Sneak Peek of the Soleus Cross Country Challenge 2018

While many of our local trail runners are busy preparing for their respective trail races in the coming weeks and months, most of them can be seen during weekends, gutting out around the mountain trails of Parawagan, Ayaas, Pintong Bukawe, Inigan, and Malasya among many others, all located in the mountains of Rodriguez, particularly in Wawa, Rizal.

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These groups of trail runners are somewhat eclectic, some are elite/hardcore, others, members of running groups and the rest, newbies who tough it out with the veterans, pushing their bodies on those uphill climbs and be rewarded with amazing views and moments of ecstasy whenever they reach the top.

Wawa has become a hotbed for trail runners. While there have been spectacular races held in Wawa and in the vicinity of Pintong Bukawe, one local yearly favorite is the Soleus Cross Country Challenge (SCCC2018) now on its 3rd year.

If your idea of a trail run includes crossing rivers, a hanging bridge and standing on top of a popular mountain peak that gives the best views of Mt. Binakayan and Mt. Pamintuan, then The Soleus Cross Country Challenge is for you. This race begins at at the Iconic Ten Commandments Tablet above Mt. Sinai, in Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal and quickly descends down the trails and dirt roads leading to parts of the Marikina River. Running on the edges of the river, the route quickly gets brutal, forcing runners to climb more than 3,000 feet to the summit of Elmer’s Peak, Mt. Pamanatan and descending to another brutal 500 steps down to the river of Inigan.

That isn’t the entire race though, that’s just the halfway point, particularly for the 21k runners. With lots of single track trails, precarious bamboo bridges, rugged and insanely picturesque terrain along the river, The Soleus Cross Country Challenge will push you and reward you. This race should not be missed.

Here are some details of the upcoming race:

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Ready to take another challenge with FUN on the trail run? The 3rd installment of the sought after Soleus Cross Country Challenge trail run is happening on July 01, 2018!

With brand new challenges, surprise obstacles and fun run river crossing! Hint: Bring out your best costume! Yes, you’ve read it right. A fun-filled costume trail run is waiting for you.


Early Bird Promo (April 20- May 15):
8K – P900
12K – P1000
21K – P1,200

Regular (May 16-June 15):
8K – P1,000
12K – P1,100
21K – P1,350

– Race Bib and timing chip (except 8K)
– Event shirt
– Finisher medal
– Finisher snacks

Registration thru Bank Deposit:
Banco De Oro (BDO)
Account Name: Roel Ano
Account Number : 007040062221

If payment has been made, please send the scanned copy of the deposit slip with your complete name, age, gender, contact number and shirt size to

In-Store Registration:

L-TimeStudio SM Mall of Asia, Ground Floor
L-TimeStudio SM Megamall, 3rd Floor
L-TimeStudio Market!Market!, 2nd Floor
L-TimeStudio Trinoma, 2nd Floor (Near Foodcourt)

Assembly: 4:00AM
Gun start:
21K – 5:30AM
12K – 6:00AM
8K – 6:30AM

More details to follow….

…And by the way, no disposable CUPS.

Everyone is encouraged to bring their own preferred hydration bottle.

Last weekend, we were able to test run parts of the route giving us a glimpse of how enjoyable yet tough the course is. Here are some of the pictures. Enjoy:


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Bamboo bridges crossing the river

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500 stairs coming down from Elmer’s Peak

We did the reverse by climbing the stairs up to Elmer’s Peak

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Old growth forest

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Vast Banana plantation

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Over-looking the plantation

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Views of the mountain peaks from the top

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Pintong Bukawe

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Elmer’s Peak

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Photo ops above Elmer’s Peak

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View of Inigan below

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inov8 Trail Running Shoes Returns to the Philippines

inov8 is a major player in the trail running market not only with their trail shoes, but with their road shoes as well. They have also introduced their cross-fit/training shoes and hopes to make a splash on this market. They have been proven in competition both on and off-road, across sports, and worn by elite trail runners across the globe. With a well-oiled technology supported constantly by updating their models, they are arguably one of the most recognizable brand in the trail running world.

inov-8 is dedicated to building performance shoes for every athlete, and they revolutionize with new technology shoes for all terrains. Whether its offering the same shoe with varying levels of heel-to-toe drop, building sport and gender specific lasts for a better fit, or leveraging aggressive tread designs and rubber compound, inov-8 is dedicated to producing the most purpose built running footwear athletes enjoy worldwide.

inov8 has recently returned to the Philippines after a lackluster presence in the country many years ago, when trail running was not yet as popular as a competitive sport as it is now. The popularity of trail running has mushroomed over the past 5 years with notable world-class races like the TNF100, Salomon XTrail Runs, the hardcore ultra trail races of FrontRunner magazine like H1, Four Lakes100, Old Spanish Trail50 and to a lesser extent, the Pimco Love A Tree Trail Run Series, MGM Mountain Runs, Conquer Trail Runs and New Era Trail Events.

