The International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) invited the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), the National Ultramarathon Federation of the Philippines, to join the 2020 6-Hour Global Virtual Solidarity Run which was held last August 29-30, 2020. This event was attended by more than 40 member countries with a total of 426 athlete-runners throughout the world.
Team PAU was composed of 9 Male and 9 Female runners coming from the different regions of the country. Due to the Covid-19 Lockdown restrictions, all the runners were advised to do their running in their place of residence, whether on the outdoors or indoors (on treadmill machine). Team PAU represented the country in this event.
Here is the Video of Team PAU during the event:
Thank you for watching. Cheers!
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Journal Of “Team Thomas” @ 2020 HK4TUC (First Day)
This year’s event is the 9th edition which is usually held on the Chinese Lunar New Year with the runner completing the famous Four Trails in Hongkong starting at the finish of MacLehose Trail in Tuen Mun, then to Wilson Trail, Hongkong Trail and last is the Lantau Trail. Each trail route should be finished in the reverse direction with a cut-off time of 60 hours. There is a cut-off time of 18 hours to complete the MacLehose Trail and each runner would be able to start the Lantau Trail, 4th trail and last, before the 55th Hour as the Cut-Off Time. A runner is considered Finisher if he/she completes the Challenge within the 60 hours cut-off time by January 27, 2020 at 9:00 PM and complying with the rules. Each runner should cover the Challenge without any outside support while they along the trail. It is only after each trail or before starting another that a runner could be given an outside support. A runner who fails to finish within 60 hours may continue with the Challenge and will be recognized as Survivor if they complete the Challenge within the cut-off time of 72 hours, which is Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 9:00 AM.
The Team Thomas was the first to arrive at the starting line at 6:30 AM of Saturday, January 25, 2020 which is the day of the Chinese New Year. The Team was the first to be interviewed by NHK, the National TV Network of Japan, which will be covering the whole event. The Reporter have interviewed Thomas and myself, asking, what would be our respective roles during the event. After almost one hour, the runners and their respective Logistic Team arrived in the area. It was the usual the “meet and greet” among the those who finished and survived the previous editions and the incoming participants. Each runner was issued a “Tracker” and an Official “Mugshot” was taken from each runner. The briefing started at 8:30 AM and the usual Group Picture of the Participants was taken.
There are 33 participants of this event for the 9th edition consisting of runners coming from different countries who applied and had been invited to join this event. At exactly 9:00 AM yesterday, the event started.
Thomas started at the back of the pack on the first few meters of the course. Aside from the Team Thomas usual members of the Logistics Team from the Philippines, he was cheered by his eldest sister, Marina & nephew John who came all the way from Toronto, Canada, purposely to watch the start the event with Thomas and niece Carol who works here in Hongkong. Thomas sister and nephew came to Hongkong for the first time! After 30 minutes that the runners had left the area, we went back to our respective Hotel to monitor the progress of Thomas tracker and position through the Racemap application.
With Thomas experience last year and our Recon Runs, I am confident that Thomas would be able to finish the MacLehose Trail without any problems or “lost” moments. I did not set a time for Thomas to finish the 100K distance but as long as he can improve his last year’s time of 17:40 hours, which was 20 minutes before the cut-off time of 18 hours, he will be fine and on target to finish or survive the Challenge. I did not ask Thomas if he can finish it within the 60-hour cut-off time but I encouraged him to finish as a Survivor.
Last year, there were 3 Finishers and 6 Survivors. So far, after 8 editions, there are only 9 Finishers of this Challenge, to include, the Race Director/Organizer, Andre Blumberg. The locals in Hongkong call those who finished and survived this Challenge as “Heroes of Hongkong”. Thomas failure to start the last trail, Lantau, was the “fire” that inspired him to prepare and train for this 9th edition. We came back to Hongkong last August 2019 to recon the Lantau Trail for two consecutive days.
