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Race Report: 25th Jungfrau Marathon Race

21 09 2017

Race Report: 25th Edition Of Jungfrau Marathon Race

I did not know about the existence of this event not until I bought a New Zealand Trail Running Magazine at the Auckland International Airport on my way back to Manila after finishing the 2017 Tarawera 100K Ultra Marathon Race. The registration period was scheduled to be opened on the day of my arrival in Manila which was in the middle of February this year. I immediately signed in on the very first day of registration period and I was surprised that there were 800+ runners who have registered already!

I was accepted immediately as there was no lottery and the registration would be closed once the number of registered runners would reach to 5,000 runners. After 3 days, the registration was closed and it appeared in the entry list that I am the only runner from the Philippines to be registered and accepted for this year’s edition which happens to be its 25th edition. Having been not so lucky to be accepted for the CCC of the UTMB Races, I found this race to be an opportunity for me to visit, for the first time, the Europe Continent!

After a month, I registered also for the 80th edition of the Mt Fuji Mountain Race (which I saw an article also in the same New Zealand Trail Magazine I bought at the Auckland International Airport) which only takes only the first 50 registered runners from other countries. The reason why I registered in this race was also an opportunity to visit Japan for the first time!

Research & Planning

I found out that a Pinoy Runner had finished in last year’s edition of the event and I was able to read a news article on Cebu Daily News Online Edition about the feat of Dr. Yong Larrazabal, a low-key Pinoy Marathoner who goes to international cities to join marathon races and a fast runner at that. He was able to finish the race in less than five hours, having been a consistent sub-4-hour finisher in flatter marathon races. Through Messenger, I sent him some questions on how he was able to reach Interlaken, Switzerland coming from Manila. He told me that his point of entry in Switzerland was in Zurich and drove a car to Interlaken. That was all, I did not ask him about the details of the race as every information related to the event is on the English version of the Event’s Website, to include the Route Map, Elevation Profile, Cut-Off Times, and Aid Stations. From their Website, any runner would conclude that this is a well-organized marathon race. The only problems that a runner would solve would be his/her travel/trip arrangements; accommodation; and availability of money…and be healthy and prepared to finish the event.

Jungfrau Marathon Route

Jungfrau Marathon Route

Jungfrau Marathon Elevation Profile

Jungfrau Marathon Elevation Profile

Training & Preparation

On the last quarter of last year (2016), I decided to enjoy my retirement and be more focused to joining international running events in countries/continents where I’ve never been to. This was the reason why I decided to join the Tarawera 100 Ultra in Rotoura, New Zealand, a reason to visit New Zealand for the first time! After I was accepted at the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, I immediately made a scheduled plan where I would be joining these international race up to the 3rd quarter of 2017. I will still be joining local races but they will be considered as my training and evaluation races to find out if I am improving or not or if I am making good with my training and not “slacking” on my fitness condition. I maybe old at 65 years old but I know I could still find out some potentials on where and how my body strength is still capable of doing.

I decided to get the services of a Professional Coach on Ultrarunning and I started my training in the middle of June of this year. The first two weeks were more on developing my endurance but with better recovery as compared from my previous training schedules. I started to be exposed on quality training with more elevation and intensity on the 3 weeks of training leading to the Mt Fuji Mountain Race through “hill repeats” and tempo runs in my Playground. I have observed that I was getting stronger on my uphill runs and climbs and I am beginning to love faster running in some sections of my route. I may have been short of the time allocated in one of the checkpoints at the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, thus, I declared myself as DNF but I have observed a great improvement in my running on uphills and climbs! I am still in awe and surprised how I was able to continuously run an elevation gain of 4,000 feet for a distance of 10 kilometers in 1 hour & 30 minutes. Before, I would be hiking already after covering a distance of 3-4 kilometers. I knew that my preparation and training for the Mt Fuji Mountain Race was short from being perfect. But I considered my first race after being Coached by a Professional as a part of my training for my future races.

My training for the Jungfrau Marathon was very specific on the 4 weeks after the Mt Fuji Mountain Race, leading to the first weekend of September. I was again exposed to more “hill repeats” and “tempo runs” which were done on steep climbs in my Playground. And in one of my 20-minute tempo runs on a rolling terrain, I have observed that I was getting faster on my pace per mile for few seconds, little increments of improvement, but this is a good result of my training. On my peak training, I would go to Kennon Road (Zigzag Road to Baguio City) and run continuously the last 17 kilometers before reaching Baguio City which I covered in 2.5 hours. Aside from that, I spent my weekend back-to-back runs in Mt Tapulao, Palauig, Zambales and Mt Roosevelt where I would be running under the rain and cold temperature of Mt Tapulao. On my taper week towards the race, I had my one-hour recovery runs each day and fully-charged sleeps every night (7-8 hours of sleep).

Travel Arrangements

I attempted to apply a Shengen Visa with the French Embassy but I was asked to apply, instead to the Swiss Embassy since I will be staying more days in Switzerland. Since I did not bring any Passbook of my Bank accounts when I applied for the Swiss Visa (I only submitted a Bank Certificate), I was asked to submit a Bank Statement for the last 6 months. Unfortunately, my Bank could only issue me my 3 months of Bank Statement and I have to request to their Main Office and wait for 1 week for the said documents. Instead of waiting for one to two weeks, I went to AFPSLAI to get whatever the Swiss Embassy would require in order to tell them that I am capable of paying my trip and stay in Switzerland. In less than 15 minutes, I was able to get a Bank Statement for the past 15 years in only ONE page!

As of this time, I have not yet received my Bank Statement from the local commercial bank which caters to my banking needs for the past 30 years! And come to think of it, this is the oldest bank of the Philippines!

I found out that the Swiss Embassy is very strict on trying to monitor my movements/trips within their country to the point that they would like to know where I will stay for the duration of my visit in their country. I just realized the reason why when I was finally in front of the Swiss Immigration Officer when I landed in Geneva, Switzerland. The Swiss Immigration do not require their visitors to submit or fill-up an Immigration Card. They simply check your visa and mark it with a stamp indicating your date of entry in the country!

I made reservation for my flight arrangements with the Travel Agency that had been very helpful to me for the past 17 years and I was booked with the Qatar Airways with a stop-over in Doha, Qatar for 2.5 hours. My hotel accommodations reservations were personally made by me through OnLine on booking.com. And used the Google to its fullest for the trip/land travel arrangements.

I did not ask for any sponsors or made any requests from my friends in the corporate and government offices or came up with a running event to raise funds in order to support my logistical needs for this event. Joining this event is a personal choice and endeavor and I don’t want anybody to have the burden in supporting me.

Even if I am the ONLY Filipino runner in this year’s edition of the event, there is no need to brag about it. This is the reason why I don’t wave or display the RP Flag whenever I finish an international running event. I am just an ordinary and private Filipino runner enjoying my retired life!

