After looking at the photos posted on their Runnilla Facebook page, I was enticed to sign up for the 30Km trail run. Apart from what seemed like a beautiful trail awaiting the trail runner, joining the run was also for a good cause as the race organizers were raising funds to help Calbasa-an Elementary School buy a new generator. The school is located in a remote mountain barangay without electricity.
I registered online through store.aktib.ph and paid PHP750 (without singlet) for the 30Km race.
Two days before race day, the race organizers conducted a race briefing in UP Lahug. Race Director, Jake Liarta, and Cebu Trail Runners founder, Meyux Cordova, presented the race course for the different categories – 30K, 18K and 5K. They played a video which a showed a preview of the 30Km route and explained what to expect in the race course, how the trail signs looked like, where the aid/water stations will be and the mandatory gear needed for the run.
I set my alarm as early as 12:30am on race day but I was too sleepy and accidentally dismissed my alarm instead of snoozing. Luckily, I was able to wake up at 1:30am and still had the time to shower. I had already prepared my running gear the night before so I wasn’t worried of missing any important running gear.
I ate one piece of meat roll bread and a small banana before rushing out as the race assembly time was scheduled at 4am and I still had to travel quite far from Mabolo to Minglanilla. I decided to take a taxi to the South Bus Terminal as I was afraid of missing the 3am Ceres bus.
It was only 2:35am when I arrived at the South Bus Terminal. I asked the bus conductor what time the bus leaves and he told me he’s not sure as the bus was supposedly scheduled to leave at 2am. Shortly before 3am the bus was full and I was relieved when the bus left at 3am. I had a nice chat with the lady beside me in the bus as she has friends who run the AWUM (All-Women Ultra Marathon) last month. I got carried away chatting with her that I almost missed alighting in front of Minglanilla Church. Fortunately, I was quick enough to ask the driver to stop and I didn’t had to walk very far.
It was still 3:35am and I didn’t expect to arrive in Minglanilla that early. Without any traffic jam, the journey from South Bus Terminal to Poblacion, Minglanilla was only about thirty minutes. From Jollibee, I crossed the street and then walked straight ahead passing by the market. Julie’s Bakeshop was already open so I decided to buy bread before proceeding to Minglanilla Running Oval Track.
Being new in the running scene in Cebu, I only know a handful of people. I was glad to see Boying who was trying to catch more sleep in his car. I waited near the race committee tent and saw the 2 male Kenyan runners and the All-Women Ultra Marathon (AWUM) 2014 champion seated while waiting for the race to start. Not too long after more runners arrived and I saw familiar faces like Rose of Runroo, Doc Willie Estepa (race organizer of AWUM) and Henry both of whom I met during the Cebu50 Trail Ultramarathon two weeks ago.
Shortly after 4am one of the race organizers advised the runners to check in at the race committee table. The race organizers checked the mandatory gear items like headlamp and hydration bottle/pack. There was one guy who didn’t bring any headlamp/flashlight as he didn’t know the run was going to be in the mountains. I was really surprised when he told me this because as a runner we are supposed to know what kind of run we are signing up for and the risks involved. The race organizers provided all the necessary information and reminders leading up to the race.
After the pre-race photo ops, the race officially started at 4:35am. From the Minglanilla running oval track we made our way to Gimenez Street, crossed the highway and turned right on the street across Gaisano Mall. From there it was an uphill climb on cemented road passing by Barangay Cadulawan. The uphill road was taxing so I decided to walk on steep slopes. It was still dark and when I looked behind me the city lights below was quite nice to see.
After 4Km we finally entered the trail and I was enjoying running the rolling terrain. There was a steep downhill section but after that it was back to rolling again. I reached a river and the locals were very helpful to point me in the right direction. From there it was the start of the challenging uphill climb. Just when you think you reached peak another uphill climb appears. I would say this is the most challenging part of the trail. I was walking quite slow at this point as I tried to catch my breath in between.
Going uphill is tough but seeing the wonderful views is more than enough to compensate all the hard work.
