When I heard about this run a few months ago, I had already encircled the date as this was one race I was really itching to join. This was to be my 1st race in Baguio, and that got me all excited!
I woke up to a cold morning at around 4 am, ate a bowl of oatmeal, drank 2 glasses of water, and did my pre-run routine. I then decided to walk from our house to Burnham Park (starting point) for my pre-race warm-up (distance ~ 3km). And boy did I need a warm-up, the moment I stepped out of the door, I got hit by the cold immediately (I was only wearing my Milo singlet –> which is one cool singlet by the way). I couldn’t jog though since I noted I was already breathing a bit heavily even with just my brisk walking.
I arrived at Burnham Park a few minutes before the start. When I got there, I was met by a large group of people, all wearing green, huddled in the starting area. There were kids, adults, old people and everyone seemed excited. I slowly inched towards the front to join the small group of 21k runners (there were ~50 of us there) who were already doing their stretching and warm-up. As I looked around, I noticed a familiar blue singlet… then another… there were actually many of them… a group of Fairview Runner’s Club members were there to join the race! I recognized Dr Tan and had a short chat with him. They came all the way from Manila just to experience running a half-marathon in Baguio. After a few minutes, I bid him and the rest of the group good luck and I moved towards the back of the pack. There, I got to chat with some Baguio runners (Resty and friends) and I found out just how spoiled we are here in Manila with regards to having organized runs… as this was only the 2nd run in Baguio for the whole year! I guess the running movement in Baguio isn’t as booming yet as it is here in Manila.
The sun was out for this day… which was good! Like I said before, Baguio is the only place in the Philippines where you wish the sun will already be out during an early morning run. It was a cool morning and it was a nice change from the warm and humid conditions of Manila.
The run started in Burnham Park, proceeding to the direction of Loakan Road. We then followed the road, passing by the airport and the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) – KM 8 mark. The road in this part was generally going downhill (though there were still a sprinkling of uphills). After PMA, we followed the road to Kias (a community in the outskirts of the city), which was almost purely uphill. I think a lot of runners really began to get winded here. There were also parts of the road that were really muddy due to run-off caused by some rain the previous night. (Because of this, some runners were commenting that they didn’t know this run was partly a trail run 😀 ) Finally, at the 10k mark, it was already the turn around point.
The next two kilometers allowed me to relax a bit since it was now mostly downhill. However, once I reached PMA, I knew that the most difficult part of the race was just about to begin. In defiance to the laws of gravity… what went down, must now go up. Though my pace considerably decreased at this point (~ 20sec/km), I noticed that other runners were slowing down more than me. Of the 30 or so runners that I met while I approached the turn-around point, I think I eventually passed by 10 runners during the return.
Though it was really difficult attacking the hills (my lungs were bursting, my legs burning), this part of the run was which I enjoyed the most. As a kid, I never did imagine I would be running these roads which I only got to traverse by car before… and yet there I was, laboring with each step determined to reach the finish alive…
Once I reached the John Hay Gate 3 entrance, I had to take a deep breath since I knew that after that point, it would be the final 1.5 km of mostly uphill and it would be mostly downhill after that. I knew that if I got through that, the last couple of kilometers would already be a breeze… or so I hoped. With that thought, I attacked (though it was just a feeble attack 😀
After a lot of minutes, I finally reached the “peak!” And what a relief it was… the elation I felt then probably buoyed me up since after that point, I was even able to pick up my pace and run a bit quicker (of course that part of the course being downhill really helped…). Though I was breathing heavily, I still felt relatively comfortable and my legs were no longer burning as much. We traversed Military Cut-Off Road, passed by the Baguio General Hospital, then Kisad Road and finally, after almost 2 hours of running… I reached Burnham Park and crossed the finish line…
No complaints here. There were an adequate number of mashalls, and the water stations were strategically placed and each station had sufficient water. The milo run organizers are indeed some of the best at what they do 😀
After almost a year of running races, without a doubt, this has got to be my most favorite race, and I think every runner (especially those from Manila) should already be making plans of running the Baguio Milo Half next year. It’s a totally different running experience from what we usually have in Manila. The weather is different, the route difficult… and you get to run in roads flanked by centuries old pine trees. No other race in the Philippines can give you those 😀 Add to that that Baguio City will be celebrating the centennial of its cityhood next year, so the run next year will be a little bit more special. So hopefully, I’ll be seeing you all up there next year! 😀