In Activities Itinerary Zamboanga City Zamboanga Peninsula

The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City - Sta Cruz Island

The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City - Sta Cruz Island

Out of town races makes me excited. It gives me the privilege to wander around places I've never been to or revisit places I'm already familiar with, all the while humbling myself in the heights of the mountains. So when Kenn asked if I would run Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, I said yes, not in a heartbeat but pretty much with conviction and we both know why.

It is our first time in Zamboanga City or the so-called Asia's Latin City. Weeks prior to this trip while we're both busy training, I managed to hop in on the blogosphere to see what we could possibly do during our free time. There are too many recommendations that I would love to experience first-hand but what got me the most is the pink sand beach of Zamboanga City.

The Pink Sand Beach of Zamboanga City - Sta Cruz Island

This pink-blush sand beach is called as the Great Sta Cruz Island. It is said to be the twin island of Little Sta Cruz and is governed by Protected Area Management Unit (PAMU) of City Mayor's Office. Normally, you would not see shades of pink in photos but you can observe plenty of crushed red organ-pipe coral (personally) mixed on white sand, which makes it look blush or pink-blush.

Sta Cruz Island is just one out of two pink sand beaches known in Mindanao. It is a protected area where people who would go there are regulated and are allowed as early as 7am but should leave there by 2 pm for the tides going back to the berthing place could get rough. Although it does not  have a pure pink sand (like how you imagine it to be), Nat Geo Travel recognized it as one of the best beaches in the world. 

Paseo del Mar, Zamboanga City
Morning view at Paseo del Mar.

How To Get to The Pink Sand Beach - Sta Cruz Island (Booking System)

  • Book at the Registration Counter/Kiosk located at Paseo del Mar or thru the official designated number 0977-708-3194, at least one day prior to your desired date of visit.
  • Booking time is from 7am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday, including holidays except when registry is officially suspended.
  • During booking arrangements, fill up a form with the following information: 
  1. Date of visit (including preferred time of arrival at the registration counter and time of departure from the island.)
  2. Definite number of guests
  3. Preferred cottage (a beach map will be provided)
  4. Contact number
  • You will still fill up a manifest form at the registration site during the actual date of visit, but if in case your group will exceed 50 members, you may request for an advance copy of manifest form which is to be submitted on the day of the visit to avoid registration hassles.
  • Group with less than 10 members may join other group, but the dominant group with an advanced booking shall decide whether they will allow others to join their group as long as the fusion will not require additional transport service.
Note: Guests with reservations are allowed to join groups with advanced booking. Walk-ins will only be allowed to join other walk-ins.
  • Walk-ins or chance passengers will be accommodated on a first-come-first-serve basis.
  • For guests with advance booking. On the day of visit, you are required to to notify the assigned receptionist 30 minutes before your preferred time of arrival at the counter. If delay is inevitable, time of departure may be flexed to your advantage, only if there is prior notice.
  • In case you fail to notify the receptionist 30 minutes after your appointed time of arrival to the registration counter and remained non-responsive thereafter, your booking will be rendered void. The same schedule will be made available for walk-ins or chance passengers of the day. 
  • Entrance fee: P20.00 per pax
  • Terminal fee: P5.00 per pax
  • Boat fee: P100.00 per pax (1-10 persons)
  • Cottages: Small, P100.00, 4-6 pax
  • Large, P200.00, 8-12 pax
  • Pavilion, P500.00, 20-40 pax

Vinta, Zamboanga City

The Great and Little Sta Cruz Protected Landscape and Seascape, Zamboanga City
In this Island, we are only allowed to walk on the sand bar and take pictures in less than 15 minutes.

Things To Do at Sta Cruz Island

  1. Shop for souvenirs and authentic pearls. Most of the items are made out of old coins. The local vendors hand crafted most of it and guaranreed that it would not easily fade. Kenn also affirmed the authenticity of the pearls when two stones chalked when rubbed against each other.
  2. Island hopping. Our tour guide took us in a secluded and protected island where we were only allowed to stay for less than 15 minutes to take pictures.  Swimming is also prohibited because opposing currents might cause accident. From the island, we can clearly see the port of Zamboanga on the other side so imagine how deep the water could be.
  3. Watch the locals perform Pangalay Kulintangan. After eating lunch, I was enthralled to see vintas coming in sync with thw instrumental music playing near us. When it got closer, I realized there were performers on board. The entire guests gathered to watch the locals as they perform Pangalay Kulintangan, a traditional fingernail dance of the Tausug people in the Sulu archipelago and Sabah. (Source) Show performance like this is requested at the Department of Tourism during booking arrangements.
  4. Play volleyball. Swim. Snorkel. There's certainly a lot of things to do here to enjoy!

