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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)

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EDSA, Traffic, Solutions, Incentives, Etc.

29 09 2014

Few weeks ago, I was able to read the Opinion Editorial in one of the daily newspapers. I don’t usually read the newspapers but with a brief stop to eat my breakfast in one of the Fastfood Restos along the NLEX, I got a free issue of the newspaper. What caught my attention in the newspapers is the Editorial about EDSA and the problem of traffic in the metropolis.

Few days ago, there is another “news” whose video became viral in the Internet which showed a fat guy in lavander-colored shirt slapping a MMDA traffic enforcer. I am not sure what made the guy got out from his car and showed outrage towards the traffic enforcer. I have the impression that it was a result of the traffic situation in the metropolis.

The bottomline and the BIGGER Picture in the Opinion Editorial and the “slapping” incident is the fact that for the past years and administrations, there is NO SOLUTION that is good in easing up the daily traffic in EDSA in particular and in Metro Manila in general. Not even the MMDA or the Office of the President could think of an idea and/or implement a measure that would sove the problem of traffic in Metro Manila.

(Note: I hope most of the people would have understood the SONA if the President should have included in his speech on how he woud solve the problem of traffic at EDSA, not about DREAMS and HOPES for the future!)

The volume of traffic had been growing in an unprecedented manner while the number of roads and mobility access have not increased and improved. Not even with the introduction of the Light Railway Transport (LRT/MRT) and increase in the number of traffic enforcers had improved the traffic condition of the city.

What could be the problem? What could be the solution?

If you observe, there are lots of transport buses and jeeps plying within EDSA and other main streets in the city. This is to include the Provincial Buses going and coming from the Northern & Southern Provinces. Maybe, reducing the number of buses and jeeps in the city would ease up the traffic in the city.

Do you still remember those “LOVE BUS” before? Why don’t we bring back those LOVE BUS and adhere to its time-tested system of having only ONE transport system for the BUSES in the city, not what we see as a “free for all” transport franchises for any corporate that has the capability to acquire a fleet of buses here and abroad. I would not deal on the details as I want to suggest an overall concept with regards of reducing the number of buses in the city. Simply put, stick to ONE transport company, private or government-controlled, with the best and excellent transport service to the public. (Note: It is worthy to note what the TransMilenio in Bogota, Colombia had solved the traffic congestion of in the said city since December 2000.)

TransMilenio Bus (Photo From Colombia Travel Blog By Marcela)

You might be wondering why I am trying to analyze the traffic situation in Metro Manila and trying to suggest some solutions to this perpetual problem of ours. It’s because there are solutions to be considered from the point of view from a runner/hiker/athlete and from me who gathered ideas from other sources.

Of course, as an athlete/runner/hiker, I would suggest that people would go back to what we would naturally do during the Early Ages—walk, jog, or run to reach from Point A to Point B. Let us not argue about the pros and cons about this suggestions. In the end, this suggestion has more advantages than disadvantages.

If you can’t walk, jog, or run and would like to have a faster time to reach Point B from Point A, you can ride on a bicycle. Of course, riding on a bicycle has also pros and cons but I am sure it has more advantages. (Note: It is worthy to note also what Mayor Enrique Penalosa of Bogota, Colombia had introduced like the Ciclovia and the First “Car-Free” Day to the world in 2001)

Ciclovia In Bogota On Sundays (Photo Taken From The Oil Drum: Local)

Have you heard about the carpool system that other countries use to ease up the volume of traffic in their streets? This system is applicable to corporate offices as well as government offices. One person in one office can share a ride for another 3-4 persons employed in the same office, provided they come from same origin or the person who drives can pick-up the remaining passengers where the route passes towards their destination.

Another option is for anybody or for you to try riding the bus/jeepney/UV Express in going to your office and going back to your home, at least, 1-2 times a week and leaving your car in your house.

These abovementioned suggestions are only effective if coupled with discipline, positive attitude, and commitment. But they are far more effective if we have some rewards or incentives if we commit ourselves to such suggestions. This is where leadership and management level would enter and be part of the soultion to our traffic problems.

Yes, incentives or rewards are the “carrot” that we need. The government could easily enact laws, ordinances, decrees, and rules and regulation but such “stick” woud not be effective if it is not implimented or enforced strictly.

A person who goes to his office by walking/jogging or running should receive some incentives from the management. It could be some cash enough to motivate him to maintain his running. Maybe, the cost of a brand-new running shoes can be collected by him every 3 months; a weekly registration fee for 10K to half-marathon race of his choice; or additional support for nutrition and hydration which is given on a monthly basis; or a new running kit (apparel) every 3 months!

For the cyclists, the same incentive as the runner is appropriate. It could be cash incentive or anything that he could use for his safety while riding his bicycle.

For the carpooler, he could be given some incentive in terms of additional allowance for the gasoline; repairs; and maintenance servicing of his personal vehicle. Better yet if the management could provide an all-expense trip for a family weekend vacation in any part of the country.

If you take the bus or public transport instead of your personal car, the management should double your daily fare and receive the incentive at the end of every two weeks. If you spend P50 a day for your fare, the management should be able to give you P100 as your daily incentive or maybe more.

You might ask me where will management get the money for the incentives. Well, I would assume that personnel would be healthier if they are more active by adhering to my suggestions. The management will be saving money for the medical and hospitalization of their employees, to include payments for medical and dental insurances. So, in effect, the management will be “front-loading” their savings for the medical expenses for their personnel in the form of incentives. It is easier to say than done but it is possible.

Now, it is for the government and private developers to come up with the needed infrastructure in order to impliment safety in running, walking, and cycling from Point A to Point B.

What could be more revealing is the fact that Colombia won 8 Olympic Medals in the latest London Olympics with Gold and Bronze Medals in BMX Cycling; Silver Medals in Road Cycling and Women’s Triple Jump and other individual sports. I wonder if there is a direct connection with how Bogota, Colombia solved its traffic problems and the encouragement for the people to have access to paved roads which are transformed into parks during the week.

Just maybe, this is a good model for us to emulate if we want to encourage more of our citizen to engage in endurance sports.

As they say, “you may never know”. What is needed is for us to TRY.





Pictures Of The Week #22: Colors Of ARC

18 01 2014

RED

RED

GREEN

GREEN

GRAY

GRAY





Picture Of The Week #8

29 06 2012








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