(1) The scenery. If you love to run then what better than getting to see the beautiful sights that rural Philippines has to offer? It is fun running through local villages and talk to the friendly locals, if only politely to ask for directions;
(2) The fresh air. Well, if you have ever run along Edsa then you know what I mean. Besides the great scenery you get to breathe fresh, clean air;
(3) It’s exciting. It can break up the monotony of pounding the pavement every day. What could be better than dodging cows, goats, caribou, horses and chickens? You have to run through creeks and rivers that fill your shoes with sand and make your shoes heavy. It is refreshing and exhilarating to run through the cold, crisp waters;
(4) Downhill’s equal strength. The benefit of running up hills is legendary. Everyone knows that you get stronger legs that way. It is true, but I think the best way to get stronger is to run fast down the hill you just reached the peak of. Downhill running tests your skill, balance and leg strength. It is a great way to get stronger. When running downhill I spread my arms out like a plane and then give it some. Oh what a feeling!;
(5) Camaraderie. When you are on the trail there is a unique bond with you and the other trail runners. You are all in this challenge together. You say hi, you smile, you offer encouragement and you enjoy it. You are all experiencing nature and that is a wonderful thing to share with your friends and strangers a like;
(6) The quiet. You can really reflect and think in the dark of early morning with only your heavy, laboured breathing for company. You think of life, love and all sorts of things. You especially think of your warm bed back in Manila and wonder why on earth you are out at 5am in the cold morning punishing yourself. Well, the answer is because it is fun, and the joy of finishing outweighs the pain of not even starting!;
(7) You see some funny sights. The funniest was to see a guy barefoot running over the harsh rocky trail. I cannot imagine doing that.
(8) Gratitude. When you are in the heart of nature you become a little more thankful for the glory of it. We sometimes take our farmers and their fresh produce for granted. A trail run helps you reassess your life, your priorities and what you should really be thankful for;
(9) Meeting new friends. I have met great friends through my running and triathlons. I met my great mate Wallen about 5 years ago at a local 21km road race, I met Alvin (pictured below) at the Love a Tree Trail run, and will make new friends as I continue to mix up my training for maximum enjoyment;
(10) Finishing! It is not easy to run a trail run. You have to adapt your running technique to the intricacies of the trail. You have to concentrate and have your wits about you. However, it is all worth it when you finally hit the finish line with a smile.