Having a pink-blush sand beach is a good diversion to see something new, something different from the fine white sand beaches that we Filipinos are accustomed to. The great Sta Cruz Island is just one out of two famous pink sand beaches that we have in Mindanao and it is also included in Nat Geo Travel's list of best beaches in the world. Curious? You should go, see it for yourself.


Zamboanga Runners' Club in partnership with Department of Tourism Region IX made our Sta Cruz Island tour possible. All opinions expressed herein are mine and general information is/are linked to direct source.

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In Activities Alubijid Misamis Oriental

Baloyon Falls: Hidden Gem of Alubijid Municipality

In a quaint town of Alubijid, Misamis Oriental, I fell in love with Baloyon Falls, a place where I spent quality time with my partner and our friend. How I discovered this place is not by any coincidence.

Baloyon Falls, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental
Baloyon Falls, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental
Beer, friends, and falls.

On a Saturday morning after eating breakfast at Humbaan ni Aling Violy in Cogon Market, we went to my boarding house to wash up and pack things, then later we went to Bulua Terminal where we need to ride a bus on our way to Alubijid municipality. 

The trip should only take 30 minutes but due to road widening at Opol, it took us almost an hour until we finally took off the bus to ride habal-habal that would then take us to Barangay Tula.

Upon arrival at the barangay, we greeted the locals and informed them of our purpose - to climb and run Mt Salumayagon. For those who didn't know, hikers will get to pass by Baloyon falls on their way back to Barangay Tula. That's the reason why we also have the chance to spend an hour of good time here.

Baloyon Falls, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental

Baloyon Falls is tucked 2 kilometers away from Barangay Tula. It boasts of pristine, clean and cold water. It is also popular among the locals of Alubijid and its neighboring municipalities.

Going there requires an easy trek and I would recommend that first-timers should have a local guide since the trail could get confusing. As for us, we were able to drop by Baloyon on our way back to the jump off  coming from Mt Salumagayon. We didn't ask for a guide because among us three, Kuya Paul have been here many times and he was already too familiar with the trail.

A post shared by Johanns Cordita ツ (@sightseerpinay) on
Disclaimer: Embedded photo is Instagram-filtered.

The cascading water of Baloyon Falls looks short and the basin shallow. Yet official blog of Alubijid municipality claimed the falls to be 15 ft in height and the catch basin 20 ft in depth. Accordingly, the falls is also called Kasilihon Falls which is derived from Kasili (sea snakes) and named as such because kasilis were abundant here in the past.

Baloyon Falls, Alubijid, Misamis Oriental
First tier.

If you wish, you can also climb the cliff to see the first tier of the falls. It has two cascades and is a bit secluded which I find perfect for blogger poses. However, the basin gets shallow on some days which is not ideal for swimming, not to mention there were also many insects up here. I think that could be the reason why aside from being the main attraction, people prefer to swim at the second tier of Baloyon Falls (as seen in most photos featured in this post).

Here's how the basin looked like from the cliff:

Baloyon Falls: Hidden Gem of Alubijid Municipality

Baloyon Falls: Hidden Gem of Alubijid Municipality

* I'm still processing the video for this post. Check back when it's ready. For the meantime, lemme show you the trailer I uploaded on FB through this link.

Overall, I find Baloyon Falls a hidden gem of Alubijid municipality. It is a gem where only less people get to marvel at its beauty. It is a gem that should be experienced by many because it's a happy place to be; but whoever visit here should be a responsible tourist because few people who have been here just left their trashes behind and it sucks.. :( So I hope that this place gets promoted and maintained as it deserves to be.

