Picture Of The Week #24

5 03 2014

Victory @ The 2014 BDM 102K Ultra Marathon Race (Juvy)

Victory @ The 2014 BDM 102K Ultra Marathon Race (Juvy Pagtalunan)





Amazing Marcelo!

13 11 2012

Marcelo, The Champion is totally different from the rest of the running elite athletes that I’ve known.

I had the chance to be with him for almost 7 days/one week. And for the those days that I’ve with him, I found a lot about the personal life, attitude, behavior, and inner thoughts of this runner.

I went up to Baguio City to personally meet his “handler”, the one who he said to be the person who had helped him in his running career before I discovered him in the 1st Marcos-Kennon 50-Mile Run. “Che” Alberto is Baguio City’s Number #1 Running Event Organizer and Marcelo’s running sponsor in running events where he would join. She is a nice lady and practically knows the life of Marcelo.

But I did not ask her about the details of the life of Marcelo. It was enough for me to know and meet her personally. And with the brief meeting with her, she provided me with copies of the published SUN STAR Baguio Newspaper where Marcelo was featured. I was amazed that the local newspaper featured Marcelo in a story with picture every time he finished as Champion in my Ultra Marathon Races. I was surprised! Marcelo did not even informed me about these publications since I could easily link them through my blog posts.

Talking with “Che” Alberto was very brief and I reserved some time to ask Marcelo about his life. Knowing the details of Marcelo’s life should come from Marcelo himself.

I was introduced also to the writer and sports reporter of Baguio’s Sun Star, Roderick Osis, who have written those sports stories/news every time Marcelo would join PAU’s Races and every time after Marcelo wins an event. Marcelo was so proud to introduce me to these people who are helping him in his passion to run in my events.

Marcelo informed me that he had been interviewed by the local TV network for so many times and thereby, making him as the most popular ultrarunner and a household name in Baguio City! But Marcelo was not affected with such popularity as he remains to be silent, reserved, and humble.

Before leaving Baguio City, he invited me to his house in the Dominican Hill area where he would get his things as he was going with me to Bataan in preparation for his participation in the 1st WC 200 Ultra Race. I was able to meet his wife. The couple do not have any children. They live in a decent house which the couple built in a lot which was part of the inheritance of Marcelo from his Aunt, sister of his mother.

A day after coming from Baguio City, I brought him to Porac, Pampanga to conduct a recon run on the 22-Kilometer mountainous stretch of the Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Trail Run. He was paced by Danin, one of my runners whom I brought to the place in one of my runs, and I gave them instruction of what to do during the run. I would bring them to where runners would usually start at Barangay Sapang Uwak and for them to run all the way to the Miyamit Falls. I gave instruction for them to take some pictures with the Falls as the background and have their “pit stop” thereat and immediately go back to where they started.

Mars @ Miyamit Falls on “Pit Stop” (yes, he is still using the same shoes he used at the MK50)

Marcelo & Danin started the recon run at 6:00 AM and at 9:10 AM, they were back at the place where I released them. Mission accomplished! A recon run on this route usually takes 5 to 5 1/2 hours and these two runners did it for 3:10 hours! Amazing!

I told Marcelo that he has another 10 Kilometers to run from the Falls all the way to the peak of Mt Miyamit. He was breathing heavily, silent, and very composed. I did not hear any complaints from him about those “killer” ascending parts of the route. Danin and Marcelo were smiling as they changed their running attire to drier clothes! As I reviewed the shots in my camera, they took a lot of time in the falls to eat and in some parts of the route where they posed for their pictures.

I spent another two days living with Marcelo in Bataan before the start of the 1st WEST COAST 200 Ultramarathon Race. The Miyamit Run was his Taper Run for this 3-day multi-stage event. On these days, I got to know more about Marcelo.

Marcelo is the youngest of 3 children (all boys) whose parents are unknown to him. His parents (both from Baguio City) gave their children to their brother/sisters for them to be taken cared of. Marcelo, being the youngest, was given to the parents’ relatives in Caranglaan, Nueva Ecija. Such town is the last town of Nueva Ecija in its northern side/boundary and it is located in a mountainous area. Because of its mountainous & rugged elevation profile, it is still a “hotbed” for the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the boundaries of Nueva Vizcaya, Aurora and Nueva Ecija. This is where I had a lot of armed encounters with the insurgents when I was the Brigade Commander of the Philippine Army in the said area.

Life in the mountains was very hard for Marcelo but he was raised as a good kid. He finished his Elementary and High School education in the public schools of Caranglaan, Nueva Ecija. But while he was studying, he was helping his foster parents to raise some agricultural crops in the mountains. But he takes pride of cutting those cogon grasses in the mountains as they are sold when dried along the Maharlika Highway as roofing materials. At one time after his graduation from High School, an attempt to recruit him to the folds of the New People’s Army was made. He was asked to join the Armed Movement with all those reasons to fight for the injustices of the government and the society. He was firm in his decision not to join the movement for the simple reason that it would not be good for his future.

