Video: The History Of The Bataan Death March 102K & 160K Ultramarathon Races


Nobody can deny the fact that the Bataan Death March (BDM) Ultramarathon Races started the rise of ultramarathon runners and races; to include Ultra Race Directors and Organizers, in the Philippines way back in 2009-2010. This is the story of its creation from me as the Race Organizer and Race Director. If there is a tagline that best describes about me, I guess, it could be that “I am the Father of the BDM Ultramarathon Races”, a running event that commemorates the  Original Bataan Death March in the Philippines!

This is my story…….

Thank you for watching. Please subscribe to my You Tube Channel for more stories on Ultramarathon Events in the Philippines and other Ultramarathon-related topics.

Interview: Gilbert Gray After 2020 LAVS 500 Finish


A day after Gilbert Gray finished the 2020 Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Run, I asked him to answer two questions only: (1) How much is the Registration Fee?, and (2) Being a “screwed” (without any support Crew/vehicle) runner, how did he manage his “logistics” along the route?

BR: How much is the Registration Fee?

Gilbert: The Registration Fee for the event is $506.31 and the Registration Period usually starts on August 1 through UltraSignUp website.

BR: How did you manage your “logistics” during your run since you were a “screwed” runner?

Gilbert: I carried with me a Credit Card and Debit Card which I used for my daily expenses on food and water/liquid intake. My Average Cost/Expenses per day was between $20 to $30, depending on how much food I was eating during the day, whether I would prefer a dine-in or take-out for my food. Aside from my Credit & Debit Cards, I had with me a total of $40 in $1.00 Bills for Soda/Vending Machines (which are very accessible during late nights or when the stores were not open). The $1 bills were useful in Laundromats/Laundry Shops where I would wash & dry my clothes/socks every two days of running/walking to get rid of the salt from sweat. I had also in my backpack extra snacks as back-up for my nutrition. I was able to cut down my expenses since I did not stay in hotels. This is my advise to those who are planning to join this race, the top 3 most important things to consider are: Proper Hydration; Proper Nutrition; and Good condition of your Feet throughout the race.

Those were the only questions that I have asked from Gilbert Gray which could give me and my readers a good assessment on how much can a runner would need to support his participation in this event. Maybe, on my next interview with Gilbert, I would ask him the “perks or loot” that go with the Registration Fee.

Gilbert Gray With Another Runner @ 2020 LAVS (Photo Taken From Facebook)
Gilbert Gray @ 2020 The Last Annual Vol State Road Race (Photo From LAVS Facebook Group)

I will update you on this next time. Thanks for reading.

Gilbert Gray: Finisher Of The 2020 “Last Annual Vol State” 500K Race (LAVS)


Gilbert Gray finishes the 2020 Last Annual Vol State 500K Race (LAVS 500) last week in 7 days, 19 hours, 40 minutes and 57 seconds which started on July 9, 2020 in Dorena Landing, Missouri, USA and with the Finish Line located in Castle Rock, Georgia. He finished this race without any support crew and  he registered for this race as Uncrewed or popularly known as “Screwed” runner. This is his second time to finish this race as a “screwed” runner where he improved his finish time by one day, from 204: 48+hours (or 8 days & 12 hours) in the 2015 Vol State Edition. In this year’s edition, out of the 66 runners who started the race, 49 runners finished the race and 17 runners declared as DNF.

The Last Annual Vol State 500K Road Run (LAVS 500K) is one of the road ultra races which is organized and directed by Lazarus Lake of Barkley Marathons, held during the summer months of July every year. One month before this race, another Ultra Race called The Last Annual Heart Of The South 500K Road Race (HOTS 500), was also held which is also organized and directed by Lazarus Lake. These road races usually traverse the State of Tennessee, USA from the western boundary with Missouri, USA or Arkansas, USA to the Northwest part of Georgia, USA. These two ultra races were held despite the Covid-19 situation in the USA. These two races had an identical number of starters which was 66 runners.

The LAVS 500K and HOTS 500K has a cut-off time of 10 days to finish where every runner has to inform the Race Director/Organizer on his/her location every 12 hours through SMS. Each runner does not carry any “tracker” along the way and there are support crew of the other runners who would update the location of the runners by posting pictures and videos on the Facebook Group Page of the event, this is to include the so-called “angels” along the route of the race. These “angels” are the ones that give voluntary aid or help to the runners in terms of allowing them to rest and eat in their front yard or in government/state facilities like Fire Stations and Parks.

