Taray Pamulinawen 2011: Laoag Sand Dune Challenge


After the huge success of “Run Ahead, Raising A Roof” Run held in Laoag City last December of 2009, Triathlete/Runner & Race organizer Faivo Bartolome brings another unique event up North, the “Taray Pamulinawen 2011, Laoag Sand Dunes Challenge” to be held on February 26, 2011 and will start and end at the Laoag City Hall.

This race, hosted by the Laoag City government will be a first of a kind wherein runners will be running in the Sand Dunes of La Paz, a municipality of Laoag which is well-known for being the setting of well-known foreign films like Tom Cruise’ “Born On The Fourth Of July”, Mel Gibson’s “Mad Max” series and local films like Nora Aunor’s “Himala” and the “Panday” series of the late Fernando Poe, Jr.

The sand dunes viewed from above a hill

Very fine sand that towers up to two stories high

Also known as “The Desert Of The North”, the Sand Dunes of La Paz offers a very challenging terrain not only with its varied uphill climbs but also for its arduous surface which is like threading on very soft and deep desert sands and would be twice as difficult to traverse whenever strong gales coming from the Pacific Ocean blows the sand away and is quite painful once the sand gets into your eyes.

The Pacific Ocean on the horizon

Wilnar and I threading towards the beach

I, together with some runner friends had the chance to run in this difficult terrain and it was one of the most exhilarating experience we ever had. This was during the “Run Ahead Race” in Laoag City and our adventures can be read here: running-the-sand-dune-trails-of-la-paz and here: run-ahead.

The trail going towards the sand dunes

Running atop one of the sand dunes

Finally arriving at the beach front

Great view!

The Taray Pamulinawen 2011 sand Dune Challenge is envisioned to become one of the North’s biggest and unique running events that will highlight the City of Laoag as a major tourist destination and an investment mecca.

The route will cover some of the most scenic spots in Laoag like its centuries old churches, pristine beaches and some of the old landmarks of the city.

The race will feature a 10-mile trail run (which will include the sand dunes), a 10k Road Run, 5k Road Run, 3k Family Run and a 750 meter Kids Dash.

 Registration fees are as follows:

DURATION Jan. 3 – Jan. 31

Early Bird Registration


Feb. 1 – Feb. 19

Regular Registration


Feb. 20 – Feb. 23

Late Registration



10 mi. Trail Run       

Php 350.00       

Php 400.00       

Php 500.00       


Php 150.00       

Php 200.00       

Php 250.00       


Php 150.00       

Php 200.00       

Php 250.00       

3km Family Run       

Php 150.00 each       

Php 200.00 each       

Php 250.00 each       

750m Kids Dash       

Php 100.00       

Php 125.00       

Php 150.00       

For other details and to download registration forms, please visit www.laoagcity.gov.ph or call/text 0917-5530050 (Faivo Bartolome).

Viva Vigan Heritage Run: May 2, 2010

I still can’t forget the Ilocos Norte adventure runs we had when McCoy, Wilnar, Dhentz  and I travelled to Laoag City in Ilocos Norte to join the Run Ahead, Laoag City Raise the Roof Run last November 29, 2009. Aside from the race in Laoag City itself (laoag-city), we had a whirlwind tour of the province with adventure runs at the beaches of Blue Lagoon (pagudpud), Saud (saud), and the Sand Dunes of La Paz (la-paz), courtesy of our gracious hosts, Faivo and Babette Bartolome. It was a very well-organized race, one worth returning to.

Come May 2, 2010, there will be another race up north in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur, the Viva Vigan Heritage Run organized by the Metro Vigan Runners Club (Tarayem) and it will be a 3k, 5k, 10k and 15k run. The run co-incides with Vigan’s famous Binatbatan Festival of the Arts from April 30 to May 5, 2010. If you want to know how much it would cost you to register for the race, please read on their press release below:

Another summer spectacle unfolds in Vigan from April 30 to May 5, 2010- the Viva Vigan Binatbatan Festival of the Arts! The festival was crafted in 1993 as an effort to nurture the pride of Biguenos on their identity as residents of this unique and historic city. With the collaboration of the LGU and the private sector, it metamorphosed into one of the biggest and most colourful attraction in the North, drawing crowds from all over the Philippines and abroad, who come to celebrate a city festival in a setting replete with history and heritage, cultural treasures and reminiscences.

