Advertisements

Race Report: 1st Sarbay Festival 50K Ultra Marathon Race

4 06 2018

Race Report: 1st Sarbay Festival 50K Ultra Marathon Race

This is the second ultramarathon race in Mindanao that is requested by the Race Organizer to be sanctioned under the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU). The first one was the Zamboanga Ultra Mountain Race in Zamboanga City which had been sanctioned by PAU for the past three years. As promised to the Race Organizers, I have to join their events as a runner and be able to compete with the other participants. And fortunately, I just did what I wished with these ultra running events.

Sarbay Festival 50K Logo

Introduction

Dionam Basco, Finisher of the 2nd Edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race (2010) and a good neighbor then in Manila while working in a Real Estate Company, contacted me on the first week of February this year informing me of organizing an ultra marathon event during the Sarbay Festival in Sarangani Province to be held on May 25-26, 2018 and inviting me to grace the event as a guest and runner. I immediately approved of it as I did not have any conflict of schedule of trips and races during those days. He informed me that this Festival is a project/tourism program under the Office of the Provincial Governor and his wife, Michelle Lopez Solon, as the Festival Organizer. There was a time also that a personal meeting in Manila was supposed to be scheduled with the Festival Organizers in February but due to my race, Manila To Baguio 250K Ultra Race, the meeting did not materialize. However, through Personal Messenger and Facebook, Dionam and I communicated each other even up to the details of the said event. And the rest is history.

Dionam Basco Finishing The 2nd Edition BDM 102

Few Days Leading To The Race

I just supervised being the RD of the North Coast 200-Mile Endurance Run from May 16-20 from Laoag City to Santa Ana, Cagayan and then returned to Manila on May 22 and had at least two days to rest before going to General Santos City on the early morning of May 25, Friday. With less than the amount of hours to sleep on the night of Thursday, I took a chance to sleep during the flight from Manila to General Santos City. Dionam was in the Airport waiting as it took so much time waiting for my luggage to get into the Airport’s Luggage carousel. Lesson learned: When travelling to General Santos City, your luggage should all be hand-carried!

General Santos City is already a totally different place since the first time that I visited the place. In 1976, when I was a Company Commander of an Infantry Unit of the Philippine Army located in Datu Piang, Maguindanao, I was tasked to “retrieve” one of my soldiers who was placed in a stockade of a Military Police Unit in Davao City due to indiscriminate firing under the influence of liquor. I was able to have my soldier released and gave him another 3-day leave before reporting back to my unit. He happens to be from one of the towns of Davao. With my driver and two security personnel aboard a Kennedy Jeep, we proceeded to General Santos City and slept overnight. I can still remember that my soldiers brought me to the only 4-story, white-painted Hotel along the ONLY road of the city. That’s all that I can remember about this city.

Wow! After 42 years, General Santos City is totally a different place! Knowing that this is the southernmost city of the country (1,600+ kilometers away from Luneta Park), this place is a lot better than some of the cities in Luzon, having wider roads and sidewalks, less traffic, lots commercial establishments/eateries, and better air quality. I was treated with a brunch at Dionam’s Resto, “Have Sam Thai” that offers a fusion of local and Thai cuisine! This is where I have tasted the best broiled Tuna Belly in the whole world! About 300 meters from his Resto was my accommodation at the Sun City Suites which has a nice restaurant (Free Breakfast Buffet) and strong free Wi-Fi. Just to prove how nice the hotel was? I was able to sleep for straight 6 hours after I dropped my luggage on the floor!

Sarangani Provincial Capitol

Race Proper

The race starts in front of the Sarangani Provincial Capitol which is located in Alabel, Sarangani, a few minutes drive from General Santos City. If I am not mistaken, a good 10 kilometers of wide paved road from GenSan City. At the Provincial Gymnasium, few meters from the Capitol Building, is the location of the Race Pick-up, Race Briefing, and CarboLoading activities.

Inside The Sarangani Capitol’s Gymnasium

When I arrived at the Gymnasium, everything was set already for the event’s pre-activities. I could see a lot of runners waiting for the CarboLoading and the Briefing. The Program started at 8:00 PM and everybody could eat what was served up to 10:00 PM. The variety of food served was a lot as compared of the usual Pancit & Fried Chicken combination/stuff that I am familiar of. The food served was too grand and excellent where you have a choice of pure carbo (Pasta dishes), pure protein (Fresh Tuna, Chicken, Beef) or pure fats (Two Whole Pork Lechon) and lots of fruits! Well, I cheated on my Whole Food Plant Based diet for tonight only! Hahaha!

Carbo Loading With All The Participants & Race Officials/Staff

I was requested by Dionam to talk on the Rules and Regulations of the Race. I emphasized on the importance of Integrity in joining/finishing the race, as I had bad experiences and personal observations (with my own eyes) of cheating among runners. Secondary to this is my emphasis on the Safety of each of the runner. I have observed that most of the runners were not using reflectorized vests during the race and I hope this will be one of the improvements we have to implement in the next editions. Since this event has Aid Stations in every 8-10 kilometers, I suggested Dionam to disallow the use of Support Vehicles and Motorcycles to “shadow” runners in the next editions, to minimize traffic along the road and remove the suspicion or temptation of runners riding on motorcycles in the dark places along the route.

Briefing On The Rules & Regulations

The race promptly started at exactly midnight of Friday with 200 starters in front of the Provincial Capitol of Sarangani. I was at the back of the pack and patiently warmed-up on the first few minutes of the race. Runners had to go around the Capitol until everybody goes out of the Gate of the Capitol Compound and turned left along the Highway going to Glan, Sarangani. After 20 minutes of warm-up, I started to pass some runners. The route felt like it was flat but there were portions which were hilly in nature that one could not see because my headlight could only illuminate what was in front of me. Based from my Garmin GPS Watch, I started passing runners when my speed was 8 kilometers per hour. Before I reached the Km #10 Aid Station, I was going on 9.8 kilometers per hour! That’s insane! I could not believe it. It could be because of the cooler air during the early morning plus the breeze coming from Sarangani Bay and of course, maybe from my training!

Prayer Before The Start Of The Race

Event’s Race Map Route

Event’s Elevation Profile

I tried to overtake or pass some of the faster and younger runners but they always asked me the same questions——How old are you? How many times have you finished an ultra distance race? I would be successful in passing some of them but they would pass me again when I refill my bottles at the Aid Stations. My pace did not change until I reached the 32K or more point. This is where successive small hills appeared and where some bridges are located. Moreso, when I reached the Marathon distance of 42.2 Kilometers in 5 hours and 11 minutes!

As warned by Dionam, the last 6 kilometers will be the “killer” signature of the route and it’s true! I had to refill my bottles and ate a lot of solid foods/fruits at the Km 45 Aid Station in order to have those strong legs for the ascents. I slowed a lot but I maintained to jog (not hike) these ascents until the descending portion towards the Finish Line.

Crossing The Finish Line

Finally, I crossed the Finish Line in 6:18+hours with RD Dionam meeting and congratulating me. This could be my fastest PR on a Road Ultra, better than my time at the Tagaytay To Nasugbu 50K which is almost 80% downhill five years ago in 6:35:38 hours! I was finisher #47 out of the 200 starters in this race.

