1. The invitation of the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) for the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) to participate in the 1st Asian IAU 100K Ultramarathon Race was an opportunity to represent the country in the sports of ultrarunning in an international event and to make an impression among the Asian Ultrarunning Federations that PAU is a legitimate Sports Federation on Ultrarunning.
2. The Ultrarunning Federations of Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea maximized the number of runners per country-delegation into 6 athletes ( 3 men & 3 women). These countries had been into ultrarunning events for the past 10 years or more. Mongolia, the latest member of IAU, and the countries of Indonesia, India, and Hongkong were represented with only one male runner. While the Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand were represented with two (2) runners. Among the delegation, I was the only Head/President of an Ultrarunning Federation who competed and ran in the 50K Ultramarathon Race.
3. Due to the unfamiliarity of the place and the lack of communication among the residents of Jeju (Jeju residents could hardly understand and speak in English), we were not able to recon the actual route but verbal explanation from the Race Director (the only member of the Korean Ultramarathon Federation who can speak with good English) was the only source for the description of the route.
4. Meeting the President of IAU, Dirk Strumane, IAU General Secretary Hilary Walker and the Asian Representative to IAU Souhei Kobayashi was an opportunity to meet the “top bosses” of IAU. These personalities were very close to our delegation because of our ability to communicate with them in English.
5. The Chairman of the Event, Mr Jun Sang Yu, is presently the President of four (4) Sports Federations in South Korea and a former 6-time elected Congressman in one of the Congressional Districts in South Korea, was the one responsible in raising the funds from the government and the private corporate world to support the conduct of this international ultramarathon event. He is also an ultrarunner who ran and finished the 100K distance last year in the said event within the cut-off time of 15 hours. (I really do not know if we could find a Congressman/Politician in our country who has that kind of passion of being athletic and has the “all-out” attitude to support an international event).
Sights & Scenery of Jeju Ultramarathon Race
6. The 1st Asian IAU 100K Championship Race was held as part of the 9th Annual Jeju International Ultramarathon Race which has the 50K, 100K, 148K Trail Run and a 200K Race. Out of the 585 participants, the 50K, 100K and 200K runners were equally divided with only 33 runners who joined the 148K Trail Run.
7. The race did not have any race marshals along the route as the runners followed the circumferential paved road of the island. A small printed white paint of “U200” with a small arrow on the paved road is seen few meters before any intersection. However, if there is no printed indicator on the paved road is seen, it means that the runner should go straight. (In the future editions of BDM 102/151, I hope that runners would not need any race marshal to follow the route of the event).
8. It was funny when the Head of the Japanese Team asked if the Race Organizer had placed Portalets along the route. The answer of the Race Organizer was there was none and instead, the runners have to use the toilets/CR of gasoline stations, parks along the sea, or knock on the doors of houses/commercial establishments along the way, or look for a big rock or tree or canal/ditch where the runner could do his/her thing. Silently, I was smiling when I heard this question during our technical meeting. I remember the experiences of the BDM 102 runners for the past two editions!
9. It appeared that the Koreans just ran the course on “automatic mode”—they were smiling, chatting with one another, and enjoying the scenery of the route. The Koreans are very strong runners and calm during the run. I did not see any of them “wired” with MP3 or Ipod during the run.
10. The Japanese ultrarunners have small strides but their “turn-over” or frequency of their strides was very quick. I could not believe what I’ve seen with these Japanese runners. Their strides were consistent from Km 0 up to the Finish Line! It shows their advance and dynamic knowledge on running as I saw them running with midfoot strike in an ultramarathon race!
11. The Taiwanese runners were also strong but they are more comfortable in their 24-Hour Endurance runs in their country. One of the male runners who was running the 100K race had passed me at the 43K mark and he was fast and strong. The first female Taiwanese runner who finished the 100K race was trailing me when I finished the 50K race.
12. The only Mongolian runner whose country is colder in climate than in South Korea had some issues on the second half of the race due to his blistering pace on the first half of the race. He was not able to manage his pace for the 100K race. I had to bring out my Salonpas spray for him to use when he was in pain due to leg cramps at the Km 65 point.
13. The first Aid Station was placed at Km 10 mark and after the first one, each Aid Station was placed in every 5 kilometers. Each Aid Station’s contents were simple. It has few cups for water, Pocari Sweat, Coke with sliced fresh bananas (Imported from the Philippines), sliced Oranges, and Chocolate Munchmallow. The volunteers serve water, Pocari Sweat and Coke from 2-liter bottles and each runner would ask for additional water from their cups. There is no need for a lot of lined-up cups of water/Pocari Sweat or Coke as a few runners would stop or pass along these Aid Station at a time. There is no excess or wastage on the liquid or food being served in the Aid Station as the fruits are only served if the runner would ask for them!
14. For those runners who don’t need the Aid Stations, these runners are given plastic bags where their race number is written with permanent Pentel Pen. These bags are used as their “drop bags” where the runner could place his/her drinks/special drinks and food and even running apparel which he/she can use to change. These “drop bags” are placed every 10-Km mark and they are collected from the runners before the race started. It is the duty of the Race Organizer to place these “drop bags” in every 10K mark along the route. The last “drop bag” at the Finish Line contains the clothes/apparel of the runner which he/she can use to change from his/her running attire. (I am planning to adopt this “drop bag” concept for the 1st PAU 50K Run in Tanay, Rizal in order to get rid of those Aid Stations but I am still allowing runners to have their Support Vehicles/Crew with them).
15. There are no Km Posts along the roads/highway in South Korea. There are no Kilometer Markings on the route of the race. The Aid Stations act as the Km marker in the race as they are placed every 5 kilometers after the Km 10 marking. The race route was measured by the Race Organizer/Director through GPS.
16. I’ve never seen any Ambulance during the race! Not even at the Starting & Finish Lines! This implies that the runners are well-trained and prepared for the event.
17. With the prevailing cold temperature at 8 degrees Celcius during the race, I observed that my quadricep muscles were the ones that started to feel tightness and “cramps” when I reached the Km 36 mark and before reaching the Km 40 mark, my groin muscles were also starting to have cramps. As compared when running in the country with hotter and humid weather, the calf muscles are always the ones that have the tendency to experience “cramps”. In Jeju, it was my first time to experience “cramps” on my quads & groin muscles! It could be the cold climate and elevation profile of the course that contributed to such experience.
18. What impressed me most is that all the runners/participants in this ultramarathon race were HONEST. Nobody cheated and most of the runners just run, have fun , and enjoy the scenery and the “journey” towards the Finish Line by themselves.
19. I am encouraging the ultrarunners here in the country to experience this event in their next edition. If you are a member of PAU, this race and experience is a MUST.
(Note: Please click the picture above)