6:30 AM 22 February 2009 @ Bataan Death March Kilometer Post # 50 in Abucay, Bataan
All the runner-applicants for the 1st Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race to be held on 05 April 2009 were asked to join the 52K “Test Run” from Km Post # 50 to the Finish Line in San Fernando, Pampanga as a requirement for each runner in order to orient them on the actual route and have them experience the feeling of running under the heat of the sun and over the “hot” paved/cemented roads of Bataan and Pampanga. The “test run” was announced through my posts at www.bataan102.com and this blog. Other runners reached to them through the words and information from the other runner-bloggers and the “Hardcores”.
As the race organizer for the ultramarathon event, I had to make coordination for the support requirements of this event, to include the conduct of this “test run”. This includes security, logistics, administrative and other miscellaneous requirements. Aside from those runners who have the capability to provide themselves with their own suport system, I also prepared a general support vehicle which served as our “mobile” Aid Station throughout the duration of the “test run”. An ambulance with a Medical Team was also available courtesy from my brother who is now the Commander of the Light Armor Division of the Philippine Army based in Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac. My staff prepared 100 bottles of Gatorade; 100 bottles of Propel Drinks; 100 pieces of Sponges/Foams; Cloud 9 Chocolates; lots of boiled sweet potatoes and bananas; hard-boiled eggs, and packs of Sky Flakes. Runner-participants Arman Fernando & Jonel aka Bugobugo85 donated 500 bottles of bottled water.
My staff and I left Manila at 4:00AM yesterday morning with all the prepared logistics support for the “test run” and the personnel needed. We arrived in Balanga City just in time for the opening of Jollibee where 12 of us had our breakfast. At 6:30 AM, we arrived at the pre-designated assembly area which is a 6-km drive from Balanga City. There were almost 20 runners and their support vehicles were already there. Some of the runners had to take the bus from Pasay City as early as 3:00AM just to be able to be at the place before the assembly time. From one group of runners to another, I had to personally greet and ask their names of the new faces I’ve seen in the area. I tried as much as possible to extend my thanks to each runner for their support and attendance to this “test run”. At 6:45AM, all the runners were already prepared and we had to get and list their names for accounting purposes.
I requested the runners to gather around for my personal briefing for the “test run”. In my briefing and remarks, I personally extended my thanks for their support in this ultramarathon event and told them the very purpose of this “test run” and warn them on the preventive and safety measures to make this run as a success and meaningful to each one of us. Details of the route and the support arrangements were explained to them. We had an accounting of the runners and the “test run” consisted of 38 runners with two (2) Japanese runners—Norio Tanaka and Hiroshi Takei. Three of the 38 runners are not runner-participants for the Bataan 102K Race. Coach Salazar led a simple stretching exercises. We had a photo-ops at the Kilometer Post # 50 and then Coach Salazar (again!) led a simple prayer for everybody.
The run started at 7:23 AM (GF 305 time) with me leading the group of 38 runners with a slow and comfortable pace. The sun was already shining and the sky was cloudless when we started the run and it maintained to be cloudless throughout the run. The running group ran with the traffic making sure that each runner whould run along the very edge of the paved road or along the dirt road on the sidewalk. After running for five minutes, Albert Salazar aka Run2Dmoon, Hiroshi Takei and a lady runner overtook me with a fast pace and after ten minutes, Victor Ting, a 63-year old and 30-year veteran of road racing and another companion runner overtook me and these runners led the group and later went ahead of the group for almost 2 kilometers.
My plan for this tes run was to maintain an average pace within the range of 6:45 to 7:00 minutes per kilometer; brisk walk at least 5 to 10 minutes every 12-15 kilometers; and spend at least 3-5 minutes stop on the “mobile” Aid Stations to eat and drink; have my “bandana” dipped on the cold water; and place a soaked foam/sponge on my upper back & clipped with the upper edge of my white Patagonia long-sleeved shirt. I decided not to wear my Nathan Water Belt or my TNF Water Pack but I saw to it that I have a water bottle tucked on the “small on the back” portion with my tight compression shorts and have the option to have another bottled water on my hand.
