Monday, August 27, 2007

My corner of the world

Some vr buddies have mistakenly placed my location at Davao City. Perhaps it's because most of the races I have written about in this blog were in Davao.

True, I do most of my races there. It's where most of the big-sponsor races are held in these parts and the most logical place for me to go to and put whatever running ability I have to the test. I do not live in Davao though, but in Kidapawan, a "provincial" city somewhere in the boondocks of North Cotabato in the foothills of Mt. Apo. It is about an hour and a half to two hours ride through 106 kilometers of paved roads from Davao City. Landlocked, it has no beaches or seaside roads where I can run to the sound of the rolling waves or the refreshing wisp of the cool sea breeze. What it has a lot of are rolling terrain, hills, and dirt roads which bring you to places where you run to the sound of bird calls and rippling waters of mountain springs.

Saturday was rest day- from running, that is- for me. At 7:00 am, I packed a digital camera with the rest of my biking survival gear in my Camelback Lobo, got on my mountain bike and pedalled off to measure the distance of a course which included a substantial portion of dirt road going through three villages of the city. I was scheduled to do a 16 kilometer run Sunday and thought it would be good to do it on this route, write about it, and share some images of this corner of the world where I run.

Sunday's run started at 5:30 with a 3km uphill effort on the paved portion of the Mt. Apo Nature Park tourist road. The road climbs steadily, and just when you think the next portion is flat if not going down, another slight uphill stares you right in the face as if taunting you. The slowly ascending route limits my pace 6:00-6:30 minutes per kilometer.

Before the end of the third kilometer, I turn right on a dirt road lined on both sides by fruit trees, the start of 7 kilometers of running on limestone roads, passing overflow bridges, jumping water puddles and mud pools, and all the while watching out for dogs as I pass through a cluster of houses along the route.

The route provides a number of fascinating sights. Giant boulders abound on the roadside along the first 2 kilometers, reminders of a time a couple of centuries ago when Mt. Apo vented out its fury. It has remained silent since. Large rocks are also a common sight in the mountain streams traversed by overflow bridges. I pass about three or four of these streams along the way. Kidapawan prides itself as the City of Highland Springs with enough reason.

These sights have a way of keeping you sort of refreshed. I felt more energized than when I run on pavement. I was recording faster clips of sub-5:20 mins/km as I breezed through the downhills. Maybe it was the sense of being one with nature, running to the sound of babbling streams mixed with the chirping of birds and the sounds of crickets and other insects, that keeps me energized. I definitely have no need for an MP3 player here.

No problem with the sun either as the rubber trees that line both sides of a large part of the route provide more than enough shade and help ensure a cool breeze.

Still feeling fresh after 10 kilometers of running, I surge up the last uphill on this dirt road. Another kilometer and I am back on pavement, with 5 kilometers more to run.

It was only at the last kilometer's final 200 meters that I feel fatigue begin to set in. It was an uphill and my legs have gone through a lot of ascents through the last 15 kilometers. I glance at my watch. 1:27:35. I told myself it was okay to feel tired after a good run in my corner of the world.


rick said...

Caloyb, nice pictures man. That's the type of terrain I live for, soft trails, hills, rocks, creeks, all that good stuff. I used to run marathons but I switched to running primarily on trails because I found the terrain more fun and forgiving on the legs.

Running Freeman said...

Hi Caloy,

Nice trails, yan ang wala dito sa city, bigla ko tuloy namiss ang pinas :(

Keli said...

hi caloy, i really envy you. that's the type of terrain i want to run in. the only thing is, i live in QC and don't really have that. i run mostly in the UP Campus, but we don't have creeks there. hehe.

Paramvir Thakur said...

Well yr corner of the world is beautiful.. gentle breeze, gushing streams, chirping birds..Wow

Jaymie said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing Caloyb. Nice to know about "secret" trails around the philippines. I never thought I'd ever run trails but after reading this post, I'm having second thoughts.