Gilbert Gray, a Retired Airman in the US Air Force, lives in Maryland, USA and he is married to a Filipina Lady with two daughters. He now works with a US Airline Company. At 58 years old, he had finished a number of Ultra Races to include being the Overall Champion in one of the Ultra Races in Europe. He is a two-time BDM GrandSlam Awardee; Finisher of the Prestigious Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race; and a yearly Finisher of the JFK 50-Mile Race. You can see the Ultra Races that he finished here.

Although he comes regularly to the Philippines with his wife for a visit, the last time that we saw each other was in the 2014 edition of the Bryce 100-Mile Endurance Race in Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA, together with Paul Encarnacion, a Filipino Ultrarunner who also lives in Maryland, USA and multi-awarded 100-mile finisher. During his training for the 2013 edition of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race (WS100), he visited California to recon the route of the WS100 and then a day later, he joined me and other Pinoy Runners in the LA area in the 2013 edition of the Bandit 50K Ultra Trail Run where we finished at the same time.

Finishing The Bandit 50K Ultra Trail Run
Gilbert Gray With Badwater Ben Gaetos

Gilbert will always be a good friend of the local ultrarunners in the Philippines, most specially with the PAU runners. He is very kind, very helpful, and very simple and silent about his ultrarunning accomplishments. I just hope I would be able to meet him again in the future.

In our local races, PAU had also conducted its first 500K+ road race last June 2019 with the First Edition of the Manila To Pagudpud 580K Ultramarathon Race which had a cut-off time of 135 hours or 5 days and 15 hours. This race is officially considered as the longest road race in the country now. The result of this event could be seen here.

For additional reading about the the LAVS 500, you can read it here.

July 15, 2020: First Day Of The Great Maharlika Highway Virtual Run 3,517K


Two weeks ago, I have created a Facebook Group where interested persons or runners can join a virtual run/race which covers the distance of the Philippines’ Maharlika Highway’s 3,517 kilometers from Laoag City (Ilocos Norte, northern province of Luzon) down to the southern Mindanao City of Zamboanga. However, runners have the option to run in the reverse direction, from the Southern tip of the Highway up to the Northern City of Laoag. There is no required limit of distance or mileage that each runner can cover in a single day but I put up a Challenge that any runner can finish it in one year or in 365 days. As such, a runner should be able to run at least, 10 kilometers or 6.2 miles per day. For the slower or recreational runners, they have the option to finish the distance in 2 years or 730 days, with an average daily mileage of 5 kilometers or 3.1 miles a day.

Maharlika Highway 3,517K Poster On Facebook

To make the event more interesting, this event is FREE and anybody in the Social Media can join the said event by simply joining the Facebook Group Page that I have created. At this time, there are now 144 active members. Additionally, I have created an Event’s Club on Strava where anybody can post their Strava Data on the said Club and for their runs to be posted and each runner is ranked among the members of the Club. There are now more than 160 Strava Members who are part of this event.

I have only one objective in creating this virtual event—I just want people to be motivated to run each day during this present time as we deal with the Covid-19 situation that is happening worldwide.

Stay safe and stay healthy!

Video: How To Qualify For The Boston Marathon


This video is presented in Taglish (combination of English & Tagalog/Filipino Dialect) which I posted in my You Tube Channel. I just revived this YT Channel which I created in 2014 (6 years ago) where I posted my first two videos using my newly-bought GoPro then. Due to the Covid-19 Lockdown, I revived it and I am now trying to post more videos about my running experiences.

It may not be as good as the other Videos you see on You Tube but I have tried my best to share with you the things that led me to be a Boston Qualifier with my Qualified Finish Time based on my Age. I hope you will be inspired with my story and apply those workouts and tips that I have mentioned in this video.

Thank you for watching. Please subscribe to my You Tube Channel for more informative tips on running.

Filipino Finishers Of The UTMB 106-Mile/171K Ultramarathon Race (2011-2019)


2018 Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Race Photo Video


Hereunder is the Photo Video of my trip to Turkey to join/participate in the 2018 Salomon Cappadocia Ultra Trail Race which was held in October 2018. This training running event is part of the Ultra Trail World Tour Event. I have published a Race Report of this event in this blog.

