By King Bernas
While not long, or particularly hard, Clark remains one of the most popular training routes.
The Clark Freeport Zone, probably still more popularly known as Clark Air Base, is located in Pampanga between Mabalacat and Angeles. While it may often be bypassed now in favor of Subic as a vacation spot, Clark remains to be a popular destination for training and racing due to its proximity to Manila. Races such as the Pilipinas Duathlon Series, Tour of Clark, Sante Barley Domination Duathlon, and the SBR Triathlon have all been held there in the past year, and it’s been used in the past as well, in races including Xterra Putik Pare and the old XRC Road Executive Racing Series. Clark is also the home training ground of the popular Yellow Cab – Tri Clark Team.
As with many areas, there are many variations to particular training loops, but the most popular is what’s known as the Figure 8 course, which is the route of choice for the Executive Road Races. The Figure 8 is around 18 kilometers in length, starting and ending for our purposes, at the Petrol Depot near the corner of Manuel Roxas and Claro M Recto Highway. It can be broken down into two loops- which we’ll call the ‘Small Loop’ that goes around the side of Mimosa Golf and Country Club and the Clark parade Grounds, and the ‘Big Loop’ that goes around the Clark Expo and Fontana Leisure Estates, alongside the Sacobia River.
The Small Loop
Starting from Petrol Depot, you turn right on Manuel Roxas Highway in the direction of the main gate, going past Mimosa. Even on weekdays, the wide Highway is relatively car-free. Turn right on the corner of Jose Abad Santos Ave. after around 1.5 kilometers. This road will rise slowly up to around 240 meters, including a quick dip in the road after the 3.5-kilometer mark that will give you enough equilibrium for the last climb. The view on the left side near the top of what is now the Sun Valley Country Club, is quite nice. At the 5.5-kilometer mark, the road meets the top of Claro M Recto Highway where you turn right, going down past Fontana and back to the intersection of Manuel Roxas Highway. This completes a 7.6-kilometer loop.
The Big Loop
After coming down from Claro M Recto Highway, turn left immediately at the intersection, bringing you to Creekside Road. This is a fast section as it descends slightly for 2.5 kilometers until you reach a rotunda where you can carry your speed before exiting at Panday Pira Avenue. Here the road rises slightly as you pass the Clark International Speedway on the right, until the end, where you turn left again at Prince Balagtas Avenue. This is the longest straight section of the course- a 4 kilometer stretch alongside the Sacobia River, passing the Clark Expo on the left, and climbing the 1-kilometer section nicknamed “The Wall” that goes straight up before levelling off once again at the top, turning left at the end of Jose Abad Santos Ave, before turning left this time down Claro M Recto Highway, and back to the Start.
As we mentioned earlier, the 18-kilometer loop isn’t a hard one, but taken multiple times at speed in the context of interval training or a race, it can be a challenging as well. Clark’s accessibility via Northern Luzon Expressway also ensures that it will remain a popular training and racing venue for the years to come.
Route: Clark Figure 8
Distance: +/- 18 Km/lap
Average time: 30-40 minutes/lap
Total Elevation Gain: +/-187 m/lap
Highest Point: +/- 241 m