Corregidor: To Hill and Back

Just getting out of the Malinta Tunnel.  (photo courtesy of Tara Trip Tayo FB)

Just getting out of the Malinta Tunnel. (photo courtesy of Tara Trip Tayo FB)

     CAVITE CITY – The long wait was indeed worth it as the inaugural Corregidor Marathon finally pushed through last Saturday (January 11).  The decision to participate in what turned out to be a very challenging and sadistic 42.195-kilometer race will never be regretted.

     Originally set for last December, the event was moved after Typhoon Yolanda devastated Central Philippines.  Surprisingly, only a few participants opted to withdraw but they were quickly replaced by new entries upon reopening of registration.

     The lure of running on the historical island was too much to ignore especially for a History major like myself.  The memories of brave Filipino and American soldiers who fought the Japanese in World War II gave more kick than an energy gel.

     Urban pollution was replaced with fresh air emanating from the West Philippine Sea.  In lieu of skyscrapers and malls, the sight of ruins and giant cannons add to the mystique and grandeur of the island.

     For the last three years, a 21-kilometer fun run was successfully staged on the tadpole-shaped island.  Organizers decided to level up their game by doing a Marathon which means runners while have to do the old course twice with a few minor adjustments.

     I finished the race 5:04:22, good for Seventh Place.  It was not my best time but all things considered, it was a very good effort – read on.

     This marks the first time I have set foot on Corregidor therefore each step is a step further into uncharted territory.  Furthermore, a good percentage of the run passed through the forests and other off-road surfaces plus the famous Malinta Tunnel.

     Parts of the course included a grassy airstrip, unpaved roads and a small flight of stairs!  However, the portion that most runners will never forget should be the killer hill that was scaled not once but thrice!

     Aside from the killer hill’s unusual steepness, a strong and chilly headwind seemed to push me back.  That’s one thing one will never or rarely experience in urban fun runs.

     For about 90 percent of the race, it was a solo flight as the gaps between the leaders and those behind me were quite huge.  Good thing there were more than enough marshals plus a lot of directional signs planted in the middle of the forest trails.

     Aid stations included items not usually served in other runs like honey, gelatin, dried cherries and marshmallows plus Coco Fresh coconut water in place of the usual sports drinks.  Coco Fresh was a big help and I just went for the bananas since I had a pair of candy bars tied to my race belt.

     Listed to start at 6:00 AM, race director Edward Kho decided to delay the start by a few minutes in order to wait for more sunlight.  Later on, the late start did not matter because the weather was very conducive to running and a lot of portions of the route were lined with shade trees.

     By the way, I have never joined a trail run but I then appreciated the beauty, novelty and challenge of hitting the forest trails.  Perhaps it made me run a bit faster because I wanted to get out of there and back on the concrete road as soon as possible!

     No doubt, the finisher medal for the Corregidor Marathon is the heaviest and thickest to date in my collection.  This marks my eighth completed marathon since 2012.

Inaugural champions Anthony Nerza and Lorna Orno-Vejano.

Inaugural champions Anthony Nerza and Lorna Orno-Vejano.

     Anthony Nerza (3:15:03) and Lorna Orno-Vejano (5:37:43) entered the record books as the very first winners of the Corregidor Marathon.  They each took home a giant trophy, gift items from sponsors and PHP 30,000.00.

     All finishers will have their names inscribed on a commemorative marker that will be permanently displayed on the island.  The awarding ceremony may be likened to a school graduation as each finisher was called up on stage in chronological order to receive their individual trophies marked with their official finish position.

     How tough really was the Corregidor Marathon?  Simply put, this race is not for the weak in both physique and character as the course design is more than enough to bring even the most experienced runners to their knees – there were a few who did not to finish the race.

     One of the historical points is the exact place where Gen. Douglas MacArthur boarded a submarine bound for Australia as Corregidor was about to surrender to the Japanese.  Just like his famous words back then, I shall return!


About Anthony E. Servinio

A long-time television sportscaster, magazine writer, photographer and college professor from the Philippines finally gives blogging a try after more than a decade of on-line presence. Read on folks!
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