Running at the Subic International Marathon last January 26, 2014 enabled me to completely cover the whole area of Subic Freeport on foot. The first time I ran at Subic was in November 2013 during the Subic Victory Night Run when joined the 16 km category. The route featured in that event composed of the east portion of SBMA from the Boardwalk area until just over the Subic Bay Yacht Club along Rizal Highway. The recent run at Subic under the 42 K category had me running as far as Ocean Adventure and the Morong Gate. Conquering Subic had been a happy occasion, however, it was punctured with the news from a teacher colleague and which was eventually confirmed by the event organizers the news that one of our fellow marathon runners was unfortunate enough not to celebrate crossing the finish line. He died somewhere between the 34th and 36th kilometer of the run.
It wouldn’t be fair to say I attract death whenever I join a run event but this recent demise of a runner while in a run event was the third in the three run event I have participated. The first death was by the runner Remus Fuentes, 37 years old. He was said to be within a kilometer away form the finish line when he died while running in the 21k category at the 34th Milo International Marathon in July 4, 2010. I was running my first Milo International Marathon then under the 10k category. He died of multiple organ failure from heat stroke. Hydration was said to be lacking in this event.
The second reported death while in a run event was Sigue Corre Runners’ President Romel Defeo, 35 years old. He was running in the 21k category of the PSE Bull Run last January 13, 2013. He died of hypokalemia. This is when potassium in the blood serum went below the normal level. I was also running in the 21k category of this race.
The most recent one haven’t hit the news yet. The runner, Dr. Ed Yruma 73 years old a member of the Greenhills Tri Team was running his 100th marathon when he died. I might have seen him at the 42k turn around at Ocean Adventure. He was already in bad shape judging from the grimacing expression of his face. But maybe so was I if you have seen me in the last 8 kilometers of the race. The sun was already streaking high. My left foot was aching from plantar fasciitis. The whole race route itself wasn’t necessarily forgiving in the first place.
After about 30 minutes delay at 4:30 a.m. due to clearing of the road brought about by a car accident somewhere at Rizal Highway, the race took off from inside the tracks of Remy Field. The runners made way towards Burgos St. exit of the oval and turned right towards Rizal Highway until Argonaut Highway where runners again turned right. Prior to this run, the farthest I reached from my meandering inside Subic the previous day was the Adidas Outlet along Argonaut Highway. The Petron Gas station within this area served as a pit stop for travelers and formal entrance to Subic for those coming from Manila via SCTEX. The 5th kilometer mark of the race was located along United Auctioneers Building. From here we soon entered a road that was pitch dark. This might be the CUBI Point. At our left side lines of trees sprawling. We were told at the starting lane that monkeys might be wandering along the way and would be best for us not to agitate or feed them. At the right side was the view of the harbor. While below our elevated path was the Subic International Airport which I was not aware of until we passed by it again on our way back to the finish line. Once we got out of this portion on the race it was predominantly uphill from then on. The 10th kilometer marker of the race was at Pacific Ace along Corregidor Rd. By the time we I crossed SBMA’s second gate the sky was beginning to brighten up the trees lined, winding snaked, uphill road. At the 15th kilometer in Wartsila I took my first Salt Stick capsule. I was basically walking along these uphill roads. Reaching a crossroad the runners turned right towards Ilanin Rd., a long slightly up and downward slope road. I was aware that I am at the tail end part of the lines of runners making v-line towards the end of this road. I could only see quite a few runners behind me while at the opposite side of the road runners returning from the turn around were aplenty. I saw two acquaintances of mine, one a former classmate in high school and another from the other previous run events, passed me by. Finally I reached Ocean Adventure Resort, the 42K category’s turn around and kidding-ly shouted, “finish”. A female race marshal said of course, that it was not yet, and I still had to return all the way back to Remy Field for the finish line. Laughing about this stunt brought back some vigor in me. On my way back that’s when I started counting runners behind me. I counted roughly 14. I saw another