Official Result: 3rd NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Run

3rd NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

Laoag City To Santa Ana, Cagayan via Aparri, Cagayan

Starting Area & Time: Laoag City, In Front of the Provincial Capitol, Ilocos Norte/00:01 AM May 17, 2018

Finish Area & Time: Northern Pearl Beach Resort, Santa Ana, Cagayan/00:01 AM May 20, 2018

Cut-Off Time: 72 Hours with 10 Hours Cut-Off Time Every 50 Kilometers.

Number Of Starters: 4 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 4 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 100%

Starters/Runners With The Race Director

RANK       NAME            TIME (Hrs)

  1. Ian Piza (Overall Champion/New Course Record)—-60:44:19
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall)—-63:59:36
  3. Rod Losabia (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)—-69:31:20
  4. Kevin Luna—-71:53:00
Champion & New Course Record Holder Ian Piza
1st Runner-Up & 2nd Time Finisher Gibo Malvar
2nd Runner-Up Finisher Rod Losabia
4th & Last Runner Kevin Luna

Congratulations To All The Finishers!


Epilogue: 1st BR’s Quad Marathons

Having known an event which was experienced and finished by an ultra running friend in one of his trips/visits in the United States, I thought of the idea that local Pinoy runners can also do such an event without even going out of the country. What is really important in this kind of event is to have a period of 4 days which are declared non-working holidays and the place where one can have a varied routes for four marathons in four days. Of course, there is also the need to have some runners who are brave enough to try and experience what it is like to run one marathon distance each day for four consecutive days.

I though of my birthplace, Laoag City, as the place to conduct this event because it has a lot of road networks that converge to the center of the city. Having been familiar to the road networks in the place, I decided to have this event held in the city. There is no harm in taking the risk of conducting this event even if there is only one or two runners.

Laoag City
Landmark Of Laoag City (Photo by May Santos)

A simple Facebook Event Page was created just to inform the “Public” and my FB friends about this event. And I did not personally contact each and every ultra running friend to be invited to join this event. As I said before, I create an event and I let runners join my event in their personal volition. It is inherent that most of my friends were excited to find out that this Quad Marathons is a new event and most of them signified to join or simply clicked the button “Interested”. But knowing the real attitude of the Local Runners and even PAU Members, who are really good friends, I did not expect much that most of these people will be joining this event. The bottom line here is, I really don’t care!

After a simple coordination with the LGU of Ilocos Norte and the Provincial PNP of Ilocos Norte, the event was a GO! And the rest is history!

It has proven once again that Local Pinoy Runners can match the endurance and stamina of other runners in other countries. The Quad Marathons can be done even in simple logistics and needs for the runners. Additionally, it is proven once again that I don’t need Corporate Sponsorship if I want an idea to be implemented and put into action. To prove a point, the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon, the event that started all these “craziness” in ultra running in the country, had survived for almost 10 years without any Corporate Sponsorship!

I would like to thank the following ultra running friends: Dondon Talosig from Tuguegarao, Cagayan; Gibo Malvar from Piddig/Sarrat, Ilocos Norte/Paranaque, Metro Manila; Rod Losabia from Metro Manila; Tess Leono from Metro Manila; Rose Betonio from Metro Manila; Kathleen Piñero from Metro Manila; and Laurice Rogel from Metro Manila who were the “Pioneers” of this event. These runner-finishers will receive appropriate Awards & Commendations for their feat during the 2018 BDM & PAU Get Together Party. I would also thank May Santos from Marikina, Metro Manila for being the Recorder/Marshal/Official Photographer of the event. I would like also to give thanks and commend the support given by Numeriano De La Cruz and Joaquin Bordado of Team Kimat Running Club of Ilocos Norte. Lastly, to my Personal Staff and the Support Crew of each runner who made sure that all the Logistics/Administrative needs were made available during the event.

As a runner-participant of this event, I was able to prove my running philosophy in order to inspire others to run—“If I can do it, then, you can do it, too!” If want to create an idea, make sure you can do it so that you are a reliable and consistent person!

