Out of Town



There’s something about running out of town. Every time I travel for an out of town run, I kind of feel like I am a real athlete about to compete on a prestigious world run event. This gives me some kind of kinship with the Kenyan runners who I also get to run along with in some of these out of town run events. I ran in two of such out of town events, the RF Pilipinas Run 2013 Angono Leg held last August 17, 2013 at Angono Rizal and at Bohol International Marathon 2013 held August 25, 2013 at San Agustin, Panglao, Bohol.


I have commented quite negatively previously about how Renderfarm under Philip Aquino Pacle had handled the Ku Ikaika 2013 but still this did not prevented me from signing up in yet another Renderfarm organized run, the RF Pilipinas Run 2013. I joined this event in such a short notice. Four days before the actual run, taking advantage of the suspension of classes with thunderstorm raging intermittently I went to Angono to pick up the race kit and seek accommodation for advance reservation to avoid running out of place to settle down before the race, thinking there will be a lot of runners coming from everywhere that might be coming in to join this event. Unfortunately, the hotel the organizer was promoting had been closed down for several months now. I went home without a sure roof to rest my head on the eve of the race event.


The day before the race I arrived at Angono and was able to booked a boarding at Insider’s View Hotel along the highway near Balaw-Balaw Restaurant. It was a kind of a sleazy motel really complete with garage room. The rate of charge was by the hours stay but I ended up paying P2,000.00 worth of hours of stay which I will not actually be able to consume. At least I’m about 10 minutes walk to the race venue.


On the day of the run, I noticed that there were only few of us running the 21k category. I’m guessing there were only a handful of us hailing from Manila. Many of the participants are local high school or college students who are probably members of the varsity running team. I’m quite prepared to lag behind after all I was after sightseeing. I didn’t saw any Kenyan among the runners who were warming up but there were couple of Caucasians among them a father and son I think. There were also old timers probably once athletes.


The race route took us from the town’s municipal plaza along Quezon Avenue then turn right to Don Mariano Avenue until the 8th kilometer where we turn towards Manuel Quezon Extension passing by the entrance going to the Angono Petroglyphs, passed by a tunnel and into East Ridge Golf Club Gate for the 10.5 K turning point then back to the Plaza. The road was basically a combination of flat concrete road until after 2.5 kilometer of the race where uphill and downhill slope more or less made up of the surface. The return run along Don Mariano Avenue resembled the downhill run I had experienced at the Santo Tomas part of the 32K Baguio 2013 Run previously organized by Philip Aquino Pacle.  I clocked 2:19 according to the yellow paper sheet the race official was holding so far, my fastest 21 k run but I doubt this.  Its either the distance was shorter or I did not see the result correctly.


Rain did not bother to show up the whole event until I was on my way back to Manila somewhere in Marikina. The following day rain did not abetted until the end of the following weekend.  Several weeks (or even months) later there were still no official race results – typical of Renderfarm – even though they were already announcing the Itogon leg of the RF Pilipinas Run and several other runs happening in Baguio area. 


I arrived in Bohol via PAL’s Manila-Tagbilaran. The last time I was in Bohol it was more than a decade ago and it was via ferry coming from Cebu. That is why I was so fascinated by the sight of Bohol from air with the Chocolate Hills now all colored green. Nothing I have seen so far was quite familiar with me in Bohol. That also goes to say I have no knowledge of my way around the city. But as usual from the airport I hiked my way just a couple of meters away from the airport before finally flagging a tricycle to take me to the Tagbilaran Community Hospital where the race kits were to be picked up. 


I met a couple from Manila. They actually were seated beside me at the airplane. They turned out to be running also the BIM2013, with the guy under the 42k category, his first time.  Soon, we were joined by another runner, a female runner from Manila who had just recently ran in a run event in Leyte. The race organizer, Dr. Brandon Bon finally arrived. The 200++ lbs. Dr. Bon told us he runs only ultramarathon nowadays. When he started running he was able to trim the 200 lbs to 120lbs. However, having stopped running for 3 years he regained the pounds. He further told us he just completed 100 kilometer and is currently preparing for a 120 km run.  


Bohol was a bit cloudy during the day of my arrival, with a little raindrop every now and then. Dr. Bon told us that it poured buckets the evening before.     


The race venue of BIM2013, I learned that moment was in St. Agustin, Panglao. About 18 kilometers away from Sun’s View Tourist Hotel where I am billeted. This means I have to find a way to go to the race event venue before 3:00 a.m. gun start. I tried walking from Tagbilaran to Panglao but it had only gotten me just after the Causeway before I settled to take a “habal-habal” or motor bike for P120.00. After inspecting the venue and admiring the 17th century old church, I hopped on a mini bus bound for Tagbilaran which fare cost only P20.00. But you will have to endure being jam-packed with the rest of the commuters until the bus reached the city. The bus’s last trip was some time at 8:00 p.m. it could not therefore be the mode of transport that will take me to the race venue come the wee hours of the evening. Before I hit the sack I managed to contract a hotel personnel to take me to the race venue via habal-habal lit by an ordinary flashlight for a headlight to the tune of P250.00.