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In Activities Alubijid Misamis Oriental

Mt Salumayagon Day Hike and Trail Run

Mt Salumayagon Day Hike and Trail Run, Mt Salumayagon in Alubijid, MIsamis Oriental

Mt Salumayagon, your budget-friendly hiking destination in Misamis Oriental.

They say that the best love you have is the one that comes unexpected. Is it true? Or it would depend if the two people involved want to work it out? Anyway, as Kenn and I celebrate our 4th year anniversary, we decided to break our monthly date over food. We invited our friend Kuya Paul to spend the weekend hiking and running Mt Salumayagon in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental.

We also did this for the following reasons: 1) to prepare for Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, 2) to unwind after a rough week, 3) to catch up with our big brother, 4) and most of all, to get back into where we started - outdoor adventure.

Mt Salumayagon

Mt Salumayagon is a hiking destination close to Cagayan de Oro. The trail is varied yet easy and beginner-friendly. Usually, overall trek takes about five hours - three hours going to campsite, then another two hours descend back to the jump off area. As for us, it only took us two hours up the campsite since we also had a short trail run. Same time was consumed on our descent then we spent another hour at Baloyon Falls (which I tackled in a separate post).

Mt Salumayagon Open Trail, Mt Salumayagon Day Hike and Trail Run, Mt Salumayagon in Alubijid, MIsamis Oriental
Open trail? Keep walking, it would be over before you even know it.

The Trail

Though not a walk in the park, the trail is seemingly easy yet beautifully varied. Imagine yourself climbing up a spiral staircase with pebbles, large stones, mud, dry soil, and dried leaves along the way. 😅Sweet or sweat?

Mt Salumayagon Shaded Trail, Mt Salumayagon Day Hike and Trail Run, Mt Salumayagon in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental
This one's a favorite trail - the soil covered with dried leaves is easy on the legs. This shaded trail is also a sign that the campsite is just a few kilometers away. 

The Campsite

According to Kuya Paul, staying there at night is nice. The cold night is very calming and watching sunrise is mesmerizing. I didn't have the chance to experience that though but for me, being able to experience the beauty and the silence of Mt Salumayagon in a short time is already a bliss.

Lake Danao, campsite of Mt Salumayagon, Mt Salumayagon Day Hike and Trail Run, Mt Salumayagon in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental
Just a short walk down the campsite is Lake Danao.

BTW, if planning to stay overnight, one need not to worry about tents because a big hut complete with dirty kitchen, verandah, and a room is built at the campsite. I think it's big enough for a group of 10-15 people (based on my estimate, given that it's also cold at night). Having a local guide is necessary because they know where to fetch water up in there.

Mt Salumayagon Day Hike and Trail Run, Mt Salumayagon in Alubijid, Misamis Oriental

The Descend

After eating lunch and taking a short rest at the hut, we we're heading back to Barangay Tula by taking another route. On our way down, we passed by a falls where we stayed for another hour and have a good time.


If you think this hiking destination will cost you much money, you're wrong. Mt Salumayagon is your one-day adventure where you can only spend P310.00. Why so? All you can spend here is your transportation fee not unless you decide to ask for a guide. We also brought our own trail food - we have one can of paella each, because again, we also did this as training for our upcoming race - and water.

How to get there

  • From Bulua terminal, take a bus bound to Iligan City or any routes that will pass by CDO-Iligan highway. Riding an air-conditioned bus is not necessary since Alubijid municipality is just 30 minutes away from Cagayan de Oro. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Laguindingan bus stop. Fare, P35.00.
  • Once at the bus stop, cross the roads using the overpass. Walk few meters to where motorcycles or habal-habal parked then ask the drivers to take you to Barangay Tula. Travel time, one hour. Fare, P70.00.
Take note that the budget stated herein is an actual and cheapest fare coming from Cagayan de Oro. If you prefer van rides, to and fro CDO is P50.00. Also know that Mt Salumayagon is politically located in the municipality of Alubijid but the best entry point to Barangay Tula is from Laguindingan bus stop.

Oh, and hello from the three of us! :)

I felt liberated being able to run and trek the mountain together with my better half and our reliable friend. Upon reaching the campsite, what was once a tale I used to hear has become a story yet to tell - nothing fancy, purely magical experience - a state of calmness I enountered while I was there. I believe the whisper of the winds transcending over silence made it a good place to attain peace of mind.

