Thursday, March 23, 2017

Bukidnon: Mad Scramble Trail Run at Lake Apo


Exactly two weeks after running 21K in Sagada Marathon, my wife and I joined another trail, this time in our home province Bukidnon. Mad Scramble Trail Fun Run is actually a side event of the main race, Altritude Off-Road Triathlon, a grueling swim-bike-run which is now on its second year of staging. Malou and I are both non-triathletes so we opted to join the trail run despite of its short 5K distance since it gave us the opportunity to run around one of Bukidnon's most popular tourist attractions: Lake Apo in Barangay Guinoyoran, Valencia City.

Lake Apo is a crater lake with a total area of around 24 hectares and a maximum depth of 26 meters. It was recognized as the cleanest inland body of water in Northern Mindanao sometime in the late 90s. With its picturesque and serene setting it became a favorite day trip and picnic destination. One week prior to the Altritude event, Lake Apo was featured in the popular GMA7 TV show Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, as one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Bukidnon.

Here's a photo essay of our Mad Scramble Trail Run experience...



Since we arrived at the venue early we have enough time to claim our race kit and take photos around the vicinity. Even the gloomy skies could not conceal the lake's beauty, with its deep green water, floating cottages and lotus flowers backdropped by green hills and trees.



At 7:30 AM, the swim event of the triathlon started. Triathletes need to swim first around the lake before taking on their bike and finally run back to the finish.


After the last bike out from the transition area, the trail run started at around 8 AM. This time, the sun already broke out of the cloudy skies, promising a hot and spicy run.


The first part of the route was along the lake shore, passing by some local dwellings and the lake's bamboo rafts and cottages. After about 500 meters was the first climb.


It was a short but steep uphill which gave us our first overlooking view of the lake to our right.


It was then followed by a gentle descent which brought us running along farm roads in between sugarcane plantations. It was a mostly flat open trail where we have to endure the intense heat of the sun.


Then came the most grueling part of the route, a steep climb along banana and coffee plantation which literally took our breath away. The rain the night before made the trail more slippery and doubly hard to negotiate.


Malou and I walked through this part and eventually reached the peak of the hill where we were rewarded with the most beautiful part of the route: an unobstructed overlooking view of Lake Apo in its entirety. Indeed, the course description on the events FB page holds true: "on top is the reminder on why an off-road trail run is nature's best kept secret".


The mighty Pulangi River can also be seen from this vantage point.


As we started our descent, Musuan Peak (also called Mount Musan and Mount Kalayo) can be seen looming over valleys and green fields.


The rocky sloping ridge also offered us the refreshing view of vast sugarcane and corn fields. Bukidnon, after all, is an agricultural province known as the food basket of Northern Mindanao.


The descent brought us back to the dirt road leading to Lake Apo and finally back to the finish line.


It was a short, sweet and spicy route which we definitely enjoyed. The view of Lake Apo on top of the hill was truly beautiful and breathtaking. Kudos to the Altritude organizers for giving us, non-triathletes, the opportunity to run on this route and see Lake Apo's beauty from various angles.


How to Get to Lake Apo:

Lake Apo is located in Guinoyuran, Valencia City. Its nearest jump-off is in Dologon, Maramag, Bukidnon. 

From Cagayan de Oro City, take a bus bound for Maramag, Bukidnon and disembark at the Dologon-Kisanday-BUSCO road junction. Habal-habal (passenger motorcycle) terminal can be found at the junction and fare going to Lake Apo is about 40-50 pesos per person.  

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