Nutrition & Hydration: GU Power Gel in every one hour; One Tablet of NUUN mixed with 16 oz of water in my Simple Hydration Bottle in every Aid Station; and ate lots of bananas & watermelon bites in the Aid Stations.

Running Kit: Lupine Headlight; Hoka One One Headband; Eyecatcher Reflectorized Shirt; NIKE Challenger Shorts; Darn Tough Sports Socks; ADIDAS Adizero Boston 6; GARMIN GPS Watch Forerunner 310XT; and Compressport Race Belt.

Here is the Official Podium Result of the Event:

Sarbay Ultra Marathon

GLAN, Sarangani (May 26, 2018) – One of the highlights of this year’s Sarbay Festival is the 50K Ultra Marathon in which participants will begin their run from the Provincial Capitol in Alabel to the main venue in Gumasa, Glan. Arnie Macañares from Kapatagan, Digos City is the over-all champion and the first to finish the 50K run with a time of 3 hours and 52 minutes only. Next to him in the male category is Dante Baay with a time of 3 hours and 57 minutes, and Roberto Cain with a time of 4 hours and 9 minutes. In the female category on the other hand, Arriane Deocadez wins the 1st place with a time of 5 hours and 53 minutes, followed by Sheriel Balabat with 5 hours 57 minutes time, and Giegs Castillo with 6 hours and 4 minutes time. According to Arnie, his secret to winning the marathon is determination, perseverance, and courage. (From the Sarbay Communications Service)

Congratulations to all the finishers and see you next year!

BR With The Race Director Dionam Basco

Advertisements




Official Result: 3rd NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Run

23 05 2018

3rd NORTH COAST 200-Mile Ultra Marathon Race

Laoag City To Santa Ana, Cagayan via Aparri, Cagayan

Starting Area & Time: Laoag City, In Front of the Provincial Capitol, Ilocos Norte/00:01 AM May 17, 2018

Finish Area & Time: Northern Pearl Beach Resort, Santa Ana, Cagayan/00:01 AM May 20, 2018

Cut-Off Time: 72 Hours with 10 Hours Cut-Off Time Every 50 Kilometers.

Number Of Starters: 4 Runners

Number Of Finishers: 4 Runners

Percentage Of Finish: 100%

Starters/Runners With The Race Director

RANK       NAME            TIME (Hrs)

  1. Ian Piza (Overall Champion/New Course Record)—-60:44:19
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall)—-63:59:36
  3. Rod Losabia (2nd Runner-Up, Overall)—-69:31:20
  4. Kevin Luna—-71:53:00

Champion & New Course Record Holder Ian Piza

1st Runner-Up & 2nd Time Finisher Gibo Malvar

2nd Runner-Up Finisher Rod Losabia

4th & Last Runner Kevin Luna

Congratulations To All The Finishers!





Race Report: 10th Edition Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race

5 02 2018

“Enjoy Every Step”….From Coach John Fitzgerald, CTS

I am proud to say that I am the only Race Director and Organizer of Ultra Marathon Races in the Philippines who runs its own event. It started with my “Pilot” Event then which is now the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race (BDM 102). I would think then that running beyond a Marathon Distance was impossible and crazy to think among the local runners. It was like breaking the borders and exploring the impossible when I thought of having a solo and single stage running event of the historic Bataan Death March route from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga. But the hard-headed in me and making my dreams possible, everything was planned out and implemented and the rest is history. But for all the local runners to see and prove that such event can be done, I have to “set the example” and run the first edition of this race with the rest of the participants.

Fast Forward. While I was in Europe after I finished the Jungfrau Marathon Race last year, I received an e-mail from the John Medinger, President of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run stating that the 10th Edition of the BDM 102 was selected as one of the 2019 Qualifying Races for the Western States 100- Mile Run. I was shocked and amazed that a Road Race in Asia is considered as a qualifying race in the most prestigious 100-mile Trail Race in the USA and in the whole world. It is for this main reason why I decided to join this event after nine years older than when I first ran it. The second reason why I decided to join the race is to find out the present state or condition of my running body after being under the watchful eyes of a Professional Coaching Service in the USA which is the CTS (Carmichael Training System) for the past six months. And lastly, as a part of my training to “kickstart” my 2018 Ultra Racing Season in preparation for my first international event for the year, the Madeira Island Ultra Trail Race (MIUT) in Portugal on the last weekend of April.

Planning for the 10th Edition of the BDM 102 had started since the months of April & May last year. And I firmly believed that my Race Staff and Volunteers would be there to administer and supervise the race while I was running the race. Slowly and surely, everything was in place and ready to be implemented on Race Day. Everything that can be controlled during the race was properly attended to except for the some surprises to include the assistance of the Local Government of Mariveles, Bataan in providing us with Public Address System and Lighting System for the whole Starting Area which is the BDM Shrine where the BDM Km #0 is located. Such assistance contributed to a “Party” environment for all the Runners and their Support Crew. It also made me more relaxed and comfortable in calling the attention and delivering my last detailed briefing to everybody before the Gunstart! The best surprise of them all was the weather during the night and day as most of the runners were covered with clouds and overcast sky. It even drizzled in some parts of the route and it was the first time to have experienced a rain at the Finish Line! I knew somebody up there was also with us in celebrating the 10th edition of this historic Bataan Death March Ultra Marathon Race.

Opening Ceremony & Short Program

I was asked by the local Police to delay the start by 30 minutes as most of the workers in the factories within the Mariveles Export Processing Zone will be leaving their respective factory/place of work at exactly 10:00 PM. The delay of 30 minutes will enable our runners and Support Vehicles free from traffic on the first 7 kilometers of the route as most of the workers traveling with their personal vehicle on this section of the Highway should have cleared the roads. The Zigzag Road from Km 2 to Km 7 is too narrow and the only long ascending portion of the route and with Big Cargo trucks, Commercial Buses and Private Vehicles on the road, extra safety was needed. The PNP made sure that only the runners would be on that section until the last runner had passed when they would open it again to regular traffic.

20 minutes before the Gun Start, we had our simple Opening Ceremony which consisted of a Prayer, Singing of National Anthem from the Main Actor-Countries of the Historic Bataan Death March and my usual Last Briefing and reminders on the Rules and Regulations of the Race. The short Prayer was done by Ronnel Go, one of my trusted and loyal PAU ultra runners; the Star Spangled Banner was sang by our US runners—Ann Sweat; Kim Travella; and Philip Bouve, all of whom are Veterans in their respective US Armed Services. Nobody from Japan was present and my Filipino ultra runner who teaches the Japanese dialect did not join the race, thus, we did not sing the Japanese National Anthem. Obviously, everybody sang our National Anthem proudly and loudly. I have also acknowledged the presence of 3 runners who came from Singapore—Wai Thing Law; Yang Wai Yee; and Jonathan Suerte. After some group picture at the BDM Km Post #0, the countdown started and all the runners were excited to start the journey.

Mandatory Group Picture @ BDM Km Post #0 (Photo By Dhan Punsalan)

At exactly 10:30 PM of Saturday, January 27, the race started with 244 runners with 48 Female Runners. I started the two Race Timing devices on my hand and waited for the last runner to leave the Shrine before I started the run. I was the last runner to leave the Starting Line.