Along with the increased popularity has come a larger number of demand for trail running gear, most specifically trail running shoes and inov8 intends to cash-in on the emergence of trail running’s popularity in the country at very reasonable prices.

This new batch of inov8 shoes were recently launch at the Sportshouse branch in SM North Edsa and these latest releases include shoes for trails, road, multi-terrain, extreme terrain and performance (crossfit) training.

Below are the current available models of the inov8 which is exclusively available at all SportsHouse stores, with stats and descriptions provided by Ms. AR Aguspina of Sportshouse:

P 5,495.00

P 4,495.00

P 4,495.00

P 4,495.00

P 4,495.00

P 4,495.00

P 4,495.00 (Road Shoe)

P 4,495.00 (crossfit training)

P 6,495.00 Men’s (Weight lifting)

P 6,495.00 Women’s (Weight lifting)

For more info on the inov8, you can check out their Facebook page at: or their website at:

Bravehearts Mountain Trail Run- March 12, 2016

“Bravehearts is a newbie friendly trail run”. 

“This is not a race. Its a picnic!”

“It requires bravery to do something no one else around you is doing. So be brave!”

—MGM Productions description of their upcoming trail run event, the Braveheart Trail Run

To which trail runners responded:

“It’s A Trap!”

I was amused and laughing when i read these Facebook exchanges on the forthcoming BRAVEHEARTS Mountain Trail Run to be held on March 12 in Baras, Rizal. It might be MGM’s stab at humor but knowing their record of organizing very challenging routes that frays the edges of your patience (Mt. Batolusong Trail Challenge, Mt. Sembrano Mountain Run, to name a few), their races are no laughing matter. For most, their uphill courses gets your heart pumping non-stop, yet the views are spectacular that any trail runner would love to come back for more.

Though the Braveheart Mountain Run will only be for 11 kilometers, no one (outside of the MGM organizers) have made an actual test run of this route but expect this to be another lung-busting climb. If MGM is going to be true to their word, this run will just be like a picnic at the park and will have a newbie-friendly trail route. But then, they ask runners to be brave, to face the unexpected! And that has put jitters among the trail newbies and even the regular trail runners.

Nevertheless, Race Director Rayman (DBB) Delos Angeles assured that runners will be rewarded with a myriad of adventurous panoramas like waterfalls, dams, rocky paths, pine trees, the grand views of the Sierra Madre mountains and Talim Island at Laguna De Bay which i tend to believe (check out the pictures below).

It’s a very calming claim to call an MGM Productions event one newbie-friendly trail run but it’s also hard to ignore that one requires bravery to do something out of the ordinary to probably survive this race. Even the name of a waterfall where runners will pass by near it, “KINAMATAYAN FALLS” is a prelude of things to happen!

But factor in a cool dip beneath this waterfall (will you?), enjoy the low clouds lying below the Sierra mountain peaks, cascading rivers and streams and a grand finale of a breakfast at one of the picnic tables of a resort while getting a glimpse of Laguna De Bay and you’ve got plenty of reason to enjoy this race.

Whether or not it’s a newbie-friendly trail or a race for the hard-core, no trail runner will want to miss a MGM-organized trail run! Hope we come out alive! 🙂

Here are the details of the race!

Bravehearts Mountain Trail Run (11km)

Distance :11km (Cut Off Time- 3:30 Hours)

Start Time: 6:00 AM March 12, 2016 (Saturday)

Starting/Finish Area: Check Dam, Sitio San Roque, Brgy. Pinugay, Baras, Rizal

Registration Fee: Php 800.00

Inclusive: Finisher Medal, Singlet, Race Bandana and Personalized Bib Number

Registration Period: February 03 – March 01, 2016

Registration Procedure:

Deposit the registration fee to Account Name: Rayman D. delos Angeles BPI Savings Acct Num: 3199-1456-56
Send a scanned/pic copy of the deposit slip to with your name, gender and size of finisher shirt . Subject: MGM BRAVEHEARTS REGISTRATION”. Please keep and present the deposit slip when claiming the race kit on the race day.


