Monday, April 30, 2012

Kennon Global Half-Marathon: Eat and Run!

We all know how crazy the Manila heat is this summer. When my Team Alpha1 teammate Barefootdaves extended his invite of going to Baguio for a run, I did not even hesitate; anything to escape the scorching temperatures! It was an impulsive decision, I was not even thinking of the race event - just the Baguio breeze and ube jam at Good Shepherd. Haha!

Daves had everything planned, which I really appreciated. He took care of our (me and Martin) race registration, he booked our hotel, he bought our deluxe bus tickets in advance, he even researched all the good restaurants in the area - we were so pampered!

We left Manila 11pm of April Friday the 13th. Our trip was comfortable and fast; we arrived at Baguio around 5am. We stayed at the Victory Liner terminal to kill time as it's too early and establishments were still closed. Our plan is to have breakfast at Cafe by the Ruins, and it doesn't open until 7am.

I was able to have dinner at Cafe by the Ruins during my last trip to Baguio, and I really enjoyed the rustic feel of the restaurant. This time, I was excited to eat breakfast there. I ordered their open-face tuna sandwich, and hot choco with mint. The sandwich was surprisingly heavy, and the crispy fries were delish! The hot chocolate with mint serving is just a small shot, but it was so thick and chocolatey and bitter that I enjoyed it a lot. I only wish that it was more minty since the bitterness of the chocolate was quite overpowering.

Breakfast at Cafe by the Ruins
Our next destination is Good Shepherd for some pasalubong shopping. I noticed a lot of improvements on their order queues. And they're now accepting credit card for purchases! Nice.

Good Shepherd - where the best ube jams are made
We passed by Mines View Park, as it's just walking distance from Good Shepherd, to buy some more goodies. We had our pictures taken with the famous Saint Bernard Doglas, and got a bonus when we saw my HP officemates in a tarp promoting Baguio tourism. Our teammate Eugenator is now immortalized in Mines View. Haha!

Mines View Park - I love Doglas!
It was now time for early lunch after we've left our stuff at our hotel room. We rode a cab to Camp John Hay's Mile Hi Center. We ate at Little John's, wherein I ordered baby back ribs. Nothing special here, the rib serving was a bit small, and it's just an ordinary-tasting baby back ribs.

Mile-Hi Center - Lunch at Little John's
We visited the new R.O.X Camp John Hay branch for some window shopping and then it was time for merienda and some chill time. There's no better place to do this than Choco-Late de Batirol! I ordered their turon with langka and hot strawberry chocolate. A perfect combination!

Choco-late de Batirol at Camp John Hay
SM Baguio was our next stop, and it was our lucky day as newly delivered Baguio Country Club raisin bread were available. I bought three loaves. I'm such a fan of Cinnabon raisin bread here in Manila and BCC's taste is comparable to it (if not better).

Can you believe it? It's dinner time! We headed to Hill Station, a fine dining restaurant a few blocks away from SM. And the carbo-loading continues! I ordered their spinach ravioli with pumpkin soup base and blue cheese toppings, and then their carrot cupcake with cream cheese for dessert. Heaven! I also had a taste of their uber-moist melts-in-your-mouth chocolate cake, which Daves ordered. The food was a bit pricey but well-worth it for the restaurant's ambience.

Hill Station
And so we come to the race part of the blog, after all that food trippin'.

I was up as early as 2am (I was disturbed by Baguio ghost stories, haha!) and had a quick shower and light breakfast. After our race preparations, we were off to a long warm-up walk going to Burnham park, where jeepneys were lined-up to pick-up runners of the different categories, sending them to their respective starting points. We waited for quite some time as we were part of the last batch of 21k runners who arrived. The ride to our starting point's a killer. We basically traversed the entire race route in reverse, a continuous downhill along Kennon Road. This only means one thing: we will run a non-stop uphill (or uphell's the better term I think).

A lot of Kenyans were in sight - with a big cash prize awaiting the top winners. We had a quick race briefing, a few camera poses, and then we're off.

Starting line pics
I didn't even bother studying the race map prior the event. All I know is this would be a hell lot tougher than my Nathan Ridge Run experience at Tagaytay Higlands last year. Point A to Point B - from the base of Kennon Road, all the way up to Burnham Park.

Kennon Global Marathon Race Map - 3k. 5k, 8.5k and 21k distances
Our plan is to do a steady pace, not to race. We'll just enjoy the views and as for me, I'll take a lot of pictures. I was carrying a camera on one hand and a water bottle at the other. These would really slow me down but it's all part of the plan.

Breath-taking views of Kennon Road
Run, stop and take a pic... Run, stop and take a pic. I was awestruck by the views. I was drawing energy from the environment. Difficult as the route was, and as risky as it was with passing vehicles, I was still glad to have joined the race. It was a very welcome change from the normal city race route all runners are used to running.

I was surprised that we passed by the "Welcome Baguio City" marker. I didn't know we started from a different city and will be crossing Baguio's border. This was the time Daves caught-up with us (he was doing heart rate monitoring run-walk). Of course we didn't miss the opportunity to take a pic at the famous Kennon Lion.

Welcome Baguio City marker and the Kennon Lion
The never-ending incline took its toll eventually on my body, and I had to just walk it out. The sun's heat was also not helping. Starting KM12, I was doing a 10-min per kilometer power walk pace. I attempted to run again at KM16 but I already am feeling the early stages of cramps so I walked again the succeeding kilometers. At KM19, when I was simply tired and famished, a taho vendor passed by. My lifesaver! The sugar gave me a quick energy boost. When I saw the KM20 marker, I was able to run again (and according to my GPS watch, my fastest kilometer of the race).

Lifesaver Taho on the race's final stretch
Seeing the finish line at Burnham was sweet. I found out that Daves finished with rank #81, Martin #84 and I'm #85. The Baguio runners are really strong; I have to give them credit for that. I have no idea how many 21k runners finished the race though, as the race results were never released. According to my personal timing, I finished after 2 hours, 58 minutes and 33 seconds - my slowest 21k!

Finish line, Finisher's shirt and Finisher's Medal
After relaxing a bit at the finish line area, we walked to the nearby public market to do some last minute pasalubong shopping. Afterwards, it's time for our hard-earned post-race brunch at the Forest House. I chose to eat healthy by ordering pumpkin soup in a bread bowl as my appetizer and creamy dory topped with ripe mango salad as my main entree. Daves, Weng and Martin had bagnet. LOL! Again, the food was superb.

Post-race Brunch at the Forest House
I definitely had a blast on our two-day quick Baguio get-away. Next weekend destination: Boracay!


  1. "Nothing special here, the rib serving was a bit small, and it's just an ordinary-tasting baby back ribs"

    baby back ribs need to be at least subic-level to be appreciated ;)

    1. i agree! tayo na ang mga feeling food critics! hahaha!