Do you also want to experience this kind of bliss but on a tight budget? Consider Mt Salumayagon on your weekend adventure.

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In Running Zamboanga City Zamboanga Peninsula

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon

Endured and enjoyed ZMUM. Not too bad for my first!

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, Zamboanga City
Standing there before the starting mark was quite exciting. I'm about to run my first 50 km ultra marathon in the mountains of Zamboanga and I hope for nothing but to finish the race below 10 hours target time without injuries. Kenn stood beside me. He too has his own target time, which meant that it would be a solo run for me. "Run your pace." He said. I nod. Then few seconds before the bell rang to send us off, we exchanged "Good luck" and "I love you".

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, Zamboanga City
50 km runners before the gun start

I started with a conservative pace while I shadow the first female runner. I conditioned to maintain my pace until I got ahead of her after turning a street and up towards an opening climb to Pasonanca Park.

I moved my way up with ease and with concentration while the sunrise illumine Pasonanca, giving it a mesmerizing morning scene. As I slowly transitioned my pace after hitting a steep, rocky road, a local female runner from Zamboanga was already behind me. In as much as I wanted to worry, I chose not to because I don't want to chase one's tail all the while depleting my energy. Thing is, I'm a novice in ultra-running and my first ultra marathon was somewhat experimental.

A beautiful representation of what have been ..

I reached the first aid station at Dulian Elementary School (7 km mark). I dropped by to douse water on my head, neck and back and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade. From here, I can already tell how Zamboanga Runners' Club care for the well-being of each runners. They were there not only to staff the station but also to make sure that the participants were accommodated properly. At the second aid station, I also did a little chitchat with the marshals while I refill my hydration. The station was placed in an intersection so I was confused which way to take, then they told me that I will take the road on their left later on my way back to the finish line at Palmeras Restaurant. For the meantime, I should follow the road ahead of me. It was a winding downhill few meters away from the station. I wanted to increase speed right at that time but I was being careful not to trigger my injury at that early. Later, I saw a runner representing BFP Dipolog. I learned that he and his team did a time trial before signing up for the event. They were able to complete the course in 10 hours so I thought that I would hit my target if I stick with him. I didn't ask but I regard him as my pacer from that point onward.

When we passed by houses, I noticed that the residents were out to show support. They were even shouting my bib number, "15! 15! 15!" It was flattering; maybe they also found it amazing to see another female runner after a number of male runners. When we reached Zambales AS at 20 km mark, the marshals offered us foods, liniment and massage. There were many food set on the table (as with the other AS) like arroz caldo, rice, hotdog, chicken, and pancit but I only ingested fruits and drank a cup of coke. Kenn said that their arroz caldo was delicious. I then sat on the bench to spray liniment and did a quick stretch. I was good to go but the BFP runner stayed behind to recuperate.

Two police runners joined me on the way to turnaround. The BFP runner was also catching up. The terrain towards the turnaround was quite a challenge as well. We have to passsteep road, slippery red soil, rocky terrain, and single track trails where we occasionally met motorcycle drivers having a hard time maneuvering. After what seemed like forever, we finally reached the 25 km turning point. I did same drill at the aid station then the guys went ahead back to Zambales AS while I  still wore my knee support. When I got back to Zambales, I ate fruits and a piece of chicken then I left. The guys stayed longer so I was running alone but later found new companions with runners from Ipil and Butuan City. We talked to distract fatigue but it seemed like we already knew each other for a long time.

Hours passed and the three of us were still on our way to Gulod de Medio. We knew that it was an uphill but we don't have any idea as to how steep it would be. So when we were already at it, we conserved our energy as we passed the open trail. Hitting the road towards the exit, Kuya Mike,  an 80 km runner approached us saying that he asked a resident up there as to where Gulod de Medio is and he was told that he was already far from where it is so he went down the hill again. Gulod de Medio is the open trail and we we're heading to the exit , which is the uphill. According to him, the marshal said to backtrack after Gulod but it was not it; maybe Kuya was already confused due to exhaustion. After such argument, we agreed to go up the 'kiss your knees' paved uphill on a high noon. Has someone ever managed to run up this route? It was very steep!