With all those excitement, conversation with the runners, “photo-ops” or pictorials with individual runners and running groups, briefing, opening program, and giving instructions to my staff and volunteers, I forgot to prepare myself for those detailed things that I have to do minutes before the start of a race when I am a runner. I felt hungry immediately as soon as I had my first step of the race! I brought out one of my Power Bars from my Race Belt and started eating and walking on my first kilometer. No worries as I planned to hike on the ascending portion/s of the route.

As the event was getting nearer, I would review my notes and my thoughts and I thought of what would be my outcome goal in this race. When my Coach sent me a message two days before the race, expressed in three 3 simple words, “Enjoy Every Step”, I smiled and conditioned myself mentally that I will Finish the race and enjoy every step along the course. And that what I was expected to do from Start to Finish—Enjoy Every Step! However, at the back of my mind, a warrior’s voice aka “Devil’s Voice” would say, “Pass as many runners as you can!” So, from the very start, it was a fight between my Coach words aka “Angel’s Voice” and the “Devil’s Voice” in me!

I always advise the “newbies” in the BDM 102 that they should hike the first 7 kilometers of the route. Not heeding to this advise would compromise of what would be their running condition and ranking on the last 25-30K before the Finish Line and ultimately, on what kind of Finisher’s Medal they will receive as soon as they cross the Finish Line. After jogging the first 2 kilometers of the route which is flat, I started to power hike up to Kilometer #7. As I hiked, I was able to pass the slower runners and I would greet them and converse with them for encouragement.

Started As The Last Runner

An arrangement was made that I would be supported during the race by two Support Vehicles and Crew of two of my PAU Lady Ultrarunners. They would alternately provide me with the necessary food and hydration aside from their respective dedicated runner. Everything went fine and perfect on this kind of arrangement during the race.

From Km 8, everything was downhill and I took advantage of maintaining my “endurance run” pace with a relaxed, comfortable and steady speed and leg turn-over. I made sure that I was running with a speed of 5 miles per hour or 8 kilometers per hour. I was thinking that I should reach the first Checkpoint (Km 14) in less than 2 hours and not faster than 1:40 hours. Finally, I reached Km 14 in 1:44:44 hours and I was ranked #142. I was able to pass, at least, 100 runners as I came from behind in less than 2 hours!

After 2 kilometers from the first checkpoint, it was already a “roller-coaster” on the elevation of the course along the Roman Highway, you have hills and ascending portions of the course but you will be rewarded with some descents until you reach the second checkpoint at Km 23. I was surprised to know that I was ranked #66 with a time of almost 3 hours. At this point, I was having a speed of 5 to 5.3 miles per hour and I knew I was going faster as I tend to have the desire to pass every that runner that I see in front of me! The devil was really taking over into my mind!

Along The Km 68-83 Stretch

From this checkpoint, the next 9-kilometer stretch of this route is free from any vehicles except for the Support Vehicles parked on the right side of the road and their Support Crew waiting for their runner waiting on the left side of the road. Most parts of this stretch is well-lighted with street lamps, most specially in the center of each municipality or town one has to pass. I would pass more runners on this stretch until I came out to the Roman Highway at Km 31. At the 3rd Checkpoint in Km 32, I was ranked #58 with a time of 4:12:25 hours! I was able to catch up with the Singaporean Lady Runner Wai Thing Law and her Filipino companion, Jonathan Suerte and told them that there will be no more hills to climb up to the finish line. I guess, I lied because I did not take into consideration on those ascending approaches of bridges to cross up to the Finish Line.

After the Km 32 Checkpoint, it seems there are no longer runners in front of me as I was running without any “target” or reference point in terms of determining if I was going fast or slow on my pace/speed. This was the time that I thought the race was becoming boring. Not until I was in the company of Gibo Malvar, one of PAU’s candidate for the PAU Grand Slam Award for 2017 and it will be his second time to get such an award. He could be the ONLY PAU Runner who will have the distinction of coveting this Award in two successive years. Gibo and I paced with each other until I told him to get ahead after 5 kilometers. I would later catch him again at Km 45, eating some egg pie with Aldrin Pallera, another strong and consistent PAU Runner. These two runners caught and passed me before reaching Km 50 Checkpoint.

I finally reached Km 50 Checkpoint with a ranking of #42 with a time of 6:28:34 hours. I could see a lot of runners resting, eating, and having their massage with their Support Crew. This is where almost all the Support Vehicles wait for their runners. I did not stop as the my Support Vehicles were still few kilometers behind me taking care of their respective runner. One of the Support Vehicles/my Support Crew was able to refill my hydration bottle and I was able to stash some food in my Race Belt before reaching Km 50.

I was in the company of Wai Thing Law and Jonathan Suerte after passing Km 50 with few meters ahead or sometimes few meters behind me. It was a “see-saw” race between us until they left me for good at Km 57 when I started to incorporate power hiking with my run. Another runner in an orange shirt passed me before entering the town of Hermosa, Bataan and even if he was fast, I could still see him from a distance and use him as my reference point of my pace/speed. It was already daybreak and it started to drizzle when I was in Hermosa.

BDM 102 Never Gets Easier

I could still see the orange shirt of the runner ahead of me when I finally reached again the Roman Highway at Km 67. A PNP Checkpoint personnel was there to make sure every runner would be able to cross the Highway safely. I started to run again once I was on the left side of the road from this point. I knew the iconic BDM Km 68 post at the Layac Junction in Dinalupihan, Bataan was just one kilometer ahead of me.

I knew what to expect on the road stretch from Km 68 to Km 83. It is a 15-kilometer stretch where you meet every kind of vehicle on the fast highway of the San Fernando-Olongapo route. During the first edition, all of the runners had to cover their nose and face to prevent the dust from getting into your face/eyes and into their lungs. This stretch of road was under construction and being cemented at that time. The strategy to maintain your sanity in running on this section is to jog, run, and hike with a rest of power hiking! But with the heat of the sun, it will slow you down tremendously if you don’t be friends with ice water, wet small towel with ice cubes placed on top of your head or ice bandana tied around your neck or regular dousing of cold water on ones head, face, neck and upper body. However, in this year’s edition, the weather was so kind to everybody that I could feel a cold breeze coming from the East (in front of me) until I reached the commercial district of Lubao, Pampanga. It is just a matter of time that I would reach the Lubao Bridge (Km 82). It was on this stretch that some of the runners would be able to pass me and I would console myself with a reason that these runners are half younger than my age.

Enjoy Every Step On The Last 2 Kilometers

I finally reached Km 83 Checkpoint with a ranking of #53 with a time of 9:58:15 hours. My speed had decreased tremendously as I started to hike longer than jogging. From 5.3 miles per hour, I would estimate that I was averaging a 4-4.5 miles per hour speed at this point. One runner was on sight in front of me and I tried to use him as my reference point but to no avail. He just disappeared after a few minutes. At Km 90, fatigue and some tightness on my legs started to slow my pace and I knew more runners would be passing me. It was good that these runners are my PAU regular runners that they were kind enough to share their support-logistics to me aside from the designated Support Vehicle and Crew for me.

