Back in Bohol for a Bout with the Road to the Best Beach Resorts of Bohol

 

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.

 

 

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What I talk About After Reading, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” By Haruki Murakami While Taking TransCebu 105 Ultramarathon The 2nd Time.

As someone who is very much interested in running and writing his thoughts on paper I automatically picked up at the bookstore the book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” by Haruki Murakami. As I began to read a few pages I learned that at his peak at the age of late 40s Murakami normally finishes a full marathon with an average time of three hours and a half – that is the Milo National Marathon Finals Qualifier time for 18-33 years old. By the time he finished his running memoir in 2007 he was 58 years old, still runs an average of 186 miles a week and finishes marathon at four hours.  He was not quite happy about the latter of course. Comparing that with myself, I normally and dismally finish marathons at about six hours and a half. Mind you, these were on good days. Sometimes I hit six hour and forty five to seven when I am with another runner who was probably doing a lot worse than I am. When I managed to finish two five hours and forty minutes at Milo National Marathon and at the event, Yes To Fitness Run it was like an historic moment for me and therefore quite ecstatic with the achievement that I dare not ruin it by incurring a much slower time the next time, so I don’t anymore join the same two race events again. So, what could be my reaction to Murakami’s marathon finish time? Of course, I thought, “Wow! Can you believe this guy?” He’s a very accomplished fiction writer after all.

 

He began his running career when he was thirty three at the same time he began writing novels. The two actually feed each other in Murakami’s case and as a result he is quite accomplished in both.  I am forty six years old, lately I couldn’t barely finish 2 kilometers run a day because I would rather go back to sleep or view posts at FB at the time in the morning I assigned for myself my running time. So, yeah! I cannot see myself in Murakami’s shoes or even graced by his shadow in terms of discipline in trying to attain a certain degree of perfection at this chosen passion called running. I am instead quite satisfied in seeing myself cross the finish arch no matter how long it took me and in what manner of ranking I managed to end up with. As a result of my haphazard approach to training, I took a beating in the form of compiling DNFs just as what happened with me with my second take last July 23-24, 2016 of the Trans Cebu Ultramarathon where I signed up as one of the 71 participants of the 105 kilometers category.

 

If only I stuck to my words or to what I can actually do more comfortably, I wouldn’t bother trying to enlist myself to a race that runs a hundred kilometers or more. So far, I managed not to be tempted to send a letter of intent to Baldrunner to signify my interest to join BDM 102. I also snubbed the 120 kilometers Bonifacio Ultra event by Run Mania that my peers were able to successfully finished. But last year I couldn’t resist trying the 105 kilometers Tarayem Sasanggasot mainly for the reason that I am tracing a line which I hope would include Laoag to Vigan and connect them with the other places in Luzon that I had already run at. It would have been fabulous if I had actually finished the race and not something that had left a bitter taste and a cursed thirst for revenge. Now, I did it again. I was already happy that last year I survived to see the finish banner of one of the most difficult run event in the country, the Trans Cebu Ultramarathon where I signed up under 55 kilometers. I could have moved on and put this experience behind me. After all who wants to relive a nightmare? I got my finisher’s loot that I could view until I reduced them to dust. I could gloat as much as I wanted for the rest of my life for the successful finish which was quite a feat already. But like most of the tragic heroes of the Greek mythology I was fooled by fate or hubris into another adventure which turned out to be actually right through the Strait of Messina between Scylla and Charybdis. I signed up under the 105 kilometer with the confidence I will not go home in shame. I don’t know if it was just a reason I invented for myself or actually real that the true reason I signed up was because a fellow runner wanted to experience Trans Cebu Ultra and I volunteered to accompany him on his epic voyage while I try to make TCU my coming out moment into the 100 and plus kilometers distance run once I conquer the event. What could possibly go wrong with my decision to enlist this year when I already conquered the most difficult portion of the 105 kilometers which happened to be the second half, the same race route of the 55k category that I ran the year before?   It turned out everything. First my companion didn’t sign up for the race. Then upon arriving in Cebu since I was way too early and would therefore not be allowed yet to check in to my hotel accommodation, I tried to waste away the time by walking from Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan going to Cebu City which was about 10 kilometers. Later in the afternoon from the hotel I walked again to Ayala Terraces Mall and wandered about until I tired myself. The following day was more walking since I don’t have other places to go except to wait for the afternoon race briefing. The race briefing was located at Busay Multi-Purpose Hall 3 kilometers of uphill from Lahug Public Market which once again I walked to get to. In short even before the race started later in the evening I was actually beat.

