Yes, on this day, there are 137 days before the Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race.
Last Monday evening, I left for Laoag City by plane to visit the graves of my Mom and close relatives who had passed away. It was some sort of a late celebration of All Souls Day as I was not able to leave Manila on those holidays. Anyway, as they say, “better late than never”. This was the reason why I was not able to attend the 1st and 2nd sessions of the Team Bald Runner’s speed training clinic at the ULTRA Oval Track.
As soon as I woke up last Tuesday morning, I had a run at the newly-renovated Laoag City Oval Track which is 800 meters away from our house. The Oval Track had been fitted with an Olympic-standard tartan track which was formally opened last 21 September 2008 (Milo Half-Marathon Elimination Race Day) by no less than the Governor of Ilocos Norte, Hon. Michael Keon, the former Director of Project Gintong Alay and former Chairman of the Phillippine Olympic Committee during former President Marcos’ administration. As I was about to start my run on the oval track, I saw Dr Chester Punio, a practicing medical surgeon in Laoag City and an avid runner, and he called my attention and we had a brief conversation. He introduced to me Reynaldo Pascua, an elite runner from Ilocos Norte who qualified for the the Milo Marathon Finals this coming 30th November for finishing No. 2 during the Milo Half-Marathon Elimination Run in Laoag City.
After a brief conversation with Dr Ponio, I started my run and Rey Pascua joined me during my workout. I found out that Rey Pascua is 38 years old with a height of 5 feet and had been a past/former champion of yearly races in Metro Manila in the late 90s and early 2000. He told me that he is one of the provincial elite athletes being supported by the Provincial Government but he lamented to me that he still lack the much-needed financial support for him to participate in road races in Metro Manila which offer Cash Prizes to the top winners. While he trains for the MILO Marathon Finals, he receives a monthly stipend of less than P 4,000 (barely $ 80.00) which I have the impression to be his salary for being one of the maintenance personnel of the Oval Track. I really admire his passion in competitive running but I also pity him for being not being supported well in his training.
I was able to run 10.32 kms in 52:54 minutes last Tuesday morning with an average pace of 5:07 mins/km.
On the following day, I went to the Oval Track for another run and I was able to cover a distance of 10.04 kms in 55:40 minutes with an average pace of 5:32 mins/km.
It was a little odd to see that the Oval Track is already under repair after almost two months since it was opened for the public. There are portions of the track where the tartan was not evenly “fixed” or “snugged” to the ground and these portions are starting to create “bubbles” on the track. I hope these problems will be fixed soon. I got some information that more people from Laoag City are starting to run and use the oval track which is a good sign of the sports development, most especially in running, in the said city.
Lastly, what I like about the Laoag City Oval Track and Iloilo City Sports Complex Oval Track is that they are FREE for the public. How I wish the ULTRA Oval Track should also be FREE for the public. PSC has more appropriated budget/support from the national government than the local government. This is just a wish.