Race Proper

My hotel, Hotel Central Continental, is 50 meters away from the Interlaken West Train Station and about one kilometer away from the Starting Area of the Race and Das Zelt, the place where the Race Exposition and Race Packet Kit Claiming Area is located, is just on the Public Park adjacent to the Starting Area. After checking-in at my Hotel, I immediately went to the Race Packet Kit Claiming area where it is located and I was able to get my Race Bib, Drop Bag at the Finish Line Tag, Event’s Magazine, and an ASICS Hydration Pack (Black).

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Jungfrau Mountain @ Far Background With Snow

The 5,000 runners in this race were divided into 6 groups——Elite Runners & 1st Wave and 2nd Wave to the 6th Wave. The Elite Runner and 1st Wave would start at 8:30 AM and my group, which is the 6th and last group would start at 8:55 AM. Each group would be released every 5 minutes of which was done for the first time in this event.

I was on my way to the Starting Line when the 1st Wave was released at exactly 8:30 AM. I entered my corral when the 2nd Wave was released and I had enough time to position myself with the rest of the runners in my Wave. Every time a Wave was released we would move forward nearer to the Starting Line. It was time to check my AMIHAN Go Light Race Belt for my IPod Touch, gels, light jacket, and power bars and they were all properly stashed on my waist.

At exactly 8:55 AM, all the runners in my Wave which were easily identifiable by their race bib numbers beginning with the number 6 and myself started to jog and easily claimed my spot a few meters away from the Starting Line. The runners were not crowded at the start and I simply relaxed and imagined that my first 15-20 minutes were my warm-up runs during my training. After two miles, I started to increase my pace as the course would be flat and paved. As we left the center of the City of Interlaken, it started to drizzle and the announcement before the race started that it will be rainy and cold during the course was becoming a reality. It is even anticipated that it will be foggy and very cold once we will be reaching the last 15K towards the Finish Line.

Before reaching Mile 4, I was already passing the tail-end of those runners on Wave 5 and I was surprised. Such observation inspired me to maintain my pace and steadily move forward. There are portions of the flat sections which are wide dirt road with crushed gravel which you might think that the event is a trail running event. I have observed that I would pass some runners on the uphills but some of them would pass me on the downhill. It was a no big deal on my part since these runners would look like they are half younger than my age!

Jungfrau 00

On The First Two Miles Of The Course

I reached the 6.2 Mile Mark (10K) in 56:22 minutes in the town of Wilderswil where there was an Aid Station. I took one of my GU Gels and then took at least two cups of water as I was sweating a lot even if it was drizzling. I was too nervous that I might be cut-off in this Checkpoint, thus, I was running faster than what I have planned. The cut-off time here is 9:55 AM or one hour from our Wave 6 start. So, I have less than 4 minutes as cushion as I passed this checkpoint. Based from my recorded split, I was ranked #2,832. At Kilometer #15, where the cut-off time is 10:25 AM or 1:30 hour elapsed time, I was able to gain one minute as additional cushion time where I timed at 1:25:47 hours but my rank decreased to #3,031. It could be that I slowed down or the other runners who started slower are starting to pick-up their pace at this point.

After I passed the beautiful town of Lauterbrunnen and reached the checkpoint at Km #21, my time registered at 2:11:34 and my rank decreased to #3,244 and it was due to brief walking at the Aid Station to grab some water, take in some bananas and GU Gel. But I was able to gain another almost one minute as cushion from the cut-off time of 2:17:00. From Km #21 to Km #25, it was slight uphill at the start but once you cross a river, it is almost slight flat and downhill. However, after reaching Km #25 where I timed in in 2:40:23 hours and placed #3,279, it was now the start of a steep switchbacks which are more than 15 turns going up to the mountain. However, I was able to gain a total of cushion time here for almost 8 minutes! It was raining harder at this point and I was starting to feel the air to be thin and cold that my hands were starting to get numb. I brought out my Patagonia Light Jacket (Waterproof) from my AMIHAN Race “Go Lite” Belt and zippered it all the way to my chin to keep my body warm. I would hide my palms from the sleeves of my Jacket just to keep them warm!

Junggrau Route

At The Town Of Lauterbrunnen

Before reaching the next checkpoint at Km #30, I had the urge to pee and I decided to just approach one of the trees beside the road and took my time to unload my urine. This is where I had been overtaken or passed by 50 runners! But once I reached the checkpoint, my time was 3:39:57 hours and I was ranked #3,329! But I was able to gain a total cushion time of 13 minutes!

From Km #35, it was the start of the steep uphill climb to the peak of the mountain, it was still raining and the temperature was going down to freezing cold. This is where I remember my training in Kennon Road leading up to Baguio (17 kilometers) and my uphill climb in Mt Tapulao (14 kilometers) during a rainy and inclement weather! I started to hike strongly and then jog from time to time on those steep ascents and flat portions of the course. At checkpoint Km #38, my time was 5:12:18 hours and I was ranked #3,325, an improvement of 4 slots and have a cushion time of 15 minutes. At this point, it was already a “conga line” of runners on the steepest part of the course and it was raining, foggy, and with muddy single-track trail.

Jungfrau 01

It Was Freezing Cold

I got to make my move as the other runners in front of me were too slow in their hike towards the peak. I would start to jog, get out of the trail to pass the slower ones, one at a time, until I reached the peak of the mountain. The last one kilometer was downhill and I started to run, braving the cold wind, thick fog, rain, and thin air! Finally, I crossed the finish line together with some of the runners with an official time of 6:14:17 hours!

I was surprised to find out that I was able to pass 64 runners on the steepest part of the course even if it was cold, building up a cushion time of almost 16 minutes before the the cut-off time of 6:30 hours. However, as I reviewed the official result, I found out that the Race Organizer decided to adjust the course cut-off time to 7:00 hours! Maybe, it was due to the inclement weather during the race. I am glad the race was not stopped even when it was raining hard on the last few hours of the event.

Out of 95 starters on my Age Category of 65 years old and above, I placed/ranked #60. Out of the almost 5,000 runners, I was ranked #3,261.

The Marathon Race has an elevation gain of 8,406 feet and elevation loss of 3,386 feet.

Not bad for an old 65 years old runner from a tropical country finishing a marathon race in the Swiss Alps!

To be continued.

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Race Report: 11th Subic International Marathon & 10K Fun Run (2016)

17 11 2016

Race Report: 11th Subic International Marathon & 10K Fun Run (2016)

This is my third time to join this very challenging marathon race. If you can see the cover picture of this blog, it was during one the earlier editions of this race. The picture was taken at the point overlooking the Subic Airport and the Subic Bay. The second time I joined this event was when the route covered the Subic-Clark Expressway from Floridablanca Exit to Remy Field, Subic Freeport. Since then, I never had the urge or plan to join this event even if it is near my “playground”.

I decided to join this race a day before the race as part of my “back-to-back” weekend run in order to evaluate my training for the previous weeks which was concentrated on “hill repeats” and tempo runs. Knowing the Race Founder who happens to be a Retired General of the Philippine National Police and a Cavalier from the Philippine Military Academy, I was able to get slots/Race Bibs for the 42K Race which is held on the early evening of Saturday and a 10K Run Bib for the following morning of Sunday.