 

I was grateful that the event had less acquaintance of mine running except for Magina and Joe whom I previously met at the events 2nd Puerto Galera Ultra and 3rd Taal Volcano Island 25k Trail Run. It was bit easier for me to make my decision that would only allow me to reach the 62nd kilometer of the race. The race participated by about 13 foreigners in the 105k and 7 in the 55k started at the City Hall of City of Naga, Cebu 23 kilometers from Cebu City at 10:00 pm.  I started out quite well without being bothered by chest compressions I complained in my other runs but just the same I tried to have my pace a bit slow so that I could acclimate my body with the activity. I ran the flat but winding paved road thinking I was at the middle of the pack of runners. However, when my headlamp did not function and I got irked I stopped to have a look at what was wrong with it. It turned out the battery was simply placed at the wrong end of the polarity. By the time I got back to the road I was passing by stationary motorbike riding marshals which got me into thinking there were still indeed other runners behind me. At around the 10th kilometer I learned that I was the 61st runner to have passed the AS. The news came as a shock as I didn’t saw that many runners pass me by but then again when I stopped I couldn’t see the right side of the road which was not lighted well. When I resumed my run I suddenly felt my legs becoming heavier and was having difficulty maintaining running so I resorted to what would have Murakami condemn me in hell for, I walked. It was becoming apparent with me that I was experiencing fatigue at this early juncture of the race. Somewhere at the middle of the 20th kilometer I passed by four runners who were sleeping at the porch of a sari-sari store. I even got to overtake another runner in spite of my pace. I thought I had covered so much already that when I reached an Aid Station located in Toledo City I thought it was the 40th kilometers already. It turned out it was just the 33rd. My spirit dropped and my exhaustion fed my frustration. At that time I was no longer convinced I could finish the first 50 kilometers in 6 and a half hours as distance seem to dragged on. I reached the 49th kilometers in Balamban which double as the drop bag area for the 105k runners and starting area for the 55k which had just gotten out as I was coming in. My time was 8 hours and a half. I learned that one of the foreign participants of the 105k had dropped the race upon reaching Balamban. Another one, a young runner of 18 from Samar had quitted the race at kilometer 33. At this point I was still pretty much hopeful of finishing the race as I saw there were other runners from the 105k that had not left the area yet, while there were those who were just arriving. But as I left Balamban and hit the road I felt the sun was pouring its searing hot rays upon the road like it was angry or something. I have not made it yet to about 500 meters and already I felt tapped out. I tried to quench the fatigue with liquids from the stores along the way but nothing seem to wear the feeling off. I thought to myself I made it out of Mayon 360 without surrendering to the hot temperature surely this heat could also be surmountable. The route was basically rolling. Each uphill I encounter was sapping me out of my precious resolve to go on. Other runners were beginning to appear from behind me. They were actually encouraging me to go on when at some point I mentioned I might not be able to finish the race. Then when I managed to gather the five of them up in a waiting shed I had groupie shot with them with my phone camera. This was my first time to bring along a “selfie stick” to hold my cellular phone so I can take photos with it. My original plan was to document this portion of the race. It turned out that the two photographs and a couple of selfies along the road were my only proof I ran in this event. On the way to Canson X Resort probably the 57th kilometer there was a good Samaritan from the resort who handed out cold water to drink. Another runner from behind me caught up with us. The time at this point was nearing 10:00 in the morning. I remember taking this portion last year at around 7:30 am. This uphill led to another series of uphill which had the view of the sea and Negros Island at the backdrop. This then lead to a DPWH Station that doubled as Aid Station. I was taking this road on an inch by inch pace so, I calculated that even if I managed to push myself to go on beyond this portion I might finish the race beyond the cut-off time of 24 hours. But even this would not be bad. What actually made me accepted my fate that quitting was inevitable was that I know how difficult the remaining route was. I was trying to match the other uphill with what I felt my body was giving at that time and it was a resounding mismatch. At that point I was just trying to get to the DPWH Station so that I can formally retire from the race, have refreshments and get picked up by the organizer. However, upon reaching the Station there were no refreshments left, the only person waiting there was the Station’s keeper and worst, no possible pick up since the organizers couldn’t be contacted with except by sending SMS message. Even quitting was not given to me on a silver platter. I spotted another runner approaching the Station. Together we tried to make it to the 62nd kilometers where another Aid Station awaits. It was the Aid Station at the mouth of a detour that would take runners to the site of the plane crash where President Magsaysay died. The temperature dropped a bit and even threatened to rain. I felt that I was being lured to abandon my desire to quit the race even though I already sent a message that I was quitting and I was at the DPWH Station.  After all if it took me 11 hours to reach the 60 kilometers 13 hours to accomplish the remaining 45 kilometers may still prove to be viable. About 500 meters before reaching the 62nd kilometers rescue came in the guise of a white van. I leaped for joy when I saw it and quickly ran to it leaving behind the other runner. At about 1:00 pm I was at the finish area at Busay Multi-purpose Hall having lunch. The agony of defeat would have been lessen if only I had a chance to leave the venue early but I was not spared of the humiliation of seeing almost everyone finish the race and being seen by them because my baggage was not yet brought back to the finish area until the late afternoon, a sort of adding salt to injury.