The event takes place RAIN or SHINE!

This is the perfect start for the grand slam of the MGM Production Trail Running Series.


Race Director Dabobong Rayman (Rock Star) Angeles showing us one of the highlights of the mountain run, a lagoon from the Kinamatayan waterfalls located upstream.



Pictures of the KIMATAYAN Falls:

Preview: A Sneak Peek of the Rizal Mountain Run

Like all the best trail-mountain races held recently near Metro Manila, (think Mt. Marami, Mt. Batolusong, Mt. Sembrano, among the few), the Rizal Mountain Run (RMR50) promises to be another trail race destination for your 2016 bucket list, something not to be missed! This trail run, which features a beginner’s 15k, a 30k and an ultra distance of 50k will be held on FEBRUARY 28, 2016.

Starting from the Basekamp Resort in Sapinit Road, Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal, the route traverses into a short concrete road before it dives straight into the heart of some of the most rugged trails, scenic mountain ranges and endless river crossings of the Rizal provincial landscape.

I was fortunate enough to be invited with fellow trail runner-bloggers for a sneak peak of the RMR50 route, a short 12k run that forms part of all the distances to be traversed by the runners. The trails are not exactly new to me having ran them for both training and races in the past except for a fire road called the New Casile Road. The route is a visceral landscape, with the river snaking over a long vast track of valleys, with the Sierra Madre mountains always lording over our heads.

We started from the top of the new Casile Road and the route follows wide dirt roads, rolling hills and into Pintong Bukawe’s interior which will expose runners to a variety of terrain, including long downhills, single-track trails, lung-busting uphills and views of the Marikina-Casile River. For the 50k and 30k runners, the trails cuts into river crossings that would slow down runners, specially on parts where the river currents are strong, deep and slippery.

15k Finisher’s Shirt

The trails will be hot and dry late in the morning, shoes will be all wet every-time runners cross the river, taking with you small pebbles wriggling beneath your feet so it’s best to wear them trail gaiters if you have one. But the route takes in also subtle terrain, with trees giving shades on some parts specially the trails in Puro, Malasya and in Pintong Bukawe.

After the race, packed breakfast will be served while other nourishment and snacks will be sold at the cafeteria inside BaseKamp.

Many thanks to Atty. Aldean Lim, Ronald Declarador, Jael Wenceslao, Majo Liao, Gene Olvis and to the rest of the organizing committee for the invitation and for making this recon run a successful one!

Our test-run group

Rizal Mountain Run

February 28, 2016
Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal

Event Distances:
15K / 30K/ 50K

Registration Fees:
15K – P1,000
30K – P1,500
50K – P2,000 (Limited to 150 Slots only).

50K Cut-Off Details:

Assembly Time: 1:00AM
Pre-race Briefing: 2:00AM
Start Time: 3:00AM
Intermediate Cut-off Time: AS4 – Sitio Wawa (KM 34) – 12:00PM local time (9 hours)
Cut-off Time: 4:00PM
Time Barrier: 13 hours

Registration is via online only at their website:

Deadline of Registration and Payment is on February 20

Follow them at:

For more information:

Leaving you with pictures of the route! Registration is still open!

The new Casile Road

A huge boulder that would be visible to all runners

Our run was supported by 4×4 vehicles which brought us our supplies during this test run

Some rock formation along the route

Dirt roads that goes downhill

Part of an uphill route with scenic views of the Sierra Madre mountains

A group picture with the mountains as backdrop

Perfect spot for a selfie.

Jun Santiago leaving his dust behind him! 🙂

Great views of the mountains at every turn

View of the Marikina-Casile River below

Our support vehicles waiting at every turn

Part of the route

Congregating at another scenic view

More on the Casile River below

Emerging at the 6k mark

At the single track trails

One of our river crossings with Majo, Iris and Adrian

Trails towards a valley

Lunch at the Basekamp Resort, start/finish line of the Rizal Mountain Run

With the ladies and the photobombers! 🙂

Hope to see you at the race!

The Blue Lagoon (Gasgas River) Trails in Solsona, Ilocos Norte: Part 1

A great joy of trail running is the feeling you get when you venture on some place completely new, a venue you haven’t seen nor experienced before. Many locations for trail running offer unique amenities like waterfalls or mountain ridges but there are only a few locations that offer one full package of a truly amazing experience.