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Subic International Marathon Logo & Ads Poster

Marathon Race 42K (5:00 PM, Saturday, November 12, 2016)

A simple lapse on my part (maybe, it’s because I am getting older already) made me go back from Subic to where I left my iPods and Headphone as they are parts of my race goals and this lapse made me miss the Race Start by 10 minutes! Nevertheless, I knew that the Race Bib has a RFID and my Chip Time would start once I step on the RFID Mat placed on the Starting Line. General Samson Tucay, the Race Founder, was the one who handed me my Bib and wished me “Good Luck” as I left the Starting Area!

My race goal was to finish the race below 5 hours; attack aggressively the uphills by not walking; focused on maintaining my speed/pace; and regularly hydrating myself with water and regularly taking my Power Gels, Salt Sticks, and making sure that I have always some Coffee Candies in my mouth.

I consider this Marathon Race as the Toughest Marathon in the country because of its elevation profile. Two-thirds of the course are hilly (some consider them as mountainous!) and the dark surroundings slows most of the runners but the early evening breeze coming from the sea and the forest in the mountains is very refreshing. If I remember right, this is the very same running and bike route where “world champions” in triathlon were being trained under the tutelage of the famous Triathlon Coach Brett Sutton. Subic Freeport as a training ground was mentioned in the book of Chrissie Wellington and other Triathlon Olympic Champions. This was also my favourite road running playground when I prepare for my Marathon and Half Marathon Races in the past!

I was relaxed and composed when I left the Starting Line and maintained an easy pace with an effort range of 4-6 (from 1-10, where 10 is the most effort exerted) up to Km 5. At this point, I was able to pass two Aid Stations already where I had to take some sip of water that would wash down my saliva mixed with coffee candy. I started to switch on my headlight and EyeCatcher blinking lights strapped on my right and left wrists! It is also at this point where I had to pass the last runner that left the Starting Line 10 minutes ahead of me! As I start to get near the road intersection going to No Hands Beach, I overtook some male runners who were already walking. I started to pick up my pace as I was about to tackle the first uphill climb overlooking the Subic Airstrip and the Subic Bay. At the vicinity of the Airport’s Terminal, I would pass again some runners. At the second uphill climb near the APEC Executive Mansions, I would pass again a group of runners who were walking uphill. I never stopped on these uphill climbs making sure that I would be able to maintain my pace/speed.

The McDonald’s Quarter Pounder Hamburger which I ingested few minutes before I started the race gave me the power and strength to reach the “roller coaster” part of the course (Km 8-20) without having the feeling of getting weak. It was only after I reached the turn-around point (Mile #13) at the Ocean Adventure that I decided to ingest my first GU Gel, however, in every hour I would ingest at least two Salt Sticks while maintaining that my mouth and tongue have some coffee candies to play around. The GU Gel immediately kicked-in that I have to continuously attack the uphill climb up to the Subic’s Morong Gate and then back up to the Airport. I had my 2nd GU Gel on the last 8 kilometres to the Finish Line!

From the turn-around point, I registered a time of 2:15 hours (in my Garmin Watch) and I was happy. Knowing that I might not be able to have a negative split due to fatigue or some kind of incoming muscle cramps, I was contented that I would finish the race in 4:40-4:50 hours. At Km 32, my Garmin Watch registered a time of 3:40+ and I kept trying to increase my pace trying to push myself for a faster pace but I felt that between Km 36-38, I slowed down due to some technical problems with my iPod’s music (I found out later that it was going on a Low Power Mode as my new AKG headset needs a stronger source of power). Instead of listening to my erratic music, I opted to count my steps and do my “strides” (40 seconds fast, 20 seconds recovery) all the way to the finish line. I registered a time of 4:54:30 hours with my Garmin GPS Watch. It was almost 10:00 PM in the evening and I had spent some time to speak to the Race Organizers after crossing the finish line and greet some of my Ultrarunners who joined the race!

2016-subic-marathon-00

Nearing The Finish Line

 

10K Fun Run (6:00 AM, Sunday, November 13, 2016)

All I needed was to sleep at least 4 hours after the Marathon Race and then woke up early in the morning on the following day (Sunday) for the 6:00 AM Gun Start for the 10K Fun Run. I made sure to be early and I was at the starting line 20 minutes before the scheduled Start Time. I joined the Opening Program with a Prayer; Speech from the Race Organizer; and some Dance Calisthenics of which I enjoyed doing as part of my stretching exercises. If you think I did not have any sore muscles after the Marathon Race, you are wrong! I really needed those dance steps and jumping as my way of stretching my sore muscles!

The 10K and 7K runners were led to the Chute at the Oval Track where the Starting Line was located. I placed myself two meters behind the starting line and waited for the starting gun. I made my last wave to the Race Organizers and they acknowledge my presence before the Gun was fired.

Bang!!! I started to jog as I was able to find a space which was not crowded by the runners around me in about 20 meters. As I left the Remy Field Oval Track towards Rizal Street, I was already passing some runners and most of them were lady runners. The 10K route is the same first 5K of the Marathon Race and it was relatively flat. It was a matter of time before I would reach the turn-around point at Km 5.

At Km 4, a runner who is 10-15 years younger than me passed as I was approaching a bridge and he was the only one who passed me throughout the race. As I got nearer to the turn-around point, I started to count the number of runners whom I was meeting as they are on their way to the Finish Line. As I passed the turn-around point, I counted myself as the #64 and continued to run; tried to increase my pace and making sure that I would take a sip of water on those last Aid Stations towards the Finish Line. At this point, I was happy that I was registering 6.2 to 6.4 miles per hour as my speed. I was already sure that I would register a sub-one hour finish to this race.

Along the way back to the Finish Line, I was no longer sure if the runners I would be passing were the runners of 10K, 7K, or 5K. What was important in my mind was to be able to finish the race in less than one hour. As soon as I was running in front of the Subic Yatch Club Building (last 500 meters), I was already sure that I would be able to attain my goal.

Finally, I crossed the Finish Line in 58:30 minutes! I survived the race with only 6 pieces of Coffee Candies and sip of water in every Aid Station.

After my shower and eating my breakfast, I slept and rested the whole day. I am blessed and thankful to the Almighty Lord that I was able to finish my “Back-to-Back” weekend runs as part of my training for my incoming races.

