Beating Being Broken By Bonpen 100

After running so many times in Laguna I am slowly making my incursions in Quezon Province. Previously I made it to Lucban, Quezon through the events, Laguna to Quezon 50 Kilometers Ultramarathon and to Infanta, through Rizal to Laguna to Quezon 85 Kilometers Ultramarathon by Run Mania Philippines and in Sariyaya, Quezon through Batangas to Quezon 66 Kilometers Ultramarathon event by Runn’ Active.  Last March 18-19, 2017 I ran 100 kilometers from Catanauan, Quezon to Malicboy, Pagbilao, Quezon in Runn’ Active event’s, 4th Bonpen 100. Bonpen short for Bondoc Peninsula is located in the southeastern part of Quezon Province and comprised of 12 municipalities, which mostly are situated in mountain locked areas while Tayabas Bay hugged the western portion of the peninsula and the island of Marinduque lurks farther to the west. The Bonpen 100, however covered only 7 of the 12 municipalities but this didn’t made the route any less difficult.

 

I should have taken a hint from BatoQ 66, the 1st Runn’ Active event that I had participated to figure out how hard Bonpen 100 might be. Instead I threw my cares away and simply registered thinking that the route would be flat only to find out this event featured a lot of steep rolling and snaking road; exposure to intense heat of the sun that could have beaten my self-supporting ass to submission and eventually to another DNF if it were not for some timely assistance from the support crew of my fellow runners Errald of Sariayaya Runners and Team Oragon Ultramarathon Runners.

 

The race for the 17 participants (2 of which were female) began at the Municipal Building of Catanauan at 10:30 pm. Like me most of the participants had already run in Runn’ Active’s other events.  The only difference was that many of the participants were gunning for this year’s grand slam. As a result they knew each other pretty much from the other events. I am familiar with this year’s Bonpen champion Rodel who also participated at the events Ibtur and Tarayem where he also brought home the championship. I met Orlan in the event Rizal to Laguna to Quezon then saw him again in Mayon 360 and Isla Catanduanes Ultramarathon. I had seen Zenik from Griv Brown’s event, Tacloban City to Basey Samar.  Vhin runner from Team Oragon Ultramarathon Runners recognized me from ICUM and TC2BS.  Melody one of the female runners was a recent Bataan Death March Grand Slam Finisher while Alex of TOUR was taking Bonpen 100 as his first 100 kilometer distance run.

 

After being given the gun start I, as usual, began with a slow pace run. While I was in Catanauan, which was supposedly a first class municipality I could not find any place to visit for sight seeing. Beside that it was really too hot to walk around the town, I had no idea that there is a watchtower to which the place was originally named after. Catanauan was occasionally raided in the 18th and 19th century by Moro, so a “magatanauan” or what came to be called the Santa Maria watchtower was built and was mounted with artilleries. After passing by the statue of Andres Bonifacio at about the 1st kilometer we passed by Catanauan Bridge.  We then followed the Gumaca-Pitogo-Mulanay-San Narciso Road. As soon as I reached the 5 kilometers I was already overtaking the eldest participant Zenik. Not far ahead was the Foot Vikini wearing Romeo Jhon and ahead of him the 2 times Bonpen 100 finisher Marjohn who was taking his 3rd take of Bonpen but this time the reverse route.  I eventually overtook these latter two somewhere before we reached General Luna at the 25th kilometers.  The evening was punctured with dogs barking along most of the way we passed by and will continue so until finally day broke out.  At the 36th kilometers lies Macalelon Highway Junction. There were marshals and local emergency response team eyeing the road. I was directed to turned right going towards Lucena. A kilometer away I passed by the eerie looking Mountain of Faith, which was made up of life size tableau of Station of the Cross. Not farther ahead was another runner who was resting but as soon as he saw me he went ahead. I didn’t recognize him from anyone whom I later met. I didn’t try to chase him for the path was a bit uphill. I told myself I’ll catch up later. At least I caught up with one runner after Marjohn overtook me earlier.

 

In retrospect a couple of years back I was not at all dreaming of running a 100 kilometers but after you tried once and then managed to accomplish one, joining the 102 Bataan Death March Run becomes irresistible. Thus every 100 kilometers event I joined becomes a preparation for BDM. Last February I already submitted my letter of intent to participate the BDM102 2018. I made an error of submitting the letter online hours before the official time Bald Runner instructed to submit. BR got angry of course to the point of threatening to disqualify the 20 plus overly eager BDM warrior aspirants.

 

When I arrived at the 45 kilometers it was already early about 6:00 in the morning. Vhin, Alex and Cyrus of the Team Oragon Ultramarathon Runners were having breakfast beside their support vehicle located at the Pitogo Junction. They invited me to join them. Romeo also arrived a few minutes later and was also invited for a breakfast. This became an opportunity for us to get better acquainted with each other. It was here I learned that I had encountered Alex, Cyrus and Vhin earlier in ICUM and TCBS events. After breakfast I went ahead to make a courtesy stop at the Petron Pototanin about two kilometers ahead where Rodel, the RD was waiting for runners to pass by.  After I left the gas station about a couple of kilometers away Alex and company passed me by Romeo whom I think was having some difficult time running with his Vikini sandal was lagging behind us. All of a sudden rain began to pelt. I feared blisters would appear and wreck havoc to this campaign later.  Somewhere along the way among the uphill portion Marjohn appeared and was soon running along Vhin and Cyrus. Alex at this point was slowing down a bit. The rain, which came so sudden disappeared just as quickly and was replaced by the sun which seemed to have a score to settle with us. We were soon taking a road that has steep rolling hills. I was staring at the couple runners ahead climbing the third hill while I was at the summit of the first hill. It was an amazing sight. A zigzagging downhill soon came up. I took this as an opportunity to run so fast that I overtook once again the runners from TOUR along with Marjohn. After this I didn’t see them again for quite some time. At the 61st kilometers was Unisan-Panagon Junction. The right direction leads to Gumaca, I think. I took the left portion of the fork heading to the town proper, which lies at the 64th kilometers and was close to the sea. The name of the municipal was derived from the Spanish word, “unir” meaning unite. Possibly by reduccion, which was a practice of relocating inhabitants to a town where the Spanish government could easily keep an eye on them. Another possible origin of the name of the place was uniting the inhabitants under Uni-Sancti or one saint, which was Friar Pedro Bautista a missionary of Kalilayan (the old name of Quezon) who was canonized Saint following martyrdom in Japan.

 

At a 7-11 Store I met for the first time the support crew of Errald of Team Sariayaya. It turned out that he was just ahead of me a little. I was thinking whether he was the one I saw at Macalelon. But I never got the chance to ask him when I caught up with him and his crew a little bit later. Errald with his support crew extended valuable assistance to me along the route just as the support crew of Vhin, Alex and Cyrus when they caught up with Errald and I.  It turned out Vhin had an injury along the way and had to bow out of the race earlier. Along the way we caught up with a pair of runners Bryne and Anthony whom I thought were also spent. But after a while they were soon stepping on the gas and left us to ponder where else to get a dose of extra stamina. I soon fell behind everyone else and entered the town of Agdangan all by myself. This was at the 73rd kilometers.

 

The last 30 plus kilometers were actually more sketchy to me because at this point I was already concern about whether I could actually make it before the 18 hours cut off time given that I was actually getting so tired. By the time I crossed to the town of Padre Burgos whose Welcome Arch marked the 95 kilometers of the race, I couldn’t care anymore about cut off time. All I was ever cared for was to get home and take this event as an additional mileage for my very first and farthest distance run in the event, Bataan Freedom Trail 160 kilometers Ultramarathon and Bike Tour happening in April 10, 2017.  Actually I was still able to overtake Alex and Marjohn along the way but I was pretty much sure they were not far behind me and could easily wrestle my lead to them as easily. I couldn’t describe my feeling upon finally seeing the arch that says I am already out of Bondoc Peninsula and was heading down Pagbilao. In a little while longer I saw a runner who had already finished the race coming towards me. He spoke the precious words that I am nearing the finish line. Well it was about time since I had less than 20 minutes to make it there before I wind up not listed once again among the finishers just as what happened at my successful bid at Tarayem Sasanggasot. Soon I was seeing more runners this time at a shaded bus stop. I made it to the finish line just in a nick of time. I was the last runner to make it before cut off with a time of 17:55:31. Alex came about 15 minutes after followed by Marjohn. Zenik finally made an appearance to the finish line beating Romeo Jhon.

 

Later in the week I saw my name as among those who finally made the cut for BDM102 2018.  This was a joyous occasion but also a dilemma presented to me, for I am about to embark on my first 160 kilometer race in Bataan featuring the 160 kilometers BDM route but not the one organized by BR. This might throw my chance away at running in BDM102 2018 as I have already heard in the pipeline that those who will participate in the Bataan Freedom Run would be disqualified to run in BDM. Thus my road to BDM102 was gravely in peril.

 

 

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Spending My Weekend at Speed 50-Mactan

January 28, 2017 was the 9th Bataan Death March 102 event’s day. Many of my running acquaintances including those whom I first met only at the beginning of 2016 at the event, Tagaytay to Nasugbu were marching to the beat of the drum of the BDM fever. T2N for many of these friends of mine was their first ultramarathon event and now they were 102 kilometers away from taking home the much coveted kilometer road marker designed trophy that would certify them as BDM Warriors. Me, I was in Cebu again and scratching off from my bucket list Mactan Island as one of my must run destinations. Four weeks ago I only brushed a portion of Mactan on what was then called Opon or Opong, one of the settlement areas given to Lapu-Lapu by King Humabon, when at the event, Cebu City Marathon I crossed Marcelo Fernan Bridge to reach Mactan and made a U-turn at a portion of the Manuel L. Quezon National Highway. This time in an out and back race event, Speed 50 – Mactan, I went around Mactan to get a better acquaintance with the island.

 

The event, Speed 50-Mactan held last January 28, 2017 was organized by Miles Multisport Cebu Company with Blue as Race Director. It was also the same outfit that organized the, Trans Cebu Ultramarathon in which I ran 55 kilometers in 2015 and in 2016 run under the 105 kilometers category but only made it as far as 67 kilometers. Until now I am still deciding if I should put TCU 105k behind me by taking it on once again this year or should I let it go for now to give myself a chance to see and run in other places and races. Speed 50 was also held in Tagaytay last December 3, 2016 but I just finish 117 kilometers the previous week in the event, Andres Bonifacio Day Ultramarathon and couldn’t participate. In Tagaytay Blue did not fare well as an organizer. Loads of issues rocked the event such as late gun start, running out of hydration at AS 2, awarding of wrong finisher shirt, running out of trophies for the finishers.

