The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (2009)

Critique on the 2009 Philippine International Marathon: A Run For The River/ November 8, 2009

This was titile of my post on my critique on the conduct of the 2008 Pasig River Heritage Marathon. And I am going to use it again to express my views about the conduct of the said race under the administration by the ABS-CBN Foundation. However, this critique will be limited to the conduct of the Marathon Race.

The Good

After being delayed for 9 months, the first good point in this race is that its 9th edition (since 2000) was conducted before the year 2009 ended. The Pasig River Heritage Marathon, as stipulated in an Executive Order, is supposed to be conducted every last Sunday of the month of February. The second good point is that the race is spearheaded by the largest TV broadcast media of the country and its foundation, ABS-CBN Foundation. The third good point is that the race course almost covered all the known and historical bridges that cross the Pasig River and it also followed almost 80% of the original route of the past marathon editions. And the fourth good point is that the Race Director is Mr Rudy Biscocho, who had honed his expertise in road racing organizing since the early 80s.

Although ABS-CBN Foundation through Ms Gina Lopez of Bantay Kalikasan has spearheaded the program “Kapit Bisig Para Sa Ilog Pasig”, I am still confused if the Foundation is doing its part as one of the key members of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission under the Chairmanship of the DENR Secretary, Hon. Lito Atienza or the Foundation is doing the (marathon) project on their own without any accountability with the said Commission.

The Pasig River Heritage Marathon has always been a very challenging course and its point-to-point course concept is very commendable as it showcases the different communities and cities in Metro Manila and at the same time relive the history of urban development from the old Walled City of Intramuros to the most modern structures of The Fort.

The Bad

The registration and giving of race packets from the Race Organizer to the runners was the number one “bad” point of the Road Race. Second, I got the “worst” singlet for a major race this year! The fabric used was too heavy and it did not have any logo of the race. Third, the Marathon Race Logo was copied from another Road Race in the United States. Fourth, the Marathon Race Finishers were not awarded with any Finisher’s Medal. Even if you have a well-renowned and veteran Race Director/Organizer and runners who are employed with the ABS-CBN Foundation who could influence the Major Sponsor that a Finisher’s Medal is a MUST in a Marathon Race, it doesn not mean that they could influence their Major Sponsors who are not seasoned/competitive runners in order to make this race a perfect one! Maybe, a “copied logo” would not be wise to be inscripted in a Finisher’s Logo or else the Foundation could be sued for copyright infringement. It could be a good reason why they did not give any Finisher’s Medal. Fifth, my basic standards on water station (distance in between stations; length of table; and quantity of cups) were not met. Sixth, the accuracy of the distance was not met and it was lacking for about 800 meters. Since the 2004 edition of the race, the original course (Intramuros to The Fort) was certified by IAAF and AIMS. I hope the Race Organizer will ask the same international bodies to certify this race course.

The Ugly

First, the ugly part of the Marathon Race is the silent treatment my staff and other runners got from the ABS-CBN Foundation and Race Organizer/Director with regards to the Prizes for the Top Runners a few days before race day. What is worst is that the Cash Prizes and Cash Certificates were not given during the Awarding Ceremony or immediately after the Race. Instead, the winners were promised to receive their prizes after 5 days! I heard that one of the Kenyan runners who left Manila last Tuesday for Kuala Lumpur came back on Friday to receive his winning prize! My Elite Team Bald Runner won 1st Runner-Up in the 20-Man Relay Team Race but they were promised to receive their Prize after 5 days, Friday to be exact.

Second, I could not understand why is it that the biggest TV network in the country could not “frontload” its resources for the operational and technical needs of the runners to include cash prizes, better registration system, better quality of singlets, and better support to the runners. Basing from their media releases after the race, this road race was attended by 22,000 runners which is a record-breaking data for a running event in the country. However, if you convert this in monetary terms, this figure will translate to P 5.5 Million (Pesos) earnings from registration fees alone! This is not to include the support coming from the other sponsors of the race. With said amount of money, the ABS-CBN Foundation would have been “transparent” in terms of prizes and “giveaways” for the elite and other runners/finishers. How I wished that they would be transparent also in telling to the public, through their media releases, how much did the race/event earned for the Pasig River Project.