 

In spite of my quite a pole away from Murakami’s running accomplishments I still felt a certain kinship with him. I also view running as a metaphor of life. My failures at finishing a race were much similar with how it is with my life. I am not as accomplished as Murakami. I fail a great deal yet I never allow these failures to discourage me from joining another event. The same thing I told the young runner from Samar who quitted ahead of me and whom I road with at the van. He was so angry with his quitting that he said he doesn’t want to run anymore. He is just 18 year old.  A whole life is still ahead of him.   I couldn’t beat Murakami’s finish time even if at the present at his age of 67 if he still does runs he could still make me eat his dust. However, I can still top his probably around 34 marathon finish medals which he earned with his 1 marathon a year. In spite of being slow I currently have 27 marathon finish medals tucked under my belly, I mean belt, which means 27 successful tries. I may not be as good as Murakami but in my own struggles I still do prevail. That I think is the more important aspect of running a marathon. Come the following week I will again attempt to capture a medal in the 40th National Milo Marathon which I tried to avoid joining because of the cut-off time of 6 hours. But if I did it once maybe I can still do it again so that this could assuage my defeat at TCU105 which I was promising I would not return to again.

 

OSIM Sundown Marathon: My Second Singapore Sojourn

My setting foot in Singapore as a participant of OSIM Sundown Marathon last May 27, 2016 was like the first time man set foot on the moon. I felt overwhelmed, awed and excited since this was my farthest destination reached due to participating run event. What could possibly spoil this momentous opportunity for me? For one thing when I arrived in Singapore a day earlier of the event, I spent most of my day walking. I was searching for the race event venue which was at F1 Pit Building. I could not find the place in any Singapore map I looked until I chance upon the place after going around the Marina Bay area of Singapore and drifted towards the huge ferris wheel where there seem to be something being prepared. This ferris wheel called Singapore Flyer was a more prominent landmark and could have been more effective if this was mentioned along with the F1 Pit Building which I learned was actually referring to the Formula 1 racing car circuit, “duh”, but might not be familiar to some foreigner like me. Even in the official race map the symbol of the ferris wheel was the one used to indicate the start and finish of the event not a race circuit symbol. As a result on the day of the marathon itself, which was on the 29th of May, minutes before gun start 37 minutes after midnight, I was actually feeling tired already. I did not regret the walking though. When I first came to Singapore 14 years ago I was only confined to the Queens Street, Victoria Street, Raffles Landing Site and Orchard Road. In my current search for the race event venue I was able to see a lot of sites. Along the Marina area there were the popular tourist attraction Merlion Statue near Fullerton Road. Then the following: Esplanade Theater on the Bay, Art and Science Museum, Garden By The Bay and Sands. I was able to walk through a lot of shopping malls and hotels such as Conrad International Centennial, Centennial Tower, Millenial Walk, Marina Mandarin, Suntec City, Marina Square and Raffles City. While I found myself in the familiar area of Fort Canning Park I tried to seek out for the MPH bookstore, which use to be ensconced around Armenian Street but instead got lost along the parallel streets and concluded that it might had been replaced already by a café or restaurant which I couldn’t place seeing before. Upon returning to my hotel along Beach Road I figured I can’t go walking to the race venue passing all the above sites so I tried to seek a much easier route and found the left shoulder of Ophir Fly-over. Never mind that it was actually a bike lane and a sign with a symbol of a walking man with slash across it might mean no pedestrian I still used it to make it to the venue in about 10 minutes. Finally, I explored the Arab Street, which was just in front of my hotel and saw the Sultan’s Mosque along Bussorah Street. All these walking were very enriching for me.

