The last time I ran in Bohol in 2013 I had lots of negative comments about the event, Bohol International Marathon in which I had registered at the 21 kilometer run category. I felt the event was not “international” enough in stature back then. To date the race results of this event has not yet been released by the organizers. When Bohol Runners Club once again announced this year’s BIM dubbed as Paradise Run in which runners will get a chance to run in some of Panglao Island’s best resorts my interest got piqued. Vision of beach run ala Skyathlon in Boracay, which I had last run at the latter in 2011 popped in my head. In my 2013 visit of Panglao I had not seen a shadow of beachfront although BIM2013 was held in Panglao. Thus this added to my reason why I didn’t attempted again to run in BIM until this year. This year’s BIM event’s venue was at Alona Beach, Panglao thus would finally provide me the opportunity to see Panglao’s popular beach. So, immediately I registered to the event and made my reservation at Panglao Homes and Villa Resort located in Tawala in which Alona Beach was part of thinking the beachfront was just a mere walking distance. Well, it was walking distance at 2 kilometers though. Upon arriving at the airport, I hiked Carlos Garcia Avenue heading for Tagbilaran City, which was roughly 2 kilometers although it felt like less. I was trying to find Kew Hotel where our race kit would be claimed. It was supposedly located in front of the City Hall, which I thought was near Tagbilaran Church but turned out was not there. My search was futile so, I gave in and flagged a tricycle. Little did I know that the City Hall lies about 3 kilometers farther out of the main town along J.A. Clarin Avenue. Also happening the same day but later in the afternoon was the carbo-loading. This kind of made me think that since it was a Friday the organizer seem to have forgotten that many of the out of town participants were still working on Friday and would therefore be expected to arrive in Bohol on the Saturday. I myself, even though I was already in Bohol that Friday still missed the carbo-loading because the distance of Alona Beach, Panglao from Tagbilaran was way too far with no cheap and readily available mode of transportation on hand to take me to and fro the Kew Hotel venue of the carbo-loading.
Going to Tawala/Alona, Panglao one could take the non-airconditioned Southern Star Bus, Inc. whose terminal was just a couple of block away from Kew Hotel near Island City Mall. The bus bound for Alona via Tawala leaves the terminal at 6:15 am in the morning and the last trip at 7:45 am. The next trip were scheduled in the afternoon starting at 4:30 pm until 8:45 pm. Southern Star Bus, Inc. leaves Alona bound for Tagbilaran starting at 7:15 am in the morning until 8:45 am while its afternoon trip starts at 5:30 pm until 7pm. The air-conditioned Ceres Bus had a couple of trip almost similar with the Southern Star in the morning and in the afternoon. There are public utility vehicles with terminal one near the Island City Mall and another in front of the former president Carlos Garcia’s residence now turned into museum. The ideal time to ride is in the early morning and in the afternoon almost same as the bus for they are aplenty but as the hour of the day goes the transportation becomes less frequent and therefore always jump packed with the middle section of the jeep also occupied with passenger sitting on 3 small benches. I luckily was able to ride one just after having lunch at Island City Mall and got myself sitting at the middle aisle while three girls chose to stand clinging at the horizontal rail of the PUJ and occasionally catch a snooze all throughout the 25 kilometers course of the travel which lasted about 30 minutes. Fare for this ride is at P25.00. You can also take a tricycle or a motorcycle whose fare starts at P200.00.
I realized now that when I first came to Panglao in 2013 the farthest I reached was the main town of Panglao, which is San Agustin. Alona it turned out lies west of San Agustin about 7 kilometers away. After depositing my things at my accommodation I launched myself to explore Alona Beach, which I had to hike under the midday sun. As I came close to the beach area I saw rows of establishments but I couldn’t find the exact location of where the race event would be held as there were no tarpaulin, posters nor any other indication of an event soon to happen in the area that could be seen mounted the whole stretch of the road. Along the Circumferential Road there was a smaller road forking out. This was the road that leads to the beachfront 25 meters ahead. When I finally saw the beachfront I realized that Alona seem to be smaller like Puerto Galera’s White Beach area than that of Boracay’s I imagined it to be. It turned out the images I saw advertising Panglao’s beaches were most likely taken from the more expensive beach resort. I was bit disappointed. I don’t know if my impression would have change if I ventured out beyond and not simply stood by from the beach entrance looking only at the area as far as the huge rock cropping out of the sands. Having scratched Alona Beach out of my must see in Bohol list I returned to my accommodation to spend the rest of the day resting lest I repeat my experience in Cebu where at the start of the race of the 105 kilometers TCU I was already exhausted from the previous day hiking around the city.