Lastly, the Pasig River is still ugly, in sight and smell, with all the “illegal settlers”, sewerage and waste disposal of the communities from its banks. Hopefully, the seven (7) years that the ABS-CBN Foundation had promised to serve as the “spearhead” organization to clean the Pasig River will show a significant development. The following is the visionary depiction of the Pasig River:

Pasig River Rehab
Vision For The Pasig River

The Ugliest

After 5 days of waiting, the members of my Elite Team Bald Runner were able to receive their Prize from the ABS-CBN Foundation as the team placed 1st Runner-Up in the 20-Man Relay Team. The members were surprised to receive P 30,000 worth of Gift Certificates from Gold’s Gym. Each Gift Certificate is worth P 5,000 for a One Month Entry & Use of the Gold’s Gym Facilities. The athletes were frustrated to receive such GCs because they don’t need to go to the Gym in order to improve their Finish Times. Or are they trying to fool the athletes that a one month use of the gym is worth P 5,000? I could be mistaken but I am a VIP member of the said Gym and I know that I only pay less than one-half of the said amount every month! However, after contacting some members and Personal Trainers of Gold’s Gym, I found out that each GC is sold at P 2,000 each.

I heard that one of the Coaches of one of the winning teams tore the Gift Certificates into pieces after receiving them as he expected Cash Prize of P 50,000 to be given and not Gift Certificates.  I can sympathize with these coach & athletes as they need CASH from their winnings. They need the money to sustain their training for food, sports drinks, vitamins, running shoes and expenses for registration fees in incoming races! I really don’t know if ABS-CBN Foundation is guilty of DECEPTION in the publication of their Prizes. However, I am sure that the ABS-CBN Foundation is guilty of deceiving my athletes and the other runners for placing the value of each GC to P 5,000, instead of P 2,000!!!

Gold's Gym GCs @ P 5,000 each Per Month

I hope that there will be “takers” of these GCs from Gold’s Gym if they will be sold at P 2,000 each. The money from the sale of these GCs would mean a lot for the support of my elite athletes.

In summary, I will not expect the ABS-CBN Foundation to issue an Official Statement to answer this Critique because all Major Sponsors of all past Road Races has expressed the same statement and I predict that the Foundation will issue the said statement as shown below: 

“ABS-CBN Foundation is New In Running & It Promises To Improve On the Conduct of the Next PIM Edition”

9 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (2009)

  1. Sir Jovie, that is really a deceptive strategy.

    I can’t believe Gold’s gym membership costs 5000 per month? Fitness First cost even half than that. ABS-CBN will have to make a statement about this.


  2. runnerforchrist

    What a pity that our very own ‘Pasig River’ was being used for their own selfish interest? I’ll not be surprised if someday, that ‘river’ will take revenge and create havoc among us..mother Nature will have it’s time, like Ondoy did to us.

    Nice post BR.


  3. schlagger

    i normally don’t care much about road logistics, proper distances, and all that charity/cause stuff… but deceiving people who worked hard to win/succeed is just plain wrong. 30k worth of gold’s gym gcs (hindi man lang some generic gc like sodexho)… my gulay, that’s just crap.


  4. aldzheimerz

    Wow!! This is very unfortunate. I didn’t know this was what actually happened. This is almost the reason why I’d rather join running events advertised by fellow runners than attend TV-advertised running events.


  5. quicksilverrunner

    Hey BR,

    I agree–the prize is a rip-off. If the RD advertises money as winnings, then it must come in cash. Sad.

    I like your critique of this race. Well, that’s true for all others you’ve posted. Thanks for the valuable insights!




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