 

In Speed 50-Mactan 107 participants saw action. I noticed that there were only 3 who hailed from Manila. The other two aside from me were Willie and Shane both from Makati and my first time to meet them.  Most of the other participants were from the different parts of Cebu. The other participants came from Palawan, Bacolod, Ormoc, Tacloban, and Dapitan City. Two foreign participants from the countries of Germany and Canada also graced the occasion.

 

Speed 50 is the opposite of TCU where the latter espouses, “Slow is the new fast” because of the numerous steep rolling the route offers, which could only mean running it in slower pace for average participants. As against Speed 50’s “Speed is of the essence” which challenges participants to finish 50 kilometer distance in sub 8 hours. With my sub-8 hours finish at the event, Hero to hero Rizal Day Ultramarathon held last December 28, 2016, I saw no problem in accomplishing the task. I was hoping that I will maintain finishing 50k sub-8 so that I might have a better chance of finishing BDM102 before the 18 hours cut off at the finish line.

 

On Speed 50’s event day itself however, I was still feeling quite not fully recovered yet from the previous week’s 65 kilometers run at the event, Paoay Church to Vigan Cathedral (PC2VC) where I finished 10 hours and 44 minutes and ranked 13th from the 44 participants. And then there was the rain that went on in the evening of the gun start. I feared that the road might be flooded in and covered from view the potholes along the way. It did not help that I chose not to bring along my headlamp even though I had it with me when I arrived at the event venue. I deposited it to the baggage counter along with the hotel keys and change clothes. As if to further sow fear into my heart an hour before gun start a power transmission blew up at the height of torrid rain and plunged the whole area in total darkness brought about by the power outage. I was thinking my quest for a sub-8 was in peril since I would probably crawl my way to the finish line to avoid stepping on potholes and other obstacle along the way. Power was restored at about 30 minutes before the gun start and I was able to give a sigh of relief.

 

The gun start was given at 10:00 pm., about the same time the gun start was given for the BDM warriors at Mariveles, Bataan. As if they were running in a 10 kilometers distance race and were pitting for a podium finish, most of the participants sprinted away. I was carried along the melee and was easily puffing along after hardly covering a kilometer distance as I tried to chase the group of runners in front of me. I could not keep up that I began to lag behind them. The race route started at Lapu-Lapu City Hall located at Barangay Pusok along Manuel Quezon Highway near a Gaisano Mall. Thinking that Hotel California was near the starting area since it was also beside a Gaisano Mall I booked it as my accommodation. However, it turn out that its location was in Basak-Gisi-Agus Road, which is about 4 kilometers away from the event venue about 51 minutes walk or 22 minutes ride on a taxi cab if the road is clear from any traffic jam which was not so on the night of the event. I had to take a “habal-habal” or motorbike, which could easily ride through tiny gaps and corner of the road to get to the event venue.

 

Runners proceeded towards the direction going to Mactan Export Processing Zone 1 passing by Mactan Marina Mall and the Mactan Airport Road. I thought I was once again at the tail end of the lines of runners since ahead of me the crowd of runners I was chasing had thinned out. It was only upon reaching the first aid station at the 5th kilometer at Barangay Buaya that I realized there were still other runners behind me. Aid Stations for this event were spaced from each other in roughly 5 kilometers apart. Once I found myself adjusted to the activity and any of the previous difficulty I was feeling dissipated I was able to run faster. We headed to Punta Engaño Road, which veered from the Quezon National Highway for our first U-turn. Punta Engaño, whose translation means “deception point” because the area seemed to resemble Cebu’s port. It was believed that a lot of ships trading with Cebu were misled to think they were heading for Cebu port but was actually passing along the bay where Lapu-Lapu’s men could easily launch a raid attacks on the ships for its cargoes and men. On the way to the U-turn, runners pass by the Mactan Shrine, which commemorates the Battle of Mactan that happened in April 1521 that led to the defeat and eventual death of Ferdinand Magellan. Inside it contains the 20 meters high bronze statue of Lapu-Lapu. A few meters away, the Magellan’s Monument, which was erected in 1866 by the Spanish Colonial Government. The finisher trophy of this event carried the Magellan’s Monument design. The road was uphill here but I run it anyway until I was overtaking Willie and Shane who told me earlier they took the first 50 kilometers of BDM in 7 hours. Also in our earlier conversation Willie was commenting a bit negatively about his friends who were running weekly in run events. I haven’t told him I did the same thing. Another runner, the 55-year old James, a former surgeon whom I had spoken with later during the run found it similarly crazy that I had already figured in around 30 plus marathons. I haven’t told him yet of my 40 plus ultramarathon runs. James plans to run in Athens, the Alps, and in New York. Not quite as crazy as I was doing. It wasn’t the first time that I sensed that some fellow runners look upon those who run in events weeks after weeks in a somewhat negative fashion although they say it as a joke. How much more by those who doesn’t run at all? They seem to think this spending spree on running and exposure to future injuries as a stunt. I’m kind of reminded of Rolf Potts the author of the book, Vagabonding, who also felt the lifestyle he and other people like him chose to pursue was way too self indulgent and foolish. Potts was espousing a vagabonding lifestyle which entailed travelling for an extended period of time. Potts wrote, “Vagabonding is, was, and always will be a private undertaking and its goal is to improve your life not in relation to your neighbors but in relation to yourself.” People react negatively maybe because, “they might take your growing freedom as a subtle criticism of their own way of life. Because your fresh worldview might appear to call their own values into question or at least force them to consider those values into a new light.”

 

After the U-turn, which marked the 10th kilometers of the race I was again retracing the path going back to the Quezon National Highway. For some time now I was very much curious at what can Mactan offers by way of attraction since I had not seen much from the area near the airport and from my hotel. It turned out that various swimming and diving resorts lines up the eastern and southern portion of Mactan and all of which could easily be reach by Public Utility Vehicles plying the road I was walking at most of the time I was in Mactan trying to kill time before boarding the plane back to Manila.

 

Once again I was passing by the Mactan Shrine. Historian Dr. Gerona wrote that in spite of being given land for settlements, one of which was Mandaue or Mandawili, which Lapu-Lapu was able to develop into agricultural cultivations that further enriched the trade port of Cebu. The other land given to him, Opon was unproductive and may have forced Lapu-Lapu’s hand to plundering ships. The name Opon and Mactan was probably not the names given by Lapu-Lapu to the land where he built his community. Opon, whose variation Opol has a meaning “to block a river or pass with tree” while Opang means, “to create enemies or quarrel with others”. On the other hand, Mactan or Magahat means, “to kill or injure with the purpose of plunder”. We have now a very clear picture of what was Cilapulapu or Lapu-Lapu was meant to Humabon.

 

Upon exiting Punta Engaño Road we turned right to Quezon National Highway heading toward Barangay Maribago. The 15th kilometer Aid Station offered beer and barbecue among other goodies. I did not drink beer as I was still not quite sure of the benefit of beer in running. Since I started running I had drank less beer. After a quick hydration I resumed running once again but this time I kind of slowed down as I began to feel exhausted. Willie and Shane once again made their appearance and took the lead from me. I am no longer worried though, of being among the last runners because I have seen on my way back from the U-turn that there were others way behind me. I noticed that there were a lot of Korean Nationals in Mactan. There were also Korean establishments especially near the resort areas but not as many as those I saw in Angeles City. We passed by a few of the Koreans who were still up along the route. The next Aid Station was at the 20th kilometers along Barangay Marigondon. The road that intersected with the Quezon National Highway to the right leads to another series of beach resorts. Our race route was to the left towards Maximo Patalinghug Jr. Avenue where Basak and my hotel accommodation were located. It was just a couple of hours ago that this road was overflowing with vehicles now only puddles of water and exposed pavements to run on. The race route was heading towards the other end of Quezon National Road in Barangay Pusok were the race started. But Just before touching base with Quezon Nation Highway a U-turn awaited us.

 

The U-turn also served as the 25th kilometer Aid Station. At this AS resting were Willie and Shane. I wanted to take this as an opportunity to get ahead of them once again so I quickly spring back to the road and resumed my campaign now retracing our way back to the starting area. At about 300 meters I was doing intervals of walking and running. I was soon catching up with the 55 year old James and his two Cebu Road Rhythm Teammates. At first I thought I caught one of their teammate cheating when suddenly another runner joined the group of James after I thought I saw him coming out of the other side of their support vehicle. I was not really sure if this fourth runner were with them all along for I haven’t noticed him earlier. So, from then on I was keeping a close watch of the 4 runners to see further proof that they were cheating.

 

At 30th kilometers near Mactan Newtown Condominium another Aid Station awaited the runners. While hydrating I espied a couple bearing white paper cups emerging out from a corner hidden from my sight inside the property of Mactan Newtown. I guess this place could probably be the only other place where a Starbucks could be found aside from the ones in inside the Airport Road and Airport itself. From this AS runners soon turned right and once again running the Punta Engaño Road. Just before the U-turn another runner a female one joined James. I had not seen her earlier tagging the group of James. I was pretty sure now there was something fishy going on. However, after the U-turn I had a chance to speak with James and learned from him that his teammates where just pacing him and were not participants of the event as they failed to register in the race. With only 8 more kilometers to go James expressed his decision not to anymore tire himself further. He said that he would just walk the rest of the way. He believed that even with him walking he could still achieve a sub 7 finish. I was tempted to follow his lead and continue with our conversation. But the thought of possibly finishing sub 7 was more inviting for me so I bade James fare well and proceeded to run passing once again and for the last time the Mactan Shrine.

 

Said to be overwhelmed by military temper and wounded pride, on April 27, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan with sixty well-armed men who all lacking in battle experience along with Humabon and native men boarding 30 balanghai, they arrived at what came to be called the Magellan Bay. About 1,500 of Lapu-Lapu’s men from Opong and Buaya were already waiting and keeping eyes on the approaching fleet. Magellan’s ship docked about 8 kilometers away off shore and proceeded to approach the shore via smaller boats. Humabon and his men were told to stay put and watch the attack. Magellan’s musketeers and crossbowmen fired upon the shore but with the distance of about 60 yards they inflicted minimal damage and casualties. Magellan’s men succeeded their landfall and started burning houses at the nearby coastal settlements. Little did Magellan know the natives were actually luring them to a close range combat for which the Spaniards were absolutely unprepared to engage with. When the natives finally engaged the attacking forces, the former aimed their attack at the vulnerable portion of the Spaniards, which were at the exposed legs not covered with armor. One poison arrow utilized by the natives hit Magellan’s right leg. Magellan’s men began retreating hastily leaving Magellan with only 6 to 8 of his most loyal soldiers. There were different accounts on how exactly Magellan met his death but what basically occurred was that Magellan was soon identified by the natives and focused their attack on him. Weakened by his wound he was easily exposed to lance attack from the natives who soon gang up on him. Magellan was possibly hacked to death by his assailants. Magellan died in the area of Punta Engaño, which was at some point known as Punta Pangusan which means, “nose eaten by leprosy”.