The plan to finish the race in 14 hours or less than 15 hours was nowhere in sight when I reached Km 100. The “angel voice” in my mind returned and reminded me to enjoy every step up to the finish line. I started to jog, run, and power hike on the last 2 kilometers and on the last turn towards the Finish Line, I saw the Finish Line Arc and some energy brought me back to jog all the way to the waiting crowd.

Approaching The Finish Line

I finished the 10th edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race with a ranking of #60 among the 212 finishers with a time of 15:20:08 hours. At first, I was sad that I was not able to improve my time of 15:18:45 hours when I was 9 years younger but I realized that with every year that a person gets older, his body mass and VO2 max deteriorates or decreases making him slower and weaker. But with my performance in this race, I would conclude that I have not aged or never got older since the day I first ran this event.

The first thing that I did when I reached home was to immediately send an e-mail to my Coach and told him of my performance. He replied immediately with the following:

“For you to run the same time as you did at the 1st edition of BDM shows your fitness right now. More focus on quality efforts over quantity has helped improve fitness. Not placing such a high emphasis on hard workouts and just as much focus on the recovery process (rest days) has allowed you to be more fresh and rested for workouts. As you age, you lose muscle mass and your aerobic capacity is lowered. Focusing on high intensity intervals and consistency with a strength routine is required to continue to make improvements.

I’m beyond excited to see what else you can accomplish this season!”

Thank you, Coach John. I really enjoyed every step along the course as I finished the 10th edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race!

Congratulation to all the Finishers and a greetings of “Good Job” to all my BR’s/PAU Staff and Volunteers for yet another successful edition of the BDM 102.

2019 QUALIFYING RACE





Official Results: 2017 Taklang Damulag 100-Mile & 50-Mile Endurance Races

12 12 2017

7th Edition: Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Ultra Race

5:00 AM December 9, 2017 to 3:00 PM December 10, 2017

SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Course Cut-Off Time: 34 Hours

Number of Starters: 17 Runners

Number of Finishers: 5 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 29.4%

2017 Takla Starters

17 Runners Started For The 100-Mile Race & 3 Runners For The 50-Mile Race

RANK            NAME                  TIME (Hrs)

  1. Thomas Combisen (Overall Champion) —30:22:45
  2. Gibo Malvar (1st Runner-Up, Overall) —33:40:37
  3. Graciáno Santos (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) —33:40:38
  4. Elmar Bob Tolete ———33:41:35
  5. Badong Sietereales ——33:50:25

***Unofficial Finisher: Jovencio Luspian — 34:17:25

2017 Takla Champ

Overall Champion Thomas Combisen

2017 Takla 1st RunnerUp

Overall 1st Runner-Up Gibo Malvar

2017 Takla 2nd RunnerUp

Overall 2nd Runner-Up Graciano Santos

2017 Takla Finishers

Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Race Finishers


 

7th Edition: Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Endurance Ultra Race

5:00 AM to 9:00 PM December 9, 2017

SOCOM Headquarters, Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija)

Course Cut-Off Time: 16 Hours

Number of Starters: 3 Runners

Number of Finishers: 3 Runners

Percentage of Finish: 100%

RANK     NAME                 TIME (Hrs)

  1. Joey Odhuno (Overall Champion) — 13:33:45
  2. JC Igos (1st Runner-Up, Overall) — 15:06:30
  3. Frederick Espinosa (2nd Runner-Up, Overall) — 15:31:54
2017 Takla 50Milers

Taklang Damulag 50-Mile Podium & Finishers

Congratulations To All The Finishers!

 





Tess Leono & Geral Tabios: Pinoy Runners Finish Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon, “World’s Toughest Running Event”

25 07 2016

Tess Leono, a Project Analyst of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and local resident of Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila finished the prestigious Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race which starts from Badwater, California in the Death Valley National Park passing through three mountain ranges up to the Finish Line at Mt Whitney Portal which is considered as the highest mountain in the mainland USA. The race is popularly known as the “World’s Toughest Foot Race Event” because it starts at an elevation of 280 feet below sea level and finishes at an elevation of almost 8,300 feet above sea level. Runners would be able to tackle and pass three mountain ranges that would total a cumulative vertical ascent of 14,600 feet up to the Finish Line. Adding to the elevation, the prevailing temperature during summer in the area is 120-145 degrees Fahrenheit with gusty winds in the mountain ranges and sandstorms on the flatter areas.

This year’s 39th edition of the race was held on July 18-20, 2016 with 97 runners who were divided into 3 separate Starting Waves according to their past qualifying races. Tess Leono started the race with the First Wave at 8:00 PM of Monday, July 18 with 30+ other runners. The faster runners, 3rd Wave, started at 10:00 PM of the same day.

Badwater Tess Leono #22

Badwater Tess Leono #22

Tess Leono finished the race in 46:01:29 hours and ranked #82 among the 97 starters. The race has a cut-off time of 48 hours and checkpoints and time stations were located along the route which strictly impose intermediate cut-off times. Each runner-participant is equipped with Spot Satellite Tracker device showing their real-time location during the race which can be seen by everybody on the Internet.

The runners came from the different countries and from the different states in the US who were duly screened and invited to join the race. Most of these athletes are noted Ultrarunners, Triathletes, Adventure Runners, and Mountaineers. Runners from twenty (20) different countries were represented and the remaining runners represented twenty-seven (27) States from the US. Out of the 97 runners, 51 were Veterans/Repeaters and 46 were “first-timers” or rookies.

Tess Leono is one of the “first-timers” in this race which happens to be her first visit to Mainland USA. Her accomplishment in this race gives her the titles as the “First Local Filipino Runner” and “First Filipino Woman” to ever finish this prestigious race.

Tess In Action (Photo By Peach Poso)

Tess In Action (Photo By Peach Poso)

On the other hand, Gerald Tabios, another Filipino Ultra Runner residing in New York City also finished the race for the third consecutive times since 2014 where every edition he improves his finish time. He finished the race in 41:42:20 hours, an improvement of 40+ minutes, and ranked #61 out of the 97 starters. Gerald Tabios is from the Province of Bukidnon.

The Overall Champion in this year’s race is Pete Kostelnik of Nebraska, USA with a finish time of 21:56:32 hours registering a New Course Record for this race. He won the race in last year’s edition and finished it faster by almost one hour. In the women’s side, Venti Alyson of Barbados, USA won the Women’s Championship placing 5th Overall with a time of 25:53:07 hours. Out of the 97 starters, 13 runners were declared as DNFs due to fatigue, injury, and effects of the environment to them.

Team Leono (From Left, Rowell Ramos, Franco Soriano, Tess Leono, Peach Poso, & Ben Gaetos) Photo By Rowell Ramos

Team Leono At The Starting Line (From Left, Rowell Ramos, Franco Soriano, Tess Leono, Peach Poso, & Ben Gaetos) Photo By Rowell Ramos

Tess Leono started as an ultrarunner by joining the scheduled races of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) and the Bald Runner’s Events for the past three (3) years and her consistent performance as Lady Champion and Podium Finisher in these road & trail races earned her the PAU Runner Of The Year Award for two consecutive years (2014 & 2015). She is the only woman who have finished the PAU Grand Slam Races in one year (Antique 100-Mile Run; West Coast 200K Ultra Run; Taklang Damulag 100-Mile Endurance Run; and the Bataan Death March 160K Run). Last February of this year, she was declared as the Lady Champion in the yearly Manila To Baguio 250K Ultra Marathon Race. She submitted her finishes in these PAU Races as her qualifying races to join this year’s Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon Race.

