I’ve always been attracted to the Marikina Riverbanks Park. It holds a special place in my world of running as it has been a venue of countless runs in the past. What makes this place special is its very scenic route, a beautiful landscape that’s set along the banks of the Marikina River. Once a neglected stretch of swamp, the riverbanks has been revived to life, a peaceful oasis of lush green vegetable gardens, small mini parks and rows of eateries.
The 11k loop trail is a paradise for runners but you have to share it with a sprinkling of road bikers and the usual throng of people just strolling around to enjoy the view. Weekends are vibrant and teeming with activities where local farmers hawk their freshly harvested petchay, lettuce and tomatoes; people picnic at tables overlooking the river and just while away at its banks admiring the sculptures of real life size animals like carabaos, giraffes, elephants, monkeys and horses.
While the scene along the riverbanks seem to be throbbing, the park and the whole city of Marikina still struggles to rehabilitate itself from the massive scale of devastation wrought recently by typhoon Ondoy and the scars that it left behind are still evident.
Last Saturday, my regular LSD partners Betty and Tonette got together again and decided to venture out for a run at the riverbanks. For the two ladies, it would be their first time to run on these trails and for me, it was a chance to witness the changes in this park after typhoon Ondoy.
We started our run at about 5:30am towards the northbound trails as it was still dark although most of the trails were fully illuminated by lampposts. On our 3rd kilometer, the sun has started to set-in and we could now see some of the effects that typhoon Ondoy had caused.
Some portions of the banks of the river were eroded and some parts of the paved trails were now covered with sand. Some trees were uprooted and those that were standing were strewn with plastics and other trash. Parts of some trails that collapsed were now being repaired and you have to walk those portions as large rocks were still on top of these trails.
Except for these remaining damages, the place has certainly regained its luster. Damaged plots have been replanted with crops and vegetables, the landscaping had been given a worked-over while eateries are again flourishing. With continuous rehabilitation still underway, this will be a soothing place to visit and run, once again!