Running had brought me to different places in the country. However, the Salomon’s City Trail Run held last September 7, 2014 brought me right at the heart of Manila, the historic walled city of Intramuros. City Trail Run seems to be the Philippines own take of China’s Great Wall Marathon. Although it was actually the second run event that transpired that day in Intramuros. Earlier in the morning, Knight of Columbus organized the Great Walled City Run for which I was also registered to run at the 10k category. But having run in the 42k category the previous day at A/X Caliraya Marathon I was still too tired to even get out of my bed, put on my running attire and run that morning. However, I am quite determine to win me a finisher medal from Salomon and Primer Group of Companies after failing to take home any from 2 Salomon X-Trail Run and North Face 100 Run so, I decided to put off running that morning to rest hoping to recover enough strength and be able to run 12 kilometers at Salomon’s City Trail Run whose gunstart was supposedly at 4:00 p.m.
The gun start rang at 4:30 p.m. with the runners sprinting from the causeway in front of the old gate of Fort Santiago. The runners run passed by Fort Santiago’s garden heading out towards Soriano Avenue and across to General Luna Street passing by at the right side of the road Palacio del Gobernador building, the state residence of the Governor-General of the Philippines, in the left Plaza Roma in front of Manila Cathedral which used to host bullfights during the bygone era of the Spanish Colonial Period. By the time we were running along the cobbled stoned road along San Agustin Church I was already puffing and huffing. The previous day’s run was beginning to take its toll on me. So, I began to do more walking at this early juncture of the race. With this comes the thought that I might after all be denied again of taking home a medal from Salomon. After the runners reached Pamantasan ng Lunsod ng Manila we turned left along Muralla Street passing by the Department of Labor and Employment building.
Intramuros is almost shaped like an elongated pentagram. The corner where we turned leftward featured the Manila Bulletin building which stood like vanguard guarding the street which is lined with the following schools: Mapua Institute of Technology, Lyceum of the Philippines University and San Juan de Letran. The we soon found ourselves running along Puerta De Isabel II that portion of the wall of Intramuros was almost transformed formerly into Manila’s next night life hub late in the 1990’s. Cafés, restaurants and discobars where established to the dismay of heritage conservation advocates including my former employer the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA). From the many establishments only Starbucks remained until today as remnant from that moment where Intramuros denizens doesn’t have to travel across the Pasig River or go all the way to Ermita and Malate to have their fill of wine, gourmet coffee, fine dining and a night of dancing.
The runners turned right passing by the imposing Intendencia building or Aduana which housed the Customs Offices, the Central Administration, the Treasury and the Mint during the Spanish period and then turning left of Magallanes Drive where Plaza Mexico and the 400 Years of maritime Expedition Monument stood. This area fronting the Pasig River was used to be a port of call for Galleons. Runners then turned left to Soriano Avenue completing the first of the four loops of the race. The second loop commenced with the runners turning left to Arzobispo Street and right turn to Sta. Lucia Street towards Baluarte Plano Luneta de Sta. Isabel. Scaling the stone staircases, the runners finally reached the wall run portion of the race. The stony surface of the wall had me staring down the ground almost all throughout the wall run because several times I almost tripped and got my ankle twisted when my foot landed in one of the potholes. Runners then reached another corner of the walled city where the Baluarte de San Diego lies. According to the brochure handed out along with the race kit, this is one of the oldest stone fortifications in Intramuros. The circular portion is the Nuestra Senora de Guia. While the middle circle I think was sort of a cistern. The next portion of the wall the runners encountered was the Baluarte de San Andres. This was designed to protect the old Puerta Real and reinforce the southern portion of Intramuros. Below the parallel Muralla street was already filled with runners from the 6 km category. I noticed that runners in front of me were already thinning out meaning I am falling behind. Soon even the runners from the 6km might even overtake me. What an embarrassing situation it would be for me to think some former acquaintance of mine were part of the race marshals who were cheering me on. The next part of the wall we made stop was the Baluarte de Dilao. It faces the former suburb where the Japanese resides called Dilao. It still has old canons mounted on the gaps of the wall. Near it is the Ravellin Del Parian, another defense line facing the old Chinese Ghetto called Parian. As an aftermath of a Chinese revolt, the Spanish government concentrated the non-Christian Chinese residents in one area that was within canons reach. Mehan Garden now lies where Parian used to be, but even this Mehan Garden is slowly disappearing as development demands more land. Runners descended along stony stairways and was once again ground level negotiating Muralla street heading Soriano Avenue passing by Banco Filipino Building where the old UST campus used to occupy.
The third loop led the runners along Bonifacio Drive meeting up Padre Burgos drive. We experienced a short off road trail run when we ran through the grassy and Firm 23 planted trees portion of the outer wall of Intramuros until we reached Victoria Street and enter the gate. We exited Intramuros heading for Maestranza Street to enter Maestranza Park. In spite of working inside Intramuros for almost 6 years I haven’t been in this part of Intramuros. Maestranza has Baluarte de Herrerias and Puerta de Almaceres popularly called Curtain Wall. Runners run through the chambers of Almaceres and around the bulwark then exiting at Soriano Avenue. The fourth loop once again had runners entering Arzobispo Street and Sta. Lucia for another take on the walls of Intramuros. Runners made their final descent of the wall at Baluarte de San Gabriel and then ran through the street which I can’t remember whether its Beaterio or Anda then to Solana Street meeting up Soriano Avenue for the final Sprint to Fort Santiago. I checked my time and in spite of lagging behind I was still within the cut off time. I was confident I got this race in the bag and so was my first Salomon medal. I later found out that I ranked 124 out of 259 participants for the 12k category. I clocked a time of 1:31:14 not bad considering I was struggling most part of the race. But I learned a very important lesson of not running back to back races. I done it before but in the end I think it contributed to my foot injury. It is just that I wanted to redeem myself from so many heartbreaks when it comes with run events organized by Primer Group. Next year I am looking forward of actually finishing on much better time at Akyathlon, X-trail and actually finishing North Face 100 if I got a chance to join again any of these events. The future right now lies far in the horizon and the only sure thing at the moment is that I am slowly getting back on my feet after a very slow recovery from my Plantar Fasciitis.