Things That Helped Me Finish These Races:

  1. Three weeks of focused “Hill Repeats” and Tempo Runs leading to the event. Hill Repeats (on the middle of the week) are done at the middle of the workout at least once a week——The workout starts with an Easy Pace for one mile or 2K and then do “hill repeats” which would last for about 2-3 minutes from the bottom to the peak of the hill at 8-9 pace effort (where 1 is simply walking and 10 is my fastest pace). Jog easily in going back to the bottom of the hill. Do at least 8-10 repetitions. And then jog for 1 mile or 2K to end the workout. As for Tempo Runs, jog/run easily for the 1st mile, then at the middle of the run, do 10-minute tempo run (7-8 pace effort) with 5-minute recovery, do 2-3 repetitions of this 10-minute tempo runs, and then finish with 1 mile or 2K easy pace.
  2. Recovery Runs. In between these “Hill Repeats” and “Tempo Run” days, I would do recovery runs which has 5-8 pace effort which covers a total distance of 7-8 miles to include 10 repetitions of “strides” (40-second “burst” of fast pace and recovery for 20-second easy jog) before my last mile for the workout. These recovery runs are done on the trails.
  3. Long Runs. My longest run was the Rockstar MGM 50K Trail Run in Dona Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan where I finished in 8:45+hours in a brutal and challenging course three weeks before this event. The succeeding weekends were done along the road for a distance of 20K. Before I hit my last mile in these long runs, I would do 10 repetitions of “strides”. However, in these road runs, I would do some “slower” tempo runs that would last for 30 minutes in every 10K. This is where I try my nutrition & hydration strategy and try my running gears to include my lighting system.
  4. No Cross-Training. For two sessions, I just did some selected Pilates poses to strengthen my core muscles. No strength training. No Gym workouts.
  5. Always remember that a Marathon Race or 10K Fun Run is a “speed-endurance” running event where a serious runner does not need to walk during the race. Actually, in Marathon Races and Fun Runs, I usually walk 1-2 meters before I pick up those cups filled with water in the Aid Stations and then walk again for about 3 meters away from the Aid Station while taking a sip of water. In the hilly portions of the course, I would not stop running and try to quicken my pace as if I was doing my “hill repeats” during my training. And that was my “secret” why I looked like I was a very strong runner during the event as what was seen by those runners whom I passed along the course. As gathered from my Garmin Watch and other GPS Watches from my friends who finished this event, the course has a total elevation gain of almost 1,500 feet!
  6. Race Light. Everybody would notice that I would use Running Shorts with an inseam of 2.5 inches in my latest races with “cropped” muscle shirt with holes. It is because I was able to reduce or shave off some grams from my running attire. Try to compare a “wet” cropped muscle shirt with holes from another “wet” full singlet or full race shirt (with sleeves) by holding them each with both hands or weighing them in a weight scale. You will find out how many grams you will be lighter during the run. No Buff or neck gaiters. No Calf Sleeves. No hydration bottle. I was using a Merrell Light Racing Shoes and Light Drymax Socks. I was wearing a Petzl Light which is 115 grams and a Headset which is about 30 grams, weights that are very negligible. Just do the math. If you can save at least 100 grams in your racing weight with 42,000+ jumps alternately with your feet, your legs will be lighter and the tendency for some muscle cramps to occur will be farfetched, assuming that you trained properly. Lastly, in a Marathon Race, leave your Cellphone behind!
  7. Hipster Belt. My Coffee Candies, Salt Sticks, GU Gels, and Power Bar were stashed in the pockets of my Hipster Belt. It became also as my “sweat absorbent” keeping my socks and shoes dry from my perspiration.
  8. Safety & Lighting Gears. The blinking wrist straps from EyeCatcher and PETZL Headlight is a “must” during a Marathon Race being held during nighttime.
  9. Music. Finally, I was able to finally search for and buy a very light, reliable, and of good quality headphone from AKG By Harman (Model: Y30). In the past, I would only use those cheap “ear-plug” headphones during my training runs but they could not stay steady in my ears and that was the reason why I don’t use any headphone in races. Music greatly helped me to motivate myself to keep on going and I would consider it as one of the factors that made me finished the race fresh and focused.
  10. Familiarity of the Course. Having trained and raced in this course for the past years, I knew what to expect ahead of me along the course even during nighttime. Even if it was not part of my plan this year to join this race, I am confident that I could easily make this race as part of my training workout. Having said this, I would make it a point to join this event every year as part of my mountain trail ultra training.
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Very Happy!!!

After I crossed the Finish Line at the Marathon Race, I was able to talk to General Sam Tucay and the rest of his staff. He lamented that he is not getting any profit from this event and its advocacy through the years even if it is already on its 11th edition. He was telling me that he is considering the idea of ending it as an annual event. On my part, I told him that he should not shelve the event and continue it as an annual event even if he considers it as not profitable. It will take some time to make his event as a popular marathon race as the years go by.

On my part, I did not tell him that I will be coming with this Race Report with an appeal to my ultra running friends and members of PAU to consider this event as part of their ultra running workout.

If you are a serious ultrarunner or training for a fast marathon race, you have to include this event as an evaluation or assessment race for your incoming A-races.





Deaths In Running Events

3 08 2015

Those “one-liners” below were the supposed titles which I would choose for this post but I ended up with a General Statement of what is really happening in our Running Events. This is again a very long post which will compensate the long period of time that I was not able to post in this blog. So bear with me and hope that my post will somehow prevent “Mr Murphy” from creating a havoc to our well-planned or well-organized running event. Happy reading!

Why Runners Die In Running Events?

Things To Do If You Want To Die In A Running Event

Why Die Running When You Are Supposed To Be Having Fun?

How Can We Prevent Deaths In Running Events?

Phidippedes

Phidippedes (Picture From Google)

If you want to relive the origin and history of the Marathon Race, you are not Phidippedes, who was then a professional runner, messenger and one of the warriors of the Athenian Army before and after The Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. If you don’t know what went through with him, then I have to refresh you with what he did before and after the said battle. Phidippedes was sent by the Athenian Army Generals to ask help and for additional troops from Sparta to repel the impending attack by the Persian Army by running a distance of 140 miles in 36 hours. After getting a negative feedback from the Spartan government, he went back to Athens running the same distance delivering the message of the Spartans. Without the support from Sparta, the Athenians went to battle with the Persians at the Battle of Marathon and the Athenians won with the surviving Persian Army retreating through their ships and tried to make their way nearer to Athens. Phidippedes was sent to Athens to deliver the message that the Athenians won the battle and warned the remaining Greek Army to prepare for the impending attack of the retreating Persians. After delivering the message, Phidippedes died despite running a distance of 26 miles. Thus, this heroic deed of Phidippedes as a runner-messenger gave birth to our sports of Marathon Running. (Note: If you read closely to the history, Phidippedes’ deed also gave birth to Ultra Marathon events!)

Map Showing The Locations Of Athens & Sparta

Map Showing The Locations Of Athens & Sparta (Picture From Google)

In this modern time, you, as a runner is not Phidippedes! You are not a trained warrior or a soldier of an Army who dons a warrior’s armor and spear or sword, running on trails and mountains or hills and through vegetation on sandals or maybe, on barefoot! Organizers of Running Events are already well-equipped and prepared to prevent and respond to any contingencies, more so, on the safety and well-being of every runner-participant. Nobody would like to die in a running event and want himself/herself to be declared a hero! Every runner has the ultimate desire to finish the race and hope that his/her attendance to future running events will give him/her a better performance.

Then why do we have these deaths in Running Events when we should be joining them for fun and healthy reasons?