 

As I got out once again of the Punta Engaño Road and spilled the Quezon National Highway this time on the return trip to the Starting area for the finish, my thoughts turned to my other fellow runners running in the BDM. Unlike Magellan whose odds were against him when he faced up with Lapu-Lapu’s men, the BDM warriors enjoyed one of the odds working for them-the weather. Unlike in the other edition of BDM in which the unrelenting heat of the sun was a vicious opponent especially along the route between Dinalupihan, Bataan and San Fernando, Pampanga, in this year’s edition the sun was mum by the prevailing cold front sweeping the northern portion of the Luzon. As I was nearing the 45th kilometers and the last AS, I also imagined the glee of the BDM warriors who almost halfway through their journey. They would soon either be looking forward to the second part of the BDM series which is the 160 kilometer distance or like others who settled to put an end to the madness of joining run events and move on to other less extraneous endeavors. For my part the last 5 kilometers seemed still quite a distance to cover with my diminishing strength. I shuffled once again from running to walking to preserve enough strength for a possible dash to the finish line. I checked my watch and saw that I wouldn’t make it sub-7. But at least I made it sub-8 which was after all the whole point of this event. I decided to walk further. About 300 meters from the finish line I was still able to over take another runner. Upon sighting the finish area I removed my running goggles and made a dash for the finish tarp. Upon reaching the finish line I saw at the event clock that I made it 7 hours and 9 minutes. 9 freaking minutes short just as when I joined the Pinoy Fitness Sub 1 10k Challenge in July 2015 in Baguio City thereby missing getting a finisher medal for Sub 1. Although in the past I had done sub-1 in 10 kilometers, it seem I couldn’t repeat the feat since I started running marathon and ultras. I found out later that I rank 52nd out of 107 participants. 94 of these 107 participants were sub 8 finishers. James was escorted by his teammates to the finish line garnering a time of 7 hours and 31 minutes while Willie and Shane came with a time of 7:39 hours. Not quite the latter’s BDM’s first 50k finish. They did not actually finish BDM either and was probably looking forward for a return bout. Maybe in the next edition of BDM we’ll get to see each other again.

 

 

Making It To Mactan Via Marathon

Peewee and I were about to hit the 1,237 meter long formerly Consolacion Bridge now Marcelo Fernan Bridge, which will take us to Lapu Lapu City in the island of Mactan, Cebu.  I told Peewee that contrary to popular knowledge, when the Portuguese then working for the Spanish Crown Ferdinand Magellan hit the beach of Mactan to Confront Lapu-Lapu, this Mactan chief was not at all the virile fierce looking and mascular young man the statues depicted him to be. According to historian Danilo Gerona the Portuguese Gaspar Correa obtain reports from the survivors of the Magellan expedition describing Lapu-Lapu as “Viejo” which means an age between 60 to 70 years old. Peewee was of course surprised to hear this since like everyone else who look upon Lapu Lapu as precursor to all subsequent nationalistic resistance to colonial incursion to the Philippines in an image more ideally and closer to myth.

Soon we were climbing the uphill portion of the bridge. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I finally got my chance to run at this bridge inaugurated in 1999 which before I only get to admire from the older Osmeña Bridge while walking on my way to Mandaue City. The experience of running along the bridge was enough to assuage my disappointment borne out of the postponement of the event, Boundless Pagudpud which was originally scheduled January 7, 2017 and where I was originally scheduled to run. Realizing that with only 16 of us participating in the event, Randy the organizer of BP saw that a better opportunity await him if he coincide BP with an international ultra marathon event, Philippinelauf organized by Thomas Durnborg of Germany happening on February 17-27, 2017 he quickly without consideration  to us participants ditch the January 7 implementation of the event Boundless Pagudpud and message us that we won’t either refund since the fee had already been committed to the souvenirs and finisher medals. The Philippinelauf is a 6-stage event that would cover the Ilocos Norte’s towns of Burgos, Bangui, Pagudpud and Adams.    The Pagudpud stage of Philippinelauf happening in February 25 is the one coinciding with Boundless Pagudpud. I was originally booked to fly to Laoag on January 6 and because I got the seat on a sale promo I could not cancel my flight booking. I could only however change the destination. It just so happen that the event, Cebu City Marathon was slated on January 8, 2017.  Thus this was how I ended up in Cebu 3 weeks earlier from my other Mactan run scheduled in January 28, 2017.

I thought after my participation at Cebu City Marathon in 2015 I won’t anymore be participating in any CCM in some conceivable future time.  The last time was a bit of disappointment for me. Thinking CCM was the most anticipated event in Cebu I expected it to be big in a lot of ways.  In its current 10th year the organizers of CCM tried to introduce some changes. Compared to 2015’s medal design, the current design was way larger although the medal size for all the different categories should have been different. The medal should also contain distance finished. The finisher shirt I had before after washing lost its prints. The race route was also different from the past events. Instead of taking runners to Talisay the route took runners across three cities namely Cebu City, Mandaue City and to Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan. However the race route leading to Mactan was also the road taken by those going to the airport and northern portion of Cebu. Those that got caught in the traffic jam were of course not way too happy about this change in the usual route.

The race route began at Ayala’s Cebu Business Park, a couple of blocks away from Ayala Terraces. It was actually a bit quieter portion of the district with too little people venturing the area. Even the Mercanto, a night food bazaar set up near the event was not attracting patron and had to close up before CCM actually began missing entirely the opportunity to have hungry runners indulge themselves on the different food offered by the bazaar.  All the while I was thinking I.T. Park near Salinas Drive was still the event’s venue. I was ideal event venue since it has lots of establishments catering to the numerous BPO offices in the area.  I actually just stumbled upon the current event’s start/finish area by accident when while I was walking I was searching for an easier way to get back to my hotel from Ayala Terraces. It turned out that the event venue was a mere 5-7 minute walk from my hotel located at Echavez Street.

From Cebu Business Park after the 3:00 am gun start runners proceeded to Cardinal Rosales and then to Mindanao Avenue before heading off to Juan Luna Avenue Extension. The weather that evening was cooler with a bit of raindrops coming down every once in a while. Storm Auring was brewing at the Caraga Region in north east of Mindanao and was affecting the weather in Cebu which was supposedly among the storm’s itinerary on its way to the western portion of the country. I was breaking in my Salomon Sonic Pro, which I got for a mere P1.00 from the Salomon Store buy 1 take 1 for P1.00 Promo. One problem I always encounter when buying running shoes is that I couldn’t get the proper size for me. The Salomon Sonic Pro size 10 US seem to be a bit large for me and I was worried it might slip away from my feet. My other shoes Zoot Kalani 3.0, which I was also breaking in by wearing it coming to Cebu and walking around it seemed too small for size 9.5.

After Juan Luna Avenue Extension we crossed an intersection and found ourselves along Salinas Drive before turning left to Gorordo Avenue. I observed that the route we had run at was slightly uphill. At the Aid Station I caught up with the Paddler Dana whom I first met at Tagaytay to Nasugbu run. Her fellow paddler Mark whom I met at Antique Marathon was still far behind Dana.  From Gorordo Avenue we turned right to Escario heading off towards Cebu Provincial Capitol before turning left to Jones Avenue. I noticed compared to CCM 2015 the Sinulog theme revelries in the current event were not as pronounced. Back in CCM 2015 in almost every Aid Stations and crucial spots you either hear the popular Sinulog music playing in the background on large speakers. There were street dancers regaling runners to the beat of drums playing. In the current event we only saw a semblance of these along Salinas Drive and in Plaridel Street near Mactan Bridge.    Upon hitting Fuente Osmeña Circle runners ran towards the extension of Jones Avenue before turning left to Pantaleon Del Rosario and the U-turn at Imus Avenue. Around this area I caught up with Peewee. Running along him was Joel who organized the event, Run for Rogel where I got my taste of endurance running. The event Run for Rogel had runners run 40 kilometers around a 2.5 kilometers route at Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Joel actually was off seasoned for almost a year and had just return to running at the event, Hero to Hero held last December 29-30, 2016. Peewee was aiming to finish the race sub 6 which I was also aiming to accomplish after being encourage with my establishing a PR at Hero to Hero. Running at the other side of the road going towards the U-turn we saw Ann with her another Mark who also ran both Run for Rogel and Hero to Hero. Rogel was a runner who got hit by a vehicle while running in the event UP to UP. The Run for Rogel was for the financial assistance needed for operation and rehabilitation.

Soon Peewee made his move and careened away. I only got to chase after him when Joel complaint of some issue around his knee area and couldn’t proceed in a faster pace. I took this as signal for me to go ahead and left Joel.  He would be finishing later with the Team Cabalen who started strongly ahead of us but lost steam about 10 kilometers before the finish area.  The trip along Jones Avenue going back to Escario was once again uphill. But I took the uphill running and was surprised I was running even faster than I usually do on uphill. I caught up once again with Peewee. We were again retracing our previous path going back to Juan Luna Street. Juan Luna this time was downhill so just like at the downhill after UP Los Baños in Rizal Day Hero to Hero held last December 29-30, 2016 I took advantage of the downhill to gain some speed leaving behind Peewee. The route took the runners all the way to SM Cebu near the Port Area. After hydrating themselves at the Aid Station there runners ran to the left to Osmeña Boulevard. In Cebu City Marathon 2015 the race route brought the participants to lots of interesting sights that included Colon District which is considered the oldest city in the Philippines, Sto. Niño Church, Fort San Pedro, Cebu South Road and SM Seaside Mall among others. Unlike this year’s, which seem to have as the event’s logo shows the Marcelo Fernan Bridge as the main highlight. This was as if the event took cue from the Penang Bridge International Marathon. The route to the bridge was a reclaimed portion and had nothing yet remarkable sights that could be cited along the way.  Although way back when I was still with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, I heard of talks of putting up a Maritime Museum at the port area that would house galleon ships and preserved shipwrecks. I have not heard since then of anything that resembled such being built in Cebu.