 

When my wave finally was released after a 939 second delay from the containment area at 12:37 am I could not accelerate beyond the fast walk I was making. It was good thing though that the path the runners were taking was actually bit narrower for the 5,600 + runners. So, I was not the only one that had resorted to walking at this early juncture of the race. At the 3rd kilometers we were climbing the Benjamin Sheares Flyover. Along this portion I saw a runner wearing a Team Cabalen Jersey and I assumed immediately that a running acquaintance of mine, Noel maybe close by. I approached the runner and told him casually that it was like running the Kalayaan Bridge all over referring to our climb of Sheares Flyover. Kalayaan Bridge is the bridge that connects BGC, Taguig with Makati, which in many run events in Manila usually cross. He must have been surprised but he didn’t show it. Then asked him about where Noel was. He told me he was up ahead. So, I tried to dash ahead. By this time I had gain a certain degree of stamina and was no longer struggling with the slight pained chest I initially was feeling at the start of the run. The downhill slope of the flyover was a lot steeper.   I espied another runner wearing the luminous orange edition of The Bull Run jersey an indication he was probably another Pinoy. Actually at the containment area at the F1 Pit I saw a runner wearing the Rizal Mountain Run jersey talking to another runner but I couldn’t hear whether they were talking in Filipino. Trying to listen in to conversation to determine whether they were Filipino became a sort of pastime for me during the run to keep my mind occupied and ignore the hot and humid temperature during the duration of the run.

 

At the 6th kilometer we found ourselves heading the direction of Changi via East Coast Parkway we turned left to Fort Road and then right along the ECP Service Road. Soon we were entering Katong Park and were running along the much narrower path near the coast heading towards our U-turn at National Sailing Resort and Country Club after a Lagoon. I noticed that the hydration we managed to stop by about every 3.5 kilometers intervals served warm water. This occasion is when you suddenly began to appreciate the run events of Rio Dela Cruz which does not fail to have ice to cool the water they serve in spite of complaint that his race were getting expensive and flawed here and there. This portion of the run which almost where the 18th kilometer of the race was spent was somewhat boring. Although you got a animated young marshals egging runners to go on in their almost unrecognizable English you also get a glimpse of the coast but there was not much to see since its night time except sometimes the other faster runners ahead running the parallel path who were already returning or the much slower paced runners whom you were bumping along after you reach a u-turn. The path as I mentioned was narrower so you either go along with the slower runner or if you try to run faster you will soon hit a portion that you will have to weave your way around other runners and thus slows you down as well. No one was actually following the early announcement that slower runner occupy the right side so that faster runner can pass at the left. One lady runner reprimanded me for not taking the right side when she was passing me. I don’t know though if I was the only one she barked at.

 