I arrived at the St. Agustin, Panglao at around 1:00 p.m. The 42k runners had already been dispatched an hour earlier. Many things dawn to me on that dark wee hours of the evening. First, while taking the habal-habal ride, I realized I won’t be seeing the sand and sea. They are farther away from the road and hidden away by trees and properties. Besides, the best beaches are located at the other side of the island north by northwest from the road coming from the Causeway. Second, I realized that the race venue was less festive than expected. Even the stage, which was being readied when I arrived, was for another event, a beauty pageant, in fact that was to be held the next day. There were just quite a handful of booths sprouting around and an eerie absence of people that even with the music being played at the background seems could not puncture the quiet evening.


Shortly, runners began to arrive but even when all the participants of the 21k category run arrived and milled around there were only about a hundred of us. Not the most anticipated international event I expected. There were runners coming from the different parts of Manila recognized by the race host through the running clubs they belong. The only international runners I saw were the Kenyans other than that there were runners from Cebu, Bulacan and Cagayan De Oro. This was surely a classic case of miss use of the term international in the name of this event.


We were told earlier that the road was basically a long flat one with a little as 23 degrees inclination in a certain portion of the road. The road was supposedly lit. But there were areas that the light posts were too distant from one another that the road was literally pitched black. During the return trip after the 10.5 km turning point you could run into a runner coming from the opposite direction without you realizing it because of how dark the road turn out to be at this time of the morning.


Before we 21k runners had our gun start 4 of the Kenyan runners from the 42K were already crossing the finish line after running for about two hours and forty-five minutes. This was to be my time finish for this 21kilometer run.


Out route was basically St. Agustin to Dauis and back. I’m thinking round 5:30 to 6:00 am I would have already finished the run. I will arrive at my hotel at around 7:00-7:30 am and at 8:30 am would be off to the pier to take the ferry for Cebu. No time to linger around and enjoy Bohol sights and sites.


Finally we got out gun start. The road was pretty much flat alright and almost straight that even if I close my eyes, I will get to the turning point with little worry of veering too far away. However, the route was also open to vehicular traffic. At 3:00 p.m there were vehicles coming from behind me that could easily sideswipe me off the road if I digress away from the edge of the concrete road towards the inner lane. Lights from the incoming vehicle from the opposite lane also menacingly blinding out my vision almost the same way the dark road becomes indistinguishable when caught in between areas without light post or runners with headlamp leading my path.


With the road towards the turning point ahead me still lies in the great unknown, my thoughts wandered off to review what had transpired the whole day. My miscalculation about the distance of my hotel to the race event, my effort to figure out where the race venue which had gotten me to take the habal-habal for the first time, traveling along the rain soaked muddied road, with my pants getting all muddied in the process, then arriving later at my hotel to formally checked-in but instead of being entertained as valued customer had to wait for almost another hour beyond the check in time. I don’t know if my having mudded clothes and having beard growing had somehow diminished my appearance from the imagined out of town athlete competing in a prestigious race event into a seemingly drug cartel fugitive hiding out in Columbia had something to do with the shabby reception.  Another vehicle came dangerously close passed by and had gotten me off my reverie. I felt I was running an eternity. I checked my watch and thought I should have already gotten pass by the turning point for the 10. 5k. Maybe the distance of this race was not also accurate.


The actual run went totally uneventful. There were nothing at all to see to make the route quite interesting. As far as the community residing within the area who were still fast asleep, we were not even a spectacle worth bothering to watch and cheer about. They might not even be aware there’s a race event going on at all.


After the run there was nothing much for me to linger around. So, after downing the free snack which composed of hardboiled egg, bottled water and I have completely forgotten the other one, with still perspiration running down on my body for I have not brought a change outfit thinking a finisher shirt might be given away, I hiked to the bus terminal wearing an Adidas windbreaker over my shirtless skin. As the bus motored away there were still runners making their way to the finish line at the opposite side of the road. I wondered if running the 42 k category would be more satisfying than the 21k run I did.


It was surprising to note that no one bothered to comment about this race event in any of the more popular blogs and event webpages. The organizers’ FB site remained without any update about the race result of this event. It is as if the event never occurred at all or everyone who got involved in this race event got quite satisfied with their experiences that any comment about it was unnecessary. Another organizer got away unscathed in spite of a lousy organizing.