Day 4 Paoay
Turn-Around Point On 4th Day (Photo By May Santos)

As per my observation on the runner-participants, I could see that each of us have that tendency to be competitive with one another even if we were having fun, enjoying the environment & scenery of the route, having a “bonding time” among friends, and with the experience of being attacked by street dogs in some of the populated areas along the route. Each runner has a different style of dealing with these street dogs—some would shout back at the barking dogs; some would simply run faster away from the attacking dogs; some would bring a stick to ward off the dogs; and some would just blind the dogs with their powerful handheld lights. However, I would simply ignore and never looked at the dogs when I would pass infront of them. But the most effective way to prevent the dogs from biting you is to NEVER use any headphone or play your music/ playlist during this kind of event. I should know because in one of my adventure runs, I was bitten by a street dog while listening to my playlist on my iPod! Also, one of the runners have learned some lessons in marathon racing where one should be light and simple if you want to have a faster time in a marathon race!

Oh, yes, I was the official “sweeper” of the event to make sure that all my runners would be able to finish each event within the cut-off time of 6 hours and 30 minutes. I am glad all the runners had successfully finished the race! I guess, in my races, that is one of the duties of the Race Director!

Personally, this is how I felt during the period of four days. I think the rest of the runners would have to agree with me on my feelings. Before the start of the event, I was not sure if I would be able to have the stamina and endurance to finish the whole event. After I finished the first day Marathon, I was exhausted due to the hot and humid weather even if it was then in the evening and early morning. I was already thinking of a reason or alibi where I would simply sit back in my car and supervise the runners for the remaining 3 marathon races. But I though that ones personality is being tested here in this event. So, I was not at all excited for the 2nd day event. However, after 1-2 kilometers of running on the 2nd day’s route, we were met by cold air and winds coming from the mountains east of Laoag City and it was very refreshing. The cooler temperature made us faster to finish the event on the 2nd day. On the start of the 3rd day, I was silent and apprehensive as I told to the runners that the course will be darker due to the absence of street lights along the route and some portions have road constructions. But the runners did not complain and they registered a faster time, too!

After we finished the third marathon, I brought all the runners for a day tour along the last day marathon course and they were able to familiarize some locations and the overall elevation profile of the route. Aside from being the last event, knowing the course on a walk/drive-through boosted their morale to finally get things done immediately! The experience running in the rain for about 10-12 minutes at Km 5-6 was really exhilarating and enjoyable! There were no complaints from the runners and we finished the event with a much faster time.

For the first two days, we used the front portion of the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte as the Start/Finish area since we did not cross the Laoag/Padsan Bridge or River. But for the two remaining days,we changed the location of the Start & Finish at the LAOAG Landmark at the foot of the Laoag City Bridge. The variety of the locations of the Start and Finish gave a very nice documentation on the exposure of Laoag City and the Province of Ilocos Norte.

These are my assessment and conclusion on this event: First, it takes a veteran marathoner or an ultra runner to finish this event. Two, even considering the difficulty of the elevation on each course, the tendency of the human body to be faster and stronger as the event progresses from day one to day four. Three, since the Aid Stations are the Support Vehicles of the runners which are mobile that “leap-frog” ahead of the runners, one has to be very good in his/her nutrition and hydration strategy. And lastly, our human body is a wonderful God-given “machine” that has a way of recovering from pain & exhaustion through proper nutrition and rest & recovery within a span of 24 hours.

Congratulations To Everybody! (Photo By May Santos)

Next edition will the same schedule as we had this year where the last day event culminates with the Independence Day of the country.

Once again, congratulations to all the runners, support crew & staff, and to our volunteers/marshals.

Lace up and run!


4th & Last Day: Quad Marathons

We were all excited that we have reached the Final Marathon for this event. Nobody was complaining about any aches, pain, “niggles”, or any injury from the runners. At least, all the runners had a chance to conduct a walk & drive-thru along the route during the day after the 3rd day Marathon. They would know what to expect and come up with their own “landmarks” with regards to distances and where exactly the locations of those rolling elevations on the course.