This year’s festival marks another milestone of the city of Vigan with the inclusion of the “1st Viva Vigan Heritage Run” which will be held on May 2, 2010 with a theme “A Run for a Clean and Honest Elections”. The event is sponsored by the city government of Vigan headed by Mayor Eva Marie S. Medina. This race is being organized by passionate runners from Vigan, TARAYEM (Metro Vigan Runners Club). Race categories: 3K, 5K, 10K, 15K

What to expect from this race?

  • Very affordable registration fees
  • On-line registration allowed
  • Accurate race distance
  • Kilometre markers
  • Directional signs
  • Road marshals (Police, Traffic aides, Barangay Tanods)
  • Clean in-house rest rooms situated every 3 km
  • Abundant water stations (every barangay)
  • Experience running on a cobblestones along the Heritage Village ( all race categories)
  • Running alongside a river that connects to the South China sea (15K category)
  • A glimpse of Baluarte ni Chavit (10K and 15K category)
  • Carbo-loading party on May 1, 2010, 6PM in front of Vigan city hall(local carbo-rich delicacies)
  • Souvenir shirts
  • Enjoy the weeklong Viva Vigan Binatbatan Festival of the Arts



“A Run for a Clean and Honest Elections”

5:00 AM, May 2, 2010

Vigan City Hall, Vigan City, Ilocos Sur

Race Organizer: TARAYEM (Metro Vigan Runners Club)

Objective: To create awareness on the health benefits of running and to promote and showcase the tourist spots of the City of Vigan through this road race.


3K Kiddie Run, (12 years old under)

  • Male
  • Female

5K Fun Run (13 years old to 18 years old)

  • Male
  • Female

10K Adventure Run (Open Category)

  • Male
  • Female

15K Le’ Tour de Vigan (Open Category)

  • Male
  • Female


3K Kiddie Run (Male, Female)

  • 1st Prize: PhP 1, 500.00 plus trophy
  • 2nd Prize: PhP 1, 000.00 plus trophy
  • 3rd Prize: PhP 500.00 plus trophy
  • 4th to 10th placers: Medal

5K Fun Run (Male, Female)

  • 1st Prize: PhP 2, 000.00 plus trophy
  • 2nd Prize: PhP 1, 500.00 plus trophy
  • 3rd Prize: PhP 1000.00 plus trophy
  • 4th to 10th placers: Medal

10K Adventure Run (Male, Female, Open Category)

  • 1st Prize: PhP 3, 000.00 plus trophy
  • 2nd Prize: PhP 2, 000.00 plus trophy
  • 3rd Prize: PhP 1000.00 plus trophy
  • 4th to 10th placers: PhP 400.00 each plus Medal

15K Le Tour de Vigan (Male, Female-Open Category)

  • 1st Prize: PhP 4, 500.00 plus trophy
  • 2nd Prize: PhP 3, 000.00 plus trophy
  • 3rd Prize: PhP 2000.00 plus trophy
  • 4th to 10th placers: PhP 500.00 each plus Medal

Registration Fees:

3K: Free

5K: P30.00

10K: P50.00

15K: P80.00

Deadline of Registration: April 30, 2010

Registration areas: Vigan City Health Office Mon-Friday from 8AM to 4PM c/o Dr. Lymuel Pascua or Mr. Jessie Ancheta, Planet Sports General Merchandise, Plaza Maestro, Vigan City, Bantay Bread at Brgy. Boquig, Bantay, Ilocos Sur or download registration form and fax it to (077) 722-3838.

Running Along The Beaches of Pagudpud

(Our Ilocos Norte Sojourn, Part 3-A)

When we set out our trip to Laoag City, we certainly didn’t anticipate the adventure side trip to Pagudpud and that was definitely a highlight of our tour. Under overcast skies but cool Monday morning, the four of us– McCoy, Wilnar, Dennis and myself hopped inside Faivo’s new black sporty pick-up truck with a rough idea of how the beach resorts would look like.

As runners, you would think we would have prepared a plan on where to run, what to wear, what drinks to bring to our destination. Not so. Most of us just wanted to see the place, run if there was an opportunity and swim at the beach, most definitely – to wash off the hang-over we had this morning after downing two bottles of brandy.