He left Caranglaan and asked his foster parents to look for his true parents. Actually, his purpose of leaving the place was to look for a better work, rather than be a farmer and cogon grass cutter in the mountains of Caranglaan or worse, as a NPA fighter!

He tagged along with an older guy and a resident of Caranglaan who worked as one of the employees of Northern Cement Corporation (NCC) based in Sison, Pangasinan. At the NCC, he became a cement loader—he carries bags of cement to be loaded on a truck and off-load such bags of cement upon reaching its delivery point. A truckload of cement can accommodate 1,000 bags of cement and Marcelo shares the loading with two other companions. He is being paid 75 centavos per bag of cement he loads to a truck and another 75 centavos to off-load one bag of cement in its destination.

At the average, he carries 330+ bags of cement per delivery and that is multiplied by two to complete the work. He even boasted to me that he can carry two bags of cement at one time. At the age of 16 and with the height of almost 5 feet, you might wonder where he is getting such strength!

He stayed in Sison, Pangasinan and worked as cement loader for two years! Life is hard for Marcelo during those years but he survived. But he suddenly thought of another way for him to change his life. He thought of looking for his true parents.

Looking at the address of his parents from his Birth Certificate, he was able to trace and locate such address. He was able to re-unite with his brothers but he was sad to know that his parents had died already due to sickness. The sister of his mother was the one who took cared of him and he was back again in Baguio City for good.

Marcelo told me that he tried his luck to become a soldier where he had to spend a lot of money for documentation and travel as he was asked to follow-up his application to the Philippine Army recruitment office somewhere in Pangasinan in the early 2000′s. I was surprised to know his story about his plan of being a soldier. I have a suspicion that he could have failed in one of the screening examinations or he was not qualified because of his height.

His failure to enter the military service did not deter him to pursue a better life. He became a construction worker in some of the buildings and residential houses in Baguio City. And later, he applied as a Janitor in one of the Shopping Malls inside the Baguio City Market. Marcelo did not complain about his life and he lived very simple and decent. And at one time, he attempted to apply as OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) but it did not materialize until his passport expired.

It was not his luck to become a soldier and OFW but being being able to look for his brothers and his aunt in Baguio City gave him a “home” to stay at. His Aunt had a house and lot property in Baguio City and Marcelo became as one of the heirs of the property when her Auntie died due to old age.

As part of his inheritance, he constructed a decent small house in a lot located on the slope of the famous Dominican Hill in Baguio City where he lives with his wife. He was proud to invite me into his house for a cup of hot coffee and I really appreciated his gesture/invitation. I was able to meet his wife who was busy ironing her clothes and uniform. The wife works as a Security Guard at the Baguio City Export Processing Zone.

On the wall where a small old TV is flashed, you could see framed “blow-up” pictures of him being awarded as the Champion of the 1st PAU National Championship in Guimaras. Only medals and trophies where he was the No. 1 and/or Champion were placed on top of the TV and I know that all of these came from my races!

He started to run and join short road races exactly ten (10) years ago and finished his first Marathon race in 2007 with a time of 3:10+ hours. The love of running was planted in the mind of Marcelo when his Uncle who now lives in Canada advised him to start training as a long distance runner. He improved progressively through the years by asking from his Baguio running friends about their training and advise. He takes pride in telling me that he was the FIRST Champion in the 1st Philippine Skyrunning Association’s Race in the country which was held in Benguet/Baguio City. He won his first Champion Award as an Ultrarunner in Bad Circle’s Ilocos Norte’s 50K Race last April this year beating some of the best runners from Baguio City. From this ultra event, it was a non-stop win for Marcelo in every ultra event that he joined. But, after winning the first Marcos-Kennon 50-Mile Ultra Race last June, he became the most popular ultrarunner in the country!

During those 3 days that I’ve observed Marcelo during the 1st WEST COAST 200K Ultramarathon Race, he was very calm, silent, and raring to finish each leg of the event. I told him that the event is not a Race for him because I gave him the information that nobody could equal his speed and endurance. All I need for him to do was to Finish the Race without any injuries and set the FIRST Official Course Record of the Race.

Mars In Action @ WC200

I was thinking that he could finish the race in 21 hours or less and not less than 20 hours but he proved me wrong. Even if I told him that the next runner behind him is 8-9 Kilometers away, he would still steadily increase his pace and shorten his brisk walking breaks. During the evening run (last day), I was able to catch up with him to provide his water needs at Km #28 which was the halfway mark. He asked me if he had ran a distance of 10 Kilometers already. And I thought he was delirious or losing his mind. I said to him that he had ran already a distance of 28 kilometers and he was on the halfway of the course distance. He was shocked and excited. As he resumed his run, he was looking at his back trying to see in the darkness if there is a glimpse or sparkle of light from the runner behind. He could see nothing as the next runner was 8 Kilometers away!