The runners would start at the LAOAG Sign Landmark which is located at the Laoag City Park and then goes to the Gilbert Bridge towards San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte. Once the runners cross the bridge, they have to turn RIGHT on the first intersection where the road leads to the Laoag City International Airport. Once the runners reach the new “roundabout” in front of the Northwestern University, they have to turn LEFT and run along the Laoag-Suba-Paoay Road until they reach the Poblacion of Paoay, Ilocos Norte. From Paoay, the runners would run one loop of the street block where the Paoay Church is located and then turn-around and go back to the Starting Line.

Day 4 Before The Start
Group Picture Before The Start (Photo Courtesy of May Santos)

This running route is very memorable to me because it was my training playground for my first Marathon Race in the early 80s while I was assigned in Ilocos Norte as a young First Lieutenant of the Philippine Army. I would do my daily runs from Laoag City to the Suba Golf Driving Range (now, Plaza Del Norte) and then back to Laoag City for a good 20K LSD run. For my hill workouts, I would run along the road from the Golf Driving Range up to the beach where the famous Laoag Sand Dunes are located ( film shooting locations of the movies “Panday”, “Himala”, and the “4th of July” where Tom Cruise is the lead actor).

The course is relatively flat on the first 10K (6.2 miles) until the road goes uphill in front of the Plaza Del Norte and before the Golf Course which is only about 100 meters long. This is the famous Start Area of the yearly North Start 10K Run which was discontinued in the early 90s after almost 15 years of existence. This year, I have thought of reviving this event after I made a consultation/agreement with the then Race Organizer of the event who is in his 80s! From the peak of the uphill portion, it goes downhill for about 500 meters and then goes slightly up for a rolling elevation of about 1 kilometer. Once you see the view of the Paoay Lake on your left, everything goes downhill and flattens to the next 5-6 Kilometers up to the famous Paoay Church which is the turn-around point of the course. The runners take one loop of the street block around the Paoay Church and then goes back to the Starting Line.

The last Marathon Race started at 11:40 PM of Sunday, June 11, 2017 after some reminders and group pictures. I decided this time to be the “sweeper” again to make sure that everybody would be able to finish the race within the cut-off time of 6.5 hours. As we reached the Km 5 point, it rained for about 10-12 minutes and all of us were wet but it made our running environment cooler and made our body temperature lowered. The feeling of having your body perspiration mix with the cold rain is very refreshing!

Personally, I had the feeling of nostalgia and happiness while running on this course because I could memorize every inch or meter of the road! It is that feeling of happiness that I am finally back on this course/route after 37 years that greatly contributed on my being a passionate runner up to this time. Except for the 2nd Day Marathon (Laoag-Sarrat-Piddig route which is the official MILO Half-Marathon route), I have never ran along the 1st Day and 3rd Day routes.

I have never told to the 7 runners how deeply happy and elated while I was running with them on this Quad Marathon along the route of the 4th Day Marathon. I only told them that this was my favorite route when I would run while I was assigned in the province. I never told them that I had been running with some of the runners then in the City and that I’ve been “coached” by a Project Gintong Alay athlete, who is a local resident of Laoag City, for the Marathon distance and personally massaged by him every after our LSD runs along this route. This local elite running athlete would become a Champion of some of the Marathon Races in Metro Manila but what made him very popular was the fact that he was able to break the the course record for a Half-Marathon Race in the country! So, for the six hours that I’ve been running this course, I would recall all those times and the persons that had been a part of my running life while I was in Ilocos Norte. I will tell more about the “stories” among and about the 7 runners in this event in my “Epilogue” of this event.

Day 4 Finish Pic
Group Picture After Finishing The Race (Photo Courtesy of May Santos)

The following is the result of the 4th and Last Day Marathon of this event:

RANK     NAME                TIME (Hrs)

  1. Dondon Talosig ——4:50:25
  2. Gibo Malvar ———- 4:51:03
  3. Rod Losabia ———- 5:10:12
  4. Tess Leono (F) ——- 5:22:48
  5. Rose Betonio (F) —- 5:34:06
  6. Reese Rogel (F) —— 6:11:36
  7. Jovie Narcise/BR —— 6:11:49

After I have personally awarded the Finisher’s Medal and Shirt to everybody, we had our Group Picture and we congratulated each other for being the Official “Pioneers” of this event which is considered as the First Quad Marathons in the country.