Having arrived at 12 km AS in between Dulian and Bandera Elementary School (the second station I mentioned about earlier) was a relief. We stand by to relax while the marshals helped us douse ice and refill our water.

We all made it a goal to reach the finish line at 2 pm. We were just talking, running and walking on our way back to Palmeras. We even took groufies at Pasonanca overlooking the city. Since our knees took its toll on us, we were already slowed down but then hey! We still endured and enjoyed Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon.

Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon, Zamboanga City
We clocked in at 9:36, Kuya  Mike clocked in at 15:35. Not too bad for my first ultra marathon!

Now, I would understand why there are less photos circulating online about different terrains of ZMUM. Have I seen its course photos, it would spoil my curiosity. :D I strongly believe that its best to experience Zamboanga Mountain Ultra Marathon and not lose the essence of surprise and fun in running this event.

All photos except the cover photo is credited to Zamboanga Runners' Club.

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In Camiguin Itinerary

How to get to Camiguin Island

How to get to Camiguin Island, photo credits Lareen Uy

Camiguin is a remote island enriched with natural wonders and historical sites. It boasts of lush rain forests, hot and cold springs, majestic waterfalls, marine sanctuaries, and clear waters.

To visit this little paradise in Northern Mindanao, read on the transportation guide below: 

How to get to Camiguin Island

By Air

  • From Manila - There are no direct flights from Manila to Camiguin Airport. You may choose to connect flight from Cebu to Camiguin or get a flight to Cagayan de Oro (check further details below)
  • From Cebu - Cebu Pacific direct flights are available four times a week (M/W/F/Sun).

By Land and Ferry

1. From Cagayan de Oro. 

Option A. At Agora Terminal, ride Bachelor Tours liner that is bound to Butuan City. Tell the conductor to drop you off at Balingoan Public Terminal.
Option B. ...or ride bus liners that are bound directly to Balingoan Public Terminal such as Pabama Tours.

Cost. Bus Fare, P150.
Travel Time. Terminal to terminal, 1 hr 40 mins - 2 hrs

2. At Balingoan Public Terminal. Take note that buying of tickets for Camiguin-bound passengers is now centralized at the terminal. Meaning, you will ride whatever ferry is available for travel at the time of your purchase. You no longer have the liberty to choose the ferry of your choice (unless you badly want to) but it's actually one of a smooth transaction especially when you're in a hurry. Once you arrive at Balingoan, you will see the ticket booth stationed at the center of the public terminal. Step by step process is specified. Make sure to secure all tickets required for boarding such as ferry ticket, cash ticket (LGU ticket as per locals), and terminal fee before going to the port.

Barge Fee

  • Regular Fare: P170
  • Student Price: P145
  • Senior Citizen: P136
  • 3-11 years old: P85

Terminal Fee
  • Regular Fee: P15
  • 2y.o and below: exempted

LGU Fee: P2

3. From Balingoan Terminal, ride a motorela that will take you to Balingoan Port or better yet, walk.

Cost. Motorela, P8
Travel Time: To Balingoan Port: motorela, 3 mins; walk, 5 mins.
Balingoan to Benoni Port, 1 hr 20 mins

Upon Arrival: Benoni Port, Camiguin Island.

Different mode of transportations are available at Benoni port. You may choose from public utility jeepneys (PUJ), habal-habal, or contract van that will send you to mambajao or at your desired destination.

Cost. Jeep, P23; Habal-habal, P100-150; Van starts at P300
Travel Time. Jeep, 30-40 minutes to Mambajao

Photo credits to Ms Lareen Uy of Break My Style.


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In Activities Camiguin Itinerary

Camiguin Island Tourist Spots

If you found yourself in Camiguin, don't miss to visit the following natural wonders and tourist attractions categorized below by municipalities.

Camiguin Island Tourist Spots, Camiguin Island, Touris Spots in Camiguin
Camiguin Island, also known as the island born of fire, is a small province in Northern Mindanao that is comprised of five municipalities namely: Mambajao, Catarman, Sagay, Guinsiliban, and Mahinog. It is a favorite vacation destination by tourists all year round due to its varied natural attractions - with each municipalities having its own natural hot & cold spring, landmarks, and mountains.

