(Sports editor’s note: CM50 runners who finished within the tight time barrier for the 50 Mile Category rightfully earns the title “BAD ASS”. CM50 is the Clark-Miyamit Falls Trail Ultra, the is the finale race of the Clark Miyamit (CM50Ultra) Trail Race Series. The race started in 2011. It consists of two categories: the 60K and the Bad Ass 50 miles. The term “BAD ASS” was coined during the first edition of in 2011 to refer to the difficulty of the addition of 20kms to make it a 50-mile course covering the hilly and rugged part from Aid Station 4 up to the peak (3kms to the caldera of Mt. Pinatubo) where there is no aid station (runners thus have to carry additional fuel and fluid) and the terrain is hilly, remote and almost inaccessible but scenic. It was fondly called “DNF Challenge”. To make it worse, the cut-off time was originally 16 hours (now 18 hours). In 2011, the attrition rate for finishers was a massive 75% (only a handful finished the DNF Challenge, er, 50 miles). To this date, the tradition continues and there is still no aid station in that 20-km part going to the peak. Source: http://www.cm50ultra.com/)
BONTOC, Mountain Province December 15 – The sun was high; the lahar in her shoes was becoming too heavy; the task of finishing the 60-kilometer run seemed close to impossible. Stopping and forgetting about it crossed her mind. But she persisted.
She remembered she has long prepared for this run, training despite the uncooperative weather the past months. She recalled her sacrifices – how she found time to prepare before and after work.
Prudence T. Chakas, a nurse at the Bontoc General Hospital and a not-so-avid fan of athletics in her younger years, has never felt the same pressure in the past races she joined. Only this time – the Clark-Miyamit Ultra Run 60k – which is her sixth race for this year. Many times along the 60 km run, she doubted if her month-long training was worth it. She hasn’t even reached half of the 60 km run and yet she was already losing her pace.
Giving up is perhaps one of the most tempting options any individual in an arduous situation can have. But Prudence didn’t heed to this temptation. Instead, the words of encouragement from her family, friends and colleagues flooded her mind pushing away the negative thoughts. She saw them cheering for her, driving her to continue the race. Along with these invigorating thoughts, she prayed for strength and she was able to compose herself, enabling her to finish her journey.
Eleven hours nine minutes and four seconds after she took her first step in the run under the scorching heat of the sun, she felt the ribbon on her waist as she crossed the finish line. Seizing the first place felt so surreal, she recalls, as she was also crowned “Bad-ass Certified” at Clark, Pampanga. Despite the undeniable difficulty she encountered in the race, Prudence says this is one of her favorite runs.
Growing up, Prudence was not really athletic. She was just one of the spectators in the audience during athletic meets. In her college years, however, she started running. She jogged with friends but she ran alone most of the time. Running for her was just one of her ways of keeping healthy. She didn’t think it could go beyond that.
After being employed in BGH in 2014, she was invited by her colleague and acting coach, Roland Wangwang, to join a race. Although she jogs and joins fun runs in her hometown, she hesitantly joined the Sagada Marathon Run in January 2015. At first, she thought it was just one of those fun runs, but to her surprise, she placed second in the 21km category. Having tasted her first triumph in the world of marathon runs, her interest in running became a passion. And she continued running and joining marathon runs not only in the province but in other provinces as well.
Marathon runs took her to various places. When she joined the Tawid Marathon Run in September 2015 and the Benguet Gold Rush on November 2015, she placed fourth. These two major marathon runs are participated in by hundreds of running enthusiasts from different parts of the country. Knowing that she didn’t yet have the proper training for those runs, she herself was in awe to actually land fourth on both runs. She says she was happy with the results, but more importantly, she was challenged, fuelling her passion for running.