Day 4 Finish Flag
Finishing The Quad Marathons Was In Time With The 119th Independence Day Celebration

What a historic way to celebrate our country’s Independence Day!

Congratulations to the Quad Marathons “Pioneers”!

2nd Day: Quad Marathons

The second day Marathon Event started at 11:45 PM of June 9 (Friday) and expected to be finished at 6:15 AM of June 10 (Saturday). The route brings the runners to the eastern towns of Ilocos Norte. The runners would be able to pass the municipalities of Sarrat (first town after Laoag City) and the Poblacion of Piddig, Ilocos Norte (location of the turn-around point).

Day 2 Quad Marathons START
Day 2 Before The Start

The Municipality of Sarrat is noted to be the Birthplace of the Former President Ferdinand Marcos who ruled the Philippines for 20 years—8 years as a duly re-elected President and then another 12 years under Martial Law. The town has also a much-improved Public Park with an old Spanish Church. The Municipality of Piddig is also noted in history as the place in the country where the people revolted against the Spaniards because of a locally produced wine from sugar cane, called “Basi” in 1807. Up to the present, the place is still noted as the source of the Best Basi in the province.

The course is flat for the first 9 kilometers and then an uphill climb for about 200 meters at Km 10 which levels off until reaching Kilometer 19 which has another uphill terrain at the Poblacion (center) of Piddig..  The 21K turn-around point is the Solsona-Piddig Highway Kilometer Post #507. As compared with the first day route, this route has a cooler and windy environment because of big trees along the highway and the cooler winds coming from the mountain ranges located at the eastern part of the province of Ilocos Norte.

Day 2 Turn-Around
Day 2 Turn Around Point (21K)

Being the “sweeper” of the event, I could see who are the runners that are leading once they are on their way back to the Finish Line. Sometimes, if I see and feel that the last runner is lagging behind, I try to run in front or ahead of the runner so that he/she is forced to run faster to catch me.

Day 2 Quad Marathons
Day 2 Finish Line Group Picture

For this 2nd day Marathon, all the runners had improved on their finish times as shown below:

RANK          NAME              TIME (Hrs)

  1. Gibo Malvar ———– 4:51:58
  2. Dondon Talosig —— 4:58:36
  3. Rod Losabia ———– 5:20:23
  4. Tess Leono (F) ——– 5:46:26
  5. Rose Betonio (F) —– 5:50:16
  6. Reese Rogel (F) ——- 6:17:49
  7. Jovie Narcise/BR —– 6:17:55

After the awarding of the Finisher’s Medals and Shirts, we had a group picture and breakfast from McDonalds Fastfood courtesy of one of the runners.

Day 2 McDonalds
Recovery Food & Drinks After Marathon #2

Tonight will be the third Marathon Event in a different course which will test (again) the determination and endurance of all the runners.

(Note: Pictures Courtesy of May Santos)

1st Day: Quad Marathons

Seven of my ultra running friends registered for the First Edition of the BR’s Quad Marathons which is held on June 9-12, 2017 with start and finish in Laoag City (Ilocos Norte). A day prior to the start of the event, I decided to join the runners as a runner-participant and at the same time the “sweeper” for the event. However, at the back of my mind, I did not want anybody among from friends to DNF this event.

The four daily marathon events is scheduled to start at 1:00 AM every day but with only a handful of participants, I advised all the runners that we might start earlier as soon as all the runners are already at the Start Area. Except for one runner, the remaining seven runners stayed in our house for easier control and management.

Each of the marathon events has a cut-off time of 6 hours and 30 minutes. If a runner finishes a marathon event beyond the cut-off time, the runner is declared DNF and could not join the succeeding events. Every official finisher each day will receive a Finisher’s Medal and Shirt. If the participant completes or finishes the four Marathon Events, he/she will receive a Finisher’s Trophy and a Finisher’s Certificate.

1st Day Quad Marathons
Group Picture Before The Start Of The Race

The first marathon event started at 12:30 AM and the course covers the 21K distance from the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol in Laoag City to Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte and then back to the Starting Area. The route goes north along the Maharlika Highway passing the towns of Bacarra and Pasuquin. The turn-around point is at the Highway Kilometer Post #508 where a Marshal is located. The Marshal must take a picture of the runner once they reach the turn-around point before going back to the Starting Area for the Finish.

