Sunday, March 29, 2009

Running Batanes 3

My last installation of this series is not actually a run I did, but rather was planning to and really looking forward to doing, if not for the fickle weather of the islands.

Saturday morning was supposed to be a rest day for us, hence I was really looking forward to getting in a good long run around the South of the Island.

Yet, when I awoke, the sky was overcast, a light rain was falling and gale-force winds were howling. No way, I'd run that. I didn't even bring a jacket! Looked like an indoor day. Oh well, there's always gin. (As an aside, our tour guide tells me that they sell 26 Million Pesos of Rice a year in Batanes, and 22 Million Pesos worth of Gin! Gin is almost a staple product!)

However, I'd like to talk about the route I would have taken, having scoped it out by car the day before.

If I or say you were to do it, first you'd make your way South of Basco to the Municipality ofMahatao.

Pretty soon, you'll find yourself on the paved national road which hugs the coastline and provides beautiful, I mean absolutely stunning views.

Be careful though as there are alot of blind corners and the Ivatans as nice and hospitable as they are, are not the best of drivers. You may also want to pay attention to the fact that the roads are not always in the best condition, although there was a modernization project going on there while I was there. According to the omni present signs, they'll be spending 110 Million to modernize the roads there.

Around 5 to 7 Kms out of Basco, you'll reachthe municipality of Mahatao. The 1st thing you may notice is that the main road takes a right while a smaller road goes straight, following the main road. 

In Mahatao, take time to appreciate some of the history around you. From old Ivatan houses, churches and even Spanish era bridges.

Making your way out of to the edge of town, you'll still be in the still be running on the stunning coastal road. And by now, you'll probably be thirsty, so be sure to drop by the Honesty Store 

If you're lucky, the owner, a retired teacher with a golden heart, maybe around and she can tell you the story of the history of the Honestly Store. 

The next part of the run will be on similar roads to the ones before Mahatao. But with one important exception.

The view...

The rocky cliff faces now becoming gently rolling hills and still rocky beaches. This view is the favorite of the loop for me.

Just check out these views!

Right before you reach the abandoned American outpost on the beach shown above, you will see a fork going up to "Marlboro Country"

This is where the paved roads start to become rough and trail shoes start looking like a really good idea.

A kilometer or so and you'll run into a closed gate. This is the gate for the communal grazing pasture. You may open the gate and pass through, but please for the love of God, close it behind you. Unless you to spend the rest of your vacation looking for a herd of missing cows!

After  you pass these rolling grass covered hills, don't forget to lock the other gate behind you, and soon you'll find yourself on a paved road.

These paved road can have some killer uphills, but if you preservere and finish, you will find yourself in the town of Mahatao again, coming out of the secondary road which you may have noticed earlier.

At this point you'll only be 3 or 4 kms from Basco and you just follow the roads you took earlier. But run quickly, because you don't want to get stuck out here in the dark, remember what I said about Ivatan drivers earlier!

Hope you had fun!

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