Through my research on the Internet, I have the following data on the Oldest Finisher of the famous Ultrarunning Races in the World:
At the Leadville 100-Mile Endurance Race in Colorado, USA, Charles Williams holds the record of the oldest man to ever complete the race, which he did at the age of 70 in 1999. He was featured in the August 1999 issue of GQ magazine, which compared his training for the race to that of a professional football player. The race has a cut-off time of 30 hours. (Wikipedia)
At the Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon Race which is considered as the “Toughest Footrace In The World” in California, USA, the oldest male finisher ever was Jack Denness, at the age of 75 years old and he is from United Kingdom. He finished the said race in the 2010 edition of Badwater 135. The race has a cut-off time of 48 hours. (Wikipedia)
“Battling a 46:30 cutoff, 73-year-old Christophe Geiger of Switzerland crossed the finish line with just five minutes to spare. It was his fourth consecutive—but first successful—attempt at completing the race. The only participant in the Veterans 4 division, he became the oldest finisher of UTMB in its 13 years of existence, and was arguably the most admired and beloved person in the Chamonix valley this week.” (Runners World Magazine)
Nick Bassett, 73, finish before the 30-hour overall cut off at the 2018 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, he became the oldest finisher of the iconic 100 miler, crossing the finish line in Auburn, California, in 29:09:42 hours. Ray Piva set the previous Western States 100-Mile record back in 1998 at the age of 71. (Runners World Magazine)
Looking on the above mentioned data/information on the Oldest Finishers of famous Ultrarunning Events in the World, it is observed that all of them are at the age bracket of 70 years old and above. Obviously, the background of these runners are very impressive being myself as a marathon and ultramarathon runner. They are better, stronger and faster than me during their peak days and years as compared to my capability when I was younger. However, with the proper training and preparation, I could also have the goal to finish some of these races, maybe, one or two of them before I finally end my career in running. God permits.
I will let these ultra runners as my inspirations in my future endeavors in ultra running, whether on the road or trail. I am now 67 years old and I hope to run more years and be able to reach the 70s. It is time to be more healthy, more smart in training, improve on my nutrition, and consistent in my workouts. It will be a tall order to follow the footsteps of these Old Finishers but I know I can do what they have done. The process will be long, hard and challenging but it takes some guts to start and do something to attain such goal. I expect that there will be some failures and lessons to be learned from them but the goal to finish these races will be a priority. You will read my progress in this blog.
The following is an excerpt from the Speech of President Theodore Roosevelt delivered in Paris in 1910 entitled; “Citizenship In A Republic”:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat”
The first time that I read about this quote was when I applied for registration to join the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Run few years ago. It was written at the last page of the Instruction Manual of the said event. Now, I am posting the said in my blog to serve as a reminder for me in my future endeavors as an endurance athlete. However, the whole speech talks a lot about politics, education, character of a man and society, leadership and other matter about governance and citizenry. How I wished I should have read this speech when I was still in college. I suggest that if you have time, google the title of the speech and read it. I know that you will learn a lot from it. Happy reading!
Through the verbal orders of President Rodrigo Duterte last year, Boracay Island was closed to tourism due to his description that, “Boracay is a cesspool!”Immediately, even with the uproar of the commercial establishments and locals in the island from its closure, the different Executive Departmentsthat were tasked had to carry on to implementthe orders of the President. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had spearheaded the group of other Departments of the government in seeing to it that the problem in Boracay will be solved. After about six months, before the end of last year, Boracay Island was re-opened to the public and to tourism. Much had been said and published in the daily printed media as well in the Social Media about the positive results that came up and instituted during those times that the island was closed.
Last May of this year, I had the chance to visit the island since it was re-opened and I was impressed about the developments and improvements made, although some infrastructural projects were still being done at that time. There is a big difference from the time I last visited the island in the later months of 2017 after my runners finished that year’s edition of the Antique 100-Mile Endurance Race. The main road on the island had been widened and concreted with wider sidewalks with more vehicles and vans plying along the said road. The beach had been rejuvenated with more sand coming from the sea and the beach portion became wider as there were no longer furnitures; table and chair sets; and the strict removal of lots of shades/extensions from the commercial establishments/hotelsalong the beach area. In the early morning of the day, I would see a truck of the island’s Sanitary Services to be sucking the drainage from the underground sewerage system at the middle of the main road system and I was informed that this is done everyday. I was told also that every establishment in the area had to pay a regular amount of fee for this purpose. Cleanliness is very imminent in the area as more trash bins had been placed along the roads as well as in strategic places along the beach. A truck that collects these trash from the said bins had been regularly seen along the main road and on the beach.