1st Day Quad Marathons 00
21K Turn-Around Point

For the logistics support of the runners, there are two roving Support Vehicles which could provide water, soft drinks, Gatorade, and bite foods for the runners. Usually, these support vehicles are located every 3 kilometers. In this edition, these support vehicles are also individual support vehicles of some of the runners.

The course is relatively flat with a few elevation gains at Kilometers 4-5 and on the way back, Kilometers 37-38. However, on this particular night, it was hot and humid with no wind even during the early morning.

All of the 8 participants were able to finish the Marathon on the first day within the cut-off time. The following is the result:

RANK          NAME                  TIME (Hrs)

  1. Dondon Talosig ———- 5:03:40
  2. Rod Losabia ————— 5:12:17
  3. Gibo Malvar ————— 5:37:27
  4. Tess Leono (Female) — 5:37:29
  5. Rose Betonio (F) ——— 5:45:04
  6. Reese Rogel (F) ———– 6:26:52
  7. Jovie Narcise/BR ——— 6:26:54
1st Day Quad Finish
Group Picture After The Awarding Of Medals & Shirts

After the awarding of Medals and Shirts, we had some group pictures taken. After breakfast, we went to the beach for a swim and had some sight-seeing; and have some fun!

1st Day Quad Finish Beach
Having Fun After The 1st Marathon Event

We hope that we will be ready again for the 2nd Marathon Event before midnight!

(Note: Pictures Courtesy of May Santos)



Official Result: 1st NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

1st NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

Gun Start & Starting Place: 12:01 AM May 12, 2016/Laoag City (Ilocos Norte)

Finish Line: La Perla Inn, Santa Ana, Cagayan

Finish Time: 12:01 AM May 15, 2016

Cut-Off Time: 72 Hours

Number Of Starters: 9 Runners

Pioneers Of The NORTH COAST 200-Mile Run

RANK              NAME                            TIME (Hours)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Overall Champion, CR) —–64:37:41
  2. Dondon Talosig (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —— 65:55:31
  3. Jonathan Moleta (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —– 67:05:57
  4. Allan Sabado —————————– 70:16:30
  5. Roberto Vocal, Jr ————————– 70:45:23
  6. Benedict Meneses ————————- 71:41:25
  7. Jocel Lanas***—————————- 73:14:49

***Beyond Cut-Off Time

Thomas Combisen, Overall Champion & Course Record Holder

Congratulations To All The Finishers! Thank you for your support.

See you in the next edition (2017)!


Route Description: PAU’s NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

The race starts on Midnight of May 10, 2017 in front of the Provincial Capitol of Ilocos Norte which is located along Rizal Street in Laoag City.

Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol
Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol

From Rizal Street, runners will go on easterly direction until they reach the second street intersection and then TURN LEFT along the so-called BACARRA Road. The Bacarra Road goes on a northerly direction towards the town of Bacarra. After passing the Bacarra Bridge, the runner follows the Highway towards the town of Pasuquin and by-passes the Poblacion of Bacarra.

The runners will pass the town of Pasuquin as he/she proceeds to the town of Burgos. The Kilometer #50 Checkpoint will be located in front of the Burgos Municipal Hall.

Kapurpurawan Rock Junction Before Poblacion of Burgos
Kapurpurawan Rock Junction Before Poblacion of Burgos
In Front Of The Burgos Municipal HallI
In Front Of The Burgos Municipal Hall

After passing the Windmills in Burgos and Bangui, the runners will be on their way to the Boundary of Pagudpud. Once they reach the intersection/junction going to the Poblacion of Pagudpud and towards the Province of Cagayan, runners would have covered a distance of 72 Kilometers.

Pagudpud To Cagayan Junction (Kilometer 72)
Pagudpud To Cagayan Junction (Kilometer 72)

After 18 kilometers, runners will reach the famous Patapat Bridge and hopefully, the last runner will pass this place while there is still daylight. Patapat Bridge is Kilometer #90

Patapat Bridge (Kilometer #90)
Patapat Bridge (Kilometer #90)

After 10 kilometres, there is a flowing water from a hose from the side of the mountain which is very near to a road repair construction due to mountain slides. This is the Kilometer 100 mark of the route.