Who gives a SHIT on this topic when only few people or runners gave such information (death/casualty of the race) on the Social Media and everything stops there? And as in the same with the previous deaths, this incident was not published in any of our traditional media and our BroadShits/Daily Newspapers

Where is the Official Statement of the Race Organizer for us to know the details of the death so that those “experts” would know what to do to prevent this thing being repeated in the future? Remember, the same death occurred five (5) years ago in the same Running Event and the same distance. And other deaths in running events were not officially reported in the past and up to this time, no studies or conclusions were published.

Do you remember this post that I made? https://baldrunner.com/2010/07/14/death/. I guess, this blog right now is a repetition of what I’ve posted 5 years ago.

Is there any note/message/appeal from the family of the victim? Five years ago, the father of a runner came up with this article stating all the facts and his observations he gathered on the death of his son. It would be nice to refresh everybody’s mind on this. https://baldrunner.com/2010/07/16/r-i-p-remus-fuentes/

The father of the dead runner five years ago made a very well-written and well-researched article on the death of his son and asked some questions to be answered. However, his seven (7) questions to the Race Organizer remained to be unanswered up to this day. So far, I have never encountered published answers to these questions by the Race Organizer whether in Social Media/Traditional Media outlets or an information from the father of the victim if his questions were answered.

Whether such questions were answered by “other means”, I really don’t give a SHIT out of it. But the fact remains, there will be more deaths in running events in the future!

As they say, “History repeats itself!”

On the lighter side, I am coming out with a parody on the deaths of runners being organized by BIG Multinational Companies.

I might be senseless and insensitive or maybe, boastful but take these next statements as comical and non-serious in nature. I am just trying to express the possibilities of things to happen in the future on these deaths of runners.

—If you are depressed and wants to commit a suicide, join a running event without any training, run as hard as you can without hydration or food from start to finish. If nothing happens on your first attempt, do it again until you pass out. Hopefully, you will be considered as a hero and your bereaved family’s questions on your death will be answered by “other means” by the Race Organizer. Who knows your death would mean an educational scholarship on your younger brothers or sisters. Or maybe, your parents will have a capital to come up with a good investment or business to remember you!

—Since most of the greater bulk of runners lives below the poverty line, these people could just join any running event so that “others in their family may live”. Make sure they should join BIG Running Events sponsored by BIG Companies! Training & Race Strategy? NONE! Just go with the flow, stupid!

—Come up with a Facebook account, get as many Friends as you can get and fake yourself as a Runner. Develop your “fake identity as a runner” with lots of “selfies on running attire” and “photoshopped” running pictures. When the timing is perfect, join a running event without any training and no hydration. If you pass out and will be able to survive it, you will be more popular. Repeat the process until you die. Who knows, one of your siblings will be able to win the Presidential Race in the next elections!

OK, I will stop this non-sense! Anyway, these are just jokes playing in my mind. Back to being serious again.

Pictures Taken Where The Victim Was Carried To The Ambulance

Pictures Taken Where The Victim Was Carried To The Ambulance (Pictures From Facebook)

What are the things that we should do to prevent these deaths from happening in the future? I think there is no need for a Congressional Investigation on this matter as we know nothing would result in these investigations. Such investigation will put a great SHAME on our law-makers as they are ignorant of what a long distance runner is going through. In the first place, these people do not exercise as you can see in their body forms. They are ONLY good in RUNNING for an Elective Position! Right? Do we need Laws to be obeyed for us to organize and participate in Running Events? Who need Laws when they are not fully implemented and most of us would violate them after all? However, as I said, there are basic things that we should do to prevent these deaths from happening again.

The following are my suggestions:

1. Make it mandatory to state/print a BOLD Footnote in all advertisement of running events that “RUNNING WITHOUT TRAINING & HYDRATION IS DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH. IT CAN KILL YOU”. Period! It is like buying a pack of cigarette where a word of caution/warning from the General Surgeon is written on the pack stating that “Smoking Can Cause Deaths & Other Forms of Disability” (some sort of that kind of message). This warning footnote should be printed in bold letters in every Registration Form of a Running Event.

2. If the advertisement is on TV, emphasize that “Running Without Proper Training Is Dangerous To One’s Life” with the pictures of dead runners of past events flashed on the screen of the TV.

3. Do not “force” or make the Running Event as “mandatory” to students of High Schools and Colleges/Universities through their Physical Education Departments. More so, making it mandatory to the young pupils in the Elementary Schools. By the way, who gives a SHIT if you have these “thousands or millions” of runners featured as a front page picture of the most popular daily newspaper/broadSHIT of the country? In the first place, such coverage of the event was paid by the Race Organizer from the registration fees of the runners! If you think you are attracting or inspiring more “soon-to-be” runners to join the event, then it is directly proportional that we will have more deaths in future running events. However, if you think you have more profits to rake with a lot of runners, then that is called GREED.

4. FREE Running Clinics should be conducted continuously during the year in order to educate the citizenry on the benefits of running, how to train for it, and the importance of hydration during ones training, and during the running events or races. Make these clinics or lectures in the local dialect so that the simple instructions on training will be absorbed easily in the minds of the runners. Simplicity is the KEY. The goal is to transform a person to an endurance athlete through graduated progression and preparation. This goal brings me to the next item.

5. It is the responsibility of the runner to transform himself to a long distance/endurance runner through graduated or calibrated progression. It is a basic step to start from walking for about 30 minutes and then jogging for 30 minutes after a period of time if one is bored with walking. From there, the 30 minutes jogging becomes one hour and so on. And the worse thing happens, you want some more time to run and you now try to find out how far you can run in one hour. And then the worst thing to happen is when you try to find out where you can register for a 5K race. Through these races, a runner is now addicted to the sports, most specially when he/she learns a lot of mistakes/lessons and be able to correct them as he/she progresses to longer distances, making this runner as a smart, strong, and fast “beast”. Simply said, there are NO shortcuts in training for a running event. “Everybody starts in the Kindergarten!” (Note: Every runner should be able to read and understand the Waiver Of Liability from the Race Organizer/Sponsors before writing his/her signature on the Registration Form)

6. More of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the Race Organizer. The safety of the runners is the outmost goal of the Race Organizer in order to make it a successful event. This is the reason why 5K, 10K, 21K and Marathon (42K) races have its routes as closed from vehicular traffic. The runners are the Kings & Queens of the Roads for the duration of the race and that is why they paid so much for their registration fees. There are lots of Aid Stations which offer Water, Electrolyte Drinks and Bite Foods. There are lots of Medical Response Teams along the route ready to act on emergency cases involving the runners. But despite of these planning and preparations, something happens wrong. Mr Murphy is always there to test on how we prepared for such an event and most of the time, it is Mr Murphy the one who is laughing on us. And when Mr Murphy had done his damage on us, we try to look for somebody to blame to, pointing everybody around us, rationalizing that the Race Organizer had provided all the safety nets for the event. Through “other means” of solving the situation, the incident is buried in the memory of every runner until another victim comes along. And the cycle continues and this is very true in many running events around the world.