Osmeña Boulevard gave way to Ouano Avenue and soon passing by Parkmall. This area for me resembled the portion in Manila going to along Macapagal Boulevard.  By the time I was plying Jose Briones it was already daylight although an over cast one. After the Aid Station I am running on Plaridel Street initially worried that all those who were coming back at the other side of the road were mostly from 21k runners.  As I hit United Nation Avenue I was stunned when all of sudden someone pat me on my shoulder. It turned out it was Peewee. He finally caught up with me. Ahead of us we could already see Marcelo Fernan Bridge that will take us across Mactan Channel and into Mactan Island. The island whose name was probably derived from the word, “Mangati” or “Mangatag” which is connected with thieving activities or piracy which was the island was being identified was about at the time of Lapu Lapu.  Zubu or Sugbu which was the old name of Cebu was at that time a flourishing port village and served as the central market for domestic products such as cotton, slaves, gold, sugar and ginger from within island or with the neighboring friendly island. The Visayan “pintados” identified in the Boxer Codex were probably those hailing from Mactan that raided rich loaded ships bound for Cebu and kidnap crews for ransom. The raiding must have greatly affected Rajah Humabon’s business or clients and forced Humabon to solicit the service of Magellan to put a stop to this problem. While approaching the bridge we noticed that it was inclined uphill just as how I saw San Juanico Bridge while approaching it when I ran in the event, Tacloban City to Basey Samar last November 2016. After crossing the Marcelo Fernan Bridge we turned left along Old Patiller Road and into Manuel Quezon National Highway passing by the road that leads to Cebu International Airport, Mactan Marina Mall and Mactan Export Processing Zone. Traffic of vehicles were a bit heavy as we run along but as we run farther away heading for the Mactan Circumferential Road the traffic thinned. Soon we had our final U-turn and were on our way back. Only about 12 kilometers left before we could finally conclude this race. However, our quest to finish sub 6 might be in peril since both Peewee and I were getting exhausted already that we had to do more run walk. At the other side of the road just heading for the U-turn I saw Jez, a Cebu based runner whom I ran along with in Trans Cebu Ultramarathon in 2015 and in Bohol Marathon 2016. While at the Marcelo Fernan Bridge coming from the opposite side were triathletes Julie and Nheng whom I met at Corregidor Marathon about same time last year. Julie was suffering from a foot injury otherwise she would be farther ahead of me. Another runner we met coming at the opposite lane was Magina who usually was faster than I am but currently lagging. She had not run since November 2016 at Lahar (volcanic discharged sand) trail Clark-Miyamit 50. I thought to myself that in spite of how we were doing we were not doing quite badly after all.  In fact to my great surprise, upon approaching the finish line I saw that there were still a few minutes still left before the 6th hour. I ended up with an official time of 5:54:45 about 3 minutes faster than my 40th Milo Marathon finish.   I was hoping this will have bearing on my return run to Mactan on January 28, 2017 for the Speed 50-Mactan where I am aiming for a sub-8 finish for 50 kilometers. Who knows I might be encouraged to try to redeem myself after my failed performance in Trans Cebu Ultramarathon under the 105 kilometer last year.

 

 

Before The Year Runs Out A Number Of Things To Run By

With the last run of the year, Hero To Hero, held December 30, 2016 organized by Run Mania Philippines Promotion Incorporated done, I bade 2016 goodbye with the reporting of the following running accomplishments for this year. This 2016 I had a total distance run in various events of about 1,785 kilometers as against 2015’s 1,858 kilometers which give me 75 kilometers short from last year’s. Compare to 2015’s 13 marathon events participated I only had 10 this year although it is still better from 2014’s 6. Instead I had more half marathon this year with 11 compare to last year’s 4. I participated in 12 ultramarathon events this year, which included 2 successful finished in 100+ kilometers distance event.  Last year I had 16 ultramarathon participations with 87 kilometers as the farthest distance ran after I failed to accomplish my first 100+ kilometers attempt in Ilocos. From this year’s 12 ultra only 5 were 50 kilometers distance while the previous year I figured in 11 50 k distance events.   In 2014 I joined only 8 ultramarathon events with 2 almost back to back 60 kilometers as the farthest distance ran. This was already a feat considering I just started running ultramarathon in December of 2013.  I had 3 DNFs this year whereas last year 2, however, the 2014 was the worst with 4 DNFs that almost came one after the other. That because I had Plantar Fascitiis back then that only recovered by October 2014 as a result by 2015 I had foot pain issues which might still be attributed to that previous ailment or develop out from it. This foot issue kind of slowed my pace down.  By 2016 that foot pain issue was completely forgotten. However, after running 80 kilometers in the event, Smart Mayon 360 in April I began to suffer acid reflux that was causing my chest area to experience pain. I figured that if I start slow the tightening feeling in my chest disappear after about 2 kilometers. I hope by 2017 this too becomes a thing of the past.

 

This year my running was able to have me traveling farther than the usual Southern Tagalog and Cordillera Administrative Region. I was able to run 9 destinations including 1 international venue as opposed to last year’s only 5 outside Metro Manila and its immediate provincial vicinities. The places reached were Albay, Antique, Batanes, Bohol, Catanduanes, Cebu, Laoag, Tacloban and Singapore. In 2015 I had seen the crater of Mt. Pinatubo when I ran in the event, Mt. Pinatubo Ultramarathon. Running this year in one of the trail event, it was the Taal Volcano’s crater that I got to see. My trail running experiences this year even out last year’s 7 with The North Face Run as the longest distance for both years. In 2015 I ran in total of 43 run events which was similar to this year’s 43 but if I will include the two run events I missed because of rain which were the events, UP to UP 80k Ultramarathon and Orani Half Marathon, plus another run event that happened during around Independence day that I forgot I registered at and the recent Lining Half Marathon event then I top 2015 with the number of run events participated at. I even had 3 weeks of off season in the month of March of this year. The best news however was that in the event, Hero to Hero 50k Ultramarathon in spite of the rains and uphill encountered I managed to established a new personal best with a finish time of 7 hours and 20 minutes about an hour faster than last year’s 8 hours and 2 minutes record which happened  in December 29-30, 2015.

 

I noticed that my ultramarathons were spaced out with each other almost 2 to 3 weeks apart unlike the previous year which I ran ultramarathon almost every week. Does the finding suggest that the reason I probably had success with my bid for the 100+ kilometers distance was due to my having enough time to recover from the previous ultra? Should this be my strategy if I want to attain more successful 100+ kilometer distance? I usually participate in run event without regard whether the current run would have bearing on my next farthest distance bid. I join a certain run event because first I am interested to visit the venue the event may be happening at. Sometimes the event is a must try because of certain popularity it attained from among the runners because perhaps the challenges it pose. I also try to shop around for race organized by race directors which have obtain following from their respective local circle who can present a viable alternative to those that had yearly churned out events. I also look at the kind of loot given by race events. Currently, I am on a hunt to achieve my goal of reaching the 100th marathon. So far mine is at 33rd.  After running at Manila to Sierra last December 18, 2016 I realized that I might be able to achieve more 100 plus kilometer distance races that’s why I am counting on more of my participation at 100 kilometers distance event next year. Maybe next year also would begin my Road to Bataan Death March 102. I was planning to cut down on my participation in events though to lessen my expenditures. Probably avoid running in many of the more commercial run events like those of Run United. But I am still wishing I could finally run in places like Palawan, Bacolod and Pagudpud among other places locally.

 

Sharing My Manila To Sierra Story

I thought after the 117 kilometers Andres Bonifacio Day Ultramarathon (ABDUM) there is no more event worth taking notice about. I am thinking instead of filing a sort of yearend report on my running activities.  This is in spite of having still two more run events for me to go to before the year actually ends. However, one event, the Manila to Sierra 65 Kilometers Ultramarathon organized by Coach Roel Amabao-Ano had left quite an impression on those who participated in it including me and therefore deserved some attention.

 

The event happened last December 17, 2016 where it had its gun start in front of the triangular plaza of Manila City Hall at 11:00 pm. The event was participated by 125 solo runners and probably just a couple on the relay category. Among those familiar with me who attended this event were as follow: Robinson, Jaime, Noel and his fellow Team Cabalen; the couple Levi and Girlie who DNF in the event Ibtur under the 160k category where I last saw them; Marielle who ran 65K in ABDUM; Cross dressing Fabulous Running Diva Yssa and Fritz running with headdress on and with Frinze in barefoot; Jham who was co-organizer of the 1st Isla Catanduanes Ultramarathon (ICUM), which kind of made it difficult for me to hide from his invitation to take the 110 kilometer category of the second ICUM; Davao based Nars who recently ran in Penang Malaysia; Nancy who I last saw action in the run event Bohol Marathon; Anton another runner who had not ran in any event for a very long time; RDF, Rona, Peewee who all DNFed at ABDUM. However about a week ago, RDF and Peewee redeemed themselves with their 100+ kilometers finish at the event 24 Hour Crazy Run. I think there were a pair of Japanese participants and representatives of various running clubs such as Ayala Triad, P.I.G.S., Team Arunkada; and bunch of first timers in ultra marathon running.

 

Upon gun start runners took Taft Avenue north bound passing by the Bonifacio Monument designed by Ed Castrillo which I cannot help feel was a nod to ABDUM event done two weeks earlier. The route then took runners towards the direction of the Art Deco style building of Metropolitan Theater and Quezon Bridge. Thankfully Quezon Bridge had been undergoing some repair for quite some time now and thus prevented runners from experiencing the unimaginable stinks this important structure kept at the four covered portion of the bridge’s entrances and exits as these were turned into public latrine by street dwellers. The passing runners also perhaps interrupted the commerce of pack of young snatchers preying upon PUV passengers lulled by the slow moving traffic or cut off from the world with their smart phone’s headsets.  From the bridge one could gazed upon the brackish Pasig River that served as highway during the Spanish Colonial Period flowing below the bridge, while the skyline bannered a tired city cross pollinated with influences from various culture such as Islamic, Catholic and American.  As we reached the other end of the bridge I observed that in spite of the lateness in the evening, The District of Quiapo was still abuzz with people trying to catch a ride home now suddenly disrupted and curiously watching the passing runners. They were probably asking what sort of craziness was going on.  Crisscrossing runners who were trying to avoid bumping bystanders and vehicles headed for Recto Avenue. Upon reaching Isetann’s Department Store runners turned right to the formerly portion of Calle Azcarraga starting from Binondo terminating at Calle Alix now Legarda. Runners would be following the elevated tracks of the slithering LRT Line 2 until it runs out of track at Santolan Station. I read somewhere Recto the present day university belt was once home to various houses of ill-repute. We were running at the right side of the road following the flow of traffic which was against the usual practice of runners to run against the flow of traffic which usually at the left side of the road. We turned left upon reaching Mendiola. The statue of Don Chino Roces never cast a glance at us nor to those who tried to march towards Malacanang to express opinions, to decry or to petition something to whoever sits as President of the country for behind the statue is the street going towards Malacanang Palace. I entertained a thought wishing that particular street passing by Malacanang which exits at J.P. Laurel and into Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard should have been included in the race route.  Instead we followed Legarda heading for Arellano University and then the Flyover Bridge that will take us across to Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard. While running on top of the Flyover I can’t help feel that I am once again in the event, Condura Skyway Marathon. Unfortunately for this coming 2017 the organizers of Condura Skyway Marathon had already announced that there would be no Condura Skyway Marathon as the organizers wanted to assess the event’s success and find out how it could still be improve. The convenient store, 7-11 however, which had been holding run events at Skyway for the past two years after holding it at Cavitex will be the sole organizers that would still provide opportunity for people to experience running on top of the Skyway. Another thought that occurred to me while running on top of the flyover bridge was a dream to run in an event that will feature the busy streets of the city of Manila that would include San Nicolas, Binondo, Escolta, Sta. Cruz, Quiapo, Legarda, Santa Ana, Ermita.