After a slow start from behind the pack, Thomas finished the first 30 kilometers in 3:30 hours and he progressed to number 3 and then to #4. He was ranked at #4 as he reached 50K in 6:53 hours. We were informed by the Race Organizer that the trackers will be refreshed or reset every 10 minutes. As we observed from the movements of the Trackers on Racemap, we are having a delay of at least 15 minutes from the “real-time” location and time of each runner. Compared from our experience in monitoring Thomas last year, this year’s tracker’s performance was not good. Practically, the trackers were not giving us the “exact and real-time” location and time of the runners. There might be some problems with the Satellite transmission for the trackers in some stages of the course or the rain during the late afternoon and during the evening might have some effect to the transmission. Whatever was the problem with the trackers, our Team was able to adjust with the expected time of arrival of Thomas at the Sai Kung Country Park which is the finish area of the MacLehose Trail.
Our Team expected and calculated that Thomas would be able to finish the first trail in less than 15 hours and we were at the finish line at least 1.5 hours before the said time. The first runner from Japan, Takashi, reached the finish line at 13:50 hours and we tried to locate Thomas at this time. Thomas had still 8 kilometers to the finish line when the first runner arrived. Calculating the distance and pace of Thomas, we expected Thomas to arrive in one hour and ranked as the 4th Finisher. Surprisingly, another runner arrived as the 4th runner with few minutes ahead of Thomas.
Finally, Thomas arrived at the Sai Kung Country Park in 15:04 Hours and I immediately met him as soon as he reached the finish line. I escorted him to where our Logistics was located and did what was needed to be done to him. He changed his clothes/attire, charged his cellphone with a Power Bank, and then ate the food we had prepared for him. In 7-8 minutes, we were in a Taxi on our way to Nam Chung Public Toilet as the starting line of the Wilson Trail. It took us 45 minutes for the trip and it was raining. Thomas was able to sleep inside the Taxi during the duration of the trip. Thomas did not have any issues when he arrived at the Finish Line of the First Trail. He was still strong and happy that he improved his time from last year’s time.
We arrived at the Starting Line of Wilson Trail at 16:00 Hours. Immediately, set-up the remaining food that we brought and let Thomas eat again. After repacking his hydration vest with food and water, Thomas left the Start of the Wilson at 16:25 Hours. Thomas was feeling cold because of the rain and encouraged him to eat some more. We gave him some fruits and rice packs and he left the area strong and determined to finish the race.
This study was made by RunRepeat.com and the International Association of Ultrarunner (IAU). This is an excerpts from the said study. You can read the whole article here.
In this study, we explore the trends in ultra running over the last 23 years. We have analyzed 5,010,730 results from 15,451 ultra running events, making this the largest study ever done on the sport.
Female ultra runners are faster than male ultra runners at distances over 195 miles. The longer the distance the shorter the gender pace gap. In 5Ks men run 17.9% faster than women, at marathon distance the difference is just 11.1%, 100-mile races see the difference shrink to just .25%, and above 195 miles, women are actually 0.6% faster than men.
Participation has increased by 1676% in the last 23 years from 34,401 to 611,098 yearly participations and 345% in the last 10 years from 137,234 to 611,098. There have never been more ultra runners.
More ultra runners are competing in multiple events per year. In 1996, only 14% of runners participated in multiple races a year, now 41% of participants run more than one event per year. There is also a significant increase in the % of people who run 2 races a year, 17.2% (from 7.7% to 24.9%) and 3 races, 6.7% (from 2.8% to 9.5%).
There have never been more women in ultrarunning. 23% of participants are female, compared to just 14% 23 years ago.
Ultra runners have never been slower across distance, gender and age group. The average pace in 1996 was 11:35 min/mile, currently, it is 13:16 min/mile. The average runner has added 1:41 min/mile to their average pace, which is a slowdown of 15% since 1996. We don’t believe that individual runners have become slower, but that these distances are attracting less prepared runners now because the sport is more mainstream.
