Cordillera Mountain Marathon: 11km Run

Sea of clouds at the Mt. Pulag summit

Nature is the art of God.  This is probably why I love outdoors and roadtrips.  Trees, mountains, cloud formations (or the lack of it) create a unique landscape…so unique that it cannot be replicated by any photo or video clip.  Nature has to be seen, felt, and experienced to be truly appreciated.

I only knew Mt. Pulag as a destination for mountain climbers until Cordillera Conservation Trust (CCT) announced the opening of the first Cordillera Mountain Marathon 2015.

I immediately signed up for the 11km run not knowing how I’ll get there, where to stay, and who I’ll be with. All I knew was that slots were very limited and I couldn’t afford to miss the event.

One month left before the race and I was excited about the thought of going there without any plan.  But I guess my guardian angel was too good, I just found myself with a bunch of crazy people who adopted me and two more friends (Debbie and Joy) plus our medic, Doc Nina. This made the trip more enjoyable.

Imagine a group of people training for triathlons, marathons, and adventure races in their 40’s and 50’s.  That’s Team Patakbuhin (in english “rusty but we’ll make it work”). They are even more energetic than us, “bagets” (youngsters). Nonstop stories, jokes that make us laugh ’til our jaws lock even in the middle of the night, and sweet mother-daughter talks.  One is a cancer survivor, one diabetic, one with asthma and has never hiked before but joined to make sure his wife will be safe (sweet! :)), etcetera.  Who wouldn’t be inspired about each of their story!

Thank you Team Patakbuhin: Tita Bety, Mary, Carlo, Coach Edwin, John, Rene, Ate Cecille, and Kuya Ab
The gang 🙂

More than having travel buddies, we had the coolest, noisiest, and most energetic adoptive mommies, daddies, brothers, and sisters. We had unlimited care and buffet of laughter from Manila to Baguio to Ambangeg to Mt. Pulag and back! THANK YOU PO. 🙂


The homestays were arranged by CCT at P150 per person with mattress and blanket.

There were no electric heaters which made taking a bath a real ice bucket(s) challenge.

Our homestay. Common toilet is separate from the house making it more exposed to the cold weather.
Dinner: tinolang manok

ENJOY. DON’T RACE (you have no choice).

After joining a couple of races last year, time and pace became my guide in running.

Though I was expecting the scenic views to get my attention away from my target time, I thought I could finish the 11km run in two hours at 8 to 10km/hr pace.  I think I underestimated the elevation, the cold weather, and the majestic sunrise and sea of clouds at the summit. I was torn between knowing my pace and purely enjoying Mt. Pulag.

The gunstart was moved an hour earlier because the organizers wanted us to catch the sunrise at the summit by 6am.

The trail was very dark  and there was no other choice but to trust the single track and the light from the flashlight. One side was thick forest, the other side was cliff.  Like endless stairs, the trail was uneven and any runner who is new to the course would take extra care to avoid sprain and injuries.

Dark trail

Come kilometers two to three, I was gasping for air, my heart went pumping so hard, my pulse at the back of my ears beating very fast like it never had before. It came to a point when I felt so dizzy because of the cold, thin air, and body heat.  I finally gave up on the illusion that I will reach my target time and decided to simply enjoy the nature and the people I bump into.  Oh, I still targeted to reach the summit by sunrise. Haha! Thank God I did.

CMM map
11KM: 862 elevation gain, 2000meters above sea level, 99% dirt trail, mountains, creeks, forests, grassland


Seeing the clouds and the sun in eye level

Debie and I finally reached the junior summit, the turnaround point for 11km run.   We were just in time to witness the majestic sun coming up from the sea of clouds.  The mountains form like bumpy, chocolate hills with narrow trails where 42km crazy marathoners run.  It was truly the “Mountain of Gods.”

With my equally competitive friend, Debie

It was a surreal sight that we wanted to stay longer even until the cut-off time.  Haha! Just kidding.  Unconsciously, time has always been essential for us.  So after more or less, an hour, we decided to head back. This time, the sun was up and we can already see the beautiful route which turned the run into a brisk walk with picture taking stops.

Heading back from the summit
cmm friends
With Franc Ramon leading our way back and a foreign friend, Mandy Shin from China


Thought I could do 8-10km/hr pace! Overconfident I was. Hahaha! 🙂

CMM Result
It was a mountain WALK. Haha! 🙂 18:16km/hr, 3:20:58mins.

Congratulations, Cordillera Conservation Trust for a successful event.  I hope more will witness the beauty of Cordillera before it gets populated and commercialized.


Baguio accommodation – free (thanks Tita Bety for letting us into your house)

11km Run Registration fee – P2,000 (inclusive of evening meal and post run meal)

Mt. Pulag (extra) food – P50

Mt. Pulag homestay and tip – P200

Transportation, tip to driver, diesel – P1,350

Jeepney from Ambangeg to Mt. Pulag (rountrip) – P250

Baguio tour food – P500

Baguio shopping – P600


Quezon City to Baguio via TPLEX (private van) – 4hours

Baguio to Ambangeg (private van) – 3 hours

Ambangeg to Mt. Pulag (jeep) – 30 mins

For more infor, visit

Photo credits: Franc Ramon, Joybelle Del Rosario, Cecille Lavarez



  1. It was quite an experience not only the race but getting there as it’s a totally new location. It’s really great that CCT provided all the transportation and homestay options.

    • I agree, Franc! I commend CCT for going the extra mile such as coordinating with different homestays and local jeepneys to make the event as smooth as possible for the participants.

      Event set-upwise (being an outdoor events organizer, I can’t avoid to look at these things, haha!), I noticed that the organizer tried, in every possible way, to make the event look the same as how we do it here in Manila. There were barricades, steel arc, timing chips, etc. Things that they can do without since there were more or less 500 runners. These are also the things some organizer put less effort on when doing trail events. Some would just tie the Start/Finish tarps in trees, small platforms, etc. I comment CCT on this. 🙂

      • Yes, they were also able to keep the timing active despite the power interruption and had a lot of marshalls for checkpoints, which helps account everybody in the route.

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