The test run went well as planned where our “mobile” Aid Station had be prepositioned every 2.5 to 3 kilometers along the route. Our Ambulance was positioned at the back of the last group of runners. Our staff had to check each runner as they pass on our “mobile” Aid Station and they had to monitor also how far are the lead runners. As the runners had completed 10 kilometers and about to reach the boundary of Orani and Hermosa, Bataan, the runners’ location had stretched within the range distance of 4-5 kilometers of the race route. I was beginning to suspect that this “test run” was evolving to be a road race for everybody! I was in the company of Jerry aka High Altitude, Norio Tanaka, Mari Javier, Gene Olvis, Rollie and Ralph “Raffy” Salvador along the stretch from Abucay to Hermosa, Bataan.
After running 17 kilometers, I saw one of the lead runners walking and I had to walk with him and started to ask how & what he feels on the progress of the run and the effect of the heat of the sun to his body. The runner answered that he is okey and just needed to walk. Talking while walking with runners was my way of advising them of hydrating and feeding themselves with the food needed to fuel their body. After 5 minutes, I was back on the road, running towards the junction of the Dinalupihan-Subic Road where Km Post # 68 is located.
The next 15 kilometers along the highway from Dinalupihan to Kilometer Post # 83 was the hardest part of the run because of the heat of the sun and the overstretched location of our “mobile” Aid Station. From every 2.5 to 3 kilometers of distance where the Aid Station would prepositioned itself, it became to almost every 5-6 kilometers. The lone “mobile” Aid Station became two after the pick-up of Jonel aka Bugobugo85 volunteered as support for the slower runners. At this point, the span of the spread of the runners almost covered a range of 6 kilometers when we reached Kilometer Post # 75.
The faster runner were directed to stop and rest and wait for the other runners at the Petron Gas Station in Guagua, Pampanga where the Original Razon restaurant is located. At this point, we were already at the vicinity of Kilometer Post # 91 and we still have 11 kilometers to go before the Fnish Line. The first 25 runners were treated with the famous Halo-Halo at Razon’s courtesy of the Bald Runner. We had at least a 45-minute rest in this area and I just kept my GF 305 running to get the overall elapsed time for the duration of the test run. As we resumed our last leg of our test run from this point, my GF 305 registered an elapsed time of 5:46+ hours.
The last 11-km stretch was also a hard part of the run but each runner had to condition into his mind that this is just a simple 10K run for him. It was already about 1:00PM and the heat of the sun was really taking its effect to every runner as our strides became shorter and our breathing became faster. Our “mobile” Aid Stations were there in every kilometer along this last segment and we had to drink a lot of water and Gatorade in order to last up to the Finish Line. Finally, along this stretch, every runner could see from a distance the next Kilometer Post marking as he passes one kilometer marking until the last kilometer post on the Highway which is Kilometer Post # 101. Seeing the grounds of the Pampanga Provincial Capitol was a sight of relief as it would be almost 200 meters before the Finish Line.
I finished the “test run” in 8th place with an elapsed time of 6:52+ hours (including the 45-minute rest at Razon’s). All the Thirty-five (35) runner-applicants finished the “test run” with more time to spare before the 9-hour decent time to finish the run. Without the mandatory 45-minute “rest & stop” at Razon’s, each of the runner must have registered a faster time.
My congratulations to the finishers of this “test run”. I now consider and pronounce you as the “new warriors of Bataan”. You had passed the test and you can have the bragging rights as an “ultramarathoner” or ultra runner in the country. I know most of us had learned some lessons in this run and I hope you can continue to train and prepare for the final race on 05 April 2009.
My sincerest thanks to those people who have helped and supported us in this “test run”. May you help us some more in our advocacy to promote ultramarathon events in the country and at the same time commemorate events in the history of our country for the benefit of our heroes and to the younger generation.