Friday, June 9, 2017

Running: The Mapawa Trail Run Experience

The Mapawa Trail Series in Cagayan de Oro City is widely acknowledged as the premier trail running event in Northern Mindanao. Held along the picturesque hills and ridges of Mapawa Nature Park, this annual event have been drawing trail running enthusiasts from all over the country. This 2017, the series features three stages: Trail Run Mapawa 21K held last May 28; Mapawa Trail Marathon on August 13 and Ultra Trail Mapawa on October 29.

After years of skipping this race due to conflicts in schedule, Malou and I finally got a taste of Mapawa trails when we joined the 21K event two weekends ago. Here's our first-time experience of the Mapawa Trail Series...

Race Venue

The race started and finished in Mapawa Nature Park, perched on the hills of Barangay Cugman, about 5 kilometers from the national highway. The park is part of a 2,500-hectare protected area owned by the Pelaez Family. A respite from the city life, Mapawa is home to natural forests, waterfalls,cattle ranch and eco farm tailored fit for outdoor enthusiasts.

For convenience, we opted to stay in one of their accommodations the night before the race. We reserved a room good for two at a rate of P1,500. To our surprise, the room given to us at the Ranch House was so huge it could comfortably fit 4 people. Dormitory rooms are also available at P350/person.

The wide veranda and dining area of the Ranch House

Being away from the city proper, the whole area was so quiet at night that we were able to sleep early and rest well before race day.

Race Day

The race promptly started at 5:30 AM. From the park, it was a gradual ascent along concrete paved road. We then made a right turn into a forested area with mixed dirt and paved roads until we reached the first aid station at about 2.5 kilometers.

The route got more interesting with the long downhill that followed along with the scenic view of distant rolling hills.

It was a pleasant surprise that a mini-pine forest also dots the trail. To a lesser degree, it reminds me of our Sagada Marathon experience a few months back.

From the pine forest, it was mostly wide dirt roads of rolling terrain. We were blessed with cloudy skies at this point of the race and fog can still be seen along the route.

Second aid station was in a wooded area at KM 6.03 while the third one was near the cattle ranch named Camp Edward at KM 8.88. All the aid stations are well-stocked with water and food (fruits, eggs, bread).

A steep and painful climb followed shortly after Aid Station No. 3. I thought we were already closed to the turning point but later found out that it is still more than one kilometer away at the other side of the mountains.

Coming out of the steep climb, we reached another wide, dirt road. This is my most favorite part of the route as the scenic views of verdant hills were really beautiful.

After one hour and fifty six minutes, we finally reached the turning point.

The 21K route was out-and-back so we simply backtrailed in going back to the finish line.

I reached the finish line at 3 hours and 44 minutes while Malou followed shortly at 3:45. We ranked number 56 and 57 respectively among 150 actual runners.

Aside from the finsher's medal, free breakfast was also handed out at the finish.

Hits and Misses of the Event:

With my first Mapawa Trail Run experience, these are what I considered as the hits and misses of the recently concluded 21K trail race.


  • Challenging trail and scenic views
  • Well-stocked aid stations
  • Well-placed ribbons to guide runners along the trail
  • Filling free breakfst at the finish
  • Use of timing chip to determine finish time

  • Low-quality plastic finisher's medal
  • The chief marshal misrouted the first two leading runners and made them took the wrong trail in going back to the finish. The marshal admitted his blunder which denied the top two finishers their places in the podium.

How to Get to Mapawa Nature Park:

1. From Cagayan de Oro City proper, take a jeepney or taxi ride to Malasag road junction along the highway of Barangay Cugman, fronting Blue Energy Fuel Station. From the junction, you can ride a habal-habal motorcycle (Php35.00/person) in going to Mapawa Nature Park.

2. Visit Mapawa Trail Series FB page for updates on their upcoming races.




  1. Nice pictures.. Thank you for letting know us about the new location

  2. Beautiful scenery! But I think I'll just trek through it. I'm flat-footed, and I don't think I can count the times I will fall flat on my face when I run that trail. Hehehe!

    1. Jog-walk lang mi diri bai kay daghan kaayo tungas. Hehehe. The trail is really beautiful and only about 30 minutes from Cagayan de Oro proper.


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