There's always that extra "umph!" whenever one races in Baguio. The biting cold air, the thin amount of oxygen, the steep hills, and, oh yes, the combination of all three as you run. Running in McKinley Hill, Bayani Road, or the Kalayaan flyover is peanuts compared to the hills of Baguio city. I experienced it all when I ran the Botak Baguio 10k last year. It was a sadistic run that no one should dare repeat. It should've been off my bucket list in search for other places to conquer. Baguio mornings should be spent under the sheets, with your head on a fluffy pillow, dozing off while your thoughts are of Star Cafe, 50s Diner, and Good Shepherd's signature ube jam.
Yet there I was again on a Sunday morning at Burnham Park, braving 16-degree Celsius of cold, minutes before the 5:45am 10k gun start, challenging myself to do better than my 1:09 last year. It begs to answer the question, "You idiot, why are you doing this again?"
The 21k runners, which formed about 80% of the attendees, were sent off 5:30am as scheduled, with the announcer sounding like a cross between Jimmy Santos and your typical Barangay fiesta BINGO announcer ("esfehyshal!"). Yes, that is typical of a Baguio race. No rented DJ announcer, no giant video screens, no one to lead the runners in the warm up exercises ("Oh! Mag-istretching naman kayow!"), and certainly no fireworks at gun start. The lure of the P500.00 reg fee is entirely on the venue: B-A-G-U-I-O. Just a racebib would suffice as the racekit itself. The personalized racebib (first of its kind in our country, I think), the head/ear warmer, the printed design on the RF tag, and the singlet are just bonuses, IMHO, to what's really in store for the registrants of this true blue small town race. I really have to say that the personalized racebib was a big "two thumbs up!" to the organizers as it made every runner have that elite runner feel, typical of how we see in big races abroad (Haile, Ryan, Meb, and Paula will all agree).
My plan for this 10k race was simple: beat 1:09 from last year. There was no way in hell that I'll make a sub-60 performance here (not for now, at least). Nutrition was to take a Powerbar gel before km5. Attack the uphills and run fast on the downhills. And finally, don't forget to breathe as oxygen will be sparse.
I think the only flat part of the route was the first and last 400 meters: Burnham Park. The rest was a gruesome mix of downhill-downhill-uphill-downhill-uphiiiiiiiill-uphiiiiiiiiill-na-naman-tama-na-ayaw-ko-na-uphiiiiiiill-downhill-uphill-last-na-talaga-downhill. My 305 measured the whole out-and-back route as 10.97km, or almost a kilometer more than expected. I crossed the finish at 1:12 and change, with my 305 clocking 10km at 1:06 ---a 3minute improvement from last year.
I'm happy with the result, both my 10k time and the 11k distance. The latter because my planned mileage for that day was 11k. Plus the 800m warmup I did prior to the race, I think that I did pretty well on the mileage part. The 1:06 10k time was fairly good as well, a decent finish compared to last year but definitely something to improve on for next year(?).
Yes, there will be another Baguio 10k race for me next year.
And yes, I'm already thinking of joining the RunRio Baguio 21k event on December THIS YEAR.
It's a love-hate relationship between me and them damn hills.