Thumbie Remigio is Talking Trail Running

This weekend the Asia Trail Master series goes to the Philippines for the first points race of the 2016 season. The Cordillera Mountain Ultra in Dalupirit, one hour from Baguio City, is a 50km mountain run featuring Mount Ugo. The Cordillera is an area with loads of sporting and hiking activity. One man who is omnipresent, either as an athlete or as an event organiser, is 42-year-old outdoor specialist Thumbie Remigio. Often, Thumbie is nicknamed the King of the Forest in his neighbourhood. The former mountaineer quite simply loves the trails and when competing in triathlon or duathlon races he needs to force himself to forget his natural dislike for asphalt. Or to dream of his next Xterra event. Thumbie Remigio has achieved a great pedigree in trail running, so let's see what he has to say in advance of this weekend's race.  

By K. Van de Velde

Thumbie's favourite running tunes

TR: I don’t really listen to music when I’m running. Running in the mountains heightens my senses and I want to hear all the natural sounds of the environment as much as possible. But if I really have to, I prefer the music of the “Ramones”, Red Hot Chili Pepper”, “Cold Play”, “U2” and “Maroon 5”.

Q: Where are you from in Philippines exactly?

TR: Quezon city, Metro Manila

Is running your favourite sport, or do you prefer the MTB?

I prefer both although I’ve been spending a lot of times running lately, but every time I finish a big trail race, I do cycling as my recovery exercise.

You are also part of an event organisation team called Adrenaline Multisport. Could you tell us a bit more about your company?

We are a race organizing company that specializes on off road running, cycling, adventure races and multi-sport races, we’ve been into it since 1999.

Do you have any sports idols, athletes you look up to?

I have a few, yes:  Scott Jurek and Kilian Jornet in running, John Howard and Ian Adamson in adventure racing, Peter Sagan and Fabian Cancellara in cycling, and Manolito Divina as my local running hero.

What is so special about the outdoors for you?

What draws me into the outdoors is the sense of freedom, and the quietness and beauty of nature. Running or mountainbiking takes me away from the noise and the stress of living in the city.

What does your training plan look like? Do you have a coach?

I’m an old school guy, I don’t really follow a structured training regimen, and my training depends on what I feel and think that I should do on a particular day.  This style doesn’t cause me too much pressure and makes me enjoy what I’m doing. Usually, my day consists of a run and a bike ride (road or trail) in the morning and strength and conditioning in the afternoon then I try to squeeze in playing Ultimate Frisbee and sport climbing at least twice a week. My Saturday is for long runs and my Sunday is for long rides. I don’t have a coach but I look at the internet for training plans, programs, tips and nutrition.

Do you pay attention to your food before a race? Are there any special products you take in preparation for your race?

I usually take a lot of fluids a week before a long race, I also do my carbo loading a week prior to the race and i also take protein supplement for my recovery before and after a race. During a race I prefer to bring my wife’s specially made banana bread, bacon and lots of energy gels.

Have you run and road marathons? If yes, what is your personal best time?

I’ve run a few road marathons and my PB time is 3:35

These days there are so many trail running events in the Philippines, also in the Cordillera. What is special about CMU?

What’s so special about the CMU is the beauty and vastness of the place; you get to see the other side of Mt. Ugo, which is not frequently used by hikers and runners. The race will bring out the best in every runner as the course is very challenging and is properly and well organized by the Cordillera Conservation Trust.

Have you taken part in trail races outside of Philippines already? Which ones?

I’ve been to the Mt. Fuji  race, Vibram HK 100 in Hong Kong, Mild 7 outdoor quest in China, Sabah adventure Challenge in Malaysia, River Kwai race in Thailand, Action Asia races in HK, Thailand and Macau, AXN races in Malaysia, HK and Singapore ,and so on.. 

What was your best and your worst experience as a trail runner?

Best: Running 100 miles in the mountains of the Cordilleras

Worst:  Running 100 miles in the mountains of the Cordilleras

What is your dream as a trail runner?

To be able to run and see more of the Philippine mountains and trails, and run beautiful trail races around the world. Help improve the lives of people living in the mountain through trail running and hope that someday, trail running in the Philippines will get more support from the government in the same way as with road running.

What do you think about the Asia Trail Master series?

ATM is now hugely popular among trail runners in Asia and around the world. It’s a very good way of promoting trail and mountain running across Asia and it increases the competitiveness of runners in the region. It also showcases beautiful trail races in Asia that draws the attention of runners from other regions of the world.

Manolito Divina, your compatriot, has just run an astonishingly quick 100 miles in Malaysia and is leading the 2016 ATM championship ranking. Do you see any runners who can or have beaten him in the Philippines?

Right now, Manolito is at the peak of his running career and with his discipline, focus, experience  and good attitude, I can’t see any local runner beating him for the next  3 or  4 more years.

This year in the ATMs, we have races on Luzon and also on Mindanao. Is there a difference between the two regions?

In Mindanao Mountains, you usually run on volcanoes (active and dormant), in jungle and dense forest. In Luzon, specifically in the Cordillera, you usually run on mossy and pine forest and grasslands. Most of the Philippines' high peaks are in Mindanao and Northern Luzon, the challenge and the experience for the runners depends on how the organizers will present the race and the organizers capability in managing and conducting a good race.

How is trail running regarded in your country's society? 

Before, it was treated as a dangerous, dirty and expensive activity but thanks to social media,trail running is getting a huge boost and becoming hugely popular among regular road runners, multi-sport athletes and adventure seekers. Also the proliferation of races everywhere helped a lot in raising the awareness and interest in the sport.

Why do you think Filippino people love sports so much? 

I think it’s natural to us because of our environment; we are surrounded by the sea and the mountains and our natural instinct dictates that we explore them by swimming, running and riding through them.

Would you like trail running to become an olympic sport in the future?

Why not? With Manolito’s success in the Asia Trail Masters, he has shown that Filipinos can compete at a higher level in the international trail running arena. Maybe we can get our 1st Olympic gold in trail running.

Good luck in CMU this weekend!