7. It is easier said than done. There is a need to establish a Race Management Regulatory Board which could be under the National Government (maybe, in the Local Government, too) or on the level or part of the National Sports Federation that would impose fines, penalties, and suspension of licenses to operate as Race Director and/or Race Organizer. This is the body that investigates incidents of deaths or casualties in running events. It also screens Race Organizers and even controls the “sprouting” of Running Coaches in the country. Every coach should have a license from this Regulatory Board in order to do their business. More functions and mission could be on the responsibility of this office/establishment for the benefit of the safety of the runners. Maybe, this is the reason that we should have a Department of Sports Excellence.

8. This is another “out of the box” suggestion. Every runner-participant in these BIG Races should belong to a Running Club or a Running Team which has an established organization, meaning, it has its elected officers with established protocols (training, etiquette, and others) for each member to follow. If there is a death among its members related to running in races, its officers and coaches should be held liable and appropriate criminal charges should be filed against them by the family of the victim or by the government. Having said this, each runner must submit a Certification from the Running Club/Team that he is fit and duly trained by the group as an additional requirement in the registration process. Most of the time, it is the “peer pressure” among Running Team Members that would force a seemingly not prepared and not well-trained runner within the group to join a running event.

9. How about those Medical/Health Practitioners who issue Medical Clearances and Certifications to every Runner, should they be liable also if their names appear in the submitted requirement? Of course, Yes! This should put a pressure on those issuing authorities of Medical Requirements to be thorough in their examination and tests to the runners before giving them the appropriate certificate. This process could be very expensive on the part of the runner but what is ones money’s worth when ones life is at stake in doing this process properly. Staying alive after a running a race is the best prize one could get in joining running events.

10. Just maybe the Government would come into the picture for the youth to be mandatory involved in Boy Scouting & Girl Scouting in Elementary Grades; Preparatory Military Training (PMT) for High Schools; and ROTC in the Colleges and Universities. Or maybe, come up with a Physical Fitness Test for High Schools and College Levels. Such programs would make our youths physically active instead of sitting their asses in front of their Laptops, iPads, or IPhones playing Internet Games or posting their status on Facebook.

11. Lastly, I could be wrong but in my opinion, the Emergency Response Teams are not capable in dealing with heatstroke and more so, if the runner had a heart failure/attack. Please correct me if I am wrong on this assessment to this group. I have only this word for them——Over Acting (OA)! I have the impression that the Emergency Response Team has the primary job to determine if the casualty needs to be transported to the hospital or not. If the personnel of this Team do not know what to do or on a panic mode, their best bet is to simply call for the Ambulance. This leads me to the next issue to ask—if the personnel in the Ambulance that transports the casualty have the capability to make first -aid procedure en route to the hospital.

For whatever is worth in this post, I wish this post would reach to all the runners, soon-to-be runners, Race Organizers, Race Directors, Sponsors, Volunteers, Race Marshals, members of the Race Management Staff, and the family/friends of runners with the hope that we should learn something from these deaths in running events.

Lastly, let me remind again that in endurance sports, always remember to “listen to your body”.





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!





Spectator @ 2011 New York City Marathon

7 02 2012

Last January 2, 2012, Monday, the registration for the 2012 New York City Marathon has opened and most of the runners will have to wait for the result of the lottery before the middle of the year. I predict that at this time, many of the local Pinoy runners had already applied for this race despite the costs and resources one have to save and spend just to be able to experience the feeling to join the most popular and well-attended “street party” among runners in the world.

Hopefully, my observations during my experience as one of the spectators of the most popular and most attended Marathon Race In The World would in any way, help or provide positive ideas for them to experience more FUN in joining this event. Race Organizers have also to take note on the different factors why this marathon race keeps on growing and increasing its participants every year.

In the 2010 edition of the race, my daughter Jovelle was able to finish the New York City Marathon and she gained a lot of experience about the place and the event.

In the last year’s edition, my son John Paul was lucky enough to get a slot through lottery and I promised him that I will join him as one of his “chearers” and supporter for the race. It will be also a chance for me to see New York City for the first time!

So, the promise was fulfilled when I went with him to New York City for the race together with my wife and John’s girlfriend, Sharon. I cheered him along the portions of the route and took some photos of him up to the Finish Line. My tour along the streets and subway of New York City was very efficient because of the help of my niece, Mariegelle, who is presently residing and working in one of the hospitals in the city as Physical Therapist.

John Paul @ Mile 8 in Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

Now I know why the New York City Marathon is the most attended and popular marathon race in the world. Through my almost 5 days stay in the city, I was able to observe a lot of things about the people, the city, and the marathon race itself.

The following are my personal reasons why New York City Marathon is simply the BEST Marathon Race in the World:

1. The City Government of New York and its instrumentalities are totally in support to the event. All of the city’s services and agencies are totally committed for the success of the event. All the government agencies are considered as MAJOR SPONSORS of the event! There is even a competition between the teams of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department where the top 5 finishers of each team are counted. This tradition of competition event started after the 9/11 incident and last year’s competition was its 1oth year! (Maybe, I have to create also a competition between the AFP and the PNP in the yearly BDM 102 Ultra Race in the years to come!)

Spectators & Runners @ Mile 8 In Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

Lots Of Spectators Along The Route @ Mile 16 in Lexington Ave Near The Queensboro Bridge

2. The people of New York City knows that the Marathon Event promotes Sports Tourism. You can just imagine 47,000+ runners plus “cheerers” and family members of runners flock to the city and each of them spend money for food, lodging, transportation, and shopping. I read somewhere that almost 2 Million people were considered as spectators and 315 Million people who watched the TV Live Coverage worldwide. The tremendous amount of income the service establishments would earn out of the visitors of the city because of the marathon race is a big boost to the economy of the place. If a visitor spends at least $500-$1,000 for food, transportation (within the city), amusement and shopping, not including the hotel accommodation, it boils down to million of dollars that is being spent for the duration of the event. (Note: In a report commissioned by the New York City Runners, the 2010 ING New York Marathon generated $ 340 Million for the City of New York in terms of hotel, travel, food, entertaiment, and retail. It also raised $ 30.8 Million for Charities)

Got A Space But Too Far From The Passing Runners (Take Note of those Potalets) @ Mile 16

3. Almost ALL the Nations in the World are represented in the Event. Looking at the result of the finishers by country, I found out that there were 32 Pinoy Runners who finished the marathon race. However, I have yet to find out the list of these runners and their respective finish times. This shows that we, as Pinoy runners in the said marathon, were not coordinated. There was no “point man” or informal “leader” who could be responsible in collating the list of Pinoy Finishers in this event. How I wish our local Running Magazines would be able to post the list of names of runners and their respective finish times in the 2011 New York Cit Marathon. (Note: I hope Jonel aka FrontRunner Magazine will have the initiative to post this list in his Magazine. Thanks!)