 

Another runner who also ran and DNF at ABDUM was Elena probably already on her mid-fifties who hailed from Cavite. She spoke of her concern of getting lost along the way if she could not keep up with the other runners since she is not familiar with the streets of Manila.  I was initially keeping close watch of her as we ran but she seem to be doing fine and was in fact running a bit stronger that it was I who was having hard time catching up on her. I along with RDF, Rona, Alvin of Team Heroes Philippines and Elena’s husband who was doing a relay were occupying the last place and enjoying the privilege of last runners of being shadowed by a motorcycle riding marshal. Upon arriving at SM Sta. Mesa we took the foot bridge to get to the other side to Aurora Boulevard. I noticed that from Ramon Magsaysay Boulevard the road was actually slightly uphill already. The sidewalks after SM Sta. Mesa were also a bit darker and populated with sleeping homeless denizens of the city.  The first Aid Station was located at the 8th kilometers in front of Robinson Place’s Magnolia. At Cubao we once again climbed up a footbridge and upon getting off it we were heading for Katipunan. Along the way we chance upon Rose, one of the female runners who regularly run 100+ kilometers distance but now busy providing passing runners with water.  It was long pass midnight yet still more people were out on the street. I think this made it seemingly safer for us participants than when the streets were devoid of people which most likely will attract people with malicious intentions. After Katipunan we headed for Marcos Highway. At this point Elena’s husband was suffering from either cramps or some other issue with his legs. He was at the point he wanted to quit but his wife egg him on to keep going however slow it might take him.

 

We were soon running along another bridge with the view of SM Marikina. We were now in Marcos Highway or a portion of Marilaque which is short of Marikina-Rizal-Laguna-Quezon and referring to the 110 kilometers road traversing Marikina Valley, Antipolo, Rizal, Sierra Madre, Sta. Maria, Laguna until Infanta, Quezon.  In July 11, 2015 I joined the event, R2L2Q which utilized a portion of Marilaque in an 85 kilometers ultra marathon event. What was missing in that route was the Marikina portion which I was now passing through. The Cordillera based Team Malaya also attempted to have a 110 kilometers ultramarathon event that would covered the whole span of Marilaque but the event was shelved for either fewer participants or logistics issues. The next Aid Station was at the 16th kilometers near Sta. Lucia Mall. Manning the AS were volunteers from the running club Pinoy Aspiring Runners (PAR) with Elmar another runner who DNF at ABDUM welcoming us and Red Knight shooting photos of us. The AS had pizza among others which was timely because I was already famished. Although I mentioned that we were the last runners, that position was pretty much tenuous as the other runners would suddenly appeared from behind us when we took time to stop by or we were the one over taking those who were stopping by their support vehicles or convenient stores.  The next AS was at the 19th kilometer at Masinag, Antipolo City.  The footbridge we crossed finally had runners running at the left side of the road. At the top of the footbridge was Day Walker who also DNF at ABDUM but did the 24 hours Crazy Run successfully. He took our photographs by the bridge. Last 2015 I attempted to join the event, Sierra Madre Ultra marathon organized by Ariel Cortez.  Its race route started from Masinag and ended at Sierra Madre but after I registered I noticed that there were only about 10 of us running in that event. The previous year it had 15 which included Levi and Girlie. I did not anymore bothered to show up because at that time I was still quite bashful of ending up last with huge time disparity among the participants whom I suspected then were most likely elite runners. I did not know if that event pushed through for there was no race result published in the organizer’s website. At least in this event I would finally experience that route. Upon getting off the footbridge we stopped by at 7-11 Store to rest for awhile, while RDF bought something to eat. A couple of other runners were already resting there and having coffee. I felt the air was becoming colder. Soon talks among the runners resting turned to the topic about running shoes as one of the runners was wearing a Hoka brand shoes whose model was for trail running. He told us might as well wear trail running shoes since the pavements of the country were rough and uneven. RDF related how his Altra’s sole pealed itself off at earlier this year’s event, Mayon 360. While my Saucony ISO Triumph pealed its sole off at the 10th Tagaytay to Nasugbu Ultramarathon. These happened when the pairs being sold in the stores were actually older stocks according to the one wearing Hoka. When we returned to the road we encountered a steep uphill before it gradually leveled off.  From here on until the 35th kilometers the road had about 300 meters gain in elevation. Rona spoke to me about a possible cut off for those who will not make it at the 35th kilometers by 6:00 am which she heard mentioned at the starting area. This got me worried because earlier Rona mentioned that she was currently undertaking therapy for both of her legs which suffered some torn muscles. If I will pace along Rona I might not make it to that cut-off time. So, I began to speed up until only RDF was keeping up with me. The next Aid Station was found at the 25th kilometers along Cogeo public market area.  RDF and I then passed by a fork on the road the one on the left led to Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal. The place which featured two huge stone tablets with the 10 commandment inscribed in it, was in the movie, Bike To Love starred by Solenn Heuseff. It was one of the places popular among trail bikers. Last July 2013 I ran in the event, Merrel Adventure Run. This event was the last trail run event Merrel organized. Recently, Soleus held a buddy trail run event there which RDF had participated. Along the way RDF mentioned of a beautiful church around the area of Boso-Boso which we found ourselves passing by. I was only familiar with the St. Joseph or Baras Church which was one of the oldest in Rizal since I had visited it once and Morong Church with its Pagoda style façade that I have not yet visited, but not Nuestra Senora de la Annunciata of Boso-Boso. Another church that I had not yet visited is the Saint Idefonsus de Toledo of Tanay which had been declared National Cultural Treasure my previous office the NCCA.

 

The Manila to Sierra route from start until finish line actually totaled only 60 kilometers that was why upon reaching the 35th kilometers runners were required to double back for another 2 kilometers and then return to the Aid Station at the previous 35th now 39th in order to augment for the missing distance. At about 5:45 am we reached the 35th kilometers. From here we learned that Alvin had quitted the race while Elena’s husband managed to reach the transition area and had his daughter continued with the next part of the relay. Rona also managed to make it at the 35th kilometers although there was no truth about the cut off established in that area. Rona found two new runners Angelo and Edmer to pace along her who were both first time ultra marathon runners.  At the Aid Station in the 42th kilometers we once again had Elmar and Red Knight manning the AS. At this point we noticed that a lot of motorcycles passing along were becoming frequent, larger in numbers and a lot noisier therefore quite annoying. They were seemingly heading the same way we were heading. From the 40th kilometers to the 45th kilometers the road elevation had about 200 meters loss. But from the 45th to the 50th aside from the gain in elevation of 500 meters the route became winding. At the 45th kilometers I left RDF who seemed bent on reaching the finish line uninjured while I favored trying to reach it in faster time. While assaulting the ascents the quieter bicyclists were also quietly enduring pedaling the uphill stretch. Occasionally I received “a thumbs up” from a few of them. RDF was hot on my heel along with another runner and was able to catch up while I was resting somewhere near Palo Alto. We then spotted one of the female PAR volunteer jogging along the uphill. When she passed by us she told us Seannah Swift another elite female ultramarathoner was doing her Long Slow Distance along the same route and the PAR volunteer was trying to catch up to her. Not long after, Elmar on motorbike also passed us by. Upon resuming our run I once again speeded up and left RDF. This time it was Elena and another female runner Rhaymond whom I overtook while they were looking for a spot to take a leak. Up ahead I also caught up with Noel who was thinking of quitting the race because his right foot was a bit swollen and in pain. He was wearing a pair of slippers. He told me he left his running shoes in one of the roadside store a few kilometers back but was not sure if he could still remember which if he tries to retrieve it back.  I gave him a pain reliever then I moved ahead. I reached a portion that had an uncanny resemblance of a place I saw in Batanes which lies beyond the Municipality of Uyugan.  The only thing missing there was the strong wind I encountered along with the view in Batanes. Then I chance upon a spot probably a food house with viewing area that showcase Laguna Bay. As I was admiring the spot I saw in a signage that the place was just the 47th kilometers. I fought hard the urge to swear but I couldn’t help myself.  I seemed to have travelled quite a lot already for the spot to be just the 47th.  At the next Aid Station however I was told that I was already at the 55th kilometers. Feeling relieved I cheerfully went on. At another eatery by the road I chance upon two Team Cabalen runners, Rendell and Charito who were eating. Rendell treated me to a small plate of pancit and soda. I told them that I saw Noel somewhere after the 50th kilometers and was about to quit the race. But ho and behold about a couple of hundred meters behind us assaulting the road was Noel who seem to have found a strength to stay on the race. When he reached us he told us that the swelling had lessened. The pain was more bearable too.  I gave him another pain reliever. Rendell told me I could go ahead for they plan on taking the last remaining 7 kilometer at a more relax pace. So, I left them. From the 55th kilometers to the 60th the elevation gain shot up to 600 meters. Rain began to pour down pretty hard that when I reached the Aid Station at the 65th kilometers there were runners sheltering in one of the store along the road. One of them was Fritz still wearing his headdress just as how I saw him take the ultramarathon in Tacloban City to Basey, Samar. I thought maybe they had already finished with the race and were just manning the Aid Station as volunteers. But Fritz told me they hadn’t reached the finish line yet. I left the AS with a thought that there might still be other runners ahead that I could catch up with. The weather seemed to have given way to a storm which I wasn’t aware of any coming. But with the current weather system occurring in the country this time of the year, it was no surprise if suddenly a strong typhoon could suddenly develop and ravage the country as it happened in the past years. With the last 5 kilometers left I was getting a bit impatient to get this race behind me. I tried to ran but I couldn’t sustain it long I had to resort once again to walking.  Then the rain relented a bit. The sun even took a brief peek before hiding behind the clouds again. By that time I already saw that the finish area was at Pranjetto Hill Resort and not in Tanay Adventure Camp. Entered a gate like it was the Pearly White one we all wanted to enter one day. It was finally over. I logged a finished time of 11 hours and 59 second and ranked 106th finisher. Since it had rain the photographers had all left the venue including Peewee who finished the race quite early on with a time of 9 hours and 41 minutes. RDF came a little bit with a time of 12 hours and 37 minutes while Rona finished the course with a time of 12 hours and 51 minutes.