Team Tess Leono At The Finish Line (Photo Courtesy of Rowell Ramos)

Team Tess Leono At The Finish Line (Photo Courtesy of Rowell Ramos)

Team Gerald Tabios (Photo Courtesy Of Donna Tabios)

Team Gerald Tabios At The Finish Line (Photo Courtesy Of Donna Tabios)

At the moment, Tess Leono is now resting and recovering from the said race. In an interview with her, she said that this race is so far the most challenging foot race that he joined and she is happy that she was able to push through despite her “down/low” moments along the route.

“I did not know why I tripped and fell down on the pavement on the downhill run from Townes Pass to Panamint Springs for two times that my Support Crew had to immediately treat my wounds on my hands and legs. I owe a lot from the support, care, and pacing provided by my Support Crew headed by Benjamin Gaetos”, she said.

Benjamin Gaetos, a Filipino Architect/Engineer residing in Los Angeles, California is the First Filipino to have finished this race in 2013. The other team members consisted of Western States 100-Mile Finisher Franco Soriano of Livermore, California, Rowell Ramos & Peachy Poso, both from Los Angeles, California. They are all accomplished ultra runners who have prepared and trained for this event.

Gerald Tabios Cheering & Handing The Philippine Flag 10 Miles To The Finish Line

Gerald Tabios Cheering & Handing The Philippine Flag  To Tess 10 Miles To The Finish Line

Tess also said that, “The hot temperature along the route was too much to bear as compared to the prevailing temperature in the Philippines during summer and the gusty winds on the peaks of the mountain ranges along the route was too strong that I had to slow down to a hiking pace”. In her statement, she was lucky that on the second night the temperature plunged to its lowest at 60 degrees Fahrenheit that she was able to recover and ran faster, however, she started to have colds as a result of the sudden change of temperature.

Knowing that her friends and running mates in the Philippines are rooting for her success, it was pure grit and determination that drove and motivated her to finish this race at all cost. “I will never forget my experience in joining this race as most of the runners who would pass me along the course would either stop or walk just to engage a conversation with me and try to encourage me with their positive advise of pushing through my pace up to the Finish Line. It is heartwarming that most of them would say that they will be waiting for me at the Finish Line and they really did! This is the reason why I love ultra running!”, she said.

The Filipino Pride: Badwater Tough Tess (Photo Courtesy of Ulysses Chan of Paksit Photos)

The Filipino Pride: Badwater Tough Tess (Photo Courtesy of Ulysses Chan of Paksit Photos)

Tess Leono made a history and she will be an inspiration for more Filipino ultra runners to shine in international competition.

After one day rest in Lone Pine, California, I asked if Tess Leono would be willing to return to improve her finish time and she said, “I need more training, more planning for my race logistics, apply the lessons I have learned, and find out if I can get more sponsors to support me, then I would be glad to return.”

In an interview by the Balitang Pinoy of ABS-CBN California with the President of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), the National Sports Federation on Ultrarunning in the country, Major General Jovenal D Narcise AFP (Ret), he said that, “After 7 years of patience and consistency in conducting ultrarunning races in the country, it is now proven that our runners could compete in international races and that would give pride and inspiration to the whole nation and we have our first woman finisher in the Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon”. He also added that, “With this accomplishment and participation of our runners with other countries, hopefully, the government will have the heart and political will to provide “all-out” support to our athletes/runners in this kind of sports”.

General Narcise is the Founder and Race Organizer & Director of the yearly “Bataan Death March 160K & 102K Ultra Marathon Races” which is tagged as the most prestigious Ultra Marathon Event in the country.

Team Leono With ABS-CBN's Balitang Pinoy & ARC's Joe Matias

Team Leono With ABS-CBN’s Balitang Pinoy & ARC’s Joe Matias (Black Shirt)





Race Report: 2015 Condura Skyway Marathon (Run For A Hero)

3 02 2015

Background

I was expecting that the 2014 edition of this race was to be conducted for the benefit of the victims of Typhoon Yolanda but instead, it was cancelled and the Race Organizer opted to donate a part of their budget for the recovery and rehabilitation of the people of Samar and Leyte.

Many of the runners were frustrated to hear this news and I was one of them.

And my ultra running friends were not also happy about the news. For the past editions/years, the Condura Skyway Marathon had been always and became the post-recovery run for all the participants of my Bataan Death March 160K Ultra Marathon Race as both races are one week apart.

Official Logo Of The Marathon Race

Official Logo Of The Marathon Race

But runners would not have to wait any longer for the good news about the next edition of the Marathon Race. In a few weeks after the actual schedule of the event, the Race Organizer had announced that the 2015 event will be for the benefit of the HERO Foundation. Being a part and former soldier, I was happy to know that this event will benefit the families who were left behind by our fallen heroes who died fighting against the enemies of the State and threats to our peaceful way of life.

Exactly one week before Race Day, elements of the Special Action Force (SAF) of the Philippine National Police encountered in a firefight agains the separatist groups in Mindanao, MILF and BIFF, resulting in the death of forty-four (44) and the wounding of others. This incident became a national issue where the public called for an immediate action for the arrest, apprehension or killing of those who are involved in this dastardly act against our troops.

Thus, in the minds of all the runners, this Marathon Race had become an instant “platform” for them to sympathize with the “Fallen SAF 44 Heroes” and for a united call for the government to give justice where it is due.

Training and Preparation

I did not have any specific training program leading to this race except for the my training program which is in preparation for me for the Trans Lantau 100K Trail Run which will be held in the middle of March of this year. Such training program was so specific that my mileages should be done in the mountains. But with my trips to the different provinces since the start of the New Year, in order to coordinate with my Ultra Races for this year where I am the Organizer and Race Director, my training runs were solely on paved and flat dirt roads.

Instead of having more vertical climbs/gains in my training, I opted to improve on my speed by doing tempo runs on the road and flat dirt roads. I had also the chance to have my rest and recovery in-between runs for a more extended period. And trips outside Metro Manila to Aurora and Albay Provinces became my tapering period a few days before Race Day.

I have also prepared my mind on this race and think of it as a Long Steady Distance (LSD) weekend run with a faster speed while my HR monitor will not breach more than 162 beats per minute.

Since all my runs for the past two years were devoted to trails and with a hoard of new trail shoes in my “trail running arsenal”, I have to choose the lightest shoes for this race and had to try them for a couple of times in my tempo runs. The choices were between the INOV-8 Roclite; SALOMON’s LAB Sense 3; or ALTRA’s Superior 2.0. I selected the Salomon LAB Sense 3 as it is the lightest among the three!

Salomon Ultra Trail Running Shoes

Salomon Ultra Trail Running Shoes

In order to arrest my sweat from reaching my feet and shoes, I prepared my Headsweat (for my head), Buff (for my neck), Long-sleeved PAU Shirt for my body), and Compresport Calf Sleeves, and Drymax Socks.

Race and Nutrition Strategy

Being an “old-school” marathon runner, I consider Marathon Running as a Speed Endurance Event where walking is integrated while drinking my two cups of water as I leave in every Water Station. In-between those Water Stations, one has to run and jog as fast as possible!

