Camarines Sur, or CamSur, has recently become popular because of the world class CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC), host to world wakeboarding championships and for the past two years Cobra Ironman 70.3. Last week, another world class event was staged in the province, the first CamSur Marathon which is another government initiative headed by Governor L-Ray Villafuerte Jr. to boost more sports tourism in the province.
The CamSur Marathon was least expected in my racing calendar as I had prioritized my trip to Bohol and Cebu two weeks prior to the event. Without going into many details it was placed back on my itinerary just four days before the race! Without hesitation I grabbed the unexpected opportunity and even attempted some last minute flights, to no avail. Oh well, another “long haul” trip by land!
Being exhausted from consecutive travel from all over the country sleeping through that 9+ hours travel wasn’t much of an issue. I guess if you’re a runner and a traveller at the same time you should also learn how to get rest whenever and wherever you can.
For this spontaneous travel I was in the company of Team CB, spinoff group and longtime friends from Takbo.ph. If it wasn’t for them this race wouldn’t have been possible for me. Our long journey started Friday night from Cubao bus terminal and by Saturday morning we had arrived at our home for the weekend, Naga Regent Hotel. Our hotel is one of CamSur Marathon’s accredited hotel partners so a transport service was available from here to CWC where the race would be held.
That morning after some quick rest and freshening up at our rooms we were off for CWC for the race briefing. I was surprised how far still CWC is from Naga (it was my first time in the province) and didn’t know what to expect until these came into our view:
Wow! That’s all I was able to say.
First to be grilled were the 21K runners. Majority from our group was participating in this event and even though we 42K runners were “nuisance” we just stuck awhile to fill the empty seats. Coach Rio headed the briefing, and later on, the quick tour of the actual route.
While our 21K comrades were visiting their race route, we the 42K runners were famished. From the briefing area we walked towards the Clubhouse for food. It’s also the vicinity where the wakeboarding activities are held so we were able to watch wakeboarders in action, while we wait for our food.
Travel Tip: While food prices in CWC Clubhouse is quite reasonable, serving time is long! By my rough estimate our food was served at least 30 minutes later.
Our food took what seemed like forever to arrive, and by the time it was served our friends that went with the race route tour had already arrived and joined us! At that time the briefing for the 42K was also about to start, but food comes first!
Then after a brief rest we returned to the briefing area to see if we can still join the 42K route tour, and luckily, we arrived just in time! I was unfortunately too lazy to take pictures of the route. First impressions: route, practically flat; sceneries, few; temperature, high! With that preview I was able to assess that I can live without my camera for the race, and I had to do an unexpected “plan B” with my shoes due to the surface heat of the pavement.
After the tour it was still some time before our shuttle to the hotel arrived so we were able to socialize with some of our friends also running the marathon. Apparently CWC has some affordable accommodations for cost cutters like myself so I pledged next time to stay in CWC to avoid the hassle of travelling back and forth to Naga.
Upon our return to Naga the next itinerary is—food! Isn’t it nice to be runners? On our way for lunch we stopped by the Oragon sculpture near Naga City Market for some photo-ops (tourist mode), then passed by Plaza Rizal (Freedom Park), until our lunch destination Bigg’s Diner.
That afternoon we were reunited with some of our comrades that had separate lunch for some nice well wishes to Team CB members. Before concluding the afternoon we visited one of the region’s most popular churches, the Church of Nuestra Señora de Peña de Francia, to ask for some divide blessings for the forthcoming race.
History: The early church dedicated to “Nuestra Señora de Peña de Francia” was built about 1711 through the generosity of the Rev. Miguel de Covarrubias as a vow-offering for blessings he received in his youth. The present church was built about 1750 by Bishop Isidoro de Arevalo and repaired and improved in 1878-1877 by Bishop Francisco Gainza. The image was solemnly crowned by the Rt. Rev. Guillermo Piani on September 20, 1924.
For dinner we found this nice, cozy, and very affordable place near our hotel: Easy Food Restaurant. It’s open 24 hours so we also had our breakfast there before the race. If you’re near Naga Regent I highly recommend this place.
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My CamSur Experience: