There's a shoe-box sized running store a few blocks from my place. I discovered it a few nights after moving in and spent an hour talking shop with the sole employee there. Apparently running is the latest fitness craze in the Philippines, which would partially explain the popularity of the new two kilometer fitness oval at the UP campus. (Another explanation is that it's one of the few places with shade and limited vehicle traffic.) The sport is still in its infancy and not especially competitive.
An early morning run is part of my daily routine (as is the washing of my running shorts, sports bra, singlet and socks in the shower afterwards). For me, running also a way of staying grounded and physically and mentally healthy. As I visit different parts of the country, my running shoes have and will continue to come with me. Running is such a wonderful way to meet new people and to explore new places (so long as you're carrying money, ID and a mobile phone when venturing out in new locales).
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I ran a 10km fundraiser race for UP varsity athletes on Sunday morning. Races here start very early; start time was scheduled for 6:00am sharp (which turned out to be 6:30am). Even at this early hour, it's hot and humid. The race atmosphere was familiar: pop music blaring, inflatable start and finish line, vendor tents, race volunteers sporting bright t-shirts, nervous runners milling about and stretching. The enthusiasm was contagious. It was great to talk with other runners about upcoming races and places to train.
As the only non-Filipino, I stuck out like a sore thumb. As one of the few experienced runners, I stuck out even more. Curious, excited onlookers cheered us on all along the 5km loop. There were lots of "go ma'am" shouts of support. I ran a decent but not especially fast race (40:52ish) to finish second overall and first female. Instead of medals or ribbons we were given gift certificates for foot massages and fast food!
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There's a marathon in Quezon City on December 5th, the day before I return to Canada. I'm tempted to run it.
For more info about running in the Philippines, visit: takbo.ph