Knowing what my body is capable of as an “experienced and old” marathon runner, I opted to use the “negative split” way of racing this event. If I had prepared properly for this race, I had opted to use the “even pace” strategy where my race pace at the beginning is maintained throughout the race. My experience in ultra running and consistent advise from my Coach dictate that my pace at the beginning should be slow and progressing to a faster pace towards the last half of the race up to the Finish Line.

On nutrition, I had a full meal rich in fats and carbohydrates one a half hours before the start of the race; snacks of carbohydrates 30 minutes before the race; one Gel every hour; drink water every Aid Station; last Gel to ingest was a GU Roctane; and a reserve of Stinger Waffle as my “reserve solid” food just in case of emergency.

Race Proper

I’ve been away from the road running crowd for the past two years and it was the members ultra running community and my readers in this blog who approached and greeted me as I joined my co-runners in Wave I. It took us 30 minutes to wait from the time the Wave A runners were released from the Starting Line. Those 30 minutes were devoted to talk to some of the ultra runners within my Wave Group and review in my mind my race & nutrition strategy. As we got nearer to the Starting Line, I had my simple prayer to myself and thought of my Officers and Men who died under my Command during my stint and tour as a Military Officer and lastly, to those of the PNP SAF 44 soldiers.

My slow jog on the first 400 meters was the most memorable part of this race as I saluted every time I would approach a SAF member holding a framed picture of the Fallen SAF 44 who was standing in attention on the left side of the road. Yes, it was a slow jog but saluting 44 times is the best that I could do to honor these men who unselfishly offered their lives in the name of peace and safety for the citizenry and our country.

First 400 Meters Of The Course

First 400 Meters Of The Course (Photo By Spin.PH)

Salute To Our Fallen Heroes

Salute To Our Fallen Heroes (Photo By Spin.PH)

I started at the back of the Wave I and waited to make a move on the first uphill climb on the Skyway. I passed a lot of the slow and walking participants on this part. Knowing the whole course’ profile, the first 8-10K is a slightly uphill climb and it worked well with my slow pace as it served as my warm-up. On this first 10K of the course, I would maintain my slow speed of 4.6 miles per hour being aware of my running form; hydrating myself as I would reach the Water Station; and most of all talking to some of the runners and acknowledging their greetings as I passed them.

For about a minute or two, I was able to talk to a couple, Miguel and Cachelle, and kept my pace with theirs. I was happy to see them running together. As with Miguel, I did not see any signs of limping from his gait and strides as he fully recovered from an unfortunate accident while participating in one of my BDM “test runs” two years ago in the Pampanga area. Looking at them together, I knew they would be able to enjoy and finish the race. I will not be surprised to see this couple to be back running in my ultra races soon! I had to beg off from them as I wanted to continue with my own pace as knowing that they are enjoying and having fun with the race.

Smiling On The Early Part Of The Race

Smiling On The Early Part Of The Race

When I reached the 10-Km mark, I was already enjoying the windy and cool atmosphere of the early morning. I have increased my speed to 5 miles per hour and I was surprised that I was too comfortable with such pace. I ingested my first Gel once I reached my first 40 minutes while I was approaching a Water Station. Two cups of water were enough to bring the gel to my stomach and let it provide the much-needed energy to my machine!

At the 13-mile point, my speed had reached at 5.6 miles per hour and I never let that speed to decrease all the way to the Finish Line. At times, I would reach up to 6.0+ miles per hour on the downhill portions of the course. In my tempo run workouts, I could still run a 10K race with a time of 55+ minutes but forcing myself to this kind of speed in a marathon race without the necessary speed training will be courting for an injury that might jeopardize my training for and participation at the Trans Lantau 100K. There is no point to take a risk on this race.

Getting Serious During The Race

Getting Serious During The Race (Photo By Running Photographers)

I kept reminding myself that this race was part of my training for an ultra trail run in the middle of March.

Getting Faster On The Lat Half Of The Course

Getting Faster On The Lat Half Of The Course; From Wave I To Wave F (Photo By Pinoy Fitness.Com)

And my rituals were repeated as I reached nearer to the Finish Line——ingested my Gels every hour after my first Gel at 40-minute mark from the start of the race; reached for two cups of water (only, No Gatorade for the whole race) in every Water Station; would pass other runners at the Water Stations by running up to farthest end of the table and walk quickly & briefly while drinking the water; making sure that my empty cups would land in those garbage bins provided by the Race Organizer; by just waving my hand or simply greeting back to those runners who call my attention or greet me; no unnecessary “chit-chat” to other runners on the last half of the course; by allowing other runners to pace with me or run along with me (without any conversation); and try to pick-up and increase my pace through some quick “surges” on the uphill portions and on the last 10K of the course (all downhill to the Finish Line).

It was still dark when I reached the Finish Line. I finished the race with an Official Time of 4:40:19 hours and ranked #569 out of 5,022 Finishers.

I did not realize that I could still run this fast considering my age of going to 63 years old in 3 months. Maybe with a more focused training in the Marathon distance, I still could run this fast and hopefully, could still have a shot to a Boston Marathon Qualifying Race, the proper and traditional way!

But on second thought, I will remain as a Trail Ultra Runner and consider the Condura Skyway Marathon as my ONLY yearly Road Marathon where I could be in touch with the marathon/road running community in the country.

Breathing Hard Through My Mouth

Breathing Hard Through My Mouth (With The Wave F Runners)

Lesson/s Learned

1. Marathon Running is an Art and a Skill. Racing is about You and the Distance. Every runner needs Endurance and Speed to have a very successful finish. One has to compete with oneself and not with any other runner.

2. Marathon Racing is NOT a time to socialize. “Socializing” is done after the race. As compared to Ultra Running, Ultras are races where one has to “socialize” from the start up to the finish and beyond the race itself. Sometimes, Ultras’ “socializing” starts during training and preparation.

"Socializing" Before The Race

“Socializing” Before The Race With An Ultra Friend

3. Proper Nutrition Strategy is the Key to a successful Marathon Finish coupled with proper Hydration technique. Gels are the best immediate source of nutrition in a Marathon Race. Eating a full meal few hours before the race and later, a light snacks few minutes before the race always worked positively in my races.

4. Racing Strategy is dependent on one’s training and preparation. If you are NOT fully-prepared and trained for the event, be contented to aim for a Finish without any injury, and not for any PR or best time for a Marathon Race.

5. No complaints and “whining” in a Marathon Race. Before Gels and Sports Drinks were invented, Marathon Races have ONLY Water as support for all the runners! Try to strive and train for the simplest and most basic way of running a marathon race.

6. Be LIGHT. Wear the lightest running kit and try also to run light with your body. It is not yet late to learn how to run light by using your forefoot or mid foot as you run by feel.

7. Taper Properly. Since the race is done from Midnight to the early morning, runners are practically sleepless on Friday night, considering that the trip to the event area is outside the Metro Manila. It is advisable to have a complete rest and sleep for at least 7-8 hours every night on the last week prior to Race Day.