I finally reached Calbasa-an Elementary School after 1:58hours and about 10K of running and walking. A couple of teachers assigned in this remote school welcomed me and offered me fresh buco (coconut) juice and Cloud9 chocolates. They were thankful that their school is a beneficiary of this run. I drank a cup of fresh buco juice and took a couple of Cloud 9 chocolates then left the aid station, after thanking the teachers for their hospitality.
I followed the stairs going up the school and reached a vegetation area which didn’t seem to have any trail sign anymore. I ran back to where I last saw the trail sign which was on a tree just past the school. I looked up the hill and saw the next trail sign. I didn’t expected that we have to go up the hill where there seem to be sweet potato crops planted. I followed the trail sign and reached the peak. A big trail sign (pictured below) confirmed I was on the right track.
The view at the top was beautiful. I followed a smaller trail sign on the ground leading me past the cow (pictured below) but I got confused again which way to go next. I saw people across another hill shouting at me but I didn’t really understand what they were trying to say. I backtracked again to the last trail sign which was just a few meters away from me then, I saw a local girl walking towards the hill and I realized that’s the trail I should be taking. The girl confirmed to me I was in the right direction and I thanked her for her help.
After going down from Calbasa-an peak, I followed the scenic open trail heading to the direction where I saw people shouting at me. When I reached there, I realized it was Lyra Valles waiting for runners to arrive so she can snap photos.
Below are the two photos she took of me.
I continued running in the open, single track trail heading to Camp7. I was running on my own but I was never bored as there were plenty of things to see. I actually enjoyed the solitude.
I crossed a small river then followed by wooden bridge when another runner caught up with me. He told me that he was with the lead group but he had to stop as he wasn’t feeling well and almost fainted. We chit-chat as we made our way to the next aid station in Camp 7.
After 19Km we finally reached the aid station in Camp 7 as I had expected. I refilled my bladder as I was running out of water and continued on the cemented road.
A barangay tanod then asked us to turn right where we had to tackle another uphill cemented road. Not too long after we were back on the trail again. I told myself that we should be going downhill soon as we are now less than 10Km away from the finish line. Not to long after indeed, I reached the downhill section. I ran the downhill without stopping until I reached the part with pointed rocks. I was having blisters on my left foot and stepping on the pointed rocks was getting painful so I decided to do a run/walk.
At about 23.8Km I reached the aid station. Meyux offered me Coke and some food. I had no appetite to eat. All I wanted was the Coke, my instant energy booster for any kind of run. I got my 8oz soft flask from my hydration pack and filled it out with Coke. I drank 2 rounds on the spot and did a third refill so I can drink as I continue my way down to the finish line.
It was getting more painful running on the rocks with my blisters. I had to be mindful which rocks I’m stepping so as not aggravate the pain.
After running downhill in the barangay dirt road, we reached the cemented road that indicated we were now in a residential area. I continued my way until I reached the entrance of Belmont Village and onto the main highway. A barangay tanod helped me cross the highway road. It was another 2-2.5km to the finish line and I didn’t liked being in the highway as it was quite dusty and humid. I tried to run but running in the road was mental challenge at that point. I decided to just walk until I reached near the finish line.
After 5:10:15 hours I finally reached the finish line. I got my hard-earned finisher’s medal, a finisher’s patch from Etch and a finisher’s certificate. I definitely enjoyed the trail run and I was happy with my results. It was just an added bonus that I was 5th place for the Women’s 30K.
You can read Runroo’s article for the list of the winners on the link below:
Runnilla Eco Challenge Champions
I wasn’t disappointed registering for this run. The race was well-planned, organized and executed for a local race. The organizers made us of social media effectively to promote the race and provide important updates leading up to race day. The race course was beautiful and scenic. I didn’t know there are beautiful trails in Minglanilla. Aside from the trail signs, there were barangay tanods to guide the runners where to turn in critical areas. Kudos to the race organizers, sponsors, volunteers, barangay tanods, photographers and fellow runners who made this trail run a success! It is also fitting to thank the local people in the mountain barangays of Minglanilla (Calbasa-an, Camp 7 and etc) for their hospitality.