Running had become the “it” sport in urban centers in the Philippines these past few years with races achieving “world-class” levels, and if I were to pick three amongst the best in the country, the list would look something like this:
See how much we love running here in the Philippines?
Manila Eliminations every July, Finals every December
The “Boston Marathon” of the Philippines, it is the longest running marathon in the country, and for you to be able to join the “Finals,” you need to finish at a certain time in one of its “Elimination” races all over the Philippines. Once qualified though, your race is free (all expenses paid if you qualify from races outside Metro Manila) along with some other perks. If there’d be a “poster marathon” for Manila, Milo Marathon would be it!
In terms of route, you get to cover the historic grounds of Manila, the views of Manila Bay, the business and financial districts of Makati and Bonifacio Global City, and one of the world’s largest mall, SM Mall of Asia. It is mostly flat except for the flyovers but the humidity bayside could be a bit challenging. And as of December 11, 2011, its route is AIMS-IAAF certified!
Primary reason to join: Manila’s premier marathon event with an AIMS-IAAF certified route; qualify in any elimination races and you get to join the finals, free!
Side activities: explore the historic sites of Manila, visit the centuries-old churches, do some food tripping in Manila’s Chinatown, shop in the metropolis’ grand malls!
Personal notes: My marathon debut was held on the 33rd edition of the Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations back in 2009! Since then, I had only seen it getting better with each passing year. Here are my accounts of this race:
Every third Sunday of September
CamSur Marathon is the Philippines’ first IAAF-AIMS certified marathon route. It is probably the flattest marathon course in the country making it a very fast race, but the tropical heat of the province, Camarines Sur, is a real challenge even for locals. But that does not stop the huge amount of spectators from lining up on the sides of the route.
Primary reason to join: it is probably the most spectated marathon in the country and the flat IAAF-AIMS certified course (including sub-marathon distances’ routes) is a temptation for setting a new personal best!
Side activities: try wake-boarding at the world-class CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) or if you have time, do some island hopping! As an alternative to planes and buses, you may also take the Manila-Naga train known as “Bicol Express.”
Personal notes: for many various reasons, I kept missing this race! I sure hope next time I can finally return and ride that train! Here’s my account of my first CamSur Marathon:
Every first Sunday of January
My favorite marathon in the country, Cebu City Marathon opens the city’s grand Sinulog festival! It’s the first marathon of the year so it benefits from the cool January weather. It’s one of a kind in the country as the route includes a long tunnel and a long viaduct. You also get to cover some historic districts of Cebu City, but my favorite would be the lively and festive atmosphere. The course though is generally downhill going out so it’s generally uphill going back.
Primary reason to join: festive atmosphere in an interesting route mixed with locals’ great hospitality!
Side activities: being the country’s oldest city, Cebu has a lot of historic places you can visit. And being at the center of the Visayas you have a lot of beaches and islands at your disposal. Adventurous ones may also try the “Edge Coaster,” zip line, and “Sky Walk” at the top floors of the country’s tallest hotel tower, the Crown Regency Hotel.
Personal notes: Cebu is known for their great food with ridiculously affordable prices! Don’t miss their famous lechon and danggit, but my favorite would be the dried green mangoes. Here are my Cebu City Marathon accounts:
* * * * *
Naturally, I had a very difficult time narrowing down all the great races in the Philippines to just three. These three stood out of the crowd because they’ve consistently delivered great races throughout their lifetime, their route is practically unchanged (two of which are AIMS-IAAF certified), has fixed schedule, and they are more than your usual marathon.
How many here had got the chance to run all of these races at least once? If you haven’t, you are definitely missing out on some of the best races in the Philippines. Don’t just take my word for it, try it! Better yet, bring along some friends so you can prove to yourselves why marathons are “more fun in the Philippines.”