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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

May 11, 2013

BAGOLATAO ADVENTURE RUN: The “Broke Back” Mountain Challenge

In one of my very first articles(http://www.bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2011/11/our-bicol-our-home-our-un.html#more)in this running blog, I expressed the "commitment" to run as much as I could in my native Bicol.  

Since then, I have done another   Mayon 360 ultra, a 15-km fun run in Legazpi and a couple of bootleg    runs:   Mt Iriga-Mt Asog Adventure Run (http://www.bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2012/07/mt-iriga-mt-asog-adventure-run-43-kms.html) and the  Tiwi-Sangay Road Adventure Run (http://bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2012/11/1st-bicolano-penguin-anniversary-run.html).

These bootlegs are "running is free" endeavors  with no registration fees, no singlets, no waivers, no nothing. Just the sheer joy of running with friends in a place remote and seldom visited by runners.

This kind of running  appeals to me and a handful of my fellow 83neans.  All we need is a road and equally-minded running buddies.

The next and 3rd  bootleg I did in Bicol was the Bagolatao Adventure Run last May 4, 2013. It was a 17-km run from the town proper of Minalabac, Camarines Sur to the seaside barangay of Bagolatao, also in the 3rd-class municipality of Minalabac. For quite some time already, I have been salivating about a run to the western coastal side of our province. A Batch 83 classmate of mine, Jose San Jose talked about a white beach in one of the coastal barrios of his hometown Minalabac. But when I googled the map, I could not locate any roads going to these parts. However, my Naga-based running buddies Ric Lozano and Allen Tolledo assured me there was a newly-built, partially-constructed cement road, courtesy of the pork barrel of the sitting congressman of the newly-created 2nd district of the province. I then requested them to do a recon of the road. This they did with their motorbikes and emailed me last month several pictures.

With the detail about the existence of the road settled, we set the date of May 4 for the adventure run to the white beach of Bagolatao. I requested Ric and Allen to invite the usual suspects of running buddies in Naga. When word leaked of this adventure run, two Manila-based 83neans, Ed Balcueva and Ernie Badong, emailed to express their strongest intent to be part of the action. 

Dirty Dozen of the Bagolatao Adventure Run:  Allen, Bicolano Penguin, Ryan Roy, Nene, Belle, Ric, Sherrylou, Mariano, Gary, Joji, Ernie and Ed
Come 7:30 am (May 4), 12 runners gathered at the side of a road in the outskirts of the town proper of Minalabac. The "dirty dozen", in addition to us five 83neans, included Mariano Basagre of Nabua (the 5th placer at the 2013 Mayon 360 ultra marathon  http://www.bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2013/04/2013-mayon-360-ultra-winners-rise-of.html) and Joji  Asis of Naga.  There was a newbie runner, Gary Castillo   from a younger batch at the Ateneo de Naga (HS Batch 1986). Most welcome additions were a trio of lady runners: Belle Romualdo, Sherrylou Desaliza and Nene Panganiban.  These 3 are gym buddies whom  Allen has recruited for running. Rounding off the 12 was Ryan Roy, a nephew of Belle. On hand to provide logistical and hydration support to the expedition were a couple of vehicles driven by Ronel of Fatima and  Ramil, Belle’s brother.

As we started the run to Bagolatao,  a question ran thru my mind – - - - What beauty and peril, fun and despair  await us?
Feast your eyes to the photos (courtesy of Ernie and Ramil) to get a taste of the answers to the question:

Start of the run with a single line against the oncoming vehicular traffic
Enjoying the flat road at the start.  Note the colored banners on the side of the road which are present almost thru out the run
Belle keeping up with the old boys
Allen keeping up with one of his protégées
Nearing  the 5km mark, the gaps are increasing
Crossroads with 7 kms to go to the beach

At 6 kms to go, the climb up the mountain starts

A great feeling to see others, a campaigning congressman at that,  riding SUVs to go up the mountain while runners like us do it self propelled

And we have power to spare to run after the SUVs
Heat training and hill training combined (I am only smiling because there is a camera pointed at us.)

Damay damay sa hirap at takbo

While the old 83neans suffered thru the climb, the young Mariano exhibited his speed training Bicol style

Bicol style as in running after and overtaking  motor vehicles up the mountain

I don't recall these Beauties and a Beast overtaking me at the uphill...

...but they were at the top (200 meters above sea level)  for the group picture when...

...the Bicolano Penguin came huffing and puffing to the top (Note the background to see how far and up we have gone from the town proper in the plains below.)

At the rest stop at the top, my back felt broke, inspiring Ernie to call this the Broke Back Mountain
Time for some Mountain Dew to recharge;  Close to 2 kms left till the beach

Now it is downhill and running can’t feel any more free than this.  It is Hoka time for me.  Time to fly.

Finally, we see the blue sea ...

 ...and the fishing village of Bagolatao

Running thru the beach of white, not sands, pebbles

The Dirty Dozen at the beach.Victory indeed.

Close to 3 hours of running for 17 kms under the heat and up and down the mountain. An adventure to remember this summer of 2013.

Overall, I would place the Bagolatao Adventure Run over that of Mt Iriga/Mt Asog and Tiwi-Sangay Road.  This despite it being the shortest run thus far. Three factors come to mind. First, the participation for the first time in our bootlegs of lady runners which kept us on our toes less we get trumped.  Second, the thrill and satisfaction of going mano y mano with SUVs up the mountain.   Third,  the end point of the run is a lovely beach which refreshed us like no dew can.

Running is life lived free. Life is good.


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  2. To Bicolano Penguin.. it was again a memorable run w/ my friends/batchmates(83neans) together w/ our running buddies esp. to the 3 lady runners….’hope this will inspire them to Run more…..Looking forward on our next group run anywhere in Bicol, tnx

  3. Thank you pading Allen. Without your efforts and that of Ric, this Bagolatao adventure run would not have materialized for us. Great job in recruiting fresh faces for our running adventures. Looking forward indeed to more adventure runs there in Bicol. Our Home. Our Run.

  4. I would like to thank the Bicolano Penguin and his fellow 83nean running batchmates for spearheading the Bagolatao run.. Hope I can join again in your adventure runs here in Bicol especially the 2nd anniversary run of the BP. Again, thank you thank you.

  5. Your welcome Gary. I am happy that Ric was able to "recruit" you into running. We will make sure to give you an invite on the 2nd Bicolano Penguin Anniversary Run. Tentative date is Nov 1 or Nov 2. We plan to have it around Lake Bato. Matira ang matibay. Matira ang Bato. hahahaha......

  6. Thank you for this wonderful feature! It was indeed a very wonderful experience. I'm definitely looking forward to the next run :)

  7. Thanks Belle for the kind and generous words. We enjoyed your running company and, most definitely, we enjoyed the salad and the gulay na santol. Our next adventure run will most probably be a run around Lake Bato (this will be ultra marathon distance) come early November. You and your friends are welcome to join us in the adventure. You guys can do it.