Here then, is a list of places or tourist spots that you should not miss when in Camiguin Island.
Camiguin Island Tourist Spots, Camiguin Island, Touris Spots in Camiguin


  • Mt Timpoong Hibok-Hibok national Park. MTHNP is comprised of two mountains namely Mt Timpoong and Mt Hibok-Hibok - the latter is partof the Pacific ring of fire and is politically located in the municipality of Mambajao, Camiguin. Mt Hibok-Hibok is a popular hiking destination in the northwest part of Camiguin Island with a height of 1200 meters above sea level (masl). It also has a beautiful crater that is rarely seen since most of the time, the peak is being covered with white clouds.
  • Ardent Hibok-Hibok Spring Resort - also called as Ardent Hot Spring. Comprised of six pools with varying remperature ranging from 30-39 degrees Celsius, Ardent Hot Spring is one of the main tourist attractions in Camiguin Island. Its sulfuric hot water is relaxing and healing.
  • White Island. Famous for its C-shape sand bar, this naked island is a perfect place for baking under the sun while enjoying sea urchins sold by local vendors. It is also a good vantage point of Mt Hibok-Hibok.
  • Other sights to visit: Soda Spring Pool, Tangub Hot Spring, Katibawasan Falls, Enigmata Tree House and Sculpture, Saa Cold Spring, Agohoy Black Sand Beach.

Camiguin Island Tourist Spots, Camiguin Island, Touris Spots in Camiguin


  • Walkway to the Old Volcano. With 14 life-size stations along 8km path, this tourist destination in Catarman serves as a pilgrimage site to Roman Catholic devotees. (source)
  • Old Gui-ob Church Ruins. Destroyed during the eruption of Mt Vulcan on 1875, what remained after the wrath is the church's bell tower and pillars. This well-preserved church ruins may also look like a mini park but the presence of a chapel built to hold Sunday mass remained its sanctity. 
  • Sunken Cemetery. Apart from taking photo opp with its large cross, snorkeling is the best thing to do here in order to witness the eerie underwater attraction.
  • Other sights to visit: Tuasan Falls, Bura Soda Spring, Sto Nino Cold Spring

Camiguin Island Tourist Spots, Camiguin Island, Touris Spots in Camiguin, Laureen Uy
(c) Laureen Uy,


  • Sto Rosario Church. This is one of the oldest church in Camiguin but more likely resembles a modern chapel as seen outside. I haven't seen the inside but according to, it has no grand interiors or carvings.
  • Binangawan Falls. Several maniature and gigantic waterfalls that gush through granite stones feed the falls. A rainbow also appears above the falls due to the continuous mist created by the falling water. (source)
  • Also visit: Pamunglo River

Camiguin Island Tourist Spots, Camiguin Island, Touris Spots in Camiguin
(c) Ronalie Cabatas, via FB


  • Moro-Moro Watch Towers. This well-preserved site was once a watch tower used to warn the inhabitants from the coming of Moros that often come to inflict them with damage. (source)
  • Also visit: Giant Clam Culture


  • Ostrich Breeding Farm. Based on research, this is the only Ostrich breeding facility in the country.
  • Mantigue Island - also known as Magsaysay island. This powder white island is surrounded with clear blue waters and is also rich in vegetation and marine life, hence declared as marine sanctuary. Mantigue is also one of the diving spots in Camiguin.
  • Also visit: Macao Cold Spring.

Do you want to experience Camiguin Island's annual fiesta celebration? Lanzones Festival is coming up October 26-30, 2017. Plan your travel ahead - draft your itinerary, and book your flight and accommodation as early as possible!


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In Running

Mapawa Trail Marathon: A Race To Remember

Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Series econd leg, Mapawa Trail, Mapawa, Mapawa Trail 42km Finishers, Trail Run, Johanns cordita, Kenn Baja,  Cagayan de Oro
Running the Mapawa Trail Marathon for my first 42km marathon was a humbling success. I have not imagined to win the first place but fate put a twist on trails that set my heart on fire.