Found one of this wonder of nature when we traveled in the town of Solsona, a 3rd class municipality in the province of Ilocos Norte, when rivers connects to waterfalls or when mountain tops stretch to a vast plateau offering a savanna like no other!

We were guests of Mr. Rene Santillan, Executive Secretary to the Mayor of Solsona, Mr. Jhong De Lara to explore the trails around Solsona and we were amazed at the variety of terrains, rich with undulating mountain climbs and treks atop single track trails over-looking the river. While the Cordillera/Mountain Province region gets all the attention when it comes to trail running, Solsona’s Cordillera mountain part offers the solitude of non-stop trail-blazing with far less people setting foot on these parts.

The mountains and the long river takes precedence here. From our base camp at the Karinking Mountain and River Resort (KMRR), we wandered into a established trail with leads at once into views of a long river below with paths of rocky single track terrain and an assortment of fauna that envelopes the area.

There are numerous epic treks that can be inter-connected to each other but the trail to the GASGAS River or what the locals fondly call the BLUE Lagoon serves an easy 30 minute single run-hike that connects to the DUA Falls and some more trails at the base of the mountains.

My trail running buddy Jun Santiago including another trekking visitor of the place Mario and our guide, Fernan were to trek on this scenic landscape beginning at the KMRR by scaling on ascending and descending boulders that offers lots of challenges. If the trails were to steep or too narrow to pass over, we slid down on ravines that leads to the river banks which were much safer to maneuver instead of risking of falling down from unsure footing. Once we find another opening to scale up, we do so to re-connect with the trails.

And when you conquer this quirk jaunts up those trails and emerge at their famed Blue Lagoon and look at at the vastness of this river, you will feel the true timelessness of this place.

Don’t forget to freshen up while in the river. The water is cold, by the way but it beats the heat that you were subjected to while scaling the trails. Enjoy!

Start of the trail

A detour to avoid the narrow, loose trail above the banks of the river

The rocky trail overlooking the river

Making a stop, enjoying the view

Another boulder atop the edge of the river

A flat portion of the terrain

Getting down from those limestones

Blue Lagoon (Gasgas River) now on view

The fast current makes it so difficult to pass through

Jun and the guide crossing on the shallow part


Trying to balance at the slippery rock

Trekking our way further on the eastern side of the river

One of the Dua waterfalls

The Yellow and the Eco Trails of Camp John Hay

There’s no other city on the northern part of Luzon than i am more fond of than the cool, charming summer capital, Baguio City. It’s been countless of times that i’ve been to this summer resort since the 70s but for some odd reasons, have not been able to visit this place for the last 7 years. But last week, when fellow blogger Franc Ramon invited me for a week-end of trail running at Camp John Hay (which is a few minutes from his home in the city) and at the Sta. Fe Trail Run in Ampucao, Benguet, 40 minutes further away, (story here)  i couldn’t resist the invitation.

Tha many times i’ve visited the “City of Pines”, our itinerary would include Camp John Hay (CJH), the former R&R facility of the US Armed Forces, now under ownership of the Philippine government. CJH for me was more of a place to dine, stroll along its manicured gardens, go horseback riding or set up picnic on one of the picnic tables and view the awesome natural surroundings.

However, it was only recently that i learned about the running trails inside the camp, knowing that these were used exclusive for horse-back riding and was the venue for the North Face Trail run series a few years back. So Franc, being very familiar with these trails brought me along for a short run-walk jaunt and being here for the first time was magical!

Start of the Yellow trail

The Yellow and Eco Trails provides an oasis for runners, mountain bikers, and hikers. Good thing that majority of this trail is now off limits to horse-back riding as they have been confined only up to the trail-head.

Franc and I readied our cameras to catch snaps of our run-hike and just put our minds to auto-pilot and let the undulating trails take us through hard-packed single track trails, groves of pine trees, glimpses of mountain tops, grassy fields and ravines and flowering ridges. Despite the sprinkling of mountain bikers and occasional hikers, it was amazing how serene these trails could feel.

Along the trails, we met fellow trail-ultra runner, Epoy Poblete who was also venturing into these trails for the first time.

It’s one of the most beautiful places to run in Baguio City and a great destination for trail runners who would like to explore a short but exhilarating run inside Camp John Hay.

Leaving you with some pictures we took along the route. Happy trail running!

With Franc Ramon

Bumping into Epoy Poblete (middle) who was also venturing out into the Yellow Trail