The 2016 Sta. Fe Trail Run: A Short Review

I guess i’m past running competitively now, specially when running about on new trail paths that leaves me calmer and happier without the stress of pushing myself against others or trying to improve on myself. I still do fast-paced running once in a while but running relaxed through the woods, mountains and enjoying the camaraderie of being with other trail runners who have the same passion for the sport just takes out the pressure of running.

I think it comes with age. I’ve found relaxed trail running to be better for my body and mind. Right now, i love the laid-back feeling of discovering new venues, sharing about my new discoveries to the running community, taking photos along the trail, promoting local trail races through this blog and supporting trail runs as an alternative to road running.

The Ampucao Trails in Itogon, Benguet

Last week-end, i had one of the most amazing experiences running up north, thanks to blogger Franc Ramon who invited me to his home-town in the City of Pines where last Saturday, he brought me to his “playground” inside the vast Camp John Hay where we explored the pine tree-lined Yellow Trail and the Eco Trail (more on this on my next blog).

But the big event happened the following day where i was able to join FrontRunner Magazine’s Sta. Fe Trail Run located in Ampucao, Itogon, Benguet, a 40-minute drive away from Baguio City. Thanks to Race Directors Jonel and Con Mendoza for allowing us to register on site and joining a few dozen others explore the trails of Ampucao. The categories offered were a 21k and 10k distances. Since it was my first time running here and knowing that the course would entail mountain running, i opted for the shorter distance.

I have run so many beautiful but challenging trail run destinations but i think the Sta. Fe Trail Run route takes the cake which leads runners to one of the most breathtaking yet difficult terrain that this mountain province has to offer. I was told that this is just a glimpse of an exhaustive overview of the Cordillera Mountains.

We started on a cool, 18-degree breezy morning at about 5:45am, ten minutes after the 21k runners were fired off at the Baranggay Hall of Ampucao. After just about 450 meters, we were brought to a 100 meter concrete uphill onwards to the trails of Ampucao.

Immediately, we were treated to a unique mix of hard-packed single track trails, pine-trees all around and views of the vast Cordillera mountains. I then took out my 2 cameras, my ever reliable point and shoot digicam and the other from my Android phone.


The 21k runners listening to the pre-race briefing. It was cold inside the covered courts.

RD Jonel Mendoza orders the runners not to get lost or else…

The well-marked trails took us to stunning cliffs and ridges, rolling hills, switchbacks and steep climbs for runners to get in a quick workout! I was literally out of breath, both from the lung-busting climbs and the post card scenery. On the latter part of the mountain trails nearing Mt. Ulap, the views can be a little dangerous as you’ll need to pay attention to keep your balance in order to navigate the trail’s very narrow and slippery surface as you might fall on deep ravines that span mountains after mountains.

I’m leaving you with pictures of the trails as the real rewards is of course the pure joy of being here. Enjoy!


One of the first open spaces after the uphill single track trails

Runners descending on this magnificent view

For a second, i thought i was running in a foreign country


Part of the covered trails

Clouds below the mountains

Views on top of ridges

Looking at the vast Cordillera mountain range

This has got to be one of the best viewpoints along the trails

A small plateau before heading to a very long downhill

One of the trail runners on her way back


Sorry for that dirty finger…

Part of the route. Scaling up then return back down

Rashel Pena leading the downhill assault on this hill

Freeze! 🙂

Some hikers were on the trails as well but were all gracious enough to give way to incoming trail runners

Moi! (Photo by NxnPhoto For Events)

We had to climb this mountain with stone art atop then descend back to the trails

Some of the trails on the ridges were narrow and one dumb move, down you go to the ravines! 🙂


Struggling up those hills, as always.. :p


On the way back to the finish

It was time to end the run. I had a lovely visit to a paradise-like route but all good things must come to an end so i promised myself to return back again…soon!


Franc and I with the FrontRunner organizing committee

Thanks to Franc Ramon for being a gracious host and to Jonel, Con and the rest of the FrontRunner Team for staging this fantastic race!