On the first week of May this year, I decided to run from San Jose De Buenavista, Antique to Barangay Caticlan, Malay, Aklan via Nabas, Aklan along the Antique-Aklan Highway. I started my run at 9:00 AM May 6, 2013 in front of the Provincial Capitol in San Jose De Buenavista and was able to reach the town of Tibiao, Aklan in 14 hours and it was already 11:00 PM. I rested and slept for awhile and then continued my run and was able to reach my destination, through walking and slow jogging on the last half, at the Army Transient Facility (ATF) in Barangay Caticlan, Malay, Aklan on or about 5:00 PM of May 7, 2013. I was able to run the distance of 166 kilometers in 32 hours with more “pit stops” on the last 86 kilometers of the route.
Since it was Summer when I did this adventure run, it was too hot during daytime and it became colder during nighttime as I felt the cold wind coming from the sea. But on the following day, I was totally tired and drained due to the heat of the sun from Pandan, Antique to Barangay Caticlan, Malay, Aklan. I was forced to walk on populated areas because of the presence of dogs. And from Nabas, Aklan to my destination, there was a lot of traffic of vehicles coming from Caticlan and Kalibo, Aklan as most of the tourist were going and coming from Boracay Island. It was practically a “Death March” for me on my last 20K to the Finish Line.
From my experience of this adventure run, I came up with an Ultra Marathon Race with the same route that I’ve ran and placed intermediate cut-off times along the way so that runners will be forced to maintain their pace and could cover the distance with a faster time than what I’ve recorded. The following intermediate cut-off times were announced and included in the rules and regulations:
Kilometer #40—–6:30 Hours
Kilometer #80—–14 Hours
Kilometer #100—-18 Hours
Kilometer #120—–23 Hours
Kilometer #160/Finish Line—–30 Hours
However, with the “bonus” (additional) 6 kilometers of the route, I decided to give an additional “bonus” time for all the runners as a surprise news/gift to them once they arrive at the Finish Line.
It was raining on the night of the starting day of the event. The weather forecast indicated a rainy weather and thunderstorm for the whole weekend and it was a good sign that the runners will experience a cooler temperature as compared when I did this run last May. It will also deter or prevent the runners from being exposed to the stray dogs staying along the road. But it was expected that runners will be battling with the rains and cold winds.
After a short briefing and photo-ops at the Starting Area, the race started at exactly 11:00 PM in front of the Provincial Capitol in San Jose De Buenavista, Antique with 29 runners for the 100-Mile Race and 3 runners for the 50-Mile Race. It rained hard after the runners left the Provincial Capitol.
After giving final instructions to my staff and security detail for the event, I started to run and acted as the official “sweeper” of the race. After 7 kilometers of running, I was able to see the last runner and was able to maintain at least 10 meters behind the runner. After running for 12 kilometers (1:20 hours), I boarded my support vehicle and started to monitor the running condition of each of the runner on the road.
All the runners were doing fine and they were seen running at their comfortable pace. The leaders, Tenny and Ilmar, from Iloilo were leading the group after 20 kilometers with Wilnar Iglesia and Alfred Delos Reyes trailing them from a distance of about 100 meters. Some were running in pairs and some were in groups of three and four. The leaders were running at an average of 10 kilometers per hour and a stretch of 2-3 kilometers covered the distance of the first runner to the last runner.
Despite the strong rains and some flooded areas along the route, the runners kept their respective pace and determined to arrive at designated checkpoint within the prescribed cut-off times. However, most of the runners were so fast that they arrived at the initial checkpoint 2 hours ahead of time! At Km #40, one lady runner barely missed the cut-off time by 15 minutes but the last runner was unable to reach the first checkpoint in 6.5 hours. Two runners were declared as DNF due to injury and inability to reach at Km #40 in 6.5 hours.
At Km #81, at Tibiao Bridge in Tibiao, Antique, I established the Finish Line for 50-Mile Race and all of the runners were able to beat the cut-off time of 14 hours. It was already daytime when the leading runners passed by this checkpoint but the sky was overcast and cloudy. The runners were still enjoying the cooler weather brought about by the rains and overcast sky. Three of the registered runners for the 50-mile race arrived within the cut-off time of 14 hours and I immediately awarded their “loot” to each of them. Two were males and one was a female runner.
From Km #81, I moved to Km #100 and I was able to watch and see the runners that passed the previous checkpoint and they were still strong. The top runners were trying to maintain their pace while the mid-pack runners were power walking and the rest of the runners were on their respective “pit stops”. At Km #100, 7 runners were able to pass the checkpoint and they were building up more gap from the rest of the runners. At this point, I could sense that some of the runners at the back would not be able to cross the checkpoint within the prescribed cut-off time of 18 hours as the sun started to shine at noon up to the early afternoon. However, they braved on and were able to cross the checkpoint on the designated cut-off time except for the last runner who was at least 2-3 kilometers away but I allowed the runner to run through the checkpoint.