When he reached the finish line in Barangay Lucap, Alaminos, Pangasinan in 5:15+ hours, he told me that he could have delivered a faster time if I did not stop him for a water re-supply 7 kilometers away from the Finish Line! I wonder what a minute of stop could possibly make a difference from his record time of 19:32+ hours! A record time which was too fast from my predicted time for him to finish the race.

But the truth during that night run was the fact that he was delayed by stopping and talking to the owners of those dogs running after him. He would tell them to pay for his purchased plane ticket for his trip to the next year’s Hongkong 100K Ultra Trail Race if ever he is bitten by their dogs!

Through my FB Live Update of the WC200, words spread immediately about Marcelo winning the event and his running friends in Baguio City were surprised about what Marcelo have done for the past 3 days. It was the FIRST in the history of road racing in the country where runners have to run in 3 consecutive days that most of the ultrarunners have feared of what would happen to their body after running 70 kilometers for the first day and for them to start again to run an ultra distance (70K) for the next day and another 60K for the last day.

Marcelo, Champion of the 1st WEST COAST 200K Ultra Run

Many of his friends would think that Marcelo is committing a suicide and that he would be injured as a result of the run. But on the contrary, it was not! He had his recovery run on the following day after he finished the race and he reported to me that he is okey and ready for the scheduled recon run of the Clark-Miyamit 50-Mile Run’s Clark to Sapang Uwak section which covers a distance of 38 kilometers (back & forth). (Note: Marcelo & Danin finished the recon run in 5:20 hours last Sunday!)

During his “low” moments, he would lament to me why he was not included among the five (5) selected Baguio City runners who were supported to join/participate the 2013 Bataan Death March (BDM) 102K Ultramarathon Race. I was surprised to know this information from him. It seems that nobody from Baguio City offered to sponsor for him to join the 2013 BDM 102. Well, I told him that he has a reserved slot for the race because a “Good Samaritan” has already paid for his registration fee and he has to prepare for the race.

How does Marcelo train for an ultrarunning event? Long Runs! As preparation for the 1st Marcos-Kennon 50-Mile Run, he would take a bus at midnight from Baguio City to Carmen, Rosales, Pangasinan and from Carmen, he would run all the way back to Baguio City via Kennon Road, a distance of 85 kilometers where the last 35 kilometers is uphill up to an elevation of 5,000 feet above sea level. The shorter version of his long run would be from Urdaneta, Pangasinan to Baguio City, a distance of 70 kilometers. Since he boards the bus in his running attire (shorts & singlet), the conductor would ask Marcelo to sit on the last row of seats in the bus. With small cash in his shorts’ pocket, he would make it back to Baguio City with an impressive time, averaging at 10 kilometers per hour on “self-support” mode!

His nutrition and hydration needs? Definitely, he is not fond of sports gels and sports bars! He eats solid foods like boiled bananas, boiled sweet potatoes & potatoes, boiled eggs, Cloud 9 chocolates, and lots of water to drink. He only take some sips of Sports Drinks like Gatorade and I force him to drink Ice Cold Coke on the last 7-10K of the race on each leg of the WC200. He does not take any “pain-killer” tablets but he is fond of Pharmaton! On average, he takes two (2) Pharmaton capsules every day during the 1st West Coast 200 Ultra Run.

After being featured lately in a local newspaper for winning the 1st WC200, his sixth (6th) consecutive win in Ultra Events, being interviewed by a local TV network, and being presented to the Baguio City Government’s Mayor, City Council & Employees as Baguio City’s Pride in Ultrarunning, Marcelo remains to be humble and silent about his accomplishments.

Marcelo With Baguio City Gov’t Officials (Photo Courtesy of Eugene Valbuena on Facebook)

What impressed me most is that he does not ask for any monetary reward for his winnings. He told me of saving some of his salary for him to buy few bags of cement and make those temporary steps/stairs to his house to be made as concrete and not as bags of soil/earth dumped to form as stairs. Other than that project, he is simply passionate in his love to run and prove to himself that he is still have the speed and strength in order to explore his limits in ultrarunning.

What he thinks of his future? He is excited to travel outside the country to carry the national flag in the Vibram HK 100K Ultra Marathon Race, a chance to fulfill his dream to travel and compete in a running event abroad.

Marcelo is simply amazing!





Conversation With A Champion

9 07 2011

One hour before the first runner to arrive at the Finish Line of the 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race, I was already on the gallery/grandstand area of the Placer High School Oval Track which is a few feet away from the finish arc. Volunteers for the race were mixed with lots of spectators whom I believed were family, friends, and other ultra runners from all over the neighboring States in USA and from other countries around the world.

As soon as the Emcee, John Medinger, publisher & editor-in-chief of Ultrarunning Magazine, announced that Kilian Jornet was a few meters aways from the entrance of the Oval Track, I purposely went down to the sides of the Finish Arc and positioned myself on the left side of the gallery.

I was standing on the gallery and on my left was a guy who was wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and denim pants. There was no way that I could see his frontal appearance as we were standing side by side. As soon as Kilian Jornet crossed the Finish Line, I must have said something about the physical description of the Champion. In my recollection, I might have said, “He’s small as an ultrarunner”! And then the guy on my left said something and our conversation started.

I will mention him in our conversation as the Hawaiian Guy and our conversation went this way. (Actually, he did almost all the talking and I could hardly comprehend/understand some lines that he said. I hope I can accurately relate what transpired in that brief talk with this guy).

Hawaiian Guy: Kilian Jornet is a kind and sweet person. We had been “twitting” with each other months before this race. I knew what he went through in his training and preparation.

Bald Runner: He’s too small and light to be an ultrarunner. He came prepared for this year!

HG: Kilian Jornet is a honest man and he was very transparent on his preparations towards this prestigious event.

BR: Yes, I’ve seen his Kilian Quest Videos in the Internet and he is really good. And he has the full support of Salomon.

Our conversation was interrupted with the announcements of the Emcee and some moments of taking some pictures of the Champion. As the second runner, Mike Wolfe, crossed the finish line, we continued our conversation.

The guy kept on talking about the challenges and the hardships that the elite and the average runners had gone through in their training and most of all, to come up with their respective goal in finishing the race on hand. I just kept nodding my head and sending the message to the guy that I understood all the things that he was teling me.

And suddenly, I’ve asked the following questions:

BR: Did you have the chance to participate in this race? Are you waiting for a particular runner to arrive at the Finish Line?

HG: I finished this race for THREE times! And this is the only time I came to be an spectator in this race for the past 22 years. I was the CHAMPION in the 1989 Edition and my name is Mark Brotherton! This is the old WS 100 Belt Buckle that I won as the Champion then. (Showing me his BIG Champion SILVER WS100 Belt Buckle as he turned his body to his right!)

BR: Ohhh…Wow!!! Awesome!!! (Surprised with BIG eyes!!!) I am Jovie and I am from Manila, Philippines. This is my first time to watch this event and see the terrain of the route. I came here to run for MIWOK 100 but I was injured and I extended my stay here to see the real action of the top ultra trail runners in this event.

Mark Brotherton: Very nice! I have friends who are Filipinos and they are the “best” Registered Nurses in the whole world. As a Medical Doctor, I’ve worked with them. They are kind, loyal and industrious. Do you have plans of participating in this race in the future?

BR: Thanks for that nice compliment to our nurses. Well…I hope I am still strong to finish a 100-mile run in 30 hours with my age of 60 years old by next year. I have to qualify first. I have to improve my 50-mile finish time.

MB: You can finish it. Just prepare and train for it. Wait…I think there is a famous ultramarathon race in the Philippines which I discovered while I was browsing the Internet 2-3 nights ago. I think…it’s the BATAAN DEATH MARCH!!!!

BR: (Surprised…Smiling…with both Eyes wide-open!) Oh, yes…we have that race in the Philippines and I am the Creator and Race Director of the said event and we had this year’s 3rd edition last March. This year, we did the first BDM 100-Mile Run where the finish line is the very same place where the POWs Concentration Camp was located in Camp ODonnell, Tarlac.

MB: Wow! It’s a honor to meet you!

BR: It’s my pleasure also to meet and talk to a Legend and Champion of the Western States 100!

MB: We have to look where Kilian Jornet is right now and I have to meet him.

BR: OK, I have to look for my wife, too! And then try to have a picture with Kilian.

As we were going on a separate direction, Mark said something which I could vaguely understand…but there were words which I could understand.

Mark Brotherton: Jovie, thanks for the conversation. I hope you will not say I am “Mr GAGO” if you relate this story to your friends.

Bald Runner: No! I will not do that! Bye..Thanks! (At the back of my mind, I was thinking that Mark B must be fluent in Tagalog as he is associated with Filipino nurses in the hospital. Well, I just said to myself…if there is “LADY GAGA”, why not for a “GENTLEMAN GAGO” as a name of a male singer? hahaha! I am sure, he should be a Pinoy!)

As soon as I was back at the Hotel, I immediately opened my laptop and browsed the Internet to find out more about Mark Brotherton. This is what the results are: 1985 WS 100; 1987 WS 100; and 1989 WS 100.

As the Champion in the 1989 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race, his finish time was 16:53:39 hours. In this year’s edition, his time would land on the 13th position which is still considered as solid, heroic, fast, and strong finish.

He is now one of my “friends” on Facebook and we exchange “comments” with one another. I know he will be the first one who will read this post as soon as I publish it.

With his permission, I am posting some of his pictures that I “grabbed” from his Profile at Facebook.

Janelle & Mark Brotherton (Note: The Hawaiian Shirt & WS100 Silver Buckle)

WS 100 Champion Mark Brotherton In Action

Yes, he is also sporting a “Bald” look!!!

This confirms my theory (again??) that “Bald Runners” are the best Ultra Runners!!!! (Joke!)





BR & Kilian Jornet @ WS 100

28 06 2011

There were three reasons why I went to the US. First, to join/participate in the 2011 Miwok 100K Ultra Trail Run in Marin Headlands where I ended as one of the Volunteers. Second, to make a recon on the route and watch the top finishers of the prestigious 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race. And, third, to have a rest and vacation from running. It is a blessing in disguise that I was injured last March during my adventure from from “West to East”.

