Mt Hamiguitan Trail Race 2018: A Unesco World Heritage Site
by Jello Laganson
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Mt Hamiguitan is situated in San Isidro, Davao Oriental Philippines. It is considered as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2014. Among the popular section of this place is the 225-hectare forest where bonsai trees grow. There are a lot of endangered species living on this mountain like the Philippine Eagle, Giant Scops-owl, Tarictic Hornbill, Philippine warty pig and a lot more. It is also the home of various species of flora and fauna.
After knowing that there is a running event in the area, I and my brother did not hesitate to register.
How to Get There
There are 2 ways on how to get there, through riding a bus or a van. Your starting point would be Davao City. So for foreigners, who plan to go to the place, or participate in the running event next year, book a flight to Davao City.
For your convenience, it is best that you start at Davao City Overland Transport Terminal at Ecoland. Though you can ride a bus at different places, it is best to start here especially if you are not familiar with Davao yet.
Ride a bus going to Sigaboy or Mati. There are only a few buses going to Sigaboy and as far as I know, only one bus is air-conditioned the rest are not. On the other hand, there are more buses going to Mati which are also airconditioned. I highly suggest you ride an air-conditioned bus for convenience during the long travel.
The advantage with riding Sigaboy buses is your travel will only be one ride. From the Ecoland terminal, your destination is Talisay, San Isidro Davao Oriental. The travel is around 4-5 hours.
If you choose to ride a Mati Bus, you have to stop at Manikling Terminal and from Manikling Terminal Ride a motorcycle or jeepney going to Barangay Talisay. It would be a 10-15 min. travel from Manikling to Brgy. Talisay.
The fare for jeepney is Php 30.00 and for motorcycles, its Php 100-150.
Arrival and Camping at Talisay Covered Court Area
The event was last October 27, 2018. So we went there October 26 and camped at Talisay Covered Court Area. I expected the place to be so cold, but it was not. It’s just right especially to those who are used to cold weather.
There are mini-stores in the area where you can buy mineral water, soft drinks and foods. During the night, there are also people who sell BBQ in the covered court so if you don’t want to bring your own food, you can just buy from them.
More Details about the Mountain Race
This year’s event is the 3rd edition of the race. It has 2 categories – the 25km and 50km category with the International Accreditation of Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) 3 points. The race is organized by Vertical To Sky.
For this year, the event was participated by around 90+ runners for the 25km category which includes me and around 60 runners for the 50km.
The race started at exactly 5:00 in the morning for the 50km runners and 6:00 am for the 25km runners.
Sharing My Personal Race Experience
It was a rainy morning which started as early as 3 am. Good thing gun start is at 6:00 am and the rain already stopped. But, since it rained, I already expected the trail to be very muddy.
Meeting the Muddy Trail
The first 2-3 kilometers was an easy trail and it was a good way for me warm up. Then, the climb started. My plan was to constantly keep moving especially during climbs. It was hard since there were some runners already ahead of me and when they stop, it’s hard to find a path to go around them so I really have to stop and wait.
I spent around 45-60 mins. of constant climbing until I reached the area which was considered as the New Zealand of Mt. Hamiguitan. It was a very scenic place I had to stop for a couple of minutes to enjoy the moment and savor the wonderful beauty of nature.
Running to the Turning Point
I continued running following the trail signs. After the long climb, it was a steady downhill, until I reached the first aid station (distance from the starting line is 8km). After the first aid station, the rest is easy flat trail until the 2nd aid station which was the turning point for 25km runners.
Before reaching the 2nd aid station we had to pass a nice hanging bridge.
After eating fruits and refreshing myself with water on the turning point, I then went back trail until the finish line. The trail route was an “out and back” route which means that the route you passed going to the turning point will be the same route you will run going to the finish line.
On this kind of route, it always makes me feel great when I reach the turning point since I’m already familiar with the place. There is a low chance that I’ll be lost. But, this does not mean that everything is easy from the turning point.
Running to the Finish Line
It was a difficult climb for me since I was not able to prepare properly due to medical conditions prior to the race. I had to stop running for 3 weeks prior to the race. Though it was difficult and hard, I did my best to finish.
Gladly I finished 37th out of 90+ runners. Not bad since I also spend some time filming other runners and myself using the new GoPro Hero 7 Black. My official time was 6 hours and 10 mins.
Will I go back next year? Yes, and my plan is to run the 50km category. The route is great and it always feels good to be on the trail especially to places which are considered as a Unesco Heritage site. It just means that you can expect great views on the mountain.
If you are used to long travels, then getting there will not be a problem. For those who are not used to long bus rides, you really have to prepare yourself. The race director and generally the organizers are really accommodating and ready to answer all your questions. Just find them on Facebook to learn more about this running event.
Before I end, an important thing to mention is that there is no signal at Talisay, San Isidro. It’s a great time to detached yourself online and spend more time for yourself and enjoy the beauty of nature through trail running.
If you want to see a video of the race, check out this youtube video: Mt Hamiguitan Trail Race 2018