 

The race course was not like what I encountered in TransCebu 55 in 2015 where almost the entirety of the course was made up of ascents but Manila to Sierra with those uphill at the second half of the course was still a formidable race. Many of those I spoke with after the race says they find M2S quite a challenging because many of them had not ran as many race courses as I did that featured other difficulties aside from ascents. To me the true challenge was more of the mental one. I think I am coming to the point I am beginning to understand that distance could be overcome with the proper training and mileage but when doubt and other mental issues seeped in that when one begins to crumble against distance. Two of my running acquaintances ran close to 100 kilometers prior to running another 100 plus kilometer before taking Manila to Sierra. Both still managed to come through M2S with Peewee even finishing with an impressive time. With this idea I am suddenly embolden to consider I could successfully finish more 100 plus kilometers in the following year, which after my run at ABDUM, I thought I would be shying away from.  Rain once again poured down after the race and almost posed as the more difficult part of running in this event. I thought I would have to spend another day in Tanay for I did not avail a shuttle service for this race.

 

Bad Blister Bane Almost Doomed My ABDUM Bid

Even though I was able to finish the 105 kilometers distance of the event, Tarayem Sasanggasot last October 2016, the fact that I finished the race beyond the cut off time made the accomplishment seem incomplete. As a result I had this unquenchable thirst to prove I could finish a 100++ kilometers. The event, Andres Bonifacio Day Ultramarathon ABDUM 2016, which happened November 26-27, 2016 was the ultramarathon I had hope will deliver what I sought. It did not ever occurred to me that ABDUM 2016 was actually going to be a hell of a race that almost handed me my 3rd DNF at 100++ kilometers.

 

The event, which was a 117 kilometers distance ultramarathon was the 3rd ABDUM organized by Run Mania Philippines Promotion, Incorporated. It was the only event so far I had actually joined for the latter’s franchise after having run with them for several times in the previous years – I registered recently with their last event for this year. The ABDUM 2016 after examining the race route was a sort of a summary of the race route Run Mania Philippines Promotion had utilized which some I had ran in the past. I was expecting that this ultramarathon would just mainly be about accomplishing distance. Last year’s ABDUM had been difficult because of the torrid rain and flooding that hounded runners most of the way. This year I was praying for rain but when it occurred in the evening and the sun took over the rest of the way, blisters became the bane of many runners including me more than I expected exhaustion would do.

 

The race for the 114 Solo runners and 15 others from the relay category started at Lipa City Hall then proceeded to Lipa-Alaminos Road. I took the first few kilometers at a slow stride in anticipation of that usual tightening in the chest feeling I get every start of the race. It seemed to have work. As a result as soon as my body adjusted quickly to the activity I easily accelerated without a problem. Initially I was with the crowd of familiar runners like Ann and her Boyfriend, the group, “I Quit” minus Peewee who had already careened ahead; Ricky and Day of Kilometer Zero Night Runners both BDM102 and ABDUM 2015 finishers; Rona and Joel the organizer of Run for Rogel. Pastor Richard who usually was behind most everyone was surprisingly ahead of the group and was further picking up speed. Later I thought I had passed him when it was my turn to put some speed in my pace. The evening was cool and soon began to drizzle. At the 10th kilometer an Aid Station was waiting for runners to hydrate themselves. Swoosh the champion of ICUM 65k category and running in the 2-man relay in this race, commended be for my strong start when we saw each other at the AS he was running with another 2-man relay entry Marielle, though I did not saw her at the moment. Much of the stretch of the road we were running on was basically unlighted and less populated. Then as we came near the Maharlika Road regular town began to appear again. Soon I passed by Omeng whose last run was last August in the event, Run with the Masters. He seemed to be struggling. He DNF last year in ABDUM and was hoping for a revenge this year.   Another runner I soon passed by was Aduana Pacer who was leading Team Care in this campaign. He already had several 100 kilometers plus events finish under his belt in spite of actually being not quite that strong runner. In ocassion I was in the same race he is we were not much farther apart upon finishing the race which usually at the last place.

 

As I hit Maharlika Road I was running along the town of Alaminos whose memory I could recall had to do with our picking Lanzones in one of the farm way back in my first undergraduate course.  From Alaminos we were heading for General San Luis or Geothermal Road and to the 30th kilometers Aid Station, which also served as the 4-man Relay Transition Area. This portion of the route was the reverse route of the Laguna to Batangas 50k Ultramarathon which was my second ultramarathon ever joined. There was a steep ascent with the road paved in darkness.  Upon reaching the descent portion I was quite careful because I kept on veering on the edge of the winding road endangering me to fell off it. It happened that my headlamp had lower lumen and was not actually lighting my way well enough while at the same time my goggles was fogging out thus my disorientation on the road. After passing by the National Power Corporation run Geothermal Plant I was now at Barangay Bitin and in Bay proper a town whose name may have been derived from a word, which means, “kin” or “brother”; or may altogether refer to a land that was close to the water such as, “baybayin” or riverbank that eventually gave birth to the term “bayan” or town. At this point my feet were feeling there were little pebbles inside both of my shoes. It could only mean that blisters had sprouted to ruin everything. My left foot seemed to have the worst of the two. One runner who hailed from Bicol who passed me by had already replaced his shoes with rubber slippers to ease a bit the pain that blister had wrought him. Ahead of me to my surprised was Pastor Richard being quite efficient in his brisk walking showing no sign or complaint of having had blisters. He was just praying that the next AS was just around the corner for he had already depleted his hydration. However, the next AS was at the 40th kilometers along the National Road 3 kilometers from where we were.  As soon as I got to the AS I marched on ahead southbound going to the direction of Victoria. I was trying to make it to our shuttle service, which doubled as support vehicle. We had instruction that our shuttle van would be waiting for us somewhere at the 42-45 kilometers of the race route in front of the Isdaan Restaurant. But originally the support vehicle would be there only from 3:00 am to 5:30 am and then transfer to the next stop.  I wanted to get there so that I could change and eat since I was terribly hungry since the race started at 10:00 pm. When I got to the designated spot the 3 support vehicles were still there with the other runners. I headed immediately to Shiella where she handed be soda and Siopao. I took my bag from the van #2 and found myself a spot. I did not anymore socialize with the rest of the runners as I was trying to be quick with my business so that I can resume with my run. As a result I failed to recognize who were among those I knew who were likewise resting or changing into drier clothes.

 

I wanted to attain an eight hour finish for the first 50 kilometers but as I check my watch the best I could hope for was an eight and a half hours. So as soon as I was done with eating and changing my shirt I did not anymore linger. I went back to the road and soon found myself reaching the rotunda with a giant duck statue. I remember having photo taken from the spot in one of my previous run. A marshal directed me towards a provincial road that would lead to another turn going to the Calauan-Nagcarlan Road. This portion was the 51st kilometer and an Aid Station was likewise located.  I remember this portion of the route as the 16.5 kilometers U-turn in the event, Ana Kalang the 32 kilometers edition. Ana Kalang then had its gun start and finish area at the historical Nagcarlan Underground Cemetery, which was constructed in 1851 by Fr. Vicente Belloc, a Franciscan Missionary. It was believed that Ana Kalang or “Nanang” Kalang founded the town and thus the name Nagcarlan.

 

From here I needed to reach the 60th kilometers before the 9:00 am cut-off time. Originally I thought I was in no danger of being caught there beyond the cut off time since I managed to finish the 50 kilometers sub-9 hours, which gave me at least 2 hours allowance to tackle the remaining 9 kilometers. But somehow I managed to slow down especially with the route dotted with lots of uphill. I met along the way another runner from Bicol, Sonny who also ran in ICUM at 65k category.   In the end I reached the 60th kilometers around 8:45 am. I was told that the cut off at this junction was extended to 9:30 am since the gun start had been delayed. I saw Team Heroes Philippines’ Jhon in slippers. I learned that he was running in the 2-man Relay and he just finished his share of the route. The 60th kilometer was the transition area for both the 2-man and 4-man Relay. From the Transition Area the town of Nagcarlan was probably just 2 kilometers away.  But we did not anymore reach the portion where the underground cemetery was located. Instead the route took the runners to the Nagcarlan-Rizal Road heading for Sta. Cruz. At this point the sun had already fiercely imposed its presence upon us. There was really no hope that rain would visit us again as there seem to be no more clouds hanging up in the sky that could shed its precious liquid down upon us.  At around 10:00 a.m. I stopped by in one of the street eatery and ordered a “Gotong Batangas”, (a kind of soup with goat innards) which was really similar to the “papaitan” (same soup but popular version in the northern corner of Luzon). While eating I saw Gelay another BDM 102 finisher passed by and then later Sonny. Seeing only few runners passed by I made a conclusion at that time that there were only few runners left with the race. I thought about who made it at 60 kilometers since the cut off time when I was there seemed to be so imminent. But later I learned that from the runners familiar with me, only Ann and her boyfriend bade the race goodbye earlier.  Ricky and Day might still make it to collect their 2nd ABDUM finish and earn valuable mileage for their January bid for a 2nd BDM 102 finish. I have no news of Omeng’s fate even after the race as to where he declared DNF although I am quite sure he could have made it across the 60 kilometers cut off as he was not far from Pastor Richard when I last saw him before the 50th kilometers. After the brief rest I had I was again running. This time a bit better and was able to catch up with Sonny. We were soon running along the Sta. Cruz-Calumpang Road heading for the AS at the 80th kilometers, which I thought would be in front of the Laguna Sports Complex. I remember this portion of the race from the events, Laguna Marathon and Rizal Day Ultramarathon. We soon caught up with Sonny’s friend Manny who ran in the 110k category of ICUM. I thought he was struggling and tired that was why he was resting close to the Laguna Sports Complex when we reached him. It turned out that the AS was not where I thought it would be. Both my hydration canisters had already ran out of its content and was desperately in need of replenishment. It was good thing that Sonny’s support vehicle happened to be parked along where Manny was resting. Sonny gave me some Pocari Sweat Sports Drink. Another cut off was waiting for us at the 90th kilometers, which we need to cross by 4:00 pm. From where we were he had about 2 hours to do that so we hassled to get going. When we reached the 80th kilometers, which was located along the National Road just after the Sta. Cruz-Calumpang Road we were computing how much time before the 23 hours cut off which was at 9:00 p.m. About 6 hours and a half with 37 kilometers left to go. I usually finish marathon distance at an average of 6 hours and a half. Still pretty much tight considering the remainder of the route was mostly uphill. At the AS at 80th kilometers we were handed ice cream along with the usual drinks. There were other runners resting in the area some were actually sleeping. Upon resuming our run Manny seem to be reinvigorated and ran until we could no longer glimpse him. I on my part was trying to make it to the support vehicles now expected to be parked at AX Fitness in Pagsanjan. I just wanted to fetch my reflectorized vest since most likely we will be caught by darkness along the way. Another runner from our shuttle vehicle was also making way to the van to change his shoes with slippers since he too had been bothered with blisters. As soon as I reached the van Sonny went ahead. It did not take so much time I was back again on the road heading for the century old arch of Pagsanjan. The structure erected in 1880 used to have a gate was called Puerto Real because it led to Calle Real.  Now that street is called Calle Arco. The arch has 3 roman arches topped by 2 lions guarding the Spanish escutcheon. Upon my passing through the arches I was expecting to see the Aid Station marking the 90th kilometers. But there was none on sight. There were other runners who were also searching for the AS to record our beating the cut off time but were instead directed by the local policemen to take the road at the right of the church which led us out of the main town and eventually into the Pagsanjan-Cavinti Road which was mostly uphill. The name of Pagsanjan according to the book Cabinet of Wonders may have been derived from the word, “sanga” meaning “to branch” was due to Pagsanjan located where the two rivers, the Bumbungan River and the Balanac River branches out. Pagsanjan is famous for the boat ride called “shooting the rapids” to Pagsanjan Falls or Magdapio Falls. As I ran I saw where the boat ride actually start however, the actual Falls fall actually in Cavinti which Cavinti was trying to claim as their own and have the Falls rename Cavinti Falls.   The race organizer Prince a known bitter rival of Pat of Run Mania and a resident of Cavinti was an active proponent of the Falls being called Cavinti Falls while Pat who reside in Lumban a town very close to Pagsanjan and who usually features Pagsanjan in many of his race events preferred the current name.  Thus another reasons for the two to continue to bicker with one another.