Initially I thought I was slow with my 8 minutes per kilometers but I soon caught up with the 6 hours pacers and for a moment was keeping pace with them. I wanted to finish about that time or earlier so that I would have enough time for the buffet breakfast at the hotel before I checked out and try to get to the airport by 9:00 am since my flight was scheduled at 10:30 am. But soon I couldn’t hang on with the pacers and was falling behind them. Upon returning after the U-turn I noticed there were a lot of runners who were walking. I thought only in the Philippines where there were a lot of walkers. I got this impression that in other countries most of the participants were averaging 4 to 5 hours in finishing marathon. In one study I saw posted in Facebook that in spite of the number of marathon held in the Philippines the Filipinos were supposedly the slowest marathon runners averaging 6 to 6 and a half in finishing a full marathon. Now I know the Filipino was no different from the runners I was seeing in OSIM Sundown Marathon. After exiting the Katong Park we hit upon the road that kind of remind me of the J. Diokno Boulevard, which was the road near SM Mall of Asia that crosses a bridge heading towards the Senate Building only the one we were running on was much longer while J. Diokno Boulevard was about a little less than 2 kilometers. While running along Diokno Boulevard ahead you can see the ferris wheel near Boom Na Boom also much like the one that I saw on the way back towards the Singapore Flyer. We exited the ECP at the 29th kilometers and were soon crossing the Marina Bay Golf Course which was literally since they laid a plank over the lawn portion of the golf course. We hit upon the path lying below a fly-over and were heading towards the Marina area. Across the bay, which kind of remind me of Escolta, you can see the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, Sands and Art and Science Museum, almost within reach but the remaining kilometers does not agree with. This tells you that although the finish line seems near the way to get across was farther. I looked ahead and notice that we will probably cross what at that point appeared to me a bridge that kind of remind me of Del Pan Bridge. But upon arriving at that point it was the Marina Reservoir, marking the 37th kilometers. Food was being given around which was timely since I was already feeling hungry and empty already. After crossing it we were heading to the Marina Barrage. It was a circular uphill path and upon reaching to top there’s the breath taking view of the sea and the city behind. Upon descending we hit the road leading to the Garden By The Bay. At this point rain began to pelt but it was just to douse us for it soon faded away leaving behind what now became familiar hot and humid air we been having the whole time. We were down to about 4 more kilometers before finishing the race. The sun had come up and I was pretty much sure of my skipping breakfast. I hit Bayfront Avenue Bridge and then The Float. 500 meters more to go so I gave my all and dashed for a strong finish. Photographers were firing shot as I approached the finish arch. I finished the race with a time of 6:35 and ranked 3652 from the 5336 other runners 43% of which were foreigners. Running the OSIM Sundown Marathon was not as I imagined it would be. I wanted to get intimately familiar with Singapore through its streets but the route did not brought me to the other part of Singapore like its busy commercial streets and other place of interest. Maybe it was because it was dark when I ran. I thought maybe the Standard Charter Marathon would be much promising. At least now I know I might still be going back to Singapore for another run.

Batanes Winter Marathon: A Dream Marathon Come Into Being

A year ago I played with a thought of having a marathon staged in Batanes after noticing that a round trip around most of the tourist destination spots in Basco would total in a distance of a full marathon. Then ho and behold, Batanes Winter Marathon was all of a sudden was being heralded in Facebook.  I was among the first to register and eventually among the few to actually make it to the event, which happened on February 21, 2016. The event organized by Runs and Raves and headed by Heidi Guevara was probably one of the most anticipated events since last August of 2015. It even earned intrigue and ire from among the impatient registrants and those who were trying to be part of the event due to almost nil information and update long after registration fees were deposited to the organizer’s account.  People began to doubt whether the whole event was just an elaborate scam or hoax to cough up cash from gullible or eager runners. Having booked a two-way flight to Basco at PAL quite earlier I couldn’t afford to lose faith to the organizer who I knew was a close friend of the Team Malaya gang whom mostly are God fearing people. And so when finally instructions and information such as race route and Skyjet Airline booking procedure began coming out again in FB, I knew there was nothing could anymore keep this dream marathon from finally becoming a reality.

 

The event had 3 race categories namely: 10k, 21k and 42k. From the list of participants I saw that the event was a sort of reunion of runners who had run in Team Malaya’s 1st Cordillera series. This only goes to show that Heidi has warm bodies willing to take her words on faith that BWM will take place. The other participants hailed from Japan, Korea, a participant from Surigao and an Ivatan that is currently staying in Singapore.  Most of the participants availed the Skyjet promo fare for the event and arrived 2 days earlier of the event, which the participants use for the tour of Batan and Sabtang islands of Batanes. I arrived the following day and headed straight to a fully airconditioned room fitted with hot bath, cabled LED TV and WIFI carrying Midtown Inn where I shared accommodation with Lyndon, Victor and Alberto whom upon my arrival were touring Sabtang Island.