Mapawa Trail Marathon official map and elevation profile
Mapawa Trail marathon official map with elevation profile of  2,274m elevation gain and loss. source
Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Run, Mapawa Trail Series 2017

Two months ago, I was only doing my usual routine - heat training, uphill training and long slow distance workouts in CDO uptown. Those days were a mix of exciting and agitating emotions given that the farthest distance I've run thus far is 32km. So part of my training is to improve mental skills. I don't know what could happen during and after Mapawa Trail run. I don't want to expect either. I don't have a PR to beat so initially, Kenn and I agreed to finish the race in sub 8.

On the day of the event, I got ambitious upon seeing the podium. I pictured out myself standing there, receiving my awards of recognition after a strong Mapawa Trail Marathon finish. Then I prayed, "Lord, kahit top three lang sa first marathon ko."

When all runners were lined up before the starting mark, I decided to apply the technique I used on my Mapawa 15km night run - to run behind the majority then slowly get ahead of everyone; but the gong startled me add to the fact that Kenn's pushing me forward. I have no choice but run. 😁 As much as possible, I have to cover more distance while the sun's not yet up and while I still have the energy to shuffle my legs. While approaching the first station at 7km mark, Kenn dropped by to take care of hydration. I went ahead then he ran after me shouting to verify my bib number and said, "Ikaw gauna sa bae!" His reaction was so intense, I can't help not to laugh. All at the same time, I am overwhelmed as well. Shortly thereafter, another female runner was behind me. Kenn said it was still too early to worry.  I'm not good with mind games so although I was anxious, I tried to relax and run on my pace. I don't want to waste our initial efforts. I want to maintain our lead. Later on, I was already enjoying the run and managed to laugh over jokes.

Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Run, Peak in Mapawa
We went up and down rolling hills with different terrain, but most of the time on open trails. (c) Mapawa Trail marathon

Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Run, Peak in Mapawa,  Mapawa Trail
Then at some point, our knees had a quick break upon passing by this terrain. Would you rather run or walk? (c) LadySoda

In all of the running events I've joined, Mapawa Trail marathon is by far the best race I've participated in. I have not suffered from leg cramps nor experienced heat exhaustion. Maybe because I have learned how to handle myself with my previous experiences including the Mapawa Night Run and Mt Megatong Trail Run. Whenever I feel my legs harden, I would stop and stretch quickly. I am also doing well with my supplementation and hydration, making sure to take it every hour to prevent exhaustion and  fatigue. It's one of those running essentials that I need to perfect in the next marathons I'll sign up for. On top of that, Kenn was supporting me all throughout the course. Somehow, having a running buddy makes every run memorable and fun.

Breathtaking, isn't it?
Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Run, Peak in Mapawa,  Mapawa Trail
This trail could've been muddier if it rained. Thank God it haven't! (c) LadySoda

What I love about the trails in Mapawa is that  it's challenging. There were lots of open and single-tracked trails  that every runner should take. A number of technical downhills and some nagging knee-pain uphills. There were inescapable boulders and muddy trails to pass by. Albeit all these, the scenic views, the cold streams, and the will to overcome yourself made Mapawa Trail Marathon a worthwhile run.  Although challenging, Mapawa  Trail is a friendly course to run for a first time marathoner like me. Should I say, every challenges along the course is manageable.

Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Series econd leg, Mapawa Trail, Mapawa, Mapawa Trail 42km Finishers, Trail Run, Johanns cordita, Kenn Baja,  Cagayan de Oro
Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Series econd leg, Mapawa Trail, Mapawa, Mapawa Trail 42km Finishers, Trail Run, Johanns cordita, Kenn Baja,  Cagayan de Oro
Mapawa Trail Marathon, Mapawa Trail Series, Mapawa Trail Series econd leg, Mapawa Trail, Mapawa, Mapawa Trail 42km Finishers, Trail Run, Johanns cordita, Kenn Baja, Mapawa Trail Run 2017, Mapawa 42km Champion Women's Category,  Cagayan de Oro

My ambition to stand in the podium, the courage not to waste our efforts to maintain the lead, and the desire to hit out target time - these all pushed me forward until Kenn and I ran towards the finish line hand in hand. We were 36 minutes and 10 seconds behind our target yet for the record, I end up 1hr 40mins ahead of the next. (See official results here)

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