 

I soon found myself running towards the winding uphill Pagsanjan-Cavinti Road which I recalled taking quite early in one rainy morning when I ran in the 2nd year of the 34 kilometer run event, Caliraya 360.  From the road marker, Cavinti was about 8 kilometers away. I was hoping that there were probably just about 17 kilometers left in the race. I wanted desperately to finish the race before 7:00 p.m. since I will be reporting to work the next day. My hope was however dampened when an Aid Station appeared along the way. It turned out this was the designated 90th kilometers and I just barely made it before the cut-off time. This means there were still be 27 kilometers left to tackle with 5 hours and a half left. Last year I finished my second Caliraya 360 race with a time of 6 hours and 21 minutes. Fatigue, blisters and the uphill might make the prospect of finishing the race before the cut-off a bit shaky.  From the AS I went ahead and soon I was hitting another winding road but this time descending. Upon checking who were behind me, I saw Pastor Richard was suddenly at my heel once again. I can’t help being impressed with the efficiency his brisk walking. We soon chance upon a runner who had been struggling because of acid reflux and severe dehydration. An ambulance was parked close by looking after him. The personnel inside the ambulance however, to my understanding were not instructed to issue any form of medicine and were task only to carry runners to the finished area if the runner declared DNF.   From the look of it his race was winding down fast. I gave him my two capsule of Omeprazol, the medicine advised to me to take for my acid reflux. I don’t know if he took it for eventually he finished the race though beyond cut off time. Another sight along the road was a runner sleeping on a mat beside a parked support vehicle. Earlier in another place by the road side I saw also a support crew sleeping on a mat beside the support vehicle. As darkness descent I soon separated myself from Pastor Richard at the 100th kilometers Aid Station. I hit Lumban-Caliraya-Cavinti and recognized it as the area where Caliraya Marathon organized by Gerard Palacol had its final U-turn before returning to the Starting Area which was also served as the Finish Area. I realized from this spot the main town of Caliraya was still a good 10 kilometers away while Lumban was 7 kilometers after Caliraya. Along the way there were other runners trying to make it to the finish line. Much of the path was populated with local residents who find us quite amusing. As exhaustion, anxiousness and pressure of not making it to the cut off time settled in this portion of the route seemed to turn into one of the hardest flat road for me because it was nearing the end of our journey but the road doesn’t seem to want to give up the end of it. It just went on and on stretching longer as you progress. I kept looking for the Lake Caliraya to appear at the right side but it either got swallowed up by darkness or hidden away by the sudden sprouting of houses. In a portion that was almost completely dark I chanced upon two runners with one of them already on the point of giving up the race. I wondered about the two other runners in neon green jersey I met hours ago just before the Bumbungan Bridge in Cavinti if they managed to continue after one of them had decided he was quitting the race. I spoke to the one who was quitting and advised him to give himself a good rest say 30 minutes before deciding because if he does quit usually what comes after the event was a terrible feeling of regret haunting like a loan shark.  Then upon my crossing Bumbungan Bridge I saw their support vehicle. Thinking there were just 5 kilometers left in the race because a prankster who was manning a crucial turn on the route was signaling me to hurry up for there were just 5 kilometers left before finish line, I approached the support vehicle and appraised the crew of the situation of their running friends. I think the two runners after being told of the actual distance left in the race decided to declare themselves DNF and were picked up by their support crew.  After the Japanese Garden, I passed by Peewee who was zombie walking.  I was quite impressed of Peewee whom I met in the 2015 event, Mt. Makiling 360 his first ultramarathon. He now runs faster than me and about to embark on two other equally challenging events: the 24-hour Crazy Endurance Run and 250 kilometer distance Manila to Baguio. He, however, DNFed in this race at 116th kilometers. Upon reaching the dimly lit portion beyond Aquatico Feliciano Resort, I rested for awhile by sitting down on the pavement with my legs stretched out. I tried to stare at the sky and then the lighted area I just came from. No one yet was following close by. A motorcycle passed by and when he saw me slumped on the road he went back to check on me. I said I was ok and was just resting. The motorcycle left. I checked my watch and saw I only had about an hour before 9:00 p.m. I quickly stood up and slowly jogged as my legs got too relaxed from the rest. I jogged until I hit the downhill. I allowed the gravity to propel me. Soon I was picking up speed and was passing by other runners including perhaps Jah who maintained her lead from me since the start until this moment. She was among the last runner who made it before the cut-off time.  I probably also passed by Manny who eventually finished beyond the cut off time.  I don’t know whether Sonny finished before the cut-off time since his name was not among the listed finishers whether within the cut off or beyond it nor among the DNF. I was running downhill but not as fast as I did in my second take of Caliraya 360 but enough to cover the length of the winding downhill road before the national highway in 40 minutes. From there the finish line which was the covered plaza in front of the Lumban Church was just a few hundred meters away. I summoned whatever strength left in me so that I could go on running until I hit the finish line. I finished the race 22 hours and 45 minutes ranking 85 from 94 finishers before the cut off time. 20 runners finished the race beyond cut-off while 56 DNF. This edition of ABDUM would probably go down as one of the toughest road run event this year and a nudge to those who finished this race as having raised the bar of their running career. It was kind of weird that on our way home inside the van I was among the celebrated 3 who had successfully overcome the 117 kilometers event whereas before I usually the one who silently rode the van for having finished a race either poorly or none at all. While running I swore I won’t again venture to another 100++ kilometer distance event but after the buzz had died down journeying back to Manila I was already eyeing a comeback on my failed bid at the 105 kilometer TransCebu on July 2017.

From Western Visayas To Eastern Visayas In Two Weekend Run

According to history one of the earliest places the Spanish colonizers settled in the Philippines was the island of Panay in the Visayas in 1566 when Juan Miguel De Legaspi arrived and settled in Oton, Iloilo. In my earlier years of joining run events I ran twice in Boracay Island, which is part of the province of Aklan. Aklan is one of the 4 provinces in Panay Island along with Antique, Capiz, Iloilo and with the inclusion of Guimaras, which is a separate island together form the Western Visayas Provinces under Region VI. This year I visited Antique to participate at the event, 3rd Antique Marathon held November 13, 2016.  The 3rd Antique Marathon and happening the following week, the 1st 50k Antique Ultramarathon was organized by Manuel Magbanua, Jr., a native of Sibalom, Antique, a runner himself who took upon himself and friends of promoting running in the province.

 

Run event however, is not new in Antique.  In fact, last September 25, 2016 Bald Runner held the 4th Antique 100 and 50-Mile Ultra Marathon Race. The event had 14 participants for the 100 miles category and 2 for the 50 miles category. Their starting area was located in San Jose de Buenavista with their finish area at Caticlan where Boracay is just a ferry away. For the 3rd Antique Marathon there were only 14 of us participants in the 42k. Most of the participants were from outside of Antique and only about 4 local participants with one of which actually hailed from Cavite but for 6 months had been residing in Sibalom due to work. Aside from the marathon there were two other categories in the Antique Marathon: the 21k category where 28 runners participated while in the 10k category 11 joined.

 

During my stay in Antique I was billeted at Adelaine Traveler’s Inn located in San Jose De Buenavista, the capital of Antique, which is 9 kilometers away from Sibalom, the starting area of the 3rd Antique Marathon. San Jose is 2 hours away from Iloilo City or 5 hours away from Kalibo, Aklan for those who opted to book their arrival via Kalibo Airport.  Just as what I experienced in Cagayan De Oro, Iloilo International Airport is located farther away from the main city.  In Iloilo’s case about 19 kilometers.  To get to the city a shuttle van such as those of Susie ferries people for a fare of P50.00 to SM Mall Transport Terminal while P70.00 from SM to the airport. Jeepney heading for Oton would then take you to the Molo Transport Terminal where you can take shuttle vans to San Jose for P100.00.

 

On the way to San Jose via Iloilo-Antique Road you would be cruising along with the sight of Iloilo Strait at your left side most of the way. 30-45 minutes away from Iloilo City, the UNESCO inscribed, Baroque Romanesque architectural styled Miag-ao Church or Santo Tomas De Villanueva could easily be seen along the road. Built in 1793 Miag-ao Church which doubled as defensive fortress against Muslim raiders also boast of its ornately decorated bas-relief façade that featured St. Christopher dressed in local and traditional clothing carrying the Child Jesus on his back while holding on a coconut tree depicting the tree of life. About 15 kilometers from Miag-ao Church just before finally hitting Antique lies the lesser heralded San Joaquin Church built in 1869. Its façade featured a military themed bas-relief depicting the Spanish victory over the Morrocan forces in Battle of Tetuan.  The coast temporarily gave way to forest and mountain views upon hitting zigzagging uphill climbing PC Barracks Road. Once the sight of the sea returns you are already in Antique plying the Tobias-Fournier-Anini-y Road heading towards San Jose de Buenavista which lies about 13 kilometers away.