Free-Flowing Water on the Right Side of the Road Near a Landslide Repair/Construction
Free-Flowing Water on the Right Side of the Road Near a Landslide Repair/Construction

After 2 kilometres, the runners will reach the Ilocos Northe-Cagayan Boundary Arc (Kilometer 102).

Ilocos Norte-Cagayan Highway Boundary Arc
Ilocos Norte-Cagayan Highway Boundary Arc

From this point, runners will be going downhill towards the town of Santa Praxedes and to the plains of Claveria, Pamplona, and Abulog until they reach the famous Magapit Bridge, the Longest Suspension Bridge in the country.

Claveria Arc
Claveria Arc
Pamplona Welcome Arc
Pamplona Welcome Arc

The Pamplona Welcome Arc is Kilometer #150 and the Pamplona Poblacion is Kilometer #160.

Eight Kilometers before the town of Allacapan is marked as Kilometer #200.

Upon reaching the Magapit Bridge, the runners would have reached Kilometer #226.

Magapit Bridge
Magapit Bridge

After crossing the Magapit Bridge, runners will TURN LEFT towards the town of Lal-lo, Cagayan and proceed to Aparri, Cagayan. The runners will pass the DUGO Intersection (Dugo, Camalaniugan) on their way to the direction of Aparri until they will reach Km Post 0578 which is 4 Kilometers before reaching the town of Aparri. At this Kilometer Post, runners will TURN-AROUND back to the DUGO Intersection and then TURN LEFT towards Santa Ana, Cagayan.

The DUGO (Camalaniugan) Intersection is Kilometer #244.5 and the Km Post 0578 which is the TURN-AROUND point is Km #251. Upon reaching back to DUGO after coming from the TURN-AROUND Point, the runners should have covered a distance of 258 Kilometers.

DUGO (Camalaniugan) Intersection
DUGO (Camalaniugan) Intersection
TURN-AROUND Point Before Aparri, Cagayan
TURN-AROUND Point Before Aparri, Cagayan

From the DUGO Intersection to the Finish Line in Santa Ana, Cagayan will be a long-stretch of flat road of about 62+ Kilometers. The Finish Line will be at the LA PERLA INN which is 10 Kilometers away after passing the Santa Ana Welcome Arc.

Santa Ana, Cagayan Welcome Arc (Last 10 Kilometers To The Finish Line)
Santa Ana, Cagayan Welcome Arc (Last 10 Kilometers To The Finish Line)
La Perla Inn Entrance
La Perla Inn Entrance
La Perla Inn Merker & Road To Santa Ana's Centro
La Perla Inn Marker & Road To Santa Ana’s Centro

Good luck to all the Runners!

Sand Dunes Running

“Marathon Des Sable” In Ilocos Norte/April 10, 2012

The Sand Dunes in Ilocos Norte had become a tourist attraction since the early 80s with the construction of the Fort Ilocandia Resort Hotel and for being a popular site for movie shooting location of so many local as well as foreign films in the past. The complex had been planned to be the location of a world-class tourist destination; a sports haven; an entertainment and gambling paradise; and an export processing for industrial and manufacturing firms. But due to political developments, everything (all the plans) had to be buried in the sand with only the Fort Ilocandia Resort Complex; a Golf Course; an International Airport; and some road systems opened and paved as projects that had been realized as part of the grand plan for the place.

The Sand Dunes of Ilocos Norte remain to be untouched except for the endless tracts of 4 X 4 all-terrain vehicles. I thought that if all-terrain vehicles could navigate and create paths on these desert and sand dunes formations, runners and pedestrian adventure seekers are not far behind to experience what it is like to have fun in running and hiking on the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte.

So, a plan had been hatched to run, jog, and walk along the said sand dunes and relive the history of the place.

