Running in Intramuros: Musings at the Salomon Citytrail Run

Running through the heart of Manila, along the cobblestone streets of Intramuros was a pleasant change from the rough terrain of trail running. The route was strategically planned to pass through cultural landmarks, so runners could appreciate Philippine history and heritage.

When I wasn’t looking around to appreciate the view, I was looking down to notice little details like the imprinted dates on each brick; but also to make sure I didn’t take a misstep and fall on my face. The Citytrail may have been easier than its extreme counterpart, but it certainly wasn’t without its challenges. There were slippery moss-covered rocks, uneven stone paths, steep inclines, and stairs. There was also a run through a dark building wherein we passed underneath an impressive row of brick arches, which was a little eerie but exhilarating. These were all part of Salomon’s plan to elevate Citytrail running, encouraging runners to find running routes even in the urban landscape.

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The run above, through, and around Fort Santiago’s walls brought me to another place; to a special one in our culture and history, certainly, but also to that favorite part of my mind where I can simply let loose – the quiet corners of thought, of lazy daydreams and the loose stirring of ideas.

It’s what I meant when I said I had grown into running. Whereas the younger me had found running restless and unnerving, the older me had finally learned to grasp its appeal. I found a sort of escape in the sport. It enabled me to enter a mindset where no one or nothing could get to me, my thoughts cleared of the clutter of everyday living.

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Sometimes, on the trail, running becomes walking (and there are long stretches when I do more of the latter than the former), and that’s fine. I had never claimed to be a real runner, at least in the way of record times and grueling trainings. Every now and then, I’d muster up enough strength to pick up the pace and get ahead of that girl with pink neon socks or the tall man with the gray hair, but then I’d fall back into a snail’s pace, to be overtaken again by the very same individuals. Run, walk, sprint, back to walking. That’s the way it usually is for me.

I confess: a small part of me still dislikes running. It jumps up at the worst times: whenever my muscles ache, when my sides go into stitches, or when I see someone older or more heavy-set than me run with more grace and ease. But the sight of the finish line always manages to clear away any doubts or anxieties.

I’m not a runner – perhaps I’ll never be, or maybe someday with enough training, I’ll be able to run a full marathon the way a real runner would. But for now, I am content with the simple reason that I hold, the one that gets me to the trail each time: that as long as I put one foot in front of the other and keep at it, I will get to the finish line eventually.

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