 

After we were launched from the Starting area at 3:20 a.m. in front of the Plaza of Sibalom, the race route led us along the Hamtic-Bia-an-Egana-Sibalom Road heading for the town of Hamtic. Just as in my previous run I was again hampered by attack of acid reflux, which caused my chest to tighten. I shuffled from running to walking and back at the beginning of my run. Casting further shame on my performance being the last runner, an ambulance shadowed me for a while until I picked up speed as my condition improved. At around 4th kilometer of the race I saw one of the Manila based runner and a dragon boat paddler, Jeremy who seemed to have loss some steam and was also reduced to alternating run and walk. I soon over took him. I expected a couple more runners might be just a couple of hundred meters ahead of me.  I was not actually worried being left behind because I was thinking that many of the runners who pulled away early would probably burnout later in the race. I thought so because when I saw earlier who were running in the 42k I thought a few of the participants were probably new in the sport.  After hitting Tobias-Fournier-Anini-y Road via R. Javier Street, I was at the Town of Hamtic. Hamtic, which lies roughly 10 kilometers from the Starting Area was the place were 10 Bornean Datus who were escaping repression of the Sri Visayan Empire in the 13th Century settled after purchasing land from the indigenous Ati Chieftain Marikudo. The festival of Ati-Atihan celebrated in Kalibo Aklan was an event commemorating the peaceful turnover of land to the Sultan of Borneo who purchased land from the local Ati community in the 13th Century.

 

San Jose de Buenavista was some 7.4 kilometers away from Hamtic. As we were entering San Jose’s town proper just after Gaisano Grand Mall, Jeremy soon took the lead from me but he took a wrong turn on the way to the Aid Station in front of the Provincial Capitol Building he quickly gave up his lead.  From here we headed off to the National Road and run into a junction in which the left side leads to Bantayan Road passing by my hotel accommodation.  A marshal was waving at me along the right side of the junction or PC Barracks Road and as soon as I approached him me instructed me to take the right turn to the narrow Salazar Street and then left to Cerdaña Street and right turn again to a road leading to Barangay Inabasan, Hamtic. The route was almost like plying the National Road I took in Catanduanes where there were rice fields on both side of the road and the sun peering menacingly.  Somewhere at the 23rd kilometer another Manila based runner Mark who is Jeremy’s co-paddler gave up his lead. We were soon passing by the previous 2nd Aid Station and heading back to Sibalom. As we hit the 27th kilometers we were instructed to turn left toward Barangay Catungan. This was the dreaded “dirt wall” portion of the race which was a 5 kilometers off road passing through rice fields and would terribly enjoy the full beating of the sun since this portion had lesser shade to take cover from. At the end of the dirt road awaits an Aid Station. The marshal there told me that 10 kilometers separates me from reaching the finish line.  I don’t know if the marshal had made a mistake in telling me about the 10 kilometers distance or that I just did not noticed the passing of distance as I ran for when a motorcycle riding marshal passed me by a bit later he told me that there are only 5 kilometers left to go and after taking the U-turn at the bridge leading to Belison the Finish Line was only 4 kilometers. At that moment I could already see the bridge and was probably 1 kilometer before I reach it.  It was already a little pass 9:30 a.m. time was winding down fast with the 7-hour cut-off time at 10:20 am. When I finally got to the bridge it kind of reminded me of the Sacobia Bridge in Mabalacat, Pampanga which I crossed in the event, Clark Animo Run earlier this year. Aside from the bridge being long and run above a wide silted out river, the time I crossed the bridge was about similar. Right at the middle of the bridge another 42k runner Rough Rap was on his way back from the U-turn. He had already ran the Antique Marathon 3 times already. On my way back from the U-turn the two Manila runners behind me were also crossing the bridge and were in close pursuit. The last 4 kilometers was not actually a simple walk in the park for me as I was already terribly depleted by the heat of the sun but I still managed to eked out a trickle of stamina to finish the race with a time of about 6 hours and 20 minutes ranking 12th from the 14 reported participants. The organizer actually posted a race result that was not accurate which placed me as the 5th finisher when the rank should probably belongs to the much stronger runner Joni another Manila based runner whose root was from Tibiao, Antique.

 

After landing in Western Visayas the previous week I soon found myself hugging Eastern Visayas as I stepped off the Tarmac of Daniel Romualdez Airport of Tacloban City. It has been more than 15 years since I was in TaclobanCity and therefore I am quite sure my familiarity with the place had been wiped out clean by the storm surged of time just as Tacloban City had underwent when Typhoon Haiyan or locally known as Yolanda ravaged the province in November 8, 2013.   I found myself again in Tacloban City to participate in the event, Tacloban City To Basey, Samar 50k Ultramarathon (TC2BS) held on November 20, 2016.  Tacloban City is the capital of Leyte, which together with Samar and Biliran forms the Administrative Region, Eastern Visayas designated as Region VIII.   From the airport I travelled on a tricycle heading off to Tacloban City. The fare for the trip was P150.00 for the 9 kilometers journey while it would be twice that amount if airport taxi was the choice of transportation. Actually outside the airport Public Utility Vehicle plying Tacloban City to San Jose could be had at a fraction of the fare mentioned above.

 

During the duration of event I was billeted at a hotel along Zamora Street near downtown, which was a walking distance to the Santo Niño Parish Church of Liberation located at Real Street corner Zamora Street.  The front of the church was to serve as the Starting Area whose gun start was schedule at 4:00 a.m. the following day. The church should not be mistaken for the Sto. Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum also found along Real Street. The latter is a two-storey building that the former First Lady Imelda Marcos built to pay homage to the Holy Child while the former, a church which houses the image of the Holy Child the patron saint of Leyte known as El Capitan. The image was originally lost at the sea on its way to Manila in 1889 and 6 months after was recovered by a fisherman from Semirara Island.

 

There were originally 127 listed participants but in the race result only 125 ran and finished the race before the 10 hours cut-off. 2 foreigners – one from the USA and the other from Switzerland – had seen action. Among those who were familiar with me who participated came from Manila were Alberto, Arniel, and the couple Jojo and Tally whom I met in the event, 3rd Antique Marathon. After the gun start was given at 4:28 a.m. participant took the length of Real Street south bound heading for Palo, Leyte where Gen. Douglas McArthur landed before liberating the Philippines from the Japanese forces in 1945. As usual I started slow that even Alberto left me far behind. The route had the San Pedro Bay at the left side. It was therefore not surprising to think that when the Storm Surge brought about by Typhoon Haiyan hit the Region most of Tacloban City, Palo and Basey, Samar took the brunt causing so much devastation and death since these places lies along the coastline like beachcombers.  The first Aid Station was at the 7 km in front of the Bureau of Internal Revenue Building and just 2 kilometers away was the McArthur Landing Statue where the runners got photographed by Griv.  When I arrived at the monument it was still quite dark.  I noticed Griv was not using camera flash and since the photographs were not posted online unlike the other photographs taken from other portion of the race, I assumed the photographs taken from McArthur Landing Statue probably did not turned out properly.  From the monument the runners followed a road that was not identified by Google Map until we hit Tacloban-Baybay Road. At the left portion of the road I caught sight of the Palo Cathedral or the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lord’s Transfiguration built by Jesuit in 1596.  The Church, I read was apparently damaged by Typhoon Haiyan.  However, I don’t know if the current look was a result of the repair done because of the damage for I felt it was a bit over done for an old church who prior to Haiyan was requesting funding assistance for restoration works from my former employment at the National Commission for Culture and the Art (NCCA) through the Subcommission of Cultural Heritage (SCH).

 

At the 13th kilometers we turned right and run all the way until we were back at the area near the BIR building. Along the way I met the 63 year old Zenik Chavez who also ran in the event, 1st Isla Catanduanes Ultramarathon (ICUM) under the 110 kilometers category. From this road, runners took right to the Pan-Philippine Highway heading towards Tacloban City, which was a long flat road. From afar I caught glance of another runner donning an orange jersey. I was hoping to further improve my ranking by trying to catch up with the runner and overtake him but he was just simply too far away. Soon I saw several other runners ahead running the right shoulder of the road.  Their paces had dipped low that I was able to pass by some of them. Runners turned right on a busier but narrower National Road leading to Samar. The road was undergoing road widening and the diggings added to the challenge of the race route. Along the way I managed to overtake several more runners.  After a long run on a combination of rolling and flat road I got to a portion where there was a fork on the road.  The road turning right was the way to San Juanico Bridge while the other road heading for Babatngon where I thought the Yolanda Shrine was. Since there were no race marshals to instruct me on which road to take I went instead to the road that I thought would take me to the Yolanda Shrine. I thought in the race route map runners had to go first to the Yolanda Shrine before heading for the San Juanico Bridge. It was a good thing that a tricycle driver told me that the other runners turned right. I run back and took the proper route. When I saw there were other runners about to reach the junction I motioned to them to take the right road.  Later just to satisfy my curiosity regarding why I thought I was originally right on taking the road to Babatngon I went back to the race map and saw that what indeed runners where suppose to go along Babatngon heading for San Juanico Golf Course and Resort.  San Juanico Bridge was the 34th kilometer of the race and the length of the bridge is about 2.5 kilometers. From the bridge we pass by a statue that turned out to be the Yolanda Shrine mentioned as part of our race route. We run 2 kilometer following the road right of the statue and turned back to head back to the Yolanda Shrine where runners were directed to take the left road which leads to Basey, Samar which lies 11 kilometers from the rotunda. I think either the additional 4 kilometers we took before heading for Basey was to make up for the original plan to have runner take Babatngon since upon also checking the race route map there was nothing there indicating the U-turn after the Rotunda where the Yolanda Shrine stood. I already visited once Basey when I was still with the NCCA before. Almost another lifetime ago I went to Basey, Samar because the NCCA-Committee on Monuments and Sites had allocated P150,000.00 to have a team to inspect St. Michael The Archangel Church a 17th century church build by the Jesuits with limestone and adobe materials. The church which acted as watchtower against marauding Moro raiders during the Spanish Colonial time sits on a hill that looked out over the Golden River and San Juanico Strait. Other structures also visited included Buscada Cemetery Chapel, Tribunal, a Baluarte ruins and Suhotan Cave which lies 30-45 minutes boat ride along Basey River.  Another thing that made Basey, Samar quite renown was for its mat weaving which I was told was being done inside a cave. I finally made it to the Finish Line inside the St. Michael the Archangel Church at 12:10 pm with a time of 8:14:18 and ranked 98 out of 125 participants however, I had to rush getting back to Tacloban City which lies 30 kilometers from Basey for I had already exceeded my stay at the hotel and my scheduled flight back to Manila at around 5:45 pm. So even after the actual race I was still in flight mode and only got to relax when I was finally settled at the airport lounge trying to look back what had transpired over the weekend and contemplating whether the mileage I got would be enough to sustain me on my next run the following week which will feature 117 kilometer distance.