Marikina Riverbank Trails: Revisited

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 the run at about 5:30am. Tonette in white, Betty in blue.

Before the river's magnificence

With Tonette

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.

Low tide because of the drought

Something got the attention of the two

It was an aviary atop the walls of a house

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.

Grim reminder left by Typhoon Ondoy. Garbage waste left hanging on trees which were 30 feet above the riverbanks

Bamboo trees uprooted

Even the trail was not spared by the typhoon

The statue on left was used to anchor the boat which nearly capsized at the river

Back in each others arms:-)

Nice sand!

The crowd now gathering at the wide spaces

In front of a small dome

Noticeable is the low level of water because of El Nino

A Christmas tree at the middle of the river to give cheers

At the side of SM Marikina, near Marcos highway

Sandy road on the way back to the riverbanks

Nearing the steel dome

My favorite pic of the two

1.5k before the end of our run

Taking a break

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!

Completing our 11k run


Marikina Riverbanks Park

p2110522 It is to marvel! I’ve seen very little props about the Marikina Riverbanks Park as being one of the best places for running here in Metro Manila.  I could not believe my eyes how they transformed this once neglected, dirty, stinking river into one very clean, green and scenic recreational park when i joined a 5k race in April of last year (“The Marikina River Run) which was run in the narrow cemented running lanes along the banks of the river. “The people have to touch and smell the water” is a popular cliche among the locals who reside within the area especially during former Mayor now MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando in 1993.  No wonder, it has won many international awards for its rehabilitation as the biggest and cleanest sports and recreational park in the country in a natural setting.

Since that race last year, i have re-visited the place quite often to enjoy running the 11k loop in quiet solitude and take in the scenery along the banks of the river. This morning, i decided to bring my running buddy and partner-in-crime June Santiago as he has heard about the transformed river and nice scenery of the place. We started at about 5:45am running first towards the northbound (San Mateo) running path.


Starting from the south bound lane going towards San Mateo


The view at Ground Zero

p2110492p2110493June (left) as the sun was coming up. Me (at right)


Daybreak along the riverbanks, one finds various vendors selling their freshly harvested produce like petchay, lettuce, camote tops, corn and the above squash flowers which i suspect is used in cooking “Dinengdeng”, an Ilocano vegetable dish.


Running along the untilled portion of the banks.


Along a wooded area


The river offers a nice soothing backdrop 8k into the run


June still going strong unmindful of the lovers past him


Near one of the 7 connecting bridges


So near, yet so far.


Going into the last kilometer of the run


Ahhh..finish at last! Another 11k completed


making time for the usual warm-down stretch


The Marikina River has been proliferated by the “janitor fish”  considered a ‘pest’ which multiplies very quickly, feeds on algae and deprives other fish of nutrients. However, the local government may soon be using janitor fish skin as accent for footwear and other products, if not as an alternative to alligator and snake skin.


Thanks to the lady who offered to take our picture! And thanks to Marikina for a nice, warm run. We’ll be back again soon!