1. Six weeks before I retired from the military service, I visited the exact place where former President Ramon Magsaysay’s plane crashed on the early morning of March 17, 1957. If you don’t know your history, you can search “Mt Manunggal” in my blog and read my story about this visit to the said place.
2. Being the Bald Runner after retirement from the service, I had plans of visiting again to this place and thought of coming up with road/trail race to commemorate the death of our former President Magsaysay as I wanted my runs to be connected with the history of our country. In one of our conversations with my friend Jonel Mendoza, he asked me a place where a good ultra run route in Cebu which can be used in the future and I answered him that Mt Manunggal Crash Site would be highly recommended because of its significance in our history. And the rest is history.
3. Since I don’t announce in my blog where my next race is, the Race Organizers were surprised to see me in Cebu/Ayala Center on the night before the race. I was given the opportunity by Jonel aka FrontRunner Magazine to speak before the runners on their magazine’s running clinic. It was a nice experience seeing a lot of runners from Cebu City during the said clinic. It really shows that the running community in cities outside Metro Manila is growing in numbers by “leaps and bounds”.
4. Most of the runners in the 1st Cebu Ultramarathon Race were already at the assembly area at 4:00 AM as most of them “camped” in the area. I could see different moods on the faces of the runners which is very common among runners who are about to experience their first ultramarathon run. I was able to see some of the “usual suspects” in ultra runs in Luzon and I had a brief chat with them. I know, most of them came here to challenge the route. However, I came here to test and evaluate my training.
5. After a short program and photo-ops at the “bust monument” of President Magsaysay, the race started at 5:52 AM with 180+ starters. The faster and “excited” runners went ahead from the rest of the group as they forced themselves to attack the uphill climbs and downhill parts of the route that goes to the National Highway. I think I was on the last half of the whole group of starters on the first 3 kilometers of the run.
6. In a very challenging route which has steep uphills and fast downhills, the race strategy in an ultra run (50K and above) is to be able to apply “brisk walking” on the uphills, fast recovery run on the downhills, and steady run on the plain parts of the route. So, in most parts of the route, I consistently applied this strategy making sure that I hydrate myself regularly (every 2-3K) and eat solid foods every 5 -7 kilometers. My solid foods consisted of Nature Valley Sports Bar, fresh banana, fresh apple, Cloud 9 Chocolate Bites, and boiled sweet corn (bought along the way). I think most of the runners that I passed on the uphills were able to see me with my “brisk walking” form! I am highly recommending that “form” as I learned it from my experience at the Marin Headlands 50-Mile Trail Run.
7. The last 20K of the race was a “battle of will and determination” as the heat of the sun was upon us and I’ve been running and brisk walking for almost 4 hours. The more that I have to bring out those “tips” and lessons learned that I gathered in my past ultraruns. At this point, everything was a “mind game” and consistency of doing what I planned for during my training was the focus in this race. I did not veered away from my race strategy most especially on my hydration/nutrition. On my last 15K, I started to take “salt tablets” and drowned them in my throat with ice cold Mountain Dew or Classic Coke. This gave me more strength and consistency with my pacing in my runs and brisk walking!
8. I finally reached the Finish Line, in front of the Cebu Provincial Capitol Building, with a time of 6:42:20 hours (Official Time). I finished with a ranking of #38 out of the 162 finishers. Based from my GF 305 data, the total distance is 50.23K; an average pace was 8:00 minutes per kilometer; a total ascent of 1,860 meters and a total descent of 2,695 meters.
9. I consider this race as a mountain trail run because of the profile/elevation of the whole course. I am satisfied with the result of my training since I finished the 1st CAMSUR Marathon wherein I started to incorporate more intensity to my training runs and making my selected weekend races as my performance evaluation/test runs. In conclusion, I was able to attain what I have aimed for in this ultra run.
10. And talking about going “hardcore” and going up to a higher level of ultrarunning, I advise that for those who have future plans in joining ultra trail runs in the “WEST”, I highly recommend you to follow and train for the following finishing times in the following ultra distances races:
50 miles/80K—-sub-11 hours
100 miles/160K—-sub-30 hours
11. Thanks, Jonel, FrontRunner Magazine, CERC & Cebu Runners, Volunteers, and the CENTCOM, AFP Officers & Staff for the experience and hospitality. Congratulations to all the Finishers and Race Organizers for a job well done!
(Note: Thanks for those who posted the above pictures at Facebook)