After a few minutes on the road, Faivo stopped by a bakery store in Pasuquin town which was selling their famous biscocho bread. The bread came in two kinds: the soft, bun-like type and the toasted one that tasted like ‘machacaw‘ only, it was better. It has a peculiar taste and aroma which i assume was the ‘anis‘ flavoring that was added to it.

The bun type biscocho

It rained intermittently during the trip and the wind was strong that you could see the branches of coconut trees blowing in one direction. We thought it was bad timing for us to come this morning but Faivo assured us that the light rain would stop in no time.

Eventually, after driving through more than an hour of light drizzles, we arrived at Pagudpud at about 10:30am and Faivo was right, the rain stopped as soon as we got off from his pick-up truck. After an hour chatting, exchanging running experiences and stealing cat-naps in the truck, all we wanted was to flex our muscles, run a bit and splash in the beach– and this is exactly what we got.

Strong winds didn't dampen us to run towards the blue lagoon

Nice and windy

The view at my back

A view at the rock formation below

Taking a break

With Dhentz, McCoy & Wilnar (got it right this time, Wil):-)

The road ahead

Nearing the beachfront

Reaching the Blue Lagoon


The Blue Lagoon

The first beach we headed to is the Maira-ira beach or better known as the Blue Lagoon. Because of the high winds and intermittent drizzles that enveloped the area that morning, the water was not so bluish as the waves were high and strong. But on any ordinary sunny day, Blue Lagoon is like a  large half moon shaped blue swimming pool, the water bluish like the pictures we see of beaches in Bermuda or Monte Carlo. The sand is very fine, whitish brown and your feet dips down when you run.

McCoy can't wait to take a dip!

Trying to run 100 meter sprints on sand

This is what you get when you run with your shoes on

Now running barefoot

What dah... water too cold?

Dhentz joining McCoy

Up towards the cottages

With Faivo on left

View from the cottages above

As we now knew what paradise is suppose to look like, we had time to stroll around the vicinity, first looking at the simple cottages and then to the beach front–it was during this walk that we realized we were like in our own private beach as we were the only ones enjoying the waters!

Just when you think you’ve seen all Pagudpud has to offer, Faivo suddenly blurts out, “Oh, you’ve seen nothing yet.  Come, i’ll bring you to the Boracay of Pagudpud!”

Run Ahead, Raise The Roof- Laoag City Run

(Our Ilocos Norte Sojourn, Part 2)

One time in the early 80’s, i had the opportunity in running a 10k or 15k race in Laoag City in what was called the North Star 10/15k Race. I don’t exactly remember the route but i’m sure we ran past the Paoay Church and a view of the Paoay Lake.

We were then in the company of Mr. JUN CASTRO, one of the major race organizers/directors back then and he would tag us along in the pre-race activities that included the carbo-loading party and various socials with the local officials. I was with my former GF (girlfriend, not Garmin) who also was running the shorter races. I’m not sure if it was Jun or Mr. Red Dumuk, another race organizer during those times who was directing the North Star Race.

But what i vividly remember are the local residents who would line-up the race course to cheer or jeer the runners. Well cheering comes as part of an spectators’ response to encourage sports participants to do their best and we runners do appreciate the encouragement.

However, one peculiar thing (or phenomenon, as i would put it) i noticed about the local spectators is that when a runner stops (usually for going too fast too soon) and is relegated to walk- specially in the early stages of the race, people would point their fingers at the runner while they laugh and sneer because he/she have been reduced to walking! It doesn’t matter whether you are a friend, relative or a complete stranger to them, you would have earned their ridicule and guaranteed you a place in their Hall of Shame!

Last Sunday was another opportunity for me to re-live the experience in running again in a Laoag City race. The day before, I asked Faivo, the race director if such jeering still exists at present, he said that it doesn’t occur anymore. This i will have to see for myself.

We woke up at about 4:15am, packed our race essentials, wore our running gear, walked down from our 3rd floor room and jogged to the race venue, Aurora Plaza which was less than a kilometer away.

In the small starting field of less than 300 runners, the 21k runners went first, followed by the 10k runners after 15 minutes then the 3 & 5k runners together who started last. I was entered in the 10k and just opted to set out in a slow, even-paced run just to enjoy the scenery with my camera in tow. Crossing the Gilbert Bridge at dawn was one spectacular view, the waters of the river glistened in red like a sprinkler as the sun was about to come out. We turned right to Airport Road which was quiet, devoid of the mass vehicles we see at races in Manila. We passed by old, quaint houses, open rice fields, old schools and universities. The course was mostly flat and we turned around when we reached the steel bridge after the St. Mary’s Seminary.