Looking Like A Lost Tourist At Foresthill

Last weekend, I drove from Los Angeles to Foresthill, California and later to Auburn’s Placer High School Oval Track where the finish line of the Western States 100-Mile Race is located. The distance I’ve traveled was about 450 miles which took me for about 10 hours to include my pit stops along the way. After not being able to locate the exact location of the Foresthill High School where one of the Aid Stations was located, I opted to finally wait at the Finish Line.

While Waiting At The Finish Line

After one hour of waiting, the 1st runner arrived and it was Spain’s Kilian Jornet in 15:34:23 hours. He was followed by Mike Wolfe after 4-5 minutes and then Nick Clark, Jez Bragg, and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki of Japan. I left the place after Kaburaki finished the race.

After Crossing The Finish Line, Kilian Turned Around To the Cheering Crowd

While Kilian Jornet was interviewed by the Race Director Greg Soderlund, I had a chance to have a conversation with a nice guy who was standing beside me on the gallery. I was surprised to know that he was the Champion runner in the 1989 Western States edition! I guess, we talked for about 30 minutes that I forgot to track down Kilian Jornet with the crowd. My conversation with this interesting guy will be reserved in a dedicated post in this blog.

Finally, I tried to locate Kilian by trying to find his support team’s vehicle at the parking lot and I thought I missed the opportunity to talk and have a picture with him. But I was surprised to find out that he was still inside the perimeter of the oval track. I was able to track him as he came out from the bathroom!

If I am 145 lbs, Kilian Must Be 135 lbs!!!

I talked to him and wished him with a big congratulations! And he replied positively and he was smiling. We had a brief conversation and he was still fresh and looked like he did not run for the past 15 1/2 hours for a distance of 100 miles in the mountain trails. I requested for a picture with him and he was very cooperative. We talked briefly after the shots and other people from the audience requested also for some pictures with him before he left the oval track compound.

Let me describe how he ran the last 50 yards to the finish line. He started to brisk walk and had “high fives” with the audience on the right side of the oval track. He was also congratulated with handshakes with the people before the finish line. After those handshakes and “high fives”, he simply walked and crossed the Finish Line and turned around and raised his hands towards the cheering audience on the track and on the grandstand. He was smiling and he was looking fresh!

Another Picture With The 2011 Western States 100-Mile Run Champion

After standing on the weighing scale to get his weight, he was awarded with his medal and congratulated by the Race Director. Immediately, he was interviewed by the RD and his answers were heard by the crowd. He was simply a humble and happy guy!

Looking at him within a distance of 5-7 meters, I could see that he is as tall or short like my elite runners with Team Bald Runner. It appears that the has the same size/built and height with Alquin Bolivar and Alley Quisay. I have the notion that our size as Asian has the potential to train and excel in this kind of race. Knowing that Kilian is considered as the youngest winner in this race at the age of 23 years old, it defies the odds that ultra runners are best when they are more matured or older in age.

As he left the oval track’s compound towards his support vehicle, I could see that he was walking normally without any sign of limping.

It was an amazing sight of a young, strong, and fast ultra mountain trail runner.





Real LIFE Foundation: Serving The Poor

13 04 2011

Over a breakfast meeting at the Camp Aguinaldo Golf Course Restaurant in the early part of January 2010, Joshua Suarez, a runner-applicant who was invited to run the 2nd edition of the BDM 102k Ultra Marathon Race, explained to me that he is going to run and finish the BDM 102K Ultra Marathon Race to raise funds in behalf of the scholars of the Real LIFE Foundation. It was in this meeting that he explained to me about the programs and projects of the said foundation.

I immediately approved on the request of Joshua and he was able to finish the race. He was cheered and supported by the scholars/students on those hot, humid, dusty, and exposed kilometers of road on the last half of the course. I guess, he was able to raise a lot of funds to support the scholarship of those students who belong to the marginalized families in Pasig City and other parts of Metro Manila.

Little did I know that Joshua recruited another four (4) runners immediately after he finished the BDM 102 and asked them to train for the 3rd edition of the BDM 102 with the same purpose of raising some funds to support the scholarship of selected students under the administration of the Real LIFE Foundatioon.

Paul Pajo, Ferdie Cabiling, Junn Besana, and Alden Meneses diligently atttended the Ultra Marathon Clinics/Lectures and participated in some of the PAU Races held last year as part of their preparation for the 2011 BDM 102K Ultra Marathon Race. Joshua Suarez became their point man and leader of what they dubbed as the “Bataan LIFE March 2011″, a charity project to raise funds for the scholars of the Real LIFE Foundation by running and finishing the BDM 102.

BDM 102 "Heroes" For Real LIFE Foundation (Ferdie, Alden, Junn, Joshua, & Paul)

These five runners were able to finish the race and were able to raise funds amounting to P 500,000+ from pledges and contributions from donors, here and abroad. I am sure this money will go to the projects and programs of the Foundation with the main aim to provide hope and better future for less-fortunate and poor children for them to attain education and develop good values in the process.

These 5 runners became instant “heroes” to the scholars of the Real LIFE Foundation. And in a fitting ceremony, each of them received medal and plaque of appreciation from the Board of Trustees of the Foundation as represented by the Executive Director, Lynn Nawata.

I was also awarded with a plaque of appreciation and a gift for being the Founder and Race Director of the BDM 102K Ultra Marathon Race. My heartfelt thanks to the Board of Trustees for having me invited to such memorable event and for the award accorded to me.

Joshua Suarez Being Awarded With Jekoy Valle and Lynn Nawata

Junn Besana Being Awarded With Jekoy Valle & Lynn Nawata

I will always remember this program/ceremony. The testimonials of the graduates of the foundation’s scholarship program made me cry! It later sink in to my mind that I created an event, the BDM 102K, as a platform and instrument for people to be able to help the poor.

It is a motivation that will keep me doing my best to sustain the yearly conduct of the BDM 102!

Thanks To The Real LIFE Foundation!!!

If you want to be a part or donor to this foundation, please visit www.igivetolife.com.





Paul Tergat’s Book: Running To The Limit

13 03 2011

“Paul Tergat: Running To The Limit” by Jurg Wirz

This book was published in 2005 by Meyer & Meyer Sport (UK) Ltd. Obviously, the book is about the life, training “secrets” of Paul Tergat and his tips for runners for them to excel and adhere to running as a way of life.

Cover Page of Paul Tergat's Book (Photo Courtesy of Google)

He was not yet a runner when he entered the military service in 1990. With his assignment in Nairobi’s Air Force Base, he started to run with a big group around the Air Force Base with a distance of 15 kilometers in the morning and sometimes running also in the evening on a daily basis. In one of their inter-unit running events, although he finished far behind the leaders, a coach was impressed on his running form. The coach invited him to the training camp where the “top guns” are preparing for three months for the Armed Forces Cross Country Championships. He managed to finish third in the said event. After two months, he won the National Cross Country Championships and he was on the top of the Kenyan running scene at the age of 22 years old. And the rest is history.

He set the World Record in 10,000 meters in 1997 with a time of 26:27.85 minutes; World Record in Half-Marathon in 1998 with a time of 59:17 minutes; and a World record in Marathon in 2003 with a time of 2:04:55 hours. Epic rivalry in the 10,000-meter run between Haile Gabrselassie and Paul Tergat had been displayed during the 1996 & 2000 Summer Olympics and in the 1995, 1997, & 1999 World Championship where he won the Silver Medals on these events.

Tergat's WR Time in Marathon (Photo From Google)

Epic Rivalry Between Haile & Paul in the 10,000-Meter of the 1996 & 2000 Summer Olympic Games (Photo From Google)

It is unfortunate that he was not able to win any Gold Medal in the Olympic Games within the span of his running career. He tried his best to train for the 2004 Athens Olympics’ Marathon but things did not turn out within his expectations as he finished #10.

Paul Tergat mentioned his roots and the poverty prevailing in his country which he considers as the number one “motivator” for them to excel in long distance running. There are other reasons why the Kenyans excel in long distance running but on how he refined his competitiveness and being on top among the elites in the world were mentioned in detail in his book through his training and tips.

What is most significant in this book is how the international corporate shoe brands helped to finance and support the establishment of “training camps” for runners in Kenya aside from the traditional Armed Forces “training camps” for the military elite runners. With the support and guidance of their Italian Coach Gabriele Rosa, the Kenyan runners were able to train for the best in long distance running.

Obviously, Paul Tergat is already rich and famous even without winning a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games. He is now an athletics promoter for running events in the eastern part of Kenya which is considered as the driest and poorest part of the country. With the support of a corporate food brand, he is bringing the awareness of running to the “grassroot” level to develop more competitive runners. He is a philanthropist and a member of the IAAF Athlete’s Commission.

There are two things that we could learn from this book. In order for the country to excel in long distance running, there is a need for a dedicated corporate support for the athletes and the establishment of “training camps” to continously develop athletes to elite status and at the same time, discover potentials from the grassroot level. It happened already in the past and it had been proven to be successful. It easy to say it. We know the supposedly “secrets” of the Kenyans and the Ethiopians but nobody is doing about it in an organized manner. When will our sports officials ever learn and put the sports “money” where it is supposed to be? I am still wondering what is happening to our elite sports program and sustainable “grassroots” program. 

This book is a nice reference if you want to train like the Kenyans in long distance running.

(Note: This is a part of this blog’s program/project to feature at least one book about running every week which started with the book, “Once A Runner”. Due to the “back-to-back” BDM Races for the past weeks, I was not able to publish this post as scheduled.)





Once A Runner: A Novel

18 02 2011

“Once A Runner” by John L. Parker, Jr.