Thank you for watching.

Repost: 90% of Badwater 135 Runners Finish By Jason Koop


badwater 135

90% of Badwater 135 runners finish. Here’s what they can teach you about preparation.

Head Coach of CTS Ultrarunning

By the time this newsletter hits your inbox, runners in the 2020 edition should have been testing themselves along the course of the Badwater 135, which many consider to be ‘the world’s toughest footrace’. Alas, in a very last-minute decision, organizers of the Badwater 135 cancelled this year’s edition, leaving this year’s field wondering what they could have accomplished with their fully formed fitness and heat acclimation strategies.

PHOTO ©ADVENTURECORPS, INC.

I have been fortunate enough to run and crew for the Badwater 135 a total of eight times, as well as prepare numerous runners for the event. All of these experiences have had an impression on me, and I am a better coach because of them. No other group of runners prepare quite as meticulously as the Badwater athletes do. The combination of the searing heat, mind numbing monotony of the road, the complexity of the application process and the exclusivity of getting an entry, the sheer expense of participating, and a relentless culture of improvement that has evolved over the years all combine to create what I observe to be the most prepared ultramarathon field on the planet. And the statistics bear this out. Badwater, despite the notoriously difficult conditions, has a finish rate of 85-90%. As a comparison, the Leadville Trail 100 hovers around a 50% finish rate for any given year, and the coveted Western States 100 has finish rates routinely between 70 and 80%. Make no mistake, the Badwater runners and their crews come fully prepared and bring it on race day.

Badwater is also one of the greatest hot environment sports performance proving grounds imageable. The searing heat will put your heat acclimation strategy to the test. Frequent access to your crew (your crew can leapfrog the runner in a support van) allows the runner to put cooling strategies and nutrition interventions in place without many logistical limitations. Being a crafty lot, Badwater runners have implemented an array of bizarre, sometimes effective and ultimately outlawed strategies in order to gain an advantage. Over the years I have seen everything from the use of refrigerated trucks to pacers on rollerblades with umbrellas (both of these strategies are now prohibited, by the way) to battle the heat. Still, the Badwater runners don’t always use the most efficacious strategies when it comes to heat acclimation and nutritional interventions. They tend to try to combat the challenges the course and environment will throw at them with contrived and combined strategies that at times are ineffective or even counterproductive. You might not ever have the urge to do the Badwater 135, but there are still some lessons we can all learn from the strategies this hearty group of ultrarunners use to battle the course and the heat, what actually works and how things go awry.

Heat Acclimation Strategies

Out of all the unique aspects in preparing for the Badwater 135, acclimating to the heat naturally gets the most attention. With temperatures that can be in excess of 120 degrees, runners rightfully approach this element of preparation with upmost importance. I first attended the Badwater 135 in 2006. When I arrived in Death Valley, I curiously took a straw poll of the participants to understand the heat acclimation strategies they used in training.

PHOTO ©ADVENTURECORPS, INC.

Over the years, either at the race of from afar, I have done the same straw polling and observed what the athletes were doing to prepare. I recently pulled my notes from these experiences and below is a short list of various protocols I’ve found, in no particular order:

  1. Running on a treadmill with a dryer vent blowing on your face. As a bonus, some runners would put portable heating elements round the treadmill for an added effect
  2. Running in the heat with a down jacket, pants and rain jacket
  3. Running on a treadmill in a greenhouse
  4. Running on a treadmill in the sauna. This normally involves cajoling the gym owner into some, shall we say, creative electrical engineering that may or may not pass a fire inspection
  5. If your gym owner was concerned about said electrical engineering, doing jumping jacks and core work in the sauna
  6. Driving around town with the heater turned up, perhaps with a down jacket
  7. Passive sauna exposure
  8. Camping in Death Valley in the weeks leading up to the event
  9. Turning up the heat in the house to > 90 degrees
  10. Some combination of some or all of the above with time frames that range from days to months

Although the complexity and duration of these protocols vary, they all can be catalogued into two broad categories: 1) passive acclimation/acclimatization strategies and 2) active acclimation/acclimatization strategies. Each have basic advantages and tradeoffs.