 

The race started at 6:05 am at kilometer 0 located at Rizal Park. The morning was pretty much as the event was described, which was very cold. According to Francisco Datar through the NCCA website, Batanes has three season namely: Rayun or summer which lasted from March to May, Amian or winter which lasts from November to February and Kachachimuyen or the rainy months which was usually the rest of the remaining months of the year. There are brief spell of warm weather (dekey a rayum) in the two weeks between September and October.  But since everyone was excited and raring to go to intimately get to know Batanes, in the wise words of Elsa, the cold did not bothered anyone anyway. We took off and proceeded along the National Road passing by my last year’s accommodation Shanedel’s Inn on the direction southward. I was hoping the race would also have us doing u-turn at Naidi Lighthouse but that would entail additional distance to the already 45 kilometers distance. Lyndon bargained a 11 hours cut off time from the original 9 hours to allow the non-Ivatan participants enough time to do “selfies” along the scenic spots along the way, which was literally the whole route. Heidi was generous enough to concede to the request so Lyndon, Victor, Alberto, Albert (who just a week ago shadowed me on his bike at Batangas to Quezon Ultramarathon) and I were pacing to about 10 minutes to a kilometer, which obviously put us to what we thought to be the last place. It turned out there was another runner behind us, Miguel Paolo who caught up with us.

 

The first town along our race route, Mahatao lies 6 kilometers away. To get there we encountered uphill with a command view at our right side of the rough sea crashing at the jagged coastline and the view of the Basco Port farther right behind. From the onset we know the day would be a bit cloudy and felt sorry for the group of elders we had breakfast with that their trip to Sabtang Island might not push through.  Midway the uphill we encountered K.C., Roselyn and another runner. We did a usual “groupie” photographs with them. Then they took off and we never caught up with them again. Downhill before entering Mahatao one get to see the Mahatao Boat Shelter Port below the National Road. Entering the Town of Mahatao the 21k runners who also started with the 42k runners made their detour going in land by turning left. The 42k continued following the National Road passing by the Municipal Building and San Carlos Boromeo Church. Another runner Jun joined us who mistakenly followed the 21k when they turned left.  About 8 kilometers from Mahatao is Ivana but before getting there we passed by Mandangeb Beach around this area we saw again the group of elders we had breakfast with this morning and indeed their trip to Sabtang had been cancelled due to rough sea. They cheered us as we passed by them.  Boats heading off to Sabtang Island were launched in Radiwan Port in Ivana.  At around the 18th kilometer or 4 kilometers from Ivana lies Uyugan the farthest place I got from my previous year’s visit. The coast here was even lovelier with water so clear. From my vantage point it seems the water was not even knee high until you got farther away were the water smashes among the rocks acting like sentries.  An Aid Station welcomed us and upon passing by the town we had “groupie” shot with the local police.

 

Soon we were again climbing uphill with wind blowing so strong towards us. I had to take off my cap to prevent it from being blown away. Along the way sitting at a makeshift viewing deck, we saw a female runner resting. I don’t know whether she was suffering from something or her stamina had been snuffed out after sprinting most of the way. When we passed by her we invited her to join us. Our band grew a little larger while our confidence even more for even though we were taking our sweet time we seem to be just a little behind the other runners. Later at the 20th kilometer was an Aid Station we heard that a couple of Navy participants all of a sudden dropped the race.  The view of mountains, which could be ideal for trail running and the coast at our right side that we were being confronted with were simply breath taking. One of the interesting sites was the bending road in Alapad with a huge rock that had been split to have the road passing through it. This rock according to Runs and Raves FB was called Taruyen Nu Manuk or Crown of a Rooster. This was the only area were the road was not yet paved with cement.  Next we proceeded toward the ruined town of Song Song, which was ravaged by Tsunami in the 1950’s. The former inhabitants of the town were given relocation site in Mindanao! This was the period in our history when the settling of Mindanao by various people from all over the country was encouraged. The next town we ran into was Itbud, which lies at the 23rd kilometers and soon we were again running uphill.  Seen from below the road was the town of Imnajbu which was the site of the first mass in held Batanes. From here we began to run towards the direction of inland. The kilometer marker was telling us how far the town of Mahatao from where we were running. I was computing in my mind that if Mahatao was just 8 kilometers and from Mahatao 6 kilometers to the finish line thinking we will return to the national road on our return trip, then we were just about 14 kilometers away. But that would leave us with 7 to 8 kilometers of distance that could not be accounted for.