The gun start for the 42k to which I am registered at was at 2 am August 28, 2016 a Sunday. But as early as 11:30 pm I was already making my way to the race venue, which upon my arrival was just setting up the event area. If it were not for their FB post that participants representing 30 foreign countries were joining the event and the respectable technical shirts and finisher shirt they are now giving away in this event, I would have thought that it was 2013 all over again. After failing to attend two previous run events, the Orani Half Marathon and UP to UP 80k Challenge, which happened two weekends ago respectively, I was determined to make good with BIM 2016 especially when the very reason I did not attend the two event was simply because I got bit lazy after torrential rain had preceded both events. When I saw how those who ran fared in spite of the inconvenience of braving flood and sporadic downpour I kind of felt a bit depressed. I realized that since running had become a weekly affair for me missing a couple was like not being able to go to church after doing so regularly. Anyway this year I had foregone so many event already due to conflicts in schedule after events had been rescheduled and sometimes because a new event popped out and I wanted to run in it instead. This year running had become so expensive for me, it felt bad not running on an event one had registered at.
Among the running acquaintance of mine joining the event were Jez from Cebu whom I ran with at TransCebu Ultra 2015, Nancy, Thess, Dianne and Norma. The race route upon releasing the runners first led runners to Amorita Resort 750 meters away from the gun start. From Amorita Resort we returned to the Circumferential Road and headed towards the direction of Tagbilaran. After about 5 kilometers we turned right to Panglao Shores Resort Road heading for South Palm Resort. Refreshments and food were served but since I was still stuffed with the Seafood Pasta delivered from Guiseppe Pizzeria and Sicilian Restaurant that I ate for dinner, I couldn’t indulged with the hospitality of the resort. I joined Jez on the way out of this portion of the race route heading for the U-turn about 2 kilometers away. He was having issue with his calves and was reduced to do walk-run. I learned from Jez that the chest compression I was feeling in my previous runs might be attributed to acid and could be remedied with anti acid medicine. I felt a sort of relief knowing that my ailment would not after all lead me to an early retirement from running. After the U-turn we were again heading back towards Alona Beach. At this point it became apparent that we and probably about four more other runners were the last of the 42k runners now heading towards the direction of Panglao’s main town nestled about 4 kilometers from the Starting Area. Since it was passed 5:00 am already the 281 strong 21k runners had all been dispatched and only the slower runners were the one we caught up with. I left Jez and tried to careen away so that I could improve my ranking but every time I passed by runners I noticed they were from the 21 k category. I got into thinking maybe I missed some turn or something because I could not seem to catch up with any of the 42k runners. However, upon reaching San Agustin Church the right turn sign indicated both 21k and 42k, so at least I know I am bound to catch up a couple of 42k runners who were already returning from the U-turn. Along the way at Fairfield Diagnostic Center there was an Aid Station that served fruits and other treats among them a huge lechon or roasted pig. But I did not stop by since I was chasing after the other 42k runners. The U-turn was at Lourdes National High School about 6 kilometers from San Agustin Church. At the U-turn I finally caught up with at least 2 of my acquaintances, Dianne and Thess. They were also reduced to walking. Dianne was for a certain time now had actually taken a leave from running and had chosen instead to chaperon her two kids who were training for triathlon. Jez soon arrived and eventually over took us to join his other buddies. About six more runners were still behind us but soon also had taken the lead from us. When we reached the station where the roasted pig was being served, this time we indulged ourselves with the remaining piece of the lechon and other food. From San Agustin Church we turned right heading for Belleview Pavillon, which lies about 2 kilometers away from the Church. In my last visit of Panglao I did not saw this portion of the Panglao’s main town, which now revealed to me as bigger than how I thought it was before. After the U-turn at Belleview Pavillon, which also offered refreshments and clean toilet about 8 kilometers left before finishing the race. But before hitting the finish line we made another short mandatory visit at The Bluewater Resort. From here finish line was just 1.5 kilometers away. Upon reaching the finisher area I saw that the Finish Arch had been pulled down already in spite of the race was still supposedly going on as the cut off time they gave was 8 hours. I finished the race a little over 7 hours 128th out of 137 participants of the 42k. At least, with the use of RFID I won’t doubt that the race result will be made available later.