Passive strategies (strategies where you just sit there and let the environment do its job) allow for heat acclimation to occur with minimal interruption to training. They do not, however, allow you to ‘feel the heat’ while running, and many athletes feel the need to experience training in a hot environment before competing in one, simply to understand the sensation.

Active strategies (strategies that use a combination of exercises and environment) allow for heat acclimation to occur and for the athlete to feel the sensation of running in a hot environment. However, compared to Badwater, where the humidity is low and solar radiation is high, some of the contrived active strategies will be mismatched, particularly the overdressed ones that create a high humidity environment with little solar radiation. Additionally, active acclimation strategies involve some training compromise either by reducing the duration or intensity of the training session to accommodate for the increase in core temperature.

How Heat Acclimation Strategies Actually Work

Fundamentally, heat acclimation strategies work by inducing systemic and cellular responses to help your body cope with the heat. Systemically, your body responds (primarily) by increasing plasma volume and sweat rate in an effort to dissipate heat. Cellularly, your body upregulates heat shock proteins which act as cellular chaperones and managers for proteins that have been damaged by heat stress and other forms of degradation. Both systemic and cellular responses help athletes manage the heat in various ways, ultimately resulting in increased exercise capacity in the heat (and sometimes in temperate environments).

What has started to emerge in the research is that the extent of core temperature increase is critical to the success of the strategy. Heat up your body to a certain temperature and then hold that temperature for a certain amount of time and you get great results. Miss the mark on the temperature or duration and the physiological results are not as good. This critical core temperature, which appears to be in a very narrow range of 38-38.5 °C or 100.4-101.3 °F, is difficult to achieve and athletes will describe it as somewhere between ‘feeling hot’ to ‘too hot, dizzy and lightheaded’.

Through this lens, we can look at the aforementioned strategies from our (perhaps ill-fated) Badwater runners. Strategies that are capable of producing a core temperature of 38-38.5 °C will be markedly more effective than those that do not. Additionally, active acclimation strategies (strategies that involve running/cycling in the heat or overdressed) will most likely be hampered by compromising exercise intensity, as a high core temperature will limit the duration or intensity of running (how long can you run while being ‘dizzy and lightheaded’?).

heat acclimation strategies

The Best of Both Worlds

Many athletes now choose to use an ‘active-passive’ protocol, where they go out and do a normal run and then immediately jump into a sauna or hot water immersion bath. The initial run begins the process of increasing core temperate and the heat exposure from the bath or sauna finishes it off to achieve the critical temperature of 38-38.5 °C. In this way, training is not compromised and the sauna/hot water immersion bath session duration is reduced. If you really feel like you need to ‘feel the heat’ to experience the sensation of running in a particular environment, contrive the environment to try to match the temperature, solar intensity and humidity of your event as much as possible, and do so for the minimum number of sessions to do the trick. For the Badwater runners, a treadmill with a dryer vent blasting in your face a few times is a better option than running around in a down jacket for a month.

Hallucinations

whitney portal badwater 135

THE VIEW OF RACERS RUNNING INTO THE EVENING, FROM WHITNEY PORTAL.

Ultrarunning has been known to produce good hallucinations.  Sleep deprivation combined with physical exhaustion, bonking, and blurred vision is a ripe recipe for the mind to conjure up memories of distant past and teleport them into a fuzzy present.  And Badwater hallucinations are the best, by far. While your trail ultrarunning compatriots will brag about stories of a stick that turned into a snake, a tree stump that looked like a bear or a rock that talked, the Badwater hallucinations take this altered reality to a whole other dimension. The runners at Badwater encounter a cast of characters ranging from the Michelin Man to old 49er miners. Even the infamous white line painted on the road gets in on the action by transforming into various beings of and out of this world. Hallucinations come complete with incomprehensible background stories (the Michelin Man is there to run for President), unintelligible plot lines (I was helping the 49er change a tire), and bizarre interactions that border between a Star Wars movie and a DMT trip.

There is zero training for this. So, I have no help for you here other than to say if you really want an out of this world experience, just go run Badwater.