On The Last 400 Yards To The Finish Line @ Central Park

More Spectators Lined Up Near The Finish Line @ Central Park

4. The event has the most expensive registration fee among the world’s marathon races but it is worth the experience. You are paying for a “once in a lifetime” experience as a runner and a Finisher must be proud to have joined it. The Race Organizer, together with the City Government of New York, the populace and the private sector, are fully coordinated and well-oiled to provide a “world-class” marathon race experience. I think there is nothing to rant or complain about the needs of the runners in this event. My son and daughter’s feedbacks were all positive and they really enjoyed the experience of finishing the Marathon Race. (Note: I never heard or read any complaints from Pinoy Runners who Finished about the high cost of registration fee in this Marathon Race).

The following were my observations among the runners from other nations: (1) The French runners stayed in ONE Hotel which happened to be the place where my wife and I stayed and I am sure most of the other countries’ runners have stayed in one hotel for easy coordination and maybe, with a discounted hotel charges. (2) Countries like France, Peru, Brazil, South Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan and others have a distinct uniform with the name of the country written on their upper garments! Some have their national flag colors as their shirts’ color combination. (3) Most of the team from each country arrived at the Finish Line as a Group. I was impressed to see a group of runners from South Korea arriving at the Finish Line in a line formation with their National Flag infront of them and they had a finish time of 4:20+ hours! I guess, the Pinoy runners failed on these things that I’ve mentioned.

@ Madison Square Garden, New York!

Spectators Are Amazing. You won’t believe me if I say that the whole route of the event was full of spectators from Start to Finish cheering the runners as they pass.The number of spectators was simply amazing and uncomprehensible. I could hardly sneak myself on the inner edge of the road because of the thick line of spectators. Noise of cheers and ringing of cowbells filled the air along the route of the race.

So, what makes the New York City Marathon as the best among the best of the Marathon Races of the World? First, it’s the place. The roads and bridges could be very narrow as compared to the newer cities in California but there is something that makes the city very unique. Second, the organization. The City and its instrumentalities together with the private sector and the New York Road Runners Club are united and fully coordinated, it’s a well-oiled machine that has perfected the conduct of a big-time marathon race! Third, the people of New York City. They know how to treat their visitors as more tourists to their city means more “bucks” for the economy. They knew that tourists will keep on coming back to their city. Fourth, 100% Media exposure. No neeed to explain this. The whole TV network of the city had a live coverage of the event and the written media were alive on the event before and after the event. Fifth, Cash Prize for the Elite Runners. Just “google” the topic on how much the cash prize for the winner is and you will be amazed by the numbers.

And what are now the lessons and suggestions we could get from this post?

1. Pinoy Runners who are qualified to run (through lottery and special arrangements with its sponsors) this race should be well-coordinated. Maybe, somebody should be able to unite and be able control the group so that the country is well represented. I hope the local Heads of the Corporate Sponsors of the event should be the one who would coordinate the trip, accommodation, and the itinerary of the whole Pinoy group of runners. Each runner should spend for their respective travel from Manila to New York and back.

2. Coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs so that our Consulate in New York would be able to assist in finding a cheap & decent place where our Pinoy Runners will be billeted. Maybe, a Pinoy Restaurant in New York City would cater for the food of the group during their stay in the city. The RP Consulate in New York has all these information and it would be of great help to the runners.

3. One of the local Corporate Sponsors should provide, at least, an upper garment which will serve as the group’s attire during the event. A long-sleeved technical shirt & a RP Jacket for each of the runner is not worth a million pesos for the whole group even if the NAME OF THE CORPORATE SPONSOR will occupy one-half portion of the attire! What is important is that the group shall be identifiable as runners from the PHILIPPINES! (Are you listening, TIMEX; GATORADE; SMART; GLOBE; UNILAB; CONDURA; etc?)

4. C’mon guys, it’s about time to send one or two of our local top marathon runners to this event. Let us stop sponsoring runners who could finish their best time in more than 4 hours! We are not showing our Best of Bests to represent our country in this prestigious Marathon Race. Corporate Sponsors should wake up on this. If you think our elites will no longer return to the country after they have tasted what it is like to be in the United States of America, you are dead wrong! Supposing, you will select one of my Elite Runners to participate in this event, I will volunteer to work out for the approval of their papers to travel abroad (if they are from the active military service) and I will be responsible that they will return to the country after the event.

5. If you have plans of joining this Marathon Race and you don’t have a friend or a relative in New York City, you have to save a lot of money. It will cost you a fortune to experience what it is like to visit the city and run the New York City Marathon. And you should know how to read a MAP; use their Subway transport system; and don’t be shy to ask for directions from people on the streets.

6. If there is a Race Organizer of Marathon Races locally who has the vision to transform one or two of the existing Marathon Races in the country to be like the New York City Marathon, it could be done! However, there is a need to involve EVERYBODY!

Now, if you ask me if I will make an attempt to register and run this prestigious marathon? Not a priority issue this time. I would rather register and attempt for my first 100-mile trail run whose registration fee is far cheaper than the NYC Marathon!

See you at the Starting Line!





History: 1st Manila International Marathon by Red Dumuk

18 05 2011

Finally, the then famous Manila International Marathon is being revived this year. I am not sure if the use of 30th edition of this race is proper as I know that some of the editions in the past had never been conducted. I hope my friend, Red Dumuk, shall make some adjustments on this. However, I appreciate the posting of this article on the website of the said Marathon Race.

If my memory serves me right, this was my first Marathon Race and Red Dumuk specifically mentioned my name and my finish time.

Thanks, Red for bringing back those good memories of Road Racing in the 80’s.

HISTORY

The First Manila International Marathon

By Red Dumuk

Running great, Bill Rogers, winner of four Boston Marathons and four New York Marathons, apprised of the race route and the weather conditions, predicted 2:20 as the winning time in the inaugural Manila International Marathon. His visit to Manila came at the heels of his dismal performance in Japan. As he was off-form, he begged off from showing his form in the MIM.

Rogers’s fearless forecast was way, way off. When East German Waldemar Cierpinski, second only to Ethiopian Abebe Bikila to have ruled back-to-back Olympic Marathons (Bikila turned in the trick in 1960 Rome and 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games while Cierpinski in 1976 Montreal and 1980 Moscow), breasted the tape with President Marcos heading the spectators, the display clock showed 2:14:27, a good 5 minutes and 33 seconds inside the expected time.

The time could have been lower had there been stronger challenge. After 5K, the MIM morphed into a battle against the clock for Cierpinski, who in 1976 frustrated 1972 Munich gold medalist Frank Shorter’s bid to join Bikila as back-to-back Olympic Marathon champion. In the 1976 Olympic Marathon, Cierpinski beat Shorter, considered to have ignited the running boom in the United States, by 49 seconds (2:09:56 against 2:10:45).

Cierpinski’s winning time which is 3 minutes and 24 seconds outside the clocking he posted in Moscow Olympics less than two years earlier can be better appreciated against the backdrop of marathon times in other parts of the world held in different seasons in 1982.

