I never met this guy, Andre Blumberg from Hongkong, in person but we are “friends” on Facebook and I’ve seen him joined in this year’s TNF 100K in Bicol through pictures of other runners posted at Facebook. He had been travelling to other countries just to participate in TNF’s and other Ultra Races and he also finished the TNF 100 in Australia last June of this year. We were supposed to meet at this year’s MIWOK 100 last May at the Marin Headlands in San Francisco, California as he got a lottery slot for the race. But it never happened as he can not make it to the United States due to work commitments.
Last September 6, he sent me a message on Facebook which I’ll repost in this blog and it is self-explanatory:
Dear Sir Jovie,
As you may we aware we will have the second Vibram HK100 event here in Hong Kong, along the famous MacLehose trail. 100km distance, around 4.5k vertical. It will take place on 18/19 Feb. Last year Lizzy Hawker joined, and no doubt next year there will be some good international presence as well. I am not directly involved with the event but know the RDs well and would like to support the race since it is the only 100km solo event currently in HK (we have many other events including a very tough 156km one, but they are all team events with at least 2 members to a team).
I am very proud about the work you do for the ultra community in the Philippines. Whilst I did not have a chance yet to join any of your events (hopefully BDM160 next year), I cherish the Pinoy ultra community, largely because the people I met are all very friendly. I’ve worked in Manila for 6 months in the late 1990ies (but didn’t run at the time), so always keen to go back.
Anyhow, purpose of my note is the following: I would like to consider sponsoring one or two athletes in your team to join the HK100 event in order to give them international exposure. I have no specific arrangement in mind yet, but I could help out with sponsoring the entrance fee and/or hotel and/or flight, or parts thereof. I know there are many talented and very hard working runners and that many of them may not be able to afford traveling overseas for a race, hence I would like to support perhaps one male and one female athlete to join this event, ideally this would be runners that have good potential and who would “grow” by participating internationally. The HK100 is a qualifying event for UTMB, Comrades and Western States, so it could be a stepping stone for one of the truly big events. Would be interested in your thoughts on the above.
I immediately sent this reply to him.
Wow! I am amazed with your gesture to help/support one/two of our pinoy ultrarunners. I could not imagine a foreigner offering such support. All along my blog and status at Facebook had been sending the message to my readers to support our elite athletes to international exposure and I am really surprised that you understood the predicament we have here.
Your offer is very timely as I am in a venture to send at least one/two elite runners to WS100 in 3 years time. I’ve talked already to two of my athletes and they have started training for the said goal. They wll be competing in the IAU Asian 100K Championship in Jeju on the last Saturday of March 2012 (1st weekend of April).
However, I have another 2 elite ultra runners whom I have to talk about your offer. I will update you on this matter in the coming days.
I will be sending an e-mail soon for us to discuss the details.
Thanks! God bless!
Why am I posting these exchange of messages in my blog? Because for the past THREE YEARS that I’ve been promoting ultrarunning races on the Philippines, nobody cared to have the INITIATIVE to offer any kind of support to our elite athletes for INTERNATIONAL exposure. Except for those “usual suspects” in ultrarunning whom I’ve been asking for support, I was able to bring two (2) of our elite long distance runners to the IAU Asian 100K Championship in Jeju, South Kore last year. Alquin Bolivar of the Philippine Army was able to set a National Record of 9:06+ hours for the said event where he placed #6 beating other countries.
I don’t want to mention the names of corporations and private institutions/Race Organizers who had been engaged in promoting their products and corporate names through running, and who should/must be at the forefront of having the initiative to help our elite athletes in international exposure. I am sorry to say that our ultrarunning as a sports could not be supported by the government as the different Sports Federations in the country are competing with each other for the funds coming from the Philippine Sports Commission. As I said before, the VISION of our Sports Federations only goes up having a Podium Finish at the SOUTHEAST ASIAN GAMES! And the government ONLY recognizes an athlete or a team if he/she/it wins a World’s or International Event.
Have you noticed that Race Organizers in our Marathon Races could not even send their (Pinoy) Winners to some of the prestigious Wold’s Championship in Marathon like Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin or London? I don’t know the reason why, BUT they could send an AVERAGE competetive runner to these Marathon Races through sponsorship! It boggles my mind as I am not envious with this kind of arrangement. It is simply a waste of resources sending such runners instead of sending our top elite runners who can really compete with the world’s best runners! It is the truth and I am sorry that, reality bites!
I had experienced “begging” to the government (to include politicians) and to some of the known private corporations in the past, most specifically when I planned to launch the 1st BDM 102 and most of them did not offer any support and as a result, I made a promise to myself that I will never attempt to do it again. I am satisfied and contended that I have “friends” who can understand my message in this blog and willing to support in my endeavors for the simple reason of promoting the sports of Ultra Running.
To Andre and to the “usual suspects” in ultra running, thank you for your INITIATIVE to support our Sports and to our elite athletes! God bless!
So, if you are awaken to what I am driving at in this post, then I will be glad to accept voluntary offers to support our elite athletes in order to bring them to international exposure, whether in Asia, Europe or in the United States. You can send a message on Facebook or send me a note to my e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s about time we have to hear from you. Don’t wait for a foreigner to be more generous to us than from a full-blooded Pinoy. Let us help one another!