The Philippines, particularly Metro Manila, is just a haven for races as there’s always at least one practically every weekend. But amongst all of these races, there are some that stood out, and here are five that I highly recommend.
A race set on the historic island fortress of Corregidor, Corregidor Marathon is not for the faint of heart as you’re confronted by the island’s challenging terrains. But those who answer the call is rewarded with a unique view of “The Rock” with its natural sceneries and historic monuments and ruins. This event was formerly called Corregidor International Half Marathon but this year a full marathon will be having a debut. There are still 5K and 3K side events, and the race is usually held every first Saturday of December.
The longest race on this list, Bataan Death March Ultramarathon uses the historic “Bataan Death March” route imposed by Japanese soldiers upon their captive Filipino and American soldiers during World War II. Originally a 102K race starting from Mariveles (Bataan) to the old San Fernando (Pampanga) Railway Station where the “march” ended and the survivors hauled onto trains, it was later extended to 160K ending in Capas (Tarlac) at the site of the former Camp O’Donnell, the final stop of the death march, where the monument Capas National Shrine now stands. If you want to have a glimpse on what our forefathers had to endure during WWII, this is the race. This is one of those events I personally consider to be a race of a lifetime—something that everyone who loves peace should do at least once in their lives so as we not forget how precious this gift is. The 160K event is held every January while the 102K is every March.
- 2011: BDM102 Perspective (in Photos)
- 2010: 2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102
One of what I consider to be the more “interesting” races in the Philippines, Condura SkyWay Marathon, as the name may imply, is set almost entirely on top of elevated roads, flyovers, bridges, etc. however you may call it. Bridges sometimes look pretty, but it isn’t always nice as you get to discover with this race. This race is usually held every February.
- 2011: Condura Skyway Marathon 2011: The Bests and the Worsts
- 2010: Condura Run 2010 Review
- 2009: Condura Run 21K: My Half-Marathon Debut
#2: Milo Marathon (AIMS/IAAF-Certified*)
What could be considered as the “Boston Marathon” of the Philippines, Milo Marathon is the longest running Marathon in the Philippines which started in May, 1974 and is one of the only two (2) currently active AIMS/IAAF-certified races in the country. To gain an all-expenses paid entry to the Manila marathon “Finals” held every first Sunday of December, one must finish within the qualifying age-based time limit from one of its “Elimination” races, either the full marathon in Manila or half marathon in provincial races. For the non-competitive, it’s one great excuse to travel around the Philippines, on foot, by joining their provincial races. The Manila Elimination race is usually held every July followed on succeeding Sundays by the provincial legs.
- 2010: 34th National MILO® Marathon
- 2009: 33rd National MILO® Marathon
- 2008: 32nd National MILO® Marathon
#1: Cebu City Marathon (AIMS/IAAF-Certified*)
Cebu City Marathon is by far my favorite marathon in the Philippines, and to my surprise is officially listed as an AIMS/IAAF-certified race! Coming from Manila, this event serves as my great getaway at the start of the year as it’s usually held every second Sunday of January. It’s arguably the most “tourist-friendly” marathon I’ve joined in the Philippines as a bulk of participants are expected to be coming from outside the province of Cebu, and the timing of this event is perfect as it opens the Sinulog Festival—another reason to stay longer in the province. A well-organized event with an interesting route plus an entire province in festive mood, what’s not to like? And when you start tasting the great food… well you get the idea. 🙂
* An AIMS/IAAF-certified race simply means its course has been measured accurately as per Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) standards. For more information about this process, click here.
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Running is definitely more fun in the Philippines as we have so many places to run (choose among our 7,107 islands!) plus the blessing of a perpetual summer coupled with the beauty of nature, great food, and amazing hospitality. Metro Manila may hold the bulk of races, but it’s not the exclusive producer of what I consider to be the most recommendable races in the country as only two out of five made it in my list. And I’m sure there are a lot more races in the provinces that I haven’t had the pleasure of discovering, so I encourage everyone to explore our beautiful country! I do believe that one of the best way to know a place is on foot, and with that running (or even plain walking) is definitely one great way to discover the Philippines.
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