Last month, after the conduct of the 7th edition of the Antique 100-Mile Endurance Run, I had the chance to visit the island again for this year. There are more more tourists going in and going out of the island was observed as compared from my visit last May. Everything was done in an orderly manner from the time tourists are being dropped off at the Caticlan Seaport up to the time they are brought to the place where they made their reservation for their stay in the island. Everybody visiting the island should have a prior reservation to a hotel or inn in the island for them to be transported or allowed to board any boat to the said island. Only the locals and employees of the government and commercial establishments in the island are exempted from this regulation. With the assistance of the Philippine Army unit deployed in the island, the runners and I were given VIP attention up to the time we reached our respective billeting area in the island. Since we arrived in the island on the early morning of Sunday, we had our Brunch in one of the popular local restaurants instead of having the usual “boodlefight”. After lunch, we went to the Beach Area; took some pictures; and just watched the people around us. Some of the runners had their recovery walks along the beach.
The following day, I made a leisure walk from Station 3 (southernmost part) all the way to the northern most beach area of the island and I was able to see more hotels and building structures that were closed; removed and destroyed as a result of the strict implementation of Environmental Laws in the area. I will let the following pictures speak for themselves.
The following are the Rules and Regulations at the Beach of Boracay Island:
Strictly No Smoking
No Drinking Of Alcohol.
No Illegal Drugs
No Excessively Loud Music
No Fire Dancing
No Building of Commercial Sandcastles.
No Strctures and Furniture
All these Rules and Regulations are being being strictly implemented by the PNP deployed in the beach area. I have observed in my latest visit to the island that there are roving PNP personnel, as well as, stationary PNP personnel in pairs in every 20 meters along the beach area.
The “closing and cleaning” of Boracay that resulted to its “rest and recovery” is an example of political will of the President Duterte to order something for the good of the environment; local populace and for the instrumentalities of the government to implement such order. I heard that appropriate administrative and criminal charges had been filed to those government people who allowed such environmental laws to be violated, to include those commercial establishments that violated such building permit/s and environmental laws. In my conversation with some of the owners of the establishments who became as my friends when I was still in the military service, they said that business is getting better after it was re-opened to the public and they expect that the beauty and orderliness in the island shall be maintained or even improved as more infrastructural projects will be completed this year. My personal congratulations is directed to Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for leading TEAM of the governmentdepartments for a job well done! Truly, Boracay is an international tourist destination that our country should be proud of. We should preserve the beauty of this island.
The following article is a repost from what Jason Koop, Head Coach of CTS Ultrarunning, had published in their CTS website and shared in the Social Media outlets. I have received a copy of this article in my e-mail as one of the CTS Athletes for the past two years. (Note: I am on rest and recovery up to the end of this year). I hope this article will be of help to future trail ultra runners who have plans of joining this iconic race.
Repost: Top 3 Hot Takes from the 2019 UTMB, CCC and TDS Races
As has been the case for the last few years, I spent the better part of a weekend following athletes around the (newly revamped) Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS), Courmayeur – Champex – Chamonix (CCC), and Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) races. The races were packed with drama, success, failure and everything in between. From the front of the field through the final finishers, the mountain teaches us common lessons – sometimes the hard way – about how to prepare for and execute a great race.
Lesson #1- To win the race, you can be reasonably bold or just grind it out.
UTMB winners Pau Capel and Courtney Dauwalter days played out in seemingly opposing fashion, yet both ended up taking the top step of the podium. Pau took the lead early and never relinquished it, looking spry and springy all the way around the 170-kilometer course. Courtney on the other hand, quite frankly looked terrible the whole way. Normally a smiling and happy runner, she muddled, grunted and grinded her way to a 24 hour and 34 min winning time (which from a historical perspective is quite good).
As a quick comparison, go take a quick look at Update #8 and Update #9 from the final climb to Tête Aux Vents here- https://utmbmontblanc.com/en/live/utmb. It’s an easy compare and contrast of the styles from the winners of both races on the exact same climb.
What all runners can learn from this: There are several different pathways to the exact same result. If you are having a good day, take it and roll. Don’t get greedy with your race plan, but at the same time, if you are having a good day enjoy it and ride out the goodness, hopefully all the way to the finish line. On the other hand, if you are not having the best day and you have built up enough good fitness (as Courtney had), you should have enough resources to simply grind and tough it out. The day might not be all you hoped of, but you can still reach the finish line (and maybe surprise yourself along the way).