Visiting My Mom’s Grave Is A Yearly Activity

I visited the tomb/grave of my mother in Laoag City and offered a prayer on her supposed to be 87th Birthday last April 7, 2012 but I made my trip on April 9. On the following day, I was scheduled to run along the Sand Dunes of Laoag City up to Paoay, Ilocos Norte and if time permits, I could extend my run up to the Currimao Beach. The plan was to come up with a route along the Sand Dunes which can cover a distance of a Marathon (42.195 kilometers).

My Running Friends/Companion In This Adventure Run

Dr. Chester Puno of Bad Circle/Team KIMAT and Running High Specialty Running Store of Laoag City, Rogelio Alcaraz Alejandro Jr of Team KIMAT, and my nephew Duckie joined me in this recon run. The run started at the City Hall of Laoag City at about 6:15 AM and our direction was to reach Barangay Gabu as we passed along the Laoag Bridge by going South and then to the West. Short conversations while we were running made our run effortless as we maintained a steady easy pace.

The view of Laoag River and Barangay La Paz, Laoag City

We had a brief stop as soon as we reached Barangay Gabu where we met familiar faces as residents of the place. We had also some photo-ops with the mouth of Laoag River as it exits on the South China Sea. After a short run from the populated area of the Barangay, we reached the entry of the Sand Dunes of Laoag City which is considered as the northernmost portion of the area.

Looking as far as the eyes can see, I can see the tip of the southernmost part of the Sand Dunes which happens to be called, Culili Point, a small hill which is already a part of the next town, Paoay. I told to the group that after running for almost 9 kilometers from Laoag City, we have to reach the said Culili Point and find out if we could run along the beach up to the next town, Currimao. But I told them that we had to make a pit stop at the eateries along the beach of the Fort Ilocandia Resort for our breakfast.

So, we continued our run along the beach and the sun was about to be seen on the eastern horizon. Running on the sand dunes with the heat of the sun in Ilocos Norte could rival with the heat which I experienced when I visited Badwater, California in 2009. It was so hard to run as our feet would land on the loose ground and have our leg muscles exert some more force to lift them for the next step. Running would later become slower into jogging and ends to brisk walking.


After more than one hour of jogging along the sand dunes, we reached the area of the Fort Ilocandia Resort Complex and it was time to have our breakfast in one of the eateries along the beach. We ordered breakfast meal with fried eggs and corned beef and we were surprised that our meal had the native rice as part of the breakfast order. We were really hungry and enjoyed our meal. We also replenished our water supply on our hydration system and had a brief rest after our meal.

Running With Badwater Temperature!
Culili Point Is Still Far!

Culili Point was always on our sight as our destination before proceeding to the beach of Currimao. From the Fort Ilocandia Complex, the heat of the sun was already taking its toll on us as we continued our run-jog-walk along the beach. There are group of fishermen who were pulling their fishing nets from the sea and some of them were resting in temporary makeshift. It was nice to talk to these people as they were surprised that they saw us to be running along the beach at a time when the sun was already almost on top of us.

A Water Well At The Sand Dunes. It was our Savior from the Heat & Dehydration!

We rested on this makeshift as we unlaced our running shoes to remove the sands that were inside our shoes. The longer we ran on the sand, our shoes became heavier as the finer sands would enter on the mesh of the upper part of our shoes and from our ankles. Nobody from us were using gaiters and there was no way we can prevent the sands from entering our shoes. Later, it became a ritual to have brief stops along the route in order to remove the sand from our shoes.

Finally, Culili Point On My Background With 2 Kilometers More To Go

Our conversation with the fishermen led us to know that there are water wells on the sand dunes where we can re-supply our water supply. We looked for the water well and it was refreshing to pour more water to our heads and bodies for the needed cooling effect to bring down the heat of our bodies. From this water well, our target destination was within our grasps.

But sometimes the heat of the sun would play on us. We thought the distance to the Culili Point would be estimated to be one kilometer from us but in reality it took us forever to reach its foot. It took us almost 30 minutes to cover the last kilometer up to the peak of the hill. My companions took a pit stop at its foot while I just went directly to its peak without resting.

Last Push To Culili Point

The all-around view from the peak of Culili Point was beautiful! The Currimao Beach was on my sight in the south, the South China Sea on my west and the Sand Dunes on the north and east directions. After some photo-ops with my companios on top of the Culili Point, I decided to end the run and find a route that goes back to the highway that would lead us to Paoay.