Runners improve their pace in their first 20 races, and then their pace stabilizes. From their first to their second race runners improve by 0:17 min/mile (2%) on average. But by their 20th they improve by 1:45 min/mile (12.3%).
The fastest ultra running nations are South Africa (average pace 10:36 min/mile), Sweden (11:56 min/mile), and Germany (12:01 min/mile).
A record amount of people travel abroad for ultra running events. 10.3% of people travel abroad to run an ultra, for 5Ks this percentage is just 0.2%.
Runners in the longer distances have a better pace than the runners in the shorter distances for each age group.
All age groups have a similar pace, around 14:40 min/mile. Which is unusual compared to the past and to other distances.
The average age of ultra runners has decreased by 1 year in the last 10 years. It has changed from 43.3 years to 42.3 years.
Ultra runners are getting more engaged – the average number of ultras per year has increased from 1.3 to 1.7 over the last 23 years.
Based from the “Key Results” of this study, I would like state my opinion and observations on the following:
Participation has increased by 1,676% in the last 23 years from 34,401 to 611,098 yearly participation and 345%in the last 10 years from 137,234 to 611,098: Within this period in 2009, the Philippines had its contribution of an event in the ultramarathon community with the introduction of the First Edition of the Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race. I can safely say that this was the first Ultramarathon Race in the country in the 21st century (from the year 2000 and beyond). It is also the First “Point-to-Point” Ultramarathon Event in Asia. Through the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) and endorsement of PATAFA in 2010, the Philippines was the 6th ASIAN country to be accepted and sanctioned with the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU). PAU is also considered as the FIRST ASEAN Ultramarathon Federation to be a member of the IAU. The BDM 102 Ultra had “sparked” the popularity trend of ultramarathon events in the country as more events were organized by individual persons in almost all regions in the country in the coming years. Trail Ultras had also expanded in the country with runners trying to get ITRA points for possible entry to the UTMB Races. However, in this report/study, I can only see Malaysia as the only South East Asian country that is included among the Top 20 countries that has the most number of ultra marathon runners. I wonder why? With Malaysia’s population of 32.7 Million against the Philippines’ population of 109 Million? With more Ultra Races here in the Philippines than Malaysia? Maybe, this is a good start for somebody in the country to document and collate all the ultramarathon events and number of participants in every event in the country. I am not saying that we should be included in the Top 20 countries of Ultra Marathoners but we have the potential to be a future contender in the said list if we just cooperate and be united among ourselves.
Local Ultra Marathon Runners Have The Tendency To Run More Ultra Races Every Year: With more Ultra Race Organizers “sprouting” all over the country, runners are enticed to join these races and taste what it is like to finish an ultramarathon race. But what I’ve have observed is the loose consideration and “comfort-oriented” prescribed cut-off times of these races. In Japan, the average cut-off time for their 100K Road Ultra is 14 hours and 8 hours for the 50K. For the BDM 102K, due to the heat and prevailing weather, the cut-off time is 18 hours and for my 50K PAU Events is 9 hours. For the PAU 100-Mile Road Races, it is pegged at 32 Hours. For longer distances, a PAU runner must be able to cover an average distance of 5 kilometers every hour. All these Cut-Off Times for my races are way below and slower than the cut-off times of Japan’s Road Race’s COTs. I can not speak well about the other Road Races in the country and their respective COTs. (Note: In almost all my Races at PAU and BR’s Events, I use myself as the “gauge” to determine a decent COT for the distance as I run my events first before making it as an Ultra Marathon Event for the Public)
More of our Local Ultra Marathon Runners Are Satisfied With Just Finishing: This is the reason why our Average and Competitive Ultra Marathon Runners could barely finish the Races in International Events. This is a question of having so many Ultra Races but not having Quality Finishers with the goal to level-up or be at par in International Standards in Ultra Marathon. I consider myself as one of the “back-packers” and one of the last runners to finish within the COT in International Races but considering my age of almost 68 years old, I still consider myself as a good quality Ultra Marathon Runner. I have yet to see a Filipino Ultra Marathon Runner who will land as Podium Finisher in the Badwater 145-Mile Endurance Race (with due respect to those Pinoys who have finished this tough race); a Silver Buckle Awardee in the WSER 100-Mile; a Podium Finisher in the Spartathlon; Podium Finisher in the Leadville 100 & Hardrock 100, and a Top 10 in the UTMB.