Lesson #2- Everyone has a bad day. The harder the race, the more the bad day is exacerbated.
Many of the top runners in the UTMB, CCC and TDS races did not have their days go to plan. Some of these runners ended up dropping out, while some ended up forging on for a respectable finish. Similarly, many of the mid- and back-of-the-pack runners we work with, and several I witnessed out on the course, were simply not having their best days. Although there is no easy ultra, the UTMB race in particular presents a wider variety of issues to contend with. The difficulty is compounded by the event’s length, starting at 6:00PM, running through the entire night right from the get go, copious amount of elevation gain, and the sheer energy of the Chamonix valley that drains the runners in advance of the starting gun. Generally speaking, athletes who got themselves into trouble in this race simply had a harder time bouncing back than those in the shorter (but still ridiculously hard) TDS and CCC.
What all runners can learn from this: If you are in a ridiculously hard race, do yourself a favor and play some defense early on. Aside from entering the race fit and ready, runners can do themselves a favor by running conservatively, taking some additional time at aid stations, having a good attitude, and – if there are any weather conditions – making sure you have enough gear to stay comfortable. All of these will give you a bit of downside protection for races where the penalty for failure is high!
Lesson #3- Multiple mistakes have compounding effects
Every runner wants to have a perfect race. Sorry to tell you, but those are rare. In a lifetime of running if you are able to scrape together a small handful of perfect races, consider yourself lucky. More often, ultramarathons are a series of problem solving exercises. Encounter some bad weather, move through it. Then, you will have a big, quad thrashing descent. After the descent, maybe your legs are giving you trouble. Your legs feel a bit better, then you have a monster climb ahead of you. Most runners can take each individual battle head-on in sequence by solving one problem and then moving to the next.
When issues pile on top of issues, the effect is greater than the sum of all the individual parts. I saw this unfold at the Beaufort (91.7 K) aid station during TDS. Nearly every runner from the front to the back of the field was tired at this point. CTS coach and eventual 2nd place finisher Hillary Allen (coached by Adam St. Pierre) even had the 1000-yard stare as she entered the aid station. As the day transpired, the runners arriving at the aid station complaining of one singular thing (I can’t eat, for example) would move in and move out quickly to tackle the next climb. The runners with a laundry list of issues (I can’t eat and my feet hurt and my quads are shot) took at least four times longer in the aid station and were moving at half the speed, regardless of where they were in the field. In this way, the runner who can’t eat but deals with it, then has their feet hurting and deals with that, and then has shot quads and deals with that, will finish far faster than the runner dealing with all three issues at once.
What all runners can learn from this: Dealing with issues during ultrarunning is inevitable. They are long and hard enough to present a host of problem solving opportunities. When these ‘opportunities’ creep up, don’t compound the problem by creating another one or not addressing the first. Address each issue as it comes up, when it comes up. ADAPT when necessary and slow down if you need to. It is far better to take a bit more time as issues creep up than continue to plow forward and create compounding issues.
I have always relished the opportunity to attend races as a coach, fan and support crew. These opportunities have always been ‘learning by observing’. The UTMB, CCC and TDS races were no exception. If you are reading, I hope you enjoyed the wonderful coverage of the event and some of these on the ground takeaways.
After I arrived from the United States to join the 123rd Boston Marathon this year, I immediately created a dirt, single track trail inside my Playground Lot which has a total area of about One Hectare. With the help of an assistant to cut/clear the path from weeds, roots, and protruding stones and rocks; and an engineer’s distance measuring cycle which I asked my friend, Rowell Ramos, to buy from Amazon, I was able to measure a distance of 400 meters for one loop. It is not as perfect as an Oval Track in shape but it suits the purpose of a single track trail path.
Since then, I’ve been running along this loop on a regular basis . I always change the direction of my run every time I finish One Mile, which is equivalent to 4 loops. Sometimes, I would change the direction of run after Two Miles or sometimes, I consider the elapsed time like changing the direction after running for 30 minutes. You can say that running in a loop is boring but I make sure to make some speed drills or “strides” in some of the sections. However, hearing my music playlist solves everything in terms of maintaining my pace, rhythm, and trying to be more focused on my leg speed/turn-over on the trail.