 

Another place I did not got a chance to see last year was the Malboro Country now we were standing on it and having our photograph taken. I believe in my first visit to Batanes some 20 years ago I got to see this place and probably even some of the southern portion of Batan, which we ran by after Uyugan. But I could not anymore recall any impression of it nor could even make sense of it if I even managed to find the negatives of the shots I took of Batanes way back then. After Malboro country we could already see the white ball shape PAG-ASA Station and Tayid Lighthouse although from our vantage point PAG-ASA seem so far still while nestling on top of a hill. Once again lots of uphill confronted us along the way. Another feature we soon having our photograph taken were the Great Wall of China-like paved road called Paywa and all around were rolling hills of greenery fenced with shrubs to keep the cattle boxed in or out. This is called Hades Changkang.  Harmon the motorcycle-riding photographer of the event was keeping us companied along the way at this point and was firing lots of photograph shots of us. He would have accompanied us until we reached the finish line if it were not for Jun who was the last man walking. Harmon shadowed him instead and the tasked of sweeping the road was added to his responsibilities.  We got to PAG-ASA Station where Naomi’s husband who ran in the 21k was waiting for her. We were told that we will not be passing by Pacita Fundacion, which could have made a wonderful background for photographs. However, it was almost all downhill to the finish line from there. This we know was figuratively but not necessarily literally. I said not literally all downhill since we still yet to encounter one uphill that seemed to appear intimidating. When we were scanning our path we saw couple of moving figures on top of one of the hills. And that hill from our vantage point was seemingly up so high. My spirit almost broke because I thought the incline heading there was so steep and winding. This road leads to the Japanese Cave which was another tourist destination that I almost forgot as part of the race route. However, while negotiating the road that was taking us to that point it was like a dog with a lot of bark than bite. Albert and I both summit the road first and likewise the first to face the steep downhill that ensued it. The road soon gave way to a cross road where the road leading to the right was the route to Vulugan Beach where the 10k and 21k runners were directed to take earlier. The left road led to the town. I thought there were still about 5 kilometers left before finishing the race. I was a bit worried that I will pay dearly for forgetting to refill my hydration bottle at the PAG-ASA Aid Station. So, I was looking for a convenient store to buy me a bottle of Gatorade. But it became apparent to me that we were actually heading towards the Airport Area passing by Lizardo Street. I knew that it would just be about 2 kilometers left to go. Albert dashed away while I followed him unable to catch up and overtake him. I finished with a time of about 7 hours and 43 minutes which was still quite fast in spite that we were supposedly taking the race at leisure pace. I learned that all the champions of the 3 categories were kin with the runner in the 10k as the father of the two male siblings. Jun crossed the finish last but was the one seemingly had the best finished with everyone cheering for him as if he was finishing for a podium finish.

 

With one dream marathon finally done it may not be too much to hope for turning Batanes Winter Marathon into Batanes Internation Winter Marathon, which is held annually. However slots for this event should remain limited to a less than a hundred participants. This is to ensure to keep Batanes pristine and unspoiled by too much tourist activities going on. With the limited slots available participants had to figuratively fight to get in.  High registration fee would be charge so that a portion of it would go to the local such as those that would have to give up touring activities for the period of the event because tours would have to be limited during the marathon period. Collaterals included in the loot bag should be informative while the medal and finisher shirt should be of international standard. Perhaps trail running is another event to consider. With these thoughts maybe the handling of the event should also be done by partnering with another bigger and more experience group to ensure that many of the problems encountered by the current organizers be avoided. Overview of Weather: January to Feb- “Amian” or Winter Season, coolest months brought by the Siberian Wind March to June (April & May-hottest months but could extend to June) July-August- Rainy September-little summer October- prelude to “Amian” season November and December- Amian-cool months

 

Overview of Weather: January to Feb- “Amian” or Winter Season, coolest months brought by the Siberian Wind March to June (April & May-hottest months but could extend to June) July-August- Rainy September-little summer October- prelude to “Amian” season November and December- Amian-cool monthsOverview of Weather: January to Feb- “Amian” or Winter Season, coolest months brought by the Siberian Wind March to June (April & May-hottest months but could extend to June) July-August- Rainy September-little summer October- prelude to “Amian” season November and December- Amian-cool months

