The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Critique on the conduct of the 2008 Pasig River Marathon

This is not about the movie which was shown when I was 1st year in College (1968/69?) and this is not about Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach. Do you still remember them? I think these Actors are still alive up to the present. In one of the blogs that I visited, the writer/runner described his experience running a marathon by these three words and I am going to copy him in describing how the 2008 Pasig River Marathon was conducted. In one of my earlier posts, I described my experience running this marathon in 2006 which I gave a failing grade comparing it from the PAL and Manila Marathons in the ’80s-’90s. So, here are the things I could say and impression about this Marathon Race.

The Good

This is the eight annual rendition of the Pasig River Marathon which changes its name for the nth time. Seven years is a lot of time to improve the race and I was impressed that this 42K race had improved tremendously! First, the attendance of runners for the 42K had increased to almost four times from the time I first joined this race. This is a proof that Filipinos had become more health-conscious and they put more premium on having a healthy heart and being fit. Second, the organizers changed the course/route–from Marikina Riverbank to Quirino Grandstand as compared from the old route–from Intramuros to The Fort, crossing almost all the bridges that cross the Pasig River. The new route was very advantageous to the runners as nobody could be lost along the way in the first 20 kilometers even the surroundings were still dark because the roads are wide and easy to follow. In the old route, many runners got lost in the first 5 kilometers because the roads were narrow and dark. Third, starting the race at 4:00 AM was a “cool” idea! The roads from the start up to the 30 kilometer point were exposed to the sun but running on these roads were easy as it was still dark and cold. And the next ten kilometers were along roads that were shaded with fences, houses, and buildings except for that long bridge which was my first time to see in Pandacan. Finishing a marathon in four hours and the heat of the sun at 7:00-8:00 AM is still tolerable to the body even if the sun was shining. Fourth, I was happy to see kilometer markings every 4 kilometers placed on top of parked vehicles of the marshalls. Fifth, there were lots of water stations along the way and the supply of water was not a problem. People in the squatter areas in Mandaluyong and Pandacan were giving water in plastic bags to everybody which was not part of the organizer’s designated water station/s. I even saw some ladies offerring raisins and bananas to the runners. Sixth, there were lots of road marshalls and I was glad that the Philippine Army contributed with soldiers/Military Police lined up from the entry of Bayani Road near Heritage Park up to The Fort area and down to the old Gate 1 of Fort Bonifacio near Kalayaan Road. The Philippine Army Band was also at the Bayani Road playing lively music to the delight of the runners. Seventh and last, the weather was the “best” weather for a marathon race. It was cloudy and the sun did not appear at all!  Bottomline? The 2008 Pasig River Marathon was a well-planned and well-prepared marathon race.

The Bad

First, the traffic and road construction at the E. Rodriguez Jr Ave. made the runners inch their way in between trucks and vehicles, barely one kilometer from the starting line. Second, running along C-5 with the vehicles on your side and back was a scary experience for runners. Orange-colored street cones should had been placed along C-5 in order to separate the runners from the vehicles going in the same direction. I could still remember that these cones were present along C-5 during the past races. Third, I’ve never seen a “portalet” along the way. For drinking so much water/liquids before the start of the race, I had to “relieve” myself along Julia Varga St, barely 8 kilometers from the start, by approaching one of the plants along the road. Fourth, a gasoline tanker nearly bumped me, head-on, when the driver forced his way in a crossing passing through a “red light” in Pandacan. I was glad the road/race marshall and the traffic enforcers were there to stop and shout at the driver! Fifth, the traffic was so bad on the crossing Nagtahan Bridge and Legarda St up to the Quirino Grandstand. Sixth and last, there were so many multi-colored strings given along the way just to prove that a runner passed through a certain part of the route. This is our “primitive” RFID “runner’s chip” tool, but I didn’t see anybody at the finish line checking all of these (dozen of) strings in every runner’s neck or wrist. I guess, I was an insignificant runner/finisher finishing the race more than four hours! Although these were minor lapses, I knew these things will be corrected in the incoming races for the Pasig River Marathon.

The Ugly

First, the squatters area at Mandaluyong (along Pasig River) and Pandacan. Do I have to explain this? Do we have to show “our dirt” to our guests/international runners. It’s okey if the African (Kenyans & Ethiopians) runners are our only international runners because we have better living conditions than them, how about the US and European runners? Second, very poor quality of air and the carbon monoxide emissions from trucks & “jeepneys” that we breath while running in Manila. Third and last, it’s the foul SMELL of the Pasig River! I just hope that the proceeds and earnings from this Marathon Race will benefit the project to rehabilitate Pasig River. I was smiling when I overheard one of the runners beside me asking from his companion if there are fishes that thrive with the dirty waters of Pasig River. The other runner answered back laughing with the words “None”. 

P.S. I can not make any comment on what happened in the “Pasta Party” which was held o/a 4:00 PM of 22 February 2008 (Friday) at The Orchidarium, Teodoro Valencia Circle in Rizal Park because I did not attend to this. Instead, I brought my daughter, her boyriend and my mother-in-law to the Centennial Airport for their departure back to Los Angeles. I hope they have improved already on how to properly cook their “pasta”. Lastly, I did not observe any “cheating” along the way. The “long bridge” at Pandacan which every runner took going the North and then back going South has a divider that could be easily crossed was very tempting to “cheats”. I was glad I did not see anybody who dared to cross the said divider.

My overall rating/grade for the 2008 Pasig River Marathon—90%

2 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

  1. cdomine

    hi bald runner,
    I was thinking of doing a marathon in the PI in the future. I live in CA so
    i have been spoiled to race organizers giving us great support. In your opinion
    w/c marathon is the best to attend in therms of support. I think living in this’
    weather now here in Ca i need to attend a cooler one? Do you think i need to pay
    somebody to give me water/gatorade at certain points of the race or is the support comparable with here in the US.
    thanks chris


  2. kingofpots

    chris, so far i can recommend the pasig river marathon because the support had improved a lot but it is still too primitive as compared to the support available in the States. clark freeport marathon on the month of january is also highly recommended because of the less traffic inside the base and the quality of air is better than in Manila. there is no need to pay somebody for your support. thanks for the comment and the visit.


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