8. Marathon Race should be a part of an Ultra Race training and preparation in order to improve one’s speed and endurance. I really did not have a focused and dedicated training for this race. This marathon race was part of my weekly ultra training program where it was to be a “back-to-back” long runs where each day would be a 12-mile run. Instead of two days of 12-mile a day run, I did it for one day/one workout with an excess of 2.2 miles. My average total weekly mileage for the past three weeks leading to this race was from 47-50 miles.

Very Rare Picture With Ultra Runners In A Marathon Race

Very Rare Picture With Ultra Runners In A Marathon Race

Running Kit & Accessories

Running Shoes: Salomon S-LAB Sense 3 Ultra Trail Shoes

Sweat Absorbers: Headsweat and Buff

Shirt: PAU Long-Sleeved Shirt By A Perfect White Shirt

Shorts: Salomon Trail Running Shorts (Bermuda)

Calf Sleeves: Compressport

Socks: Drymax (Trail Running Socks)

Cycling Gloves: Specialized

Headlight: Fenix

Nutrition: 2 pcs of VFuel Gels (Fudge Brownie); one GU Gel (Salted Caramel); one GU Gel (Roctane); and 2 pcs of Stinger Waffle (Reserve)

Race Belt: Ultimate Direction SJ Signature Series

Watches/GPS: Garmin 310XT with HR Monitor and TIMEX Watch

Congratulations to Tonton and Raul Patrick Concepcion (Race Organizers); Rio Dela Cruz (Race Director); and to the rest of the Condura Skyway Marathon Team for this well-organized and international-standard marathon race which honors our “present day” heroes in the military and armed services and supports their dependents through the HERO Foundation.

Last Half Of The Course

Last Half Of The Course

Approaching The Finish Line

Approaching The Finish Line

Congratulations also to all the Finishers!

See you next year!





Gerald Tabios: First Pinoy (New) Badwater 135-Mile Race Finisher

8 08 2014

Benjamin Gaetos opened the floodgates for Pinoy Ultra Runners to shine in the prestigious Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon Race which is considered as the “toughest ultra running race in the world” today. As history would place in its proper perspective and understanding, Benjamin Gaetos is already considered as the FIRST and LAST Pinoy Ultra Runner who finished the ORIGINAL Badwater 135 Ultra which starts in Badwater, California (hence, the name Badwater in the title of the race), 280 feet below sea level up to Mt Whitney’s Portal at an elevation of 8,360 feet above sea level in 44:08:07 hours where the cut-off time is 48 hours.

With the latest restrictions and policy from the newly designated Superintendent of the Death Valley Park, the conduct of endurance sports activity is being prohibited and held in abeyance before a thorough study is being published to review on the safety of participants in such events being held in the said area. However, such restriction did not prevent the Race Organizer to conduct the annual event for the ultra runners but instead of starting and passing through the extreme hot environment of the Death Valley Park, the event was held at the adjacent Owens Valley which is equally challenging as the original route with the prevailing summer heat and more gain in elevation. The New Badwater 135 course covers three mountain pass ascents for a total of over 17,000 feet (5,800 meters) of cumulative vertical ascent and 12, 700 feet (4,450 meters) of cumulative descent.

In this year’s New Badwater 135 route, two Filipinos, Gerald Tabios and Tomas Zaide have been qualified and invited by the Race Organizers to join the event. But for me to be more focused on my story, this article will be devoted as a tribute to Gerald Tabios as the FIRST Pinoy Ultra Runner to have finished the New Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon Race.

Route Of The New Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon

Route Of The New Badwater 135 Ultra Marathon

The First Peak For The Runners: Horseshoe Meadow At 9,000 Feet Above Sea Level (Photo Courtesy Of Michelle Barton)

The First Peak For The Runners: Horseshoe Meadows At 9,900 Feet Above Sea Level (Photo Courtesy Of Michelle Barton)

Intersection Of Heaven & Hell (Going To Panamint & Lone Pine)

Road Intersection To “Heaven & Hell” (Going To Cerro Gordo, Panamint  Springs & Back To Lone Pine And To The Finish Line @ Mt Whitney Portal)

I became aware of Gerald Tabios’ participation in the New Badwater 135 from a news story published in the On Line Edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Surprised that he has no account on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, I immediately browse his name at UltraSignUp and I was amazed with his ultra race portfolio/resume of his ultra finishes. He had finished a lot of 100-miler races in the Eastern part of the US, particularly in New York City and its suburbs and he placed  as a Champion in one of the 100K races in the area and a number of them where he finished in the top 3 podium finishes. Notable of these ultra running accomplishments were the following:

Champion in the 2014 Jack Bristol Lake Waramaug 100K Ultra Race held in New Preston, Connecticut with a time of 9:46:03 hours

2nd Overall Champion in the 2013 Three Days At The Fair Running Event (48 Hours Timed Event) in Augusta, Georgia where he was able to run a distance of 143 miles.

Consistent and 3-Time Finisher of The Great New York City Running Exposition 100-Mile Race with a best time of 21:22:34 hours.

Since his family migrated in New York, USA in 2001, he had his taste of his first Marathon Race finish at the New York City Marathon and since then, he had been a “streaker” of this most popular and the World’s Biggest Marathon Race for the past nine (9) years! Even if he considers himself as a slow marathon runner, he prides himself with an impressive Marathon Finish time of 3:31:32 hours at the Central Park Marathon in New York City. Aside from his numerous ultra events that are listed in the UltraSignUp Website, he had finished a total of 25 Marathon Races.

I was impressed with his ultra race results as his age as an ultra runner is still at his prime of 44 years old. Gerald is still starting as an ultra runner for the past 2 years but he has made already a great impression to his peers and to myself as a hardcore ultra runner. I have no doubt then that he will finish the New Badwater 135 even if he is not exposed to hotter environment (as compared to the East Coast’s climate) and he had never set his foot in the extreme heat and gusty winds within the desert mountains of California.

@Horseshoe Meadows Road

Gerald @ Horseshoe Meadows Road

As an old runner and firm believer of the Arthur Lydiard Way, I believe that there must be something in Gerald’s childhood that greatly contributed in his passion and craving for running events. He was born in Malaybalay City (Bukidnon) on September 12, 1969 but he did not have to walk on mountain trails in order to finish his elementary and high school education as the family house is only a “stone’s throw” to the schools. His interest in running started when he was in high school with his brothers, who happened to be running enthusiasts during the “running boom in the 80’s”, and they would tow him along in public parks and streets in their jogging practices. He could still remember when spending vacation in Manila that his brothers would bring him jogging around a big street block in Quezon City which happens to be where the ABS-CBN Compound is located along the Mother Ignacia Street.

Surprisingly, a local elite runner who hails from Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Ronilo Indapan became his running idol and inspiration. Ronilo Indapan had been a consistent MILO Marathon Finals Qualifier in the 1980’s and he was then the pride of Malaybalay in Long Distance Running as he was sent to Manila with “free trip and accommodation” to and from Manila to join the MILO Marathon Finals. He could be the father of one of my former elite runners who is now a soldier of the Philippine Army, got married to my Secretary/Staff and now living with two children.