Too Much Aid Can Be a Bad Thing

One of the differentiating features of the Badwater 135 compared to other ultramarathons is that you have copious access to your crew and supplies. Food, water, pacers, your medical kit and the all-important performance enhancing ice, are never more than several minutes away. And, this level of assistance can be intensive. I once paced an athlete from Furnace Creek to Stovepipe wells, just a 24.6-mile section of the race, and blew through over 60 liters (15.8 gallons) of ice water in the process of drinking and dousing. And while it might seem like a luxury to have your every ultrarunning need fulfilled at a moment’s notice, at times it can be a bad thing.  Runners can take on too much fluid and too many calories, particularly in the beginning of the race, simply because they are there. And later they lean on their crews to bail them out of a situation when they could simply just put their head down and run.

Remember that when you are training, you are doing the vast majority of it by yourself. Almost any racing situation involves many times more support than you would receive during any training session. And Badwater is an extreme example of this. While ultrarunners should learn to leverage their crews, pacers and other support personnel, they should not rely on them to get the job done. You don’t need pacers or crew to get the job done (in most ultras). Do they help, yes. But, running is ultimately the responsibility of the runner.

Badwater will be back

Like many of the races that couldn’t happen this year, Badwater will ultimately be back. I look forward to returning in some capacity, as an athlete, coach or crew. I simultaneously learn and get a chuckle out of many of the strategies athletes use to prepare for the event. I love hearing stories of how many layers of clothing athletes put on for a simple training run and how Kermit the Frog ran alongside athletes in the middle of the night during the race. Soon enough, we will get to experience or hear about all of these again. Until then, we can learn for the next time.

References-

Gibson, Oliver R et al. “Heat alleviation strategies for athletic performance: A review and practitioner guidelines.” Temperature (Austin, Tex.) vol. 7,1 3-36. 12 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1080/23328940.2019.1666624

Video: Filipino Finishers Of The UTMB 106-Mile/171K Ultramarathon Race (2011-2019)


This is a Photo Video that I posted on You Tube with the objective to document the past accomplishments of our local trail runners in international trail running event like the UTMB. This video will be also an instrument for others who will be inspired to join this event in the near future. Thank you for watching.

 

 

 

 

 

Filipino Finishers Of Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc 106-Mile/171K Ultramarathon Race (UTMB)


In the history of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), the race started in 2003 but only after eight (8) years (2011) when Ultra Trail Runners from the Philippines started to join this iconic trail ultra which is considered as the “Holy Grail” of Ultra Trail Running In The World. Hereunder is the list of Filipino Runners who finished the race with their Official Finish Time and their year’s edition:

  1. Jonnifer Lacanlale—–44:00:57 hours (2011)
  2. Simon Sandoval—–45:19:06 hours (2011) & 20:25:13 (2012/shortened) & 40:25:11 hours (2013)
  3. Christian Vicera—–45:16:26 hours (2013)
  4. Aldean Philip Lim—–44:57:22 hours (2014)
  5. Deo Encarnacion—–43:55:17 hours (2014)
  6. Miguel Antonio Lopez—41:10:48 hours (2015)
  7. Roland Wangwang—–41:10:48 hours (2015)
  8. Aleksis Capili—–43:38:16 hours (2016) & 39:55:54 hours (2018)
  9. Hermogines Olvis—–35:33:54 hours (2017) *Fastest Time
  10. Miguelito Carranza—–37:01:00 hours (2017)
  11. Conrado Bermudez Jr—–40:18:29 hours (2017)
  12. Maria Josephine Liao—–42:15:14 hours (2017) *Female
  13. Donald Hermoso—–44:18:53 hours (2017)
  14. Benjamin Ramirez—–39:33:43 hours (2018)
  15. Patrick Hervic Aquino—–43:41:48 hours (2018)
  16. Felmer Hiponia—–44:53:06 hours (2018)
  17. Manuel Magbanua Jr—–45:59:25 hours (2018)
  18. Joseph Sibal—–46:04:59 hours (2018)
  19. Ronnel Valero—–39:29:59 hours (2019)
  20. Marc Conrad Molina—–41:07:23 hours (2019)
  21. Magno Rafael Gabotero—–44:10:00 hours (2019)
  22. James Tellias—–44:34:14 hours (2019)
  23. Mark Itol—–45:00:41 hours (2019)
  24. Thumbie Remigio—–45:27:15 hours (2019)
  25. George Javier—–46:18:16 hours (2019)

UTMB Official Logo