Fastest Countries In Average Pace: South Africa in 10:36 minutes per mile is the fastest; Sweden is second in 11:56 minutes per mile; Germany is third in 12:01 minutes per mile; and Malaysia in 20th rank in 15:55 minutes per mile. Based from the yearly results of the BDM 102K Ultra, I can safely say that the Average Finish Time is between 16-17 hours (with a COT of 18 hours). Using this as a baseline, an Average Local Runner who finished the BDM 102 is just a few seconds slower than the Malaysians. Positively speaking, we could be in the 21st or 22nd rank! (I can only speak for my PAU Races as I know that most of the other races have slower COTs).
For the meantime, these are the only observations and conclusions/opinions that I can think of as related to this study. I hope that in the next period of study (within 5 or 10 years), the Philippines will be in the List of Top 20 Countries in the Ultra Marathon Community. Let us strive more to be positive. And let us unite our efforts in this sports.
I am not fond of Blogs whose topics are about Politics. Since this blog is safely categorized as Health and Lifestyle, a part of being a Sports Blog on Running, and had always been a personal journal of my running adventures, opinion on running about my personal experiences, and my Ultra Races under the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), such kind of writing will be continuously followed in this blog.
This blog has never been involved in advertising and promoting other running events except for BR’s Events and PAU Events. As for the other running events, I usually post Race Reports in Running Events where I finished or Did Not Finish. I even post Running Events which I intend to join for the year to the point that I would also publish my weekly training schedule and workouts as my preparation for the said events.
My opinions about running are geared towards my personal experiences and the things that I have observed in my participation to running events. There nothing fake about my opinions and experiences as they are taken from my first-hand/personal experience.
There are times that I feature Runners or Ultrarunners who have shown exemplary performance as they serve as inspiration to other runners. These runners are considered as “trailblazers” or “pioneers” to running events where no one have dared to join before, most specially, in international races. To some, they have set a National Record in Ultra Running Events and best performance in International Ultra Running Events.
As I reckon the new birth of ultra marathon/ultrarunning in the country from the time I thought of the idea of conducting the 1st Bataan Death March 102K Ultra Marathon Race, ten years had passed and I predict that more ultra marathon runners will join us to promote the sports and experience what our body is capable of after the Marathon distance.
A team of runners representing the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), the National Sports Federation of Ultrarunning in the Philippines, will be joining the 12th edition of the International Association of Ultrarunner’s (IAU) 24-Hour World Championships to be held in Belfast, Ireland on July 1-2, 2017. The team is composed of three (3) male runners and one (1) lady runner who are residing in Ireland and the Great Britain. This will be the first time that the Philippines will be represented, through PAU, in this yearly prestigious ultra marathon event which is worldwide in scope and attendance. Each team is duly screened by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) prior to their participation in this event. Without the endorsement of PAU and the other countries’ Ultramarathon Federations, anybody could not join and participate in this event.
The Team is led by its Team Captain, Rolando Espina, who is the First Filipino to have finished the Spartathlon Ultramarathon last year in Athens, Greece. He is also the Overall Champion in this year’s edition of the Bataan Death March 102K (BDM 102) Ultramarathon Race held last January. Rex Brillantes won the Overall Champion in this month’s Donadea 100K Ultramarathon Race held in Donadea Forest Park in Ireland with a time of 8:45:54 hours. Jivee Tolentino is also a fast ultra marathoner who just finished 6th Overall in this month’s Portumna Forest 100K Ultramarathon Race in Galway, Ireland with a time of 9:53:16 hours. Rolando Espina finished Overall 1st Runner-Up in this race with a time of 8:36:24 hours. All of these ultra runners are also seasoned triathletes.