At Km #120, I changed to my running attire and alighted from my support vehicle and started my workout for the day—I have to run at least 35 kilometers for the day! On the day the race started (Friday), I was scheduled to run 10 kilometers but I was able to cover a distance of 12 kilometers. While running on the last 46 kilometers of the route, I was being informed by my staff about the condition/status of the runners. I started to receive reports of DNFs and telephone calls from runners asking if they are on the right direction/route. Some of the callers would show symptoms of hallucinations as they thought they are lost or “going on circle” along the route. I just told them to keep/stay calm and try to look for the DPWH Kilometer Posts (colored yellow) located on the right side of the road. If the number below the letter M (Malay) is descending/decreasing as they move forward along the road, then they are nearing the Finish Line!
I actually ran 38 kilometers and started to ride my support vehicle when I was informed that the leading runner was about 7-8 kilometers behind me. It was already almost 9:00 PM when I entered Caticlan, Malay and I went directly to the area where the Finish Line is located. I knew that the runners will curse me as the final and last 500 meters of the course will be a steep climb to the top of a hill which is an unpaved road with lots of grasses.
After waiting for about an hour, the first runner arrived at the Finish Line and it was Wilnar Iglesia, the Course record Holder of the BDM 160 Ultra Marathon Race. The following the is the result of the race:
Out of the 29 runners who started at the Starting Area in San Jose De Buenavista, Antique, 18 runners crossed the finish line in 31 hours and they received the Finisher’s Buckle. And the rest is history.
Out of the 18 runners who crossed the finish line in 31 hours, 85% of them arrived at the 29th hour of the race or within the last hour of the original cut-off time of 30 hours. The answer to this observation/data could be explained with the following:
1. Most of the runners did not have appropriate training and relied much on “brute force” to finish the race. Most of the finishers had experienced finishing 100-milers and barely to finish within the prescribed cut-off time is their ultimate goal. It’s the Finisher’s Buckle that counts most, not the Finish Time!
2. Those who trained properly for this race could move easily and walk properly after they have taken their shower and short sleep. The rest of the runners were sluggish and could hardly move their legs and feet after taking a bath.
3. Those who prepared and trained properly for this event wore their shoes from start to finish. The rest of the runners shifted to shoes then to sandals and some would start with running sandals and then shifted to running shoes. If you are not born in the Copper Canyon in Northern Mexico, then don’t think that you can finish a 100-miler race with sandals!
4. All my ultra races are held whether it is raining or when there is a typhoon or not. Most of the runners were not prepared to have extra socks with them. I have always prescribed the brand DRYMAX to all the ultra runners who have delicate skin on their feet but some are still using local brands of socks. Blisters became a big challenge to almost all the runners.
5. Aside from blisters, chafing is the second most challenging problem to the runners. It was my problem also when I ran this distance last May of this year! I had to change my running shorts to compression shorts when I started to feel that I was developing some chafing on my groin area caused by my wet shorts.
6. Except for the local runners (from Iloilo/Panay), the rest of the runners are new to the area and did not have any chance to recon or run through the area. Some of the runners are also “first-timers” to Boracay Island and some had been in the area but they seem to be lost while they are on foot under the cover of darkness on the route from Kalibo to Caticlan!
7. Runners take so much time in their “pit stops”! In one occasion, I recorded the time on how long a runner would stay in his “pit stop” to hydrate, eat, and rest. I was surprised to find out that the runner stayed for 20 minutes on a chair! You can do the math if this runner made his “pit stop” for about ten times during the event!
8. Some runners would bring a lot of food or grocery in their support vehicle. When they need something to eat, it would take a lot of time to locate where they stashed the particular food that they want/need while having their “pit stops”.
9. Some runners would sleep in waiting sheds along the road; another runner would drop by for a hot coffee in a wake of a dead person; and some would start conversation with the people along the highway. Such additional activities of the runners on the road are added to the time being spent by the runners.
10. Some of the runners would share the services of one support vehicle. Such vehicle would shuttle from the fastest to the slowest runner who shared for the cost of the support vehicle. If a runner would like to have a good performance in terms of finish time, he/she would have a dedicated support vehicle.
I am stating these observations as a “mirror” to our ultra runners. I am not complaining about their actuations but I am trying to point out on things where they can improve in their performance in future races. In due time, these runners would have the intention of joining international ultra road races in the future and as early as possible these observations should be corrected.
Most of the runners proceeded to Boracay for the much-needed rest and recovery and a chance to visit the place. A “Boodle Fight” & “fast food hopping” was held in Boracay as part of the “body fuel” recovery while the “beach and sea” body immersion was part of the sore muscles and chafing treatment for all the runners.
Pictures of the event can be seen on the following links: