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CamSur: Race to the Big Leagues

Source: Jacky Lynne A. Oiga |
The majestic Mount Isarog provides a scenic backdrop to CamSur's bustling tourism prospects. (Photo by PINGGOT ZULUETA)
The majestic Mount Isarog provides a scenic backdrop to CamSur’s bustling tourism prospects. (Photo by PINGGOT ZULUETA)


In the wake of sports tourism and the staging of the Survivor franchise in Caramoan Island, the once sleepy town of Camarines Sur has escalated from a third class province to one of the country’s most sought after destinations that goes with a trendy nickname – CamSur.

Nowadays, it seems like everyone who’s anyone has been to the hip new destination that has apparently surpassed Boracay’s popularity as the country’s top destination. Last year, CamSur summed up a whopping 1.5 million local and foreign tourist arrivals. And with a slew of international sporting events held in the province such as the World Wakeboarding Championships, Asian Wakeboarding Championships, and the Cobra Ironman 70.3, the numbers are likely to double by the end of 2010.

Recently, CamSur made another milestone with the success of the first Summit Water CamSur Marathon 2010 which obtained certification from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), an international governing body for athletics that holds and takes charge of the standardization of timekeeping methods and world records. The marathon is the only race in the country that has warranted an IAAF certified race course, sharing the same prominence as the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon.

“This event marks another milestone in CamSur’s race towards a more progressive, pro-active, and prosperous Bicol. Sports tourism is the development thrust of the province. Our main goal is not only to be known as the premiere sports and adventure destination in the Philippines but to transform tourism benefits to expanded basic services that are felt by the Bicolanos,” said Camarines Sur governor Lray Villafuerte.

Noted as the largest international marathon not only in the Philippines but in Southeast Asia, the race gathered more than 17,000 participants from all over the country along with elite runners including Kenya’s Henry Kipkosgei Cherono, John Mutai Kipyator, Bernard Kosgei Kimuigei, Joyce Kandie, and Rael Jepyator Kimaiyo, Ethiopia’s Tariku Abosete Bokan, Radiya Adlo Roba, and Ayelu Lemma Geda, Ukraine’s Ivan Barbaryka, and Russia’s Tatiana Vilosova. Celebrities like Aga Muhlach, Iza Calzado, Donita Rose, Marc Nelson, Rovilson Fernandez, and Reema Chanco also participated in the race.

The race had three starting points for the different divisions: Freedom Stadium (3K, 5K, 10K), Marasigan Compound (21K), and CWC Convention Center (42K). Proceeds of the race will be donated to the Department of Health Organ Donor Card Awareness Drive, K.I.D.S Foundation, and Gawad Kalinga.

Although the race winners all came from the international elite runners’ group, the participation and support of the Bicolanos in the event symbolize how far CamSur had come in promoting sports and where it intends to be in the tourism industry.

“People of all ages, from different walks of life, woke up in the early dawn to run with us. Among the 17, 000 participants, 80 percent were local runners. There were 2,500 runners who flew in from Manila, the remaining 14, 500 all came from the Bicol Region,” shared race director Rio dela Cruz. “I designed the race in such a way that all kinds of runners from first-timers to pros can participate. We had a fast and flat course, adequate water stations in every kilometer, and placed markers to help runners pace themselves.”

But the race not only exemplified the Filipinos’ initiative in promoting sports, it also showcased CamSur’s magnificent scenery of rolling rice fields, mountains, foliage, and the stunning view of the skyline. According to the Department of Tourism Bicol regional director, Maria Ravanilla, sports tourism in CamSur opened up new doors for tourism products and facilities in the whole Bicolandia.

“Several years ago, Camarines Sur was practically an unheard of province in the Bicol Region noted only for its capital city, Naga – home of the region’s patroness, Our Lady of Peñafrancia. But now, with the recent boom of tourism in the province, we are now promoting CamSur and the rest of Bicol as an all around destination. We have beaches, marine sanctuaries, culinary finds, cultural and heritage sites, there’s just so much to do here in Bicol,” said Director Ravanilla.

Summit Water Camsur Marathon 2010 is presented by Summit Water and co-presented by the Department of Tourism, Smart Communications, Timex, 100 Plus, Alaska, Nature Valley, and Dusit Thani. Media partners include ESPN, Star World, and National Geographic Channel.

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