Forging ahead in 2016, the lucky stars of Prudence didn’t seem to stop – in fact, they were just starting. On January, she joined the Sagada Marathon Run again, and this time she placed first. She braved the Mayoyao Mountain Trail Marathon at Mayoyao, Ifugao and she placed first again. It didn’t end there, though. She again dominated the podium during the Subic XtrailPilipinas 2016 in Subic Pampanga; the Cordillera Mountain Ultra in Itogon, Benguet; and the Rice Terraces Marathon in Hungduan, Ifugao.
In little more than a year’s time, Prudence has actually found something she never thought she’ll ever be passionate about. Her journey is a story to tell, from her first run of 21 km (Sagada Marathon Run) up to the 60 km (Clark Miyamit 60). But running is a sport most assume as a simple one. Contrary to this, it actually is a complex one, Prudence shares. Aside from a pair of proper running shoes, one has to know also the appropriate clothing and tools needed in running. Prudence admits she was not properly geared when she joined her first three marathon runs. But with the help of Roland and Google, she educated herself on the different gear needed for marathon runs. It paid off, of course, as it made her feel better when she runs.
But running isn’t just for the sake of running. For Prudence, the benefits of trail running outweigh its perceived difficulties. Physically expedient, running is a two-thumbs up. Prudence owes her physique to running. Before she started hitting the road, she says she easily gained weight and she used to be hypertensive. Her high blood pressure led to the point of her being given medication. Yet instead of taking the meds, she started running.
Mentally, running calms the mind. Most people feel great when they are one with nature. Through trail running, Prudence is given a chance to be with nature, and the scenic views help keep her worries and negative thoughts at bay. Work at most times can be demanding, and as a nurse Prudence can’t avoid being stressed. So after her shift (depending on her schedule) she hits the trails and destresses. Other than that, she discovered that through running, she can do more, that she can attain what she thinks is unattainable.
Spiritually, running taught her to have faith. Her numero uno fan, Mommy Elvie, imbibed in her to always have faith in the Almighty. During the CM50, Prudence almost gave up but she did not because of the people who believed in her. She believed that the Almighty did not bring her there to see how far she can go but to realize how much she believes in herself as well.
Running was also the gate for Prudence to meet new friends. The marathon runs were her opportunity to meet people not only from the Philippines but also from other countries.
With all the training and preparations for the runs, aside from the run itself, Prudence is not home always hence time with family and friends can be limited. Yet she is ever grateful that these same people are very understanding and supportive.
Her loved ones have pushed her to where she is right now, a hard-working nurse and a devoted runner. These two passions may not come hand in hand, but she managed to make ends meet. She makes sure her work is not sacrificed, she manages her time well and makes sure she balances everything.
Being the first female CM50 winner in the Province, she could not be any prouder for she is also the first female Igorot to top this looked-to event in Asia. And with all these successes we may ask, what else does she look forward to? Well, she dreams of testing her limits in joining The North Face 100, the first and most anticipated distance trail running series in the Asia Pacific region, and the Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTDMB), a single-stage mountain ultramarathon that takes place once a year and is regarded as one of the most difficult foot races in Europe following the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc through France, Italy and Switzerland. On the other hand, professionally, she aims to attend medical training and seminars which would boost her skills and morale as a nurse. Given the opportunity, she would like to test other grounds too.
Will she ever stop running? Maybe not. When she gets married, she means to lie low on running and concentrate on her future family. But of course, like the blood running through her veins, running will always be a part of her.
At 25, Prudence has proven that with determination and humility, one can achieve many things. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars,” so goes her mantra and favorite quote from Norman Vincent Peale.
The quote alone reflects here positive outlook in life. As she believes it is, we can become ambitious and at times we might fail; but despite these failures, we may still accomplish great things if we try. She hopes she inspires people, especially young women, to be and do what they want regardless of their work or profession if they keep their minds and hearts to it. Just like the runs, our dreams can go further down the road and may seem endless, but eventually, we will get to the finish line.
And so, what’s next for this bad-ass certified trail runner? As of this writing, she just conquered the Itogon trails during the Benguet Gold Rush. Let’s watch out for her next runs where she will for sure dominate at least one more time.
By Laycha K. Marra