It’s no wonder, therefore, why the 2:14:27 has yet to be expunged as the all comers best in the Philippine Marathon theater. (Domingo Tibaduiza whose time was 20 seconds slower than Cierpinski’s when the former claimed the top prize in the 1982 Berlin Marathon emerged as 2nd MIM champion. He checked in at 2:25:01, nine minutes 34 seconds adrift of the existing standard in 1983.)

Runner-up American serviceman Phil Camp might have found Cierpinski out of his league but his 2:19:39 timing would have outweighed the first placers’ in four of the above marathons.

The last berth in the podium was hotly contested by Chang Ming Chen of Chinese-Taipei and Peng Jiazheng of the People’s Republic of China. There was a sideshow even. A PROC embassy official protested minutes before the cannon fired off the marathoners the display of the Republic of China’s flag on Chang’s singlet and threatened to pull out Peng from the marathon. We explained to the embassy official we were aware if Chang has to show a flag on his breast, it should be the IOC designated banner. We added we subscribe to the one-China policy of the government. Then, we convinced Chang to have the ROC flag covered with a masking tape. Had Chang not acquiesced, disqualification awaited him.

When the smoke of the conflict had settled, so to speak, Chang outstripped Peng by 59 seconds–or just about the time it took the former’s official to tape that offending flag–to claim the third position. Chang’s 2:26:49 clocking bested winning times of two 1982 AIMS events. Peng’s 2:27:48, on the other hand, beat the champion’s time of one of the AIMS member marathons.

Great Britain’s Tim Johnston (2:31:31) rounded out the top 5 finishers. He crossed the finish line two minutes and 30 seconds ahead of the first Filipino finisher, Army man Ricardo Carillo (2:34:01). Landing in the top 5 among the locals and top 10 overall were Manuel Carmelo (2:35:28),7th; Guillermo Padilla (2:37:31),8th; Ireneo Illut (2:38:01), 9th and Carlito Solis (2:38:06), 10th.

Fifty-three runners (only seven were foreigners) registered sub-3 hours clocking. By comparison, looking at the results of the recent marathons in the country, less than 10 runners with sub-3 times seems to be the current norm.

In the distaff side, only the 11-year old wonder girl Joan Laput, tops among the 11 lady finishers, broke 3:30. Laput ranked 173 overall with her time of 3:28:22. Laput’s “preys” included priest marathoner Amado Picardal (3:20:16, 195th), the Baldrunner (3:58:44, 286th) and arguably, the country’s No.1 race organizer Rudy Biscocho (4:40:02, 440th).

Of the 603 hopefuls who answered the starting cannon, only 30 did not finish–a remarkable mortality rate of measly 4.98%. The most courageous and greatest survivor was cardiac patient Teofilo Espejo, Jr. He placed 509th with a time of 5:11:16.

Asst. Race Director Colmenares running and finishing the MIM spoke volumes about the organization and management of the race. He clocked 3:47:50, good for 281st position, well in the upper half of the finishers.

It would be great seeing another Philippine President accommodating the top 200 finishers of a marathon or any road race of prestige in Malacanang and treat them to dinner after the awarding ceremonies where he would trace the history of marathon even as he extols its virtues in his address.

In another first, the country’s top sportscaster then Joe Cantada found his equal in Katherine Switzer during the coverage of the 1st MIM. Joining the fun was Zal Marte, another sportscaster of note. This would never be duplicated. “The Voice” has passed on to the great beyond.

As recognition for a job well done, Race Director Dorotheo’s peers in AIMS elected him as member of the original batch of Board of Directors. It goes without saying the Manila International Marathon was accepted as full-fledged AIMS member barely four months after its initial edition. Dorotheo was to be reelected to the AIMS Board.

And from the locals, what was the reward? The second MIM saw the size of the field doubled.

1st Manila International Marathon Statistics

Countries Represented

  • Macao
  • Sweden
  • Australia
  • Bangladesh
  • United Kingdom
  • Taiwan
  • Norway
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • United States
  • People’s Republic of China
Starters

603

Finishers

573

95.02 %

Men

562

98.08 %

Women

11

1.92 %

Locals

536

93.53 %

Foreigners

37

6.47 %

Waldemar Ciepinski flashes the No. 1 sign more than 5 minutes ahead of the 2:20 winning time predicted by Bill Rodgers

Source: http://manilainternationalmarathon.com





Marathon Without Any Training

3 02 2011

The Concepcion Brothers and the Condura Durables have always been a “surprise” sponsor for my BDM 102K Ultramarathon Race. In last year’s edition of the BDM 102, they have donated  Champion Prizes in the form of Refrigerators for the Men & Ladies Categories without me asking them for such. Aside from my BDM Races, Condura & Concepcion Brothers had been supportive to my advocacies in running.

Since the inception of the Condura Skyway Half-Marathon and Marathon Races, I had been a supporter of their runs and their advocacies and I never missed joining their yearly events. This Marathon Race had always “primed” my marathon and ultrarunning season for the year. Last year, two days after I finished the Condura Skyway Marathon, I ventured on my first multi-day/multi-stage 5-day run from Manila to Baguio City.

Due to my latest bout with an injury (muscle tear, again!) last December which forced me to recover for the past 6-8 weeks, Condura Skyway Marathon is not seriously considered as part of my marathon races for this year. However, a simple “snaffu” or lapse had happened on the earlier stages in the marketing of this race which could had made me “pissed off” was brought to my attention. Simply stated, the PR guys of this event missed me in their invitation for the “bloggers presentation & briefing” of this event. It could had been a nice post for my blog for a controversial topic of missing the Bald Runner in a bloggers night or maybe, for not inviting the Bald Runner in an event that he had religiously supported a running event since its birth!

Looking at those status and pictures of the bloggers night event in Facebook made me wonder why I was not invited. Well, I just said to myself and wondered why the Concepcion Brothers did not invite me in this event even if I casually contact them through SMS. I started to ask myself if I have done or said something wrong with Ton and Patrick in my posts but I never recalled anything. So, I kept silent and let the event passed. After a few days, I got my answer when the PR guys e-mailed me with apologetic messages for having accepted that they did not do their work well. I got the same SMS messages from the Concepcion Brothers. Well, guys, no harm done. With or without your invitation, I will still support your event.

It was only a few days ago that I found out that bloggers had been given a complimentary entry to run in the said event! It was a breeze when I simply went to their registration booth at the Greenbelt 3 and registered through the computers lined up in the area. I was able to save my money and got one of the best commemorative T-Shirt for a Marathon Race in the country! I am finally registered to run in the 42K event!

Now, here comes the best part. Will I run this marathon race even if I am not fully prepared for the distance? My longest running time for the past two weeks had been a one hour and ten minutes run which is easily converted into a 10K distance run. I still have 3 days to decide on this run.

Looking at the number of registered runners and the hype this marathon has created, I could see that this Marathon Race will showcase a Marathon Race which Metro Manila and/or country could be proud of and could make our country easily placed in the map of worldwide Marathon Races. It is just a matter of time that this Marathon Race will be a destination of more International Runners.

Congratulations to Ton & Patrick Concepcion and advance Happy Birthday to their Dad, Mr Raul Concepcion!








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