acquaintance whom also happened to be a former classmate of mine in elementary and was once a performing artist from her childhood. She was struggling due to her previous knee injury which she gotten after running at Singapore International Marathon last December 2013. It was also around this point when I saw who I believe to be Dr. Yruma. I can sense he was also laboring hard to cross the turn around point. At this junction of the race, I began to notice the bothersome pain at both feet of mine. Not so much because of the Plantar Fasciitis for it was kind of behaving a bit less boisterously all throughout of the race so far, but it was actually because of my shoes. My kinvara Saucony was somewhat loose. Only after I adjusted the shoelaces according to the style of tying I was taught by the salesperson whom sold me my New Balance shoes that got me into trouble at the Cavite to Laguna Run, that my shoes seemed to fit well and enabled me to run a bit comfortable. But the strain that was earlier caused by my haphazard wearing of shoes had already strained my feet to the point I was not capable of making longer strides without feeling some pain. I exited Ilanin Rd. and at about less than 500 meters made a right turn towards Morong Gate another turn around. From this point a lot of downhill awaited us. There were fewer runners I could see ahead of me. Somewhere near what I think was the 30th kilometer of the race the earlier acquaintance of mine who was struggling to get to Ocean Adventure passed by while riding at the back of a motorcycle. She decided to retire from the race instead of risking aggravating her condition. A wise decision I think, for there are still a lot of run events beyond SIM 2014 that is worth preparing for than dying this race for. At around the last 8 kilometers of the race, just before hitting the Subic International Airport, I caught up with four other runners. I spoke with one whose age was 52 years old and who happened to have a Plantar Fasciitis also. He said he might be running his last 42k and would prefer returning to running 21k races instead. He said he has nothing to prove anymore to anyone including himself. Soon we hit Argonaut highway. More runners were showing up ahead of us. Little by little we gain on them and even overtook a few. Other joined our little band of runners including one from the Greenhills Tri Team. We were actually feeling worried about the cut off time to the point that every time an event organizer’s vehicle or an ambulance came to view coming towards us we thought we were about to be picked up. So we hurried our pace a little until we were once again tired which was just after a couple of steps. Maybe some time at this point was when Dr. Yruma collapsed. At the last 3 kilometer of the race the Petron Gas Station came to view like a beacon telling us that our toils were about to end soon. I felt a certain vigor once again that it enabled me to stepped up my pace. I left the band of runners determined to reach the cut off time at 10:30 a.m. or at a time of 6 hours annd 30 minutes. At the last kilometer of the race I was even attempting to overtake another runner who was also picking up his speed fired perhaps by the promise of finally ending this race. Once I entered the Remy Field for the final few meter dash to the finish line, other runners were clapping and cheering for us. I struggled to keep my running pace up with the little stamina left in me otherwise it would be quite a sight if I suddenly drop speed and walk toward the arch because I finally loss my wind. But instead I was opting for a dramatic ending which is a strong finish. The race/event emcee was describing my all-smiling face over the microphone. I was actually preparing for a photo opportunity as I approach the finish line. Alas, at a time of 6:25:15 I crossed the finish line. I’m the 331th out of 360 that crossed the finish line. 14 others did not finished the race including the dead runner or perhaps he did it while his physical body was left behind under the care of those who tried to revive him and ambulanced him to the nearest hospital.
After congratulating a fellow runner, I made another dash – although, I was actually limping – for a photo-finish. Only this time towards my hotel accommodation which happened to be just a few meters away from the race venue. I was supposed to check out in about an hour. Another run event done in another place I used to be not so familiar with. Notwithstanding that death stalks in every run event, I don’t think I will easily be cowered into quitting running pretty soon. With runners like Dr. Yruma and Victor Ting, I am even more inspired to continue running even when I am all white and seemingly withered as long as my feet can carry me along the paved roads of both run events and life.