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Mapawa Trail Run

Mapawa Trail Run

I've been eyeing to join Mapawa Trail Run since 2014 but time and the lack of training restricted me to do so. To be honest, I am even apprehensive with this year's Mapawa Run because Kenn registered me to 15K night run, which to me, the thought of night is quite repulsive given how I rely on seeing my surroundings to keep myself up under strain. However, 29th of October is inescapable.

On the day of the race, Kenn and I went to Centrio Mall to ride a jeepney (as hired by the organizer) to take us to Mapawa. When we arrived in Mapawa, I sat on the bench near the stage and quickly changed my outfit. I still have two hours to spare and all I ever wanted to do was sit - Kenn and I wasn't able to get some sleep right after work; and he was more anxious than I.

Mapawa Trail Run, Camp Site
There were tents pitched in the area. I was tempted to doze off.

By 6pm, when all 15K runners were called for, I positioned myself at the back of the crowd as the countdown to Mapawa Trail Run begun, with myself overthinking about the night, the uphill's, lack of training and not being able to finish in three hours; yet, despite all doubt, I run. I clicked my stopwatch when I passed under starting mark then slowly, as the cold wind challenged  my breathing, my focus shifted. I SHOULD BE IN TOP THREE.


What the mind conceive, it can achieve.

Since I stood almost last in line, I mandated myself not to stop for me to catch up while making sure that no one can get ahead of me. I walked on the first uphill I encountered to condition my knees then run fast on downhills. I continued running 'til I hit a flat terrain, then I saw a group of men running with three women. I made them my visual target. I aimed to get past three of them, so I pushed myself a little bit more. I succeeded until later on I noticed that a woman from that same group was just behind me and I thought, "now I got a close competitor, but I don't want to fail myself. I need to be in top three."

I was actually praying, asking God for strength while I was running.

The next challenge I encountered was a trail so muddy it seemed impossible to walk on. I cannot run anymore because my shoes were already clogged with mud. I even slipped, got my shoes stocked and my shoe laces got loose - waste timers, really. At that time, I was already walking with a competitor still close behind me. I maneuvered along the grasses (deep inside I felt sorry for the plants I've stepped on), and get back on the mud from time to time on dead ends. The muddy trail was quite long I don't know how many minutes have I spent walking when everything became a blur - no, I didn't pass out. It seemed that I was already running in autopilot. The next thing I knew, I was already trekking and jogging up a mountain.

Halfway through the peak, the night wind blew comforts to my exhausted body and a smile then formed on my lips. Nature surely has a way of sending off anxieties. I felt relaxed and confident of achieving what I've aimed for. I looked up at the dark sky filled with gratitude, thanking God for the bliss.

I worked my way up trying to ignore the nagging knee pain for I know that after all of it, downhill is waiting for me, which by the way, trekking/running downhills is my strength since mountaineering days. The terrain was so steep and in as much as I wanted to descend facing the 'wall' it would only slow me down, hence I positioned half my body on the tall grasses while the other half (left legs) made contact with the stones/soil. In that way, if ever I lose balance, I can easily grasp the grass and less impact would be applied. 

Mapawa Trail Run
Never get lost. Follow the trail signs along the way.

I continued my quest continually praying for strength because cramps have already set in and I still have another 3K to cover, when alas! an orgnizer said, "ma'am ikaw second!) (ma'am, you're in second place!) I was overwhelmed by the news.

My headlamp's battery was dying by then, so i took my smartphone and used its flashlight instead of changing new ones. I run/walk the remaining 3K n a slower pace until I saw a familiar road bend towards the finish line. My heart was once again fluttered - another wave of overwhelming congratulations was received when I got the finish line. I was ecstatic!

My first Mapawa Trail Run was a night to remember. I didn't expect to end up in second place with 2:21:08 time yet indeed, when you set your mind into something, it will happen.


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About Mapawa Trail Run


The mapawa Trail Run is a popular race in Mapawa National Park located in Cagayan de Oro City, Northern Mindanao, Philippines.**  In 2016, it has became part of Asia Trail Master, a trail running series in Asia with focus on all runners.


Gears to bring when running the Mapawa Trail

  • At least 500ml to 1L of Hydration
  • Blinker
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Cellphone with full battery and load
  • Trail food
  • Wind proof jacket
  • Cap/Bandana
  • Important: Wear a comfortable trail running clothes and shoes.

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