Due to some legalities and some paperworks to be done, only one Filipino Lady runner is qualified to join the team. She is Mylene Elliot, who is a “back-to-back” Finisher of the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa (Up & Down Courses for 2015 and 2016 editions, respectively), and a resident of Great Britain. She finished her 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon with a time of 4:43:05 hours.
The Team PAU-Belfast will be supported by the following members of the Team’s Support Crew: Fermina Mermeto; Pete Elliot; Amado Damot; Blanche Damot; and Eugene Brillantes.
The current National Record for the 24-Hour Endurance Run was set and under the belt of Thomas Combisen who finished eight overall among 27 international runners in last year’s IAU Asia & Oceania 24-Hour Endurance Run held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan last November 19-20, 2016 with a total distance of 203.45 kilometers covered during the duration of 24 hours of continuous running. With a milder temperature and cooler weather in Belfast, Ireland plus the fact that the team members now are more exposed to international ultra marathon events, it is expected that a new National Record for the 24-Hour Run will be set and recorded in this event.
The members of the team are excited to represent the Philippines as this world’s event is being held within their “backyard”, so to speak, and for the fact that they had been preparing for this event for almost one year since the IAU have selected the City of Belfast as the venue and knowing that Athletics Ireland & British Athletics are the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of this event.
The IAU 24-Hour World Championships is an annual international 24-hour competition among Teams coming from the National Sports Federation of Ultrarunning in IAU-sanctioned member-countries which has now a membership of 82 countries. The IAU World Championship Record for the 24-Hour Endurance Run is held by Michael Morton of the United States in 2012 with a distance of 277.543 kilometers and for the Women’s Record was set by Mami Kudo of Japan in 2013 with a total distance covered of 252.205 kilometers.
As the President of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners, I was able to send some congratulatory message to represent the country in a high-level and world-stage running competition, as well as advise, to the members of the Team PAU. I told them, “Don’t be intimidated with the presence of the “superstars” in ultra running in the world. You are not there to compete with them but rather to experience and enjoy those 24 hours running with them. Just maintain your pace and believe in the training that you put into this race. For me, you are already winners as being the first Team PAU to represent the country in an IAU World 24-Hour Championship Event.”
Among the international running “superstars” and elite ultra runners, Pete Kostelnick of the USA will be competing in this event. He is the present Course Record Holder of the Badwater Ultramarathon in 21:56:32 hours; Fastest Man to Run Across America in 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes; and 5th fastest North American, all-time record of 163.5 miles (261.6 kilometers) covered in a 24-hour endurance run.
Let us give cheers and send good vibes to the members of the Team PAU to this event.
Thomas Combisen, the lone representative of the Philippines, finished and set a National Course Record at the 2016 IAU Asia & Oceania 24-Hour Endurance Run held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan last November 19-20, 2016. He officially represented the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU), the National Federation on Ultrarunning, and was invited by the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) to join this yearly event. He ranked #8 among the 27 International Runners with a total distance of 203.45 Kilometers covered during the duration of 24 hours of continuous running. The international runners represented the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Chinese Taiwan, and the Philippines.
Thomas Combisen qualified to join this prestigious running event for being a consistent Champion and Podium Finisher in PAU Races for the past years. He won in all the 200-Km+ distance races; set the Course Record for the Manila To Baguio 250K Race in 38:59:53 hours; and about to be awarded as one of the three candidates for the PAU 200K Grand Slam Award and to be considered as the Champion in this 4-event race as he won the past three races, namely, West To East 280K Run, Manila To Baguio 250K Run, and the North Coast 200-Mile Race.