Gerald @ Highway 136 Towards Panamint Springs

Gerald @ Highway 136 Towards Panamint Springs

With Ronilo Indapan, a local running hero in their place, as his role model and inspiration, and with his brothers’  interest in joining running events, he started to train and join the annual MILO 10K Runs in Cagayan De Oro City from 1994-1997; and progressed to a longer distance event by joining and finishing the The Tri-City International 25K Race in Cebu City in 1995 & 1996. He even mentioned that his brothers would buy him running tops/singlets and shorts made by BOTAK; and ADIDAS Jogging Pants and Sweaters!

Gerald was neither a high school nor a college athlete, he just simply love and have fun in running long distance events. He finished his college education with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering at the Xavier University Ateneo de Cagayan in Cagayan De Oro City.

Twelve years later after he migrated to the USA with lots of Marathon and Ultra Marathon Finishes and most specially when he finished as 2nd Overall Champion in the 2013 Three Days At The Fair 48-Hour Run, he decided to send a letter of request to the Race Organizer of Badwater 135 for him to be included in the List Of Qualified Participants in this year’s edition. And the rest is history.

Rest & Recover y For Gerald During The Race

Rest & Recovery For Gerald During The Race

However, his toughness as a 100-Miler and Ultra Podium Finisher is not enough for him to secure an easy race and finish at Badwater 135. With a 48-hour cut-off time to run a distance of 135 miles with extreme heat, gusty winds and additional gain in elevation as compared with the original Badwater route, the presence and time-clock precision of pacing and assistance from his Support Crew is equally half of the effort for an ultra runner to finish this brutal ultra running event. Gerald was ably assisted by the following members of his Support Crew dubbed as the “Team Tabios”—-his wife Donna; Kat Bermudez, a Registered Nurse in New York City; and his brother Glen Tabios, a UP Diliman Professor and Civil Engineering Chairman who flew all the way from Manila. It was unfortunate that friends and relatives of Gerald in New York City came up with a nice Uniform for everybody in the team with the word BADWATER printed on them and they could not wear them during the race as it violates one of the Rules and Regulations of the Race—the word “BADWATER” is a registered trademark of the Race Organizer and nobody is allowed to use it in any form by any of the participants. Violation of any rules or regulations of the event would mean an outright Disqualification from the race.

Brother Glen, Imported From The Philippines, Had Unlimited Water Spray & Cheers To Gerald

Brother Glen, Imported From The Philippines, Had Unlimited Water Spray & Cheers To Gerald

Practically, Gerald and the members of the Team Tabios are “first-timers” in the desert environment of California. Based from the FB Status of Kat Bermudez who happens to be the an ultra runner and wife of a PMA Graduate and former comrade-officer in the Philippine Army, the Team landed in San Francisco coming from New York City. Kat was always complaining about the lack of Parking Spaces in the Windy and By The Sea City of San Francisco! It was too late to suggest to her that the team should have landed in Los Angeles! However, during the event, I never heard Kat from complaining about where to park the Team’s Support Vehicle along the desert of California! It was Kat’s regular FB Status Feeds that gave much information and pictures of Gerald’s “real-time” situation during the race as she later became the Official Pacer of Gerald; Donna, due to her observation on how the elite runners are being supported in Gerald’s past ultra races, she became the overall “conductor of a symphony orchestra” for all the Support Team members to be “playing the same tune” so to speak, and bring Gerald to the finish line strong, safe, and without any injury. Glen, Donna, and Kat did a splendid job as their Principal Runner, Gerald did not have any bouts of cramping, GI issues of “throwing up” of ingested food; dizziness and hallucinations; chafing; blisters; or dehydration. Gerald followed his pace, ate and drank his nutrition and did not mind the pace of the other runners. With patience and determination, Gerald finished the 2014 Badwater 135-Mile Ultra Marathon Race in 44:40:40 hours ranking as #69 out of 97 starters.

Ultra Runner Kat Bermudez As The Pacer Of Gerald

Ultra Runner Kat Bermudez As The Pacer Of Gerald

I was expecting Gerald to relate to me a little “drama” if he ever encountered some nasty feelings or pain in any parts of his body or doubts in his mind about the challenges he has to face or had any complaints about the hot weather, gusty winds in the desert and those additional gains in elevation of the new route. He said that he did not have any “drama” or “issues” with his body and the environment during the race. It speaks well of his good training/preparation and firm resolve to finish the race.  If you closely observe his running attire and shoes, he did not change them except when he removed his gaiters and changed his wet socks. Would you believe that he used a New Balance 860 V3 shoes which he bought On Sale at Marshall’s for the price of $49.00 and with cotton socks from GAP? I wonder if Gerald has a bloodline to my own tribe which is the Ilocano!

Knowing that he had already recovered from this brutal course, I asked him about his training in preparation for this event. He humbly said that for the past year leading to the event, he was logging 40-50 miles a week where most of his weekday runs were his daily 6-mile runs from his home/apartment in Queens to this work in Manhattan, New York City. On weekends, he starts very early in the morning for his long runs but he makes sure to be back before mid-day and spend most of the remaining time of the day with his wife and kids, a boy and a girl (11 and 7 years old). He proudly said that he works as a Private Family Driver in Manhattan, New York City but remotely managing a small business that he owns in the Philippines. His humility would not show that his family, specially his father, grew up in a family of politicians and entrepreneur in their province.

Team TABIOS: Brother Glen; Wife Donna, & Ultra Runner Friend Kat

Team TABIOS: Brother Glen; Wife Donna, & Ultra Runner Friend Kat

Not even money or financial requirements for the event would hinder Gerald’s passion to the sports of ultra running. Gerald’s and his wife’s savings amounting to $3,000 financed his dream to finish the event and it covered for the Registration Fee for the Race ($1,050); RT Ticket for Gerald & Wife ($850); Support Vehicle/Van Rental ($600); Hotel Accommodation in Lone Pine, California For 5 Days ($550); and Food & Miscellaneous Needs ($400). His brother Glen and friend Kat shouldered their own RT plane tickets from Manila and New York City, respectively. Gerald’s relatives and friends residing in Los Angeles, California had also supported the team by lending those much-needed ice cooler/chest for his nutrition/hydration and cold towel/water spray.

Gerald was able to raise the amount of $1,200 for his charity through the US Fund for UNICEF which will ultimately be used in the rehabilitation/rebuiding of the damage structures brought about by Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in Leyte and Samar. Gerald is a simple and humble guy with strong legs and a big heart!

When I asked him,  “What will be your next adventure in ultra running?” He answered, ” Sir, I hope to run a distance of 180 miles in the next year’s edition of the Three Days At The Fair in May 2015 in Augusta, New Jersey and be able to improve my 143-mile record this year.”

And then, I asked him again, “What keeps you on “going and going” like that Energizer Bunny in the TV Ads?” He replied, “Running is the simplest sports that I know which has only ONE RULE—Do not stop running until you cross the Finish Line!”

But jokingly he added, “It is your fault, Sir BR! When I started regularly reading your blog three years ago, it transformed me to be a “crazy runner” like you!”

We both laughed and I raised my hand and I gave him a snappy salute!

Well done and Congratulations, Gerald! You made our country proud among the toughest and strongest runners in the world!

Carry On, Warrior!

"Do not stop running until you cross the finish line."

“Do not stop running until you cross the finish line.”

(Note: Photos of Gerald Were Shared Through The Courtesy of Donna Tabios)

 

 








%d bloggers like this: