On your mark, get set, run for wellness!

On the morning of October 24, the sun rose against a barren cerulean sky in Balesin Island despite the iffy rainfall and strong wind arising from the west the other day. The Lamon Bay illuminated the horizon where the ocean met the sun off the eastern coast, while the amihan gust brought sand dusts in a quiet yet harmonically choreographed pirouette.

Along the winding cobblestone roads of the Mykonos Village, people have warmed up to log miles before the rest of the world has even hit the snooze button. It was, after all, a perfect day for the Balesin Adventure Trail Run.

Launched in 2017, the sports event is now on its second iteration courtesy of Alphaland Corp., the real-estate company behind the 500-hectare development, Aegle Wellness Center, its medical division, and RunRio Events Inc., a marathon-organizing firm founded by elite and celebrity runner Rio de la Cruz.

The 21K and 5K races were carefully mapped to pass through the properties dotting the coastline. Registration for the run included flights per pax to and from Balesin Island Club and a three-day/two-night accommodation from November 23 to 25 in one of Balesin’s villas.

Suffice to say, the P20,000  fee availed runners more than participation privileges but also access to the exclusive-only, millions-membership-fee island club venue.

Here, they were given the chance to tour Balesin’s seven coastal villages, modeled after the world’s most famous tourism architectures—Bali, Indonesia; Costa del Sol, Spain; Mykonos, Greece; Phuket, Thailand; Toscana, Italy; Saint Tropez, France; and, with the Philippines as inspiration, a Balesin village.

Coach Rio, who was himself present at the event, shared that “he was very lucky” to be tapped as the run’s coordinator. “Generally, the biggest challenge in organizing runs like this is the venue, mainly because of the congestion in Manila. There are also a lot of races happening every week. This is a privately owned property, so I think it has a lot of potential in terms of attracting runners who want to get away from the everyday bustle of city life.”

He added, “Hopefully, our participants will continue to join the race, as every year we offer something new. Moving forward, we’d also like to open this to international runners to showcase the best of the Philippines.”

The second edition concluded with more than 600 runners, as compared to last year’s 200 count.

For this year’s finishers under the 21K category, there’s Ericson Pan (who completed the course in a duration of 1:55:54 minutes) and Candy Lee (2:12:50), both of whom placed first. Remus Romero and Maybel Lastimosa finished second, while Latrell Fenzon and Teresa Regis finished third.

Richie Fariñas covered the full 5K course under the men’s division in 0:26:06, while Beatrice Liu, 0:31:07, won first in the women’s category. Connar Homan and Melannie Reyes were named 2nd placers and Rhon Cribe and Lorna Vejano were 3rd.

More than marathon

More than a marathon for adventure junkies, the event is also geared toward raising awareness on the benefits of running and preventive health.

“We regularly hold activities that can entice and encourage everyone to pick up a sport or exercise they can continue doing as part of their lifestyle,” said Dr. Benedict Valdecañas, the medical director of Aegle, which is touted as the Asia-Pacific region’s most comprehensive wellness facility set within the island complex.

According to Valdecañas, or “Doc Ben,” the Balesin Trail Run aims to underscore the concept of preventive health, with proper diet, exercise and correct supplementation, as a primary focus of their wellness practice—a campaign that the center has mounted since it set up operation in January 2016.

In addition, he added: “Here we have a lot of services the runners can avail pre- or post-run—be it nutrition, detoxification, sports boost and immune boosts. Our Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is quite popular, in fact, it’s also what I do after a long run to diminish the inflammation and help the body heal faster.”

This particular treatment comprises of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which enhances the body’s natural healing process by inhalation of 100-percent oxygen in a total body chamber, where atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled. Oxygen is normally transported in the body through red blood cells. Through HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the central nervous-system fluids, the lymph and the bone, and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked.

Another signature treatment of Aegle is the thalassotherapy. From the Greek word for “sea,” this unique therapy makes use of the components of seawater for medical treatments including weight loss, detoxification, antiaging and regeneration; these components include the seawater itself, mud and silt, algae and seaweed, as well as coralline minerals.

​Aegle’s Balesin facility is the only one in the Philippines and one of very few in Asia to offer thalassotherapy, benefiting from its location surrounded by the vital waters of the Pacific Ocean.

The idea of utilizing this technology came to Doc Ben when he saw its potential in the country’s health-care landscape: “Before, ancient civilizations would use the elements of the earth for natural healing. Thalassotherapy here in Aegle has been advanced and modified for modern use.”

There are six specialty thalasso pools on the top floor of the center, namely: Heal, which utilizes natural seaweed antibacterials and helps regenerate external tissue; Detox, a thalasso pool chemically treated to draw out toxins from the bloodstream and replace them with essential minerals and elements; Soothe, for anti-inflammatory purposes, mainly for musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis and sprains and strains; Energize, which stimulates the natural production of endorphins; Relax, which helps bring down stress-induced neurotransmitters to calmer levels, and, finally, Balance, a thalasso pool that aims to regain the body’s natural electrolyte balance through osmosis.

Apart from HBOT and thalassotherapy, there are also a wealth of treatments offered by Aegle, like clinical services and diagnostics, intravenous therapies, aesthetic services, nutrition management, colon hydrotherapy and light therapy.

Sports Medicine Programs, on the other hand, are offered to regular athletes. The program includes Functional Exercise, Sports Performance Enhancement and Facilitated Recovery.

“A lot of centers like this are heavy on spa/relaxation/pampering services, whereas we’re basically a medical facility. We start with diagnostics and blood tests. We have a purely blood-based examination system, which does not stop with your blood chemistries. We also do routine hormone and neurotransmitters tests. We use tumor marker [biomarker] not just for monitoring cancer but detecting, it as well” Doc Ben added.

He cited the importance of teaching a person what they can do to keep themselves healthy instead of simply prescribing medication for disease symptoms.

With this in mind, the next time you want a natural remedy for your health issues, simply take a look outside. It might be a good day for a run.

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