The loop is not completely a flat one. It has some minimal ascents and descents which are short in distance but I could play or vary my pace and speed depending on what type of workout that I would do for the day. During my easy runs, I would register an average speed of 3.5-3.8 miles per hour with an initial one or two loops of hiking as my warm-up. During my tempo runs, I would try to reach my average speed from 3.8-4.2 miles per hour after doing some drills and stretching exercises. Lately, I would combine easy running on the first half of my workout and then do a tempo run on the last half. If my workout calls for a two-hour run, I would run the first hour with an easy average speed of 3.5 miles per hour and then the last hour with a tempo average speed of 4.2 miles per hour. My last one mile (4 loops) would be my cool-down jog.
With this Playground Loop, I could do my runs anytime of the day. I could also run half-naked if the weather is hot or if I do my runs in the middle of the day. Most sections of the loop are covered with fruit trees (mangoes), coconuts, and ornamental plants and I don’t worry about the heat of the sun as I have a shade throughout the course. I also run during nighttime to test my headlamps if they are still working and trying to improve my pace and speed during night running. Most of all, I pre-position two water stations along the loop and take in some of my nutrition and hydration depending on the time or distance I have covered. I have been experimenting which one is more effective; taking in my food and hydration by the number of minutes or by the distance I have covered. Lately, I have concentrated my nutrition and hydration frequency by the number of miles I have covered. The alarm from my Garmin GPS Watch once I cover one mile, warns me to take in a bite of my food (rice cake, fruit, power bars, or biscuits) followed with 1/4 water from my 20 oz water bottle. And this practice is repeated every mile along the course. I have observed that I have maintained my speed through this method. However, in the end, I would still be lighter in weight by 2-3 pounds once I step into the weighing scale after my workout. Hopefully, I would be able to solve this situation in my future runs.
After months of running in this loop, I have observed that my Garmin GPS Watch would register a longer distance from what I have measured through the engineer’s distance cycle meter. I think the vegetation and the trees that cover the trail would impede the accurate reading of the GPS satellites with my Watch. The GPS distance would be longer by 30-50 meters depending on the time of the day and the prevailing weather. The GPS distance is longer in the later afternoon, evening, and when it is cloudy. Sometimes, my Strava distance would be shorter than what is registered in my Garmin GPS Watch.
When I prepared for an ultra trail event like the Cortina 48K Trail Race in Italy this summer, almost all my running workouts were done on this loop without my trekking poles but I would carry 20 pounds of frozen water in my hydration bottles with my hydration vest. Whether I would hike or jog during day or night, I would be slogging it out along this loop up to three hours or more. I could only count with my fingers on how many times did I peak and “double-traverse” Mt Roosevelt (highest mountain in my neighborhood) by slowly hiking up on the ascents and “power hiking” on the descents with 20 pounds of water and food in my vest and belt at the middle of the day. Combined with these hikes in the mountain and runs along my Playground Loop, I was able to finish the said race even though I was the last runner to arrive within the prescribed cut-off time of twelve hours.
Since I have been training alone in my runs, I feel safe and secured within the confines of my Playground Loop anytime of the day. I can do whatever I want. I could make a video of my runs. I could dance after my runs. I could shout. I could sing with my Playlist. I could think clearly while running. I could wear any running outfit that I like. And simply enjoy running alone in my Playground. At this time, my Playground Loop is still not ready to receive some visitors, even if they are my running friends. I will keep this place as sacred and private.
John “Sting” Ray Onifa: The Pinoy Course Record Holder In 2019 UTMB’s CCC 101K Trail Race
I have never met and still not a friend on Facebook of this very talented mountain trail runner. Because of this outstanding and admirable finish at this year’s CCC 101K Race in Chamonix, France, he deserves to be featured in this blog for whatever purpose. It could be an inspiration to future elite runners or a good reference to others. (Note: Hopefully this will used as a reference to our Local and National News and printed media). But one thing is sure, he is now the BEST Pinoy Ultra Trail Runner for finishing the 2019 CCC 101K Race from Courmayeur, Italy to Chamonix, France with a Course Record Time (For Pinoys) of 12:36:11 hours finishing with a ranking of 33rd place out of 2,000 runners and top 30 runners in the Male Category. His Average Speed for the course is 7.9 kilometers per hour (which is basically my average Road Running Speed) considering that this is his first exposure in running bigger/higher mountains than he usually race in Southeast Asia where altitude and technical nature of the trails usually slow down runners coming from the sea level places.