On the way back, i pushed the pace a little, passing a few runners and on the 7.5km mark, the lead 21k runners were already overtaking us. I had hoped to relax on the last 1.5km which was before we entered the “Welcome To Laoag City” arch when a younger runner decided to challenge me, so i finished with a sprint, holding off my opponent. Turns out that he was one of the race organizers!

The finish line was very orderly, there were chutes for each category and i was handed a loot bag after i crossed the finish line. This time, i did not witness any jeering during the race as there were very few, if any, who lined up the streets to watch the race. But the warm reception we got at the finish, the friendly smiles and the overwhelming hospitality we received, this Laoag City race made every runner feel special and welcome!

At the Start/Finish

With Babette Bartolome, wife to Faivo, the race organizer

With McCoy, Babette & a race official

New takbo.ph recruits from Laoag

Wilnar winning the P5,000 raffle prize!

Runners at the Victoria Park

JR after the race

The fav 4!

Plus 3 more takbo.ph runners. Sitting (l-r) Jerome, Gingili Valenzuela, Cris Madrigal

Ilocos delights! Lunch we had after the race with Faivo and Babette Bartolome

Running The Sand Dune Trails of La Paz

(Our Ilocos Norte Sojourn, Part 1)

We arrived in Laoag, Ilocos Norte at 10:15am Saturday, a grueling 9 1/2 hour road trip from Manila. Dennis (runningpinoy) and i rode together in a Maria De Leon Super De Luxe Bus while McCoy and Wilnar arrived 15 minutes later via the Farinas Bus Lines as they could not reserve any more seats with the former bus liner.

With Dhentz on the bus

Our trip was made through the courtesy of Jinoe Gavan (takbo.ph) and Faivo Bartolome, well known Laoag businessman and the organizer of the Run Ahead, Raising A Roof Race. The four of us immediately checked-in at the Laoag Renzo Hotel, a cozy 3-star hotel located within the commercial hub of Laoag City. It would be my 3rd trip to this wonderful city, having been assigned here on various job related visits in the past. For Wilnar, McCoy and Dennis, this would be their first.

After a hearty lunch of famous Ilocano dishes with Faivo, we were brought to the Sand Dunes of La Paz, Desert of the North, as it is called which is about 6kms away from Laoag City proper. We were immediately struck by the uniqueness of the place. The approach to the sand dunes may seem ordinary, with rolling hills, the rustic scenery of thatched nipa huts and grazing goats which seem to look bothered with our presence. However, getting into the inner sanctum of the place, you immediately notice the mounds of sand dunes with heights ranging from 15 to 40 meters and get a panoramic view of the South China Sea a kilometer beyond.

View at the top of one of the dunes

The South China Sea at the background

With our host and race organizer, Faivo Bartolome in the middle

It’s like living out of a scene from every desert or adventure movie you ever saw when you were young and no wonder, these sand dunes were settings from foreign films like, Born On The Fourth of July, Mad Max and so with local films like Himala and the Panday series of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.

The few foliage found on one of the dunes

Since we didn’t bring our running gear with us, we decided to go back to our hotel and prepare all our running essentials and head back again for the dunes. It was 3:00pm and some friends of Faivo fetched us and we requested to be dropped-off 3 kilometers before La Paz proper so we could run the remaining 3kms to the sand dunes.

Pat, McCoy and Wilnar setting out the pace

Rustic view near the entrance

Farm goats huddled during our run

Trail leading to the sand dunes

A small pond in the middle of the desert

Finding my way out

McCoy atop a ridge

We follow suit

Running towards the seashore

Reaching the shore, at last

Enjoying the rush of fresh water

Enjoying the scenery

Catching the sunset view

(L-R) Mac, Wincet & Dennis

On our way back

We shall return for the La Paz Sand Dunes 15k Trail Run next year!

Running in the sand with your shoes on isn’t easy, so running barefoot seems to be the only option but when the sand is as hot as the tin surface of a water kettle that’s just been boiled, arrgh..you better don on those shoes again!

However difficult the terrain is, with the ocean views on the horizon, the breezy cool air permeating your body and the endless miles of beachfront you can run forever, this is simply one of the most eye-popping running experience you will ever have!