The author has written for Outside, Runner’s World, and numerous other publications. He was the Southeastern Conference Mile Champion three times, and the United States Track and Field Federation National Champion in the Steeplechase, and was teammate of Olympians Frank Shorter, Jack Bacheler, and Jeff Galloway on several championship cross-country teams. He is a journalist, practicing lawyer, and had been the Editorial Director of Running Times Magazine. (Note: The author should be as old as Jeff Galloway!)

This book was first published in 1978, at least one year after the “Complete Book On Running” by Jim Fixx was published, and it was written as a novel about a mile-runner, Quenton Cassidy while he was studying to earn a College Degree with a time setting in the mid-70s. It was mentioned that the author had sold copies of this book on the back compartment of his car every time he attended road races during weekends and copies of this novel had been circulating from one runner’s hand to another.

Looking at the profile and background of the author, this novel could be easily analyzed as the author’s personal account of his life as a college student and a passionate runner who would like to cross the barrier of sub-4-minute mile during those times.

Elite runners, ultra trail runners, and runner-authors/writers have considered this book as the best book ever written about running. I’ve read this book’s title being mentioned by most of the runner-authors who considered this novel as the best story being written about a runner. They say it’s a “classic”. Others would say that you are not a full-blooded runner if you don’t have a copy or have read this book. It is also being mentioned as part of the Runner’s Etiquette/Rules for a runner to have read this book if he is really a true runner. It is for this reason why I had to buy this book when I had a chance to see one at the Zombie Runner Store in Stanford, California.

I was not frustrated when I found out that the book speaks for itself. It is really the best book for a runner and every runner should be able to read it.

I’ve repeatedly read this novel for three times already. This is always my companion whenever I travel from Manila to other parts of the country when I board the local flights.

Cover Page of Older Publication of the Book (Photo From Wikipedia)





Jeff Galloway’s Lecture @ Oakwood

15 02 2011

Weeks before the arrival of Jeff Galloway to the country, I was invited by Lit Onrubia after he crossed the Finish line at the Rizal Day 32K Run to attend in one of the scheduled lectures. On the other hand, a few days after,  Jerome Cartailler, BDM 102 veteran/PAU runner and resident chef of Oakwood Premier also extended his invitation for me to attend a “shorter” version of Jeff Galloway’s Lecture at the said hotel. I learned later that Jeff Galloway stayed at the said hotel during the duration of his stay in Manila.

I opted to join the lecture at the Oakwood Premier as it suited to my schedule for the said weekend. Twenty minutes before the scheduled start of the activity, I was already at the venue with another runner. Jonel Mendoza of FrontRunner Magazine joined later and Lit Onrubia of Chi Running was also there as he acted as the host and moderator of the event.

As soon as Jeff Galloway entered the lecture area, Jonel and I approached him and we started a conversation with him. As usual, Jonel was the more articulate and talkative one for the introductions and Jonel “trapped” Jeff Galloway with copies of his FrontRunner Magazine as he gave Jeff lots of them. The “blitzkrieg” approach led to a special pose for picture with the guest lecturer!

Number 1!!! BR, JG, JM

I could sense that Jeff Galloway knew things about me and Jonel (He could have visited my blog or had been well-informed by his Hosts about the running community and the running magazine of Jonel). He started a topic where he informed us about his son, Brennan Galloway, a running film producer who made lots of running films about the famous “minimalist” ultra trail runner, Anton Krupicka. There you go, Jeff knows that we are ultra marathon runners!

After a few conversations with the guests and Jeff, the lecture started at least 10 minutes late from the schedule which was okey with us as more interested guests were entering the venue. At least, 40 guests were present during the lecture.

Jeff Galloway had been in the country when he was still in the active military service as he was with the US Navy in his younger years. He knows about Subic and Olongapo, of course! He did not mention the particular year when he was here in the country. I could only guess that he was here during the Martial Law years under the administration of former President Marcos. (Note: Dr George Sheehan, a runner, writer and lecturer was also with the US Navy rising to the rank of Navy Captain).

One Hour Lecture Full of Information About Run-Walk Strategy

Jeff Galloway Lecture was geared towards his “The NO PAIN Marathon Program”. Let me quote the brochure which was available for all of us that explains the Jeff Galloway Method of Training:

  • Minimum workouts needed: 20-30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday plus a weekend run.
  • Weekend Run gradually increases to goal distance in gentle increases, followed by short runs.
  • Walk breaks are inserted into every run, from the beginning, to erase pain and fatigue
  • Avoid running too fast by using a “magic mile” prediction exercise (MM).
  • Many surveys have shown that taking walk breaks early and often result in faster finish times.

The “Magic Mile” can predict current potential and set long run pace. You should be able to time yourself for one mile (4 laps around the oval track) about every 3 weeks and the following Run-Walk-Run Strategies should be followed depending on your pace (per km or per mile).