Sagada Marathon Redux

While most of my running friends were busy with their last minute preparation for their probably most challenging ultramarathon, The Bataan Death March 102, slated on January 30, 2016, I was heading up to Sagada for the event, Sagada Marathon. Almost year ago I ran (and eventually wrote about it) 42k in Sagada at Front Runners Magazine’s event, Sagada Circuit Marathon. Unfortunately after running for about 9 hours I along with 6 other runners had reached only the 34th kilometers of the race a little over 2:00pm. It was not however, enough to beat the cut-off time for runners to be in this area. As a result we were no longer allowed to continue with the race whose last remaining 8 kilometers still entailed runners to run towards the 1937 MASL Mt. Ampacao Saddle before heading off to the finish line. Vowing redemption, I could not anymore wait for Front Runner Magazine’s event which may or may not happen this year, so I did the next best thing, I booked a slot at Team Malaya’s 3rd Sagada Marathon now leveled up to mountain trail run. The 2 previous incarnations of Sagada Marathon, which was predominantly a road run was part of the Cordillera Series that was running for 3 years now. Usually the Sagada Marathon was the kick off event to the string of marathon events under the Cordillera Series. I was part of the first batch but I missed running the Sagada leg. I could not run in the following year’s Sagada Marathon due to conflict in schedule. It was as if it was really my destiny to run in Sagada since Front Runner Magazine came out with its own event there.

 

Initially I was not fazed with the change Sagada Marathon underwent this year after all I had ran in at least three full marathons of the Cordillera series that featured mountain trails and came out a victor in each. However, after talking with some of the current participants and staff of the race who happened to be acquainted with the Meldwyn Bauding, who prepared the route for this year’s Sagada Marathon, I began to entertain thoughts that I might just be coming home again with another DNF wound. The last Kibungan Marathon’s route that was designed by Melwyn was so challenging that even the most seasoned trail runners that had ran Team Malaya’s offering struggled to conquer the race. Would Sagada Marathon turn out to be another experimental laboratory in the art of trail running torture? With an aim of getting back to Manila in time for my Monday morning teaching class, I booked a shuttle service that would leave Sagada Sunday afternoon at 5:00pm. So, if ever I find myself still in the neck of the woods at around 2pm I would not think twice in declaring myself DNF just so I could get back to the Starting area in time to change clothing, rest until we set off for Manila. This arrangement worked quite well with my co-passengers for the shuttle service all of them were registered in the 21k category and would have been done with their run way before my self imposed cut-off time.   In this race I picked up new friends who were my co-passenger at the shuttle. They were Ria, Sandy, Jester, Jake, Beverly and Teejay whom I am already acquainted with through Facebook. Most of them were quite new to running much more trail running.

 

At 4:00 am runners were already gathered at Minnie Degawah Compound, Mabbay Poblacion near Mount Carmel Church about 300 meters from the Municipal Hall for the race briefing and breakfast. I noticed that there seem to be quite a number of turned out of participants this year than the previous legs that I had participated in. about 156 joined the 21k while 56 in the 42k category. At 5:00 am with still darkness hanging about the gun start was given. Runners headed out along a concrete paved road that soon led to an uphill dirt road. The first destination was Kiltepan where amidst crowd of tourists waiting for the sea of clouds to be visible a U-turn awaited runners. I heard that even at this early juncture of the race there were already runners who failed to locate the u-turn and got lost at the view deck. I suspected they just wanted to get a glimpse of the now famous site where Angelica Panganiban and JM De Guzman shouted out their angst in the movie, “That Thing Called Tadhana”.   In Front Runners Magazine’s event this was the 21st kilometers of the race. From Kiltepan runners ran downhill towards Petron Gas Station where near it was a road that ushered runners to the dirt path going to Malboro Country whose highest point reach 1,684 masl. On the way I got my foot landing badly and had sprained my right foot. I however, managed to shake it off and was soon running again. The other runner who earlier got also sprained continued to limp as I passed by him. In the previous Sagada Circuit Marathon in about this area my companions and I got lost in this trailed covered with fog. Soon we reach Marlboro Country area. As in Kiltepan, the area where sea of cloud also could be viewed many selfie taking and camera totting people both tourists and runners were amassing. Light was slowing making its appearance. I forego any opportunity to do “selfie” since I don’t want to use up the few remaining bars of my cellphone’s batteries and I was more determined to make it as far as I could before I could call in another DNF, so I just plodded along the path and into the next portion of the race route. When we ran in this area in Sagada Circuit Marathon it was close to midday and the sun was baring down on us with fury. Soon I was entering a wooded area that led to the place called Blue Soil. According to Teejay the blue hue of the rock was due to chemical reaction like copper sulfate, which becