after crossing the finish line according to Jay.

Jerry Karundeng aka HighAltitudePodium finish, 3rd place overall. Let, thanks a lot for this picture.

After the awarding ceremony, Mari and I discovered a problem. There was an unfairness in the awarding system. Mari who place the 2nd overall got only P. 3,000.00 gift certificate and a Nalgene bottle. I myself got P. 2,000.00 gift certificate and a Sea to Summit towel. However, the age category winner of 10k and 20k got P. 5,000.00 gift certificate and a Timex watch.

We thought that that was just a mistake. But when brought this to issue to Jundel of TNF, he gave us ‘unreasonable’ answer. According to him, they just want to award the age category winners. What in the world that age category winners has bigger prizes then to the overall winners? Never in my running experience this awarding system happen… never… even to the previous two TNF trail run, this was never happen. When I got home, I’ve noticed that there is label on the bag that I received during the awarding and the label was “20k Male 18-30 3rd place”. I texted Mari and informed him about this, the label was the same but for 2nd place.

C’mon Jundel…

If only we knew the awarding system would be like that, we could have been just wait a meter from the finish line and let other one or two runners pass us and then we would cross the finish line.

That is so unrealistic awarding system…

Once again, the terrain was perfect but the awarding system was a big mistakes.



  1. Congrats on the strong finish Jerry. Sad to know that your awards didn’t get well. Anyway, your posters made the difference. I haven’t seen any of it yet, i hardly go to tnf stores. See you again.

  2. Congratulations on your podium finish Jerry! Must have been quite the experience! Wish I could have run it with you guys. Sorry to hear about the raw deal you guys got with the prizes though 😦 Hope to run again with you soon!



  3. you’re very much welcome and congratulations on your podium finish. hope to meet you personally (no more hide and seek, hahaha)

  4. congratulations! just remember that there is no “perfect” race in the country. somebody messed up with the awards. see you at MILO

  5. Good running picture and great recap. Way to keep pushing and finishing strong. You were in the chase the whole time, not simply surviving the run. Congratulations on the podium finish. Too bad about the awards. I hope these are just growing pains for the TNF race.

  6. Go Jerry! Congrats on a great race and looks like you had fun too! Sorry to hear that the awards things spoiled it a bit but let’s move on to the next race! MILO!!!

  7. Jerry, congratulations on the podium finish. That was quite a weekend with the weather and all of that. Also, great photos by Let.

    Take care and have a good weekend ahead!

  8. Hi Jerry,

    Congrats again! The awarding system was really a mess. As I observed, they were so tentative and not sure what to do or what to announce.

    But do not be sad anymore, your poster in all TNF stores will make you a celebrity soon. See you!

  9. Thanks a lot guys. I should admit that the awarding system spoiled that fateful day a little. However, that should not be a problem.

    BR is right, there is no perfect race. Above all, to enjoy the run is more important.

    Keep on running!

  10. Congratulations… I never thouhgt you will be running here until I saw you… I placed 95th and you were 3rd… Oh boy, need to practice and train harder… but when would ever that be… haha!

  11. Hi Rodel, I love trail run so much so I don’t wanna miss this race. Just keep on running bro hehehe You’ll be there soon.

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