Who is John “Sting” Ray Onifa? I bet that if you are more of an average Road Runner, you will never had the chance to meet him in person or read his name in local and national news or even meet him in the local and National MILO Marathon Events. Even the local trail runners in Luzon and Mindanao seldom would see this guy in more popular trail running events in the Cordilleras for the past years (except this year when he joined this year’s CMU). Except for the runners in Panay Island, he is well-known as a Road Runner and later on as an Ultra Marathon Runner having finished the local ultra races in Iloilo, Negros, and Antique. Later, he joined short distance trail running events within the area where he is from.
JR Onifa was born in Dao, Antique, now known as the Municipality of Tobias Fornier. Where is that place? Having been assigned in the Panay Island during my military days and visiting the Province of Antique almost every year for my Antique 100-Mile Endurance Run, it is my first time to know about the town. When I “googled” the name of the town, I found out that the municipality is located at the southernmost tip of Antique Province, way down south from the Capital Town of San Jose De Buenavista where my race usually starts. The town is bounded by mountains on the east and the sea on the west. You can “google” the name of the town for more details about the history and population data of the locality.
Due to the geography where he lives, JR Onifa was born in a poor family and ultimately earned his living through farming and fishing. I would suspect that he was able to complete his secondary education level only. For him to improve his life, he applied as a Candidate Soldier in the Philippine Army but he failed for three consecutive times to enter the service. How I wished I could had helped him during those times when he was trying to enter the military service. If he failed in the Neuro-Psychiatric Test (NP Screening), that is another story to deal with. To make things worse, his mother died and his father left the family. So, starting in 2015, he started running as part of his daily regimen while he was farming and fishing. Through his training, he became a well-known local runner when he won the local races in Antique and Iloilo, setting course records in every event.
It was on the early part of last year, 2018, when one of his friends who saw the elite running potential of JR Onifa started to ask for contributions and sponsorship through crowdsourcing for him to be exposed in international trail running events. His friend, Adonis Lloren aka LAGATAW was very successful in bringing JR Onifa to Thailand to compete in the The North Face (TNF) 50K Ultra Trail Race on February 3, 2018.
The result of the said race completely changed the life of JR Onifa. He won as Champion with an Official Time of 4:01:51 hours in the said race, his first International Ultra Trail Competition, beating the elite athletes of the famous The North Face Adventure Team of Hongkong to include the Team Leader and Director Ryan S Blair who placed 3rd Overall in the said event. Director Ryan Blair was so impressed about the performance of JR Onifa and after a brief interview with JR Onifa about his background, he immediately thought of getting JR Onifa as his new recruit to the Team. Five days after the event in Thailand, Director Ryan Blair posted on the Team’s Facebook Page that JR Onifa had signed in as a full-time member of the The North Face Adventure Team based in Hongkong. I can just imagine how Director Ryan Blair felt when he found out the living situation of JR Onifa in the Philippines knowing for a fact that Director Blair had never brought a new recruit or member to his team for the past three years. Since then, JR Onifa had been a popular trail runner in Hongkong. In March 2018, he was able to get his Working Visa in Hongkong and since then he had been training in Hongkong as well as winning those popular trail races in the area. Simply browse on the Facebook Page of the The North Face Adventure Team (Hongkong) to find out those races where JR Onifa landed on Podium Finishes as well as those incidents that he would be lost along the trail despite being ahead from all the rest on the first half of the course! (This is so familiar to most of those local elite trail runners whom I know!)
If Director Ryan S Blair would read this post, let me express my thanks to you for signing up JR Onifa to your ward of World Standard Elite Trail Runners. How I wish there are more people like you in my own country.
As of this writing, JR Onifa’s team mate Wong Ho Chung of Hongkong finished the UTMB 170K Trail Race in sixth place, highest ranking for an Asian Runner in the said event, with a time of 22:47:47 hours. This is his second time to finish UTMB where he was ranked as 38th Finisher with a time of 27:47:10 hours in the 2016 edition. He is awarded as the Hongkong’s 2019 Trail Runner of the Year.
Congratulations, Jay “Sting” Ray Onifa! You have put our National Colors again in the World of Ultra Trail Running Events. Keep up the good work and be good to your Team Members and Boss! At the young age of 29 years old, your career as a Professional Trail Runner is still starting. Be humble! I have the feeling that you will be standing the starting line at the 2020 UTMB/CCC 101K Trail Race again where you would proudly wave the Philippine Flag crossing the Finish Line as a Podium Finisher. I hope to see you soon in Hongkong!
(Note: Pictures Taken From The North Face Adventure Team Facebook Page)