Pace Per Km Pace Per Mile Run/Walk Amount
4:58 8:00 4 min/30 sec
5:16 8:30 4 min/45 sec
5:35 9:00 4 min/1 min
6:12 10:00 3 min/1 min
6:50 11:00 2.5 min/1 min
7:27 12:00 2 min/ 1 min
8:04 13:00 1 min/ 1min
8:41 14:00 30 sec/ 30 sec
9:19 15:00 30 sec/ 45 sec
9:56 16:00 20 sec/ 40 sec
10:33 17:00 15 sec/ 45 sec
11:11 18:00 10 sec/ 50 sec

 More interesting insights and information were gathered during the “Open Forum” where Jeff Galloway was able to answer questions from the guests. Some of the pointers were the following:

  • He does not recommend stretching exercises  for long distance runners
  • Extensive Long Slow Distance Run (LSD) every 3 weeks in the Marathon Program
  • More Long Runs For Endurance rather than Speed runs
  • “Speed Training” is NOT recommended for the 1st time Marathon runners. They should simply enjoy the experience and have fun
  • On Core Strengthening, he recommends two (2) workouts: “Arms Swinging with Light Weights” (natural form when running) and Abdominal “Crunches”
  • Running is controlled by the Brain Function
  • On running compression tights, no benefits on the performance of a long distance runner. However, there are studies that compression calf sleeves are the most beneficial to runners. He highly recommends such apparel to long distance runners.
  • Water hydration during the race is the only thing that is needed during a marathon race.
  • It takes 24-48 hours for the body to absorb the replacement electrolytes from Sports Drinks like Gatorade, PowerAde, Propel, Pocari Sweat, and others.
  • Carboloading from foods rich in carbohydrate taken a day before the race is beneficial.

On a personal note, I don’t agree with his answers about his view on the unnecessary need of sports drinks and food being ingested during the marathon race. In a country like ours, the heat and humidity make our body metabolism faster and there is a need for sports drinks and food to be taken in somewhere along the marathon distance. He thought that Philippines is like Taiwan, South Korea, Japan or the United States where the temperature is too low that a runner could hardly perspire during a marathon race.

I could follow the Run-Walk-Run Galloway Method in an ultra running event to last and finish the distance but I will never walk in a Marathon Race where my goal is to finish a better PR best time.

Ironically, in my collection of running books, I found out that I don’t have any of the books written by Jeff Galloway.





One Hour With Jeff Galloway

5 02 2011

Jeff Galloway is in town! He is lucky to meet the Bald Runner and FrontRUNNER Magazine’s Publisher!

BR, JG, & FR

Details of his One-Hour lecture and meeting will be posted soon!





“Classic” Running Books

3 09 2010

 Aside from being “classic” and being sought after, the following books are considered as the best books in running that greatly influenced people from their sedentary life to being active through running. These books contributed in the resurgence of “running boom” in the United States and in other countries.

Few minutes before the start of the 2nd PAU “P2P” 70K Run last Sunday, Paolo Osmena, a PAU member and BDM 102 veteran, gave me these three (3) “classic” running books which I consider as “collectors’ items” for seasoned runners. I was surprised and humbled by the generous gesture of Paolo of giving me these “treasures” among runners. Thank you very much, Paolo!

1st Book That Started The Popularity of Running

 The Complete Book of Running by James Fixx was published in 1977 and it became as the best selling book for that year. I tried to look for this book in the 70s and 80s in the local bookstores but it was not available. While I was on schooling in Fort Benning, Georgia in the mid-80s and during my stay in Los Angeles after my schooling, I was not able to buy or look for this particular book, to include the other two books. There was no Amazon.com at that time yet. So, when Paolo gave  me this book, it was my first time to actually hold and browse the pages of such book.

The red color of the cover, the running legs of the author, the red running shorts, and the red ASICS racing shoes were properly conceived as a “marketing” ploy for the book and it was a success. Nowadays, you seldom see red running shorts, red ASICS racing shoes, and running without socks!

2nd Running Book By James Fixx

The Second Book of Running by the same author was published in 1980 but it did not create the same magnitude of popularity of the first book. It would be noted that the color of the cover page was in blue—blue running shorts, blue Adidas running shoes, running without socks, and the same running legs of the author. Four years after this book was published, the author died due to heart attack after completing his daily running workout. He was 52 years old. 

One of the Books Written By George Sheehan

 Dr George Sheehan is considered as the modern day “philosopher of running”. He was a cardiologist in profession but became popular due to his writings about running with an essay he wrote every week in local newspapers and later with the Runner’s World Magazine. He died at the age of 75 due to prostate cancer. This particular book was the second to the last book that was published before he died in 1993. This book is a compilation of the essays he wrote and published in his column/page with the Runner’s World Magazine.

On a personal note, Paolo is sending me a “message” by giving these most treasured books about running. He is telling me to write and publish also a book about my entries in this blog which had been my plan for the past years. It is a dream to write a book as a compilation of all the entries of this blog and it is a matter of organizing them from one general topic to another. I know that this dream will become a reality.

Thanks, Paolo!

 (Note: Photos of the books were taken from Amazon.com)








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