At The Peak Of Culili Point

We had been running for the past 6 hours and we have yet to reach the highway. Our run towards the highway was very challenging as there were uphill climbs and soaring heat of the sun. After almost 3 kilometers, we reached a populated area where we stopped for more water to douse our hot bodies. We have to hydrate ourselves and take some of our power bars just to fight fatigue to our bodies.

The Road In Going Back To The Highway
Lots Of Mountain Peaks To Be Bagged On The Background

I am glad one of our companion’s friend fetched us on the said barangay aboard a car and it was a great feeling to be sitting in a car with the air coming from the shaded portions of the road. If not for the car that fetched us, we had another 3 kilometers to run and jog just to be able to reach the paved road leading to the town of Paoay.

To replenish ourselves with a lunch, we were treated with hot bulalo meal and other ilocano recipes in one of the eateries in Paoay. The lunch and the ice-cooled soda drinks were enough reward for our sand dunes adventure run.

The Damage & Aftermath
The Reward: P 35 Pesos Worth Of Hot Bulalo!

The recon run registered a distance of 25 kilometers which took us almost seven (7) hours of fun and adventure. I promised myself to be back and extend my run up to the beach of Currimao and if possible, come up with an ultra running event in this place.

See you at the Starting Line!

North Star 10K Run

This is considered as the Pride of the North in terms of Running Events. It was usually held on the last Sunday of December every year since 1979. Unfortunately, the last North Star 10K Run was held in 2002 and it was never revived up to this day due to lack of sponsors and resources.

Mr. Pompey Crisologo and his brother, Danny Crisologo (sports columnist and sportsman who passed away) were the owners and race directors of this event. The Crisologos in Laoag City are the owners of the North Star Marketing, Inc which is the sole distributor of Petron Gasul in Ilocos Norte.

The race event started as a final test for the year-long running workouts to those who practiced running regularly among the youths, professionals and residents in Laoag and Ilocos Norte which was done on the last Sunday of the year. Cadets, Officers & Enlisted Personnel from the Philippine Military Academy would join this race regularly. Even runners from Manila would join as “free rides” were provided by the Farinas Bus Company, being one of the sponsors of the race.

The 10K route starts from the old Suba, Paoay Sports Complex/at the vicinity of the old Golf Driving Range of the Fort Ilocandia Golf Course. From that point, the runners go south along the Paoay Road where the finish line is at the point on the road directly beside the bellfry/tower of the famous Paoay Church at Poblacion, Paoay.

The first kilometer is the only hard part of the course as it is going uphill. After passing the 1st kilometer mark, the course is relatively a smooth downhill and flat terrain up to the finish line. The route is very near to the seashore as sand dunes are seen on your right while the Paoay Lake is seen at your left for the first 2 kilometers of the route. The rest of the route are bounded by rice fields/garlic fields on both sides of the road.

Mr Pompey Crisologo was my “informal coach” in running when I started training for the marathon. As an observer, he would make a critique on my running form and give tips on running training techniques and strategy. He reads a lot and he was way ahead of me in knowing the best and the latest technology in running, to include accessories in running and latest running news at that time.

This morning, I had a chance to see him in his office/commercial establishment and he is still very active and youthful at his age of 72!!! He is still wearing a running shoes with his jeans. Little did I know that he was 52 years old when he finished his first marathon in 1981 with an average pace of 6:00 minutes per kilometer. He said that he is still helping the sports development in the province with a  sports (running) project spearheaded by his business company and the Office of the Governor where they conduct 5K races in the different municipalities in Ilocos Norte and later have a 10K race for the top finishers/qualifiers in the 5K races. The top runners in this 10K race are “spotted” as future athletes of the province and given proper training as well as scholarships for high school and college degrees. He is proud to say that the province of Ilocos Norte had been a consistent winner/champion in Athletics/Track & Field in the Regional Athletic Meets for the past six years.

How I wish this running event would be revived soon with the help of Governor Michael Keon of Ilocos Norte and former Commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission, Director of the “Gintong Alay” and a former athlete/runner.