a journal on hiking and traveling around the Philippines

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Batad-Banaue Half-Marathon

As part of my training for a long hike we did last October, I joined the Batad-Banaue Marathon, a destination run organized by Baguio-based running group, Team Malaya

*Blog about our long hike in Mt. Kitanglad & Dulang-Dulang here

Participants had the option to register in either a 21K (half-mary) or a 42K. The route, which  is one of the major draws to this event gave us the opportunity to enjoy a cold, scenic run from the Banaue town proper to the remote community of Batad. It was held August 24, 2014, an excellent time to view the rice terraces as it's greenest from  August-September.  
 A shot of the Banaue Rice Terraces located at the viewing deck called "Side View Point"

Blogger friend Ferdz (Ironwulf.net), my colleague Ian, and I registered for the 21KM division which meant we only ran until the saddle area in Batad while those who joined the marathon had to go down all the way to the community. 

Ferdz and I traveled together from Manila  two days before the run to have more time to adjust to the thinner, cooler weather, relax and gorge on food!
Harvest from the rice terraces as seen from the Side View Deck which can be seen along the road in Banaue
On our first day,  we enjoyed the pool at Banaue hotel where Ferdz was checked in. It was near the garden and I was struck with excitement when I saw it. There's an excellent view of nearby mountains and it was deserted too so we had it to ourselves the entire afternoon! 


The deepest end of the pool is  12 feet with a diving board over it. I've never seen a recreational pool as deep as this one - even the Olympic-size pool where I swim goes only  up to 5 feet. :)

 I was traveling on a budget so I spent the night at People's Lodge near the town proper. I got a 250-Peso private room that had 2 single beds in it, a huge mirror, fan, a desk and a chair and that's about it. Rooms have no sockets so  you can only charge your gadgets at their restaurant downstairs. T&B was outside but it was near my room. I would most likely stay here again because the staff is nice, rooms are clean and place has a good vibe.

Breakfast at the restaurant balcony of People's Lodge 
The following day, we claimed our race kits and attended the briefing.  I was happy to see familiar faces from the sky running community and even happier when I found out that two other close friends, Mariel and Kian was in the area for a valiant family project involving the rice terraces. 
After the briefing, there was a carbo loading party for the participants! Chicken tinola and mounds of rice were served to fellow participants while a band played using native instruments.

And here's our private carbo loading party with Mariel and Kian. This was taken at Las Vegas Lodge & Resto. I enjoyed dining here because they have interesting interiors - a mix of travel memorabilia and native decors. More importantly, food is decent. I love their curry rice  which comes with fresh mixed vegetables. Prices of the meals here range from 70 Pesos above. 


Breakfast the following day were measly pieces of dark chocolate and a bottle of Pocari Sweat. I promised myself to consume more after the run. :P  

Both the 21K and 42K started at the same time at around 5:00 AM and although our route was not as visually rewarding as with the 42K, we were able to see more mountains and other sections of the rice terraces around Banaue.
Ferdz and I at the starting line. The happy look on my face was due to thoughts of what I'll be eating after the run. :P (Photo taken by Kian Vicera)

Here's a shot taken 40 minutes into the run. Our route was mostly on a smooth road. 

And since we started early, we were able to see the sun rising above the mountains at the side of the road. :) 


The road going to Batad is uphill, quite a challenge to the thighs. Prior to the run, I did a combination of swimming, stairs training, a little road running, training on an elliptical machine to prepare and it was quite effective to get me to the finish line. I'm not a fast runner, never had the will to train to be faster but I can finish with a ginormous smile on my face. Hehe! :) 

Ferdz and I ran our respective paces which meant I was pretty much alone until the 40th minute, when I stopped at the first aid station and saw my colleague Ian with his friendly mountaineer friends. 
With Ian & Euan at one of the aid stations, at this point, we still had 8KM til we get to the turn-around point.
Photo borrowed from Lira
I ran with them until we reached the turn-around point which was at the Batad saddle. 
From there, some  decided to take a side trip down to Batad since the organizers allowed it. I had hiked to the community  years ago and was beginning to feel tired and hungry so I headed  back with Ian.

View at the Batad saddle
Had I been running alone, I would have taken an easy stroll back and ate as much dalanghita as I could, which was available at the aid stations. It was seedless, juicy and sweet!  However, Ian, who was used to competing in triathlons kept pushing - and the good thing about forcing yourself to run even when you don't feel like moving a muscle anymore is that  you can finish earlier and eat. :P 

Tremendously happy when I saw friends, Mariel and Kian right before we reached the finish line, they're awesome cheerleaders! (Photo borrowed from Kian Vicera)
Another pleasant thing was when we crossed the finish line after 4 hours 58 minutes, I was informed that I finished 10th among the female runners. To our surprise, they gave out recognition to the first 10 finishers for males and females per category.  Ferdz finished strongly at 8th. :)

Apart from the finisher's medal, I was able to take home extra souvenirs, a carved wood trophy and a certificate.  Thanks for the push Ian! 
I'm smiling so much because I just ate two sets of lunch :P (Photo take by Ferdz Decena)
If you're getting tired of road runs or need to take a breather from city life, I encourage you to train and join destination runs. Held in scenic locations,  it allows you to see gorgeous views, explore a place, meet new people, see old friends, work up a sweat and the most wonderful thing of all - running burns calories so you can indulge on food after! :) 

If you're thinking of joining trail runs or running at high altitudes, do consider joining the Philippine Skyrunning Association or participate in their training sessions or races. Like their FB page for timely updates.

There's also  some excellent trail running tips for beginners at Active.com

Check out Ferdz' post & review about the run  here. He posted some nice photos from the run. :) 

A copy of the race results of the Batad-Banaue marathon is posted at the Team Malaya site. They are also organizing several more runs in the coming months. Just check out their website or  like their Facebook Page.

Thanks team Malaya and congratulations to other runner friends who finished strongly - Ronald Wang, Kirk Patrick Ang, Rashel Pena and Cheryl Bihag, you inspire me! To Mariel, Kian, bffeees Jules, Tan and Mors salamat uli for cheering for me!


Travel Information :
How to Get to Banaue from Manila
Check out schedule of trips via Ohayami Trans
Website : http://www.ohayamitrans.com/
Fare : 450 Pesos (aircon)
Travel Time : 12 hours

Where to Stay in Banaue
Banaue Hotel 
Locatad near the Banaue tourism office but quite a walk to the town proper
You can book via Agoda
Rates start at 1,800+ 
*Their restaurant has amazing mountain views! :)

People's Lodge 
Poblacion, Banaue 
Mobile Nos. - +63 0935-189-5455 | +63 0919-532-5605
Email : jerwin_t@yahoo.com
Rates start at 250 Pesos/head
Free Wifi available, no sockets in the rooms, common toilet and shower
*I checked in alone and although the room I stayed in had two single beds, I was only asked to pay 250 Pesos. Nice! :)

Querencia Hotel & Restaurant 
Poblacion, Banaue
Mobile Nos. - : +63 0939-290-7703 | +63 917 841 0569
Just opened this 2014 and all rooms have a private t&b with hot shower and sockets, free wifi also available
Rates are around 500 Pesos/room (please call to verify, I forgot the exact rates, but it's around that amount)
Pictures of the place can be found at their FB Page here






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