Thomas Combisen is a native of Sagada, Mountain Province and works as a Civil Engineer in one of the Land Developers in Metro Manila and suburbs. He had been an active member of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners for the past three years.
The Letter of Invitation from the IAU and the Chinese Taipei Ultramarathon Federation, as the Host and Race Organizer was officially received by the PAU last August of this year and Thomas Combisen was chosen and informed that he will represent the country in this international ultra marathon event with three (3) months of focused training. Major General Jovenal Narcise AFP (Retired), President of the PAU met with Thomas as soon as the Invitation was received and he informed him of the details of the race, how he will train and prepare for the race, and for him not to worry of the expenses for the travel, accommodation in Taiwan, and other logistics needs for him to join the race. He was advised to prepare his travel papers (passport) and PAU will support for his visa application for Taiwan. On a weekly basis, Thomas was advised to report on the progress of his training to the President of PAU.
The 2016 IAU Asia & Oceania 24-Hour Championship Endurance Run was held on November 19-20, 2016 at the World Games Stadium Area in Kaohsiung, Taiwan with 27 International Runners from IAU-sanctioned National Federations and 450 Local & Foreign Runners under the Open Category. The race started at 3:00 PM of Saturday and ended at 3:00 PM on the following day, Sunday. Runners had to run a loop course with a distance of 1.75 kilometers. The loop course has two RFID timing mats placed at the Start/Finish and at the midway of the loop course that would record the time of the runner, the number of loops and distance the runner has covered during the event. The loop course has two Aid Stations and other amenities that the runner could use during the event. Pacers were not allowed and competing runners were not allowed to pace each other for the duration of two loops. Such violation would result to immediate disqualification of the runners.
Our main goal in this race was for Thomas to finish at least 200 kilometers during the duration of 24 hours just for him to gain experience.
On the first two loops, Thomas was leading the race with a comfortable pace of 8:30+ minutes per loop and he told me that he felt easy on the pace and I advised him to just maintain the said pace and make sure to hydrate as often as possible. On the third loop, most of the international runners (IAU-sanctioned runners) started to speed up their pace until Thomas landed on the 4th place on the 5th hour of the race since it started. During the nighttime running, he maintained the ranking of #6. He finished 100 kilometres in 10 hours and 40 minutes and I advised him that our main goal of reaching 200 is doable.
Thomas crossed the Start/Finish RFID mat with 200 kilometers covered with one hour before 3:00 PM and I advised him to just have his recovery run until the horn was sounded to officially end the event. As the event ended with sound of horn and gun fired, Thomas was able to officially register a distance of 203.45 kilometres and placed overall #8 among the 27 International Runners.
As a result, Thomas Combisen had officially set a National Record for a Filipino Runner with a distance of 203.453 kilometres with a pace of 7:05 minutes per kilometre for a 24-Hour Endurance Run.
The following is the Official Result on the Podium Finishers (Top 3 runners) among the IAU-sanctioned International Runner with their respective pace:
For the Male Category:
Barry Loveday (Australia)——235.868 kilometers (6:05 min/km)
Takayoshi Shigemi (Japan) ——230.868 kilometers (6:14 min/km)
John Pearson (Australia) ——224.849 kilometers (6:24 min/km)
Thomas Combisen’s performance on his first international exposure in IAU-sanctioned Championship Races is considered as a success and excellent performance on his part and whole RP Team. Our participation to these kind of events will continue despite the lack of corporate sponsors and financial support coming from the Government.
From the words of Thomas Combisen, he said, “Sir, if not for you, my dream to join an international running event would remain as a dream and I will remember this experience throughout the rest of my life as this is something very special to me and priceless that money could never, never ever buy!” I just smiled and replied to him, “This is just the beginning of your international exposure as more races will come in the future. Keep your feet on the ground and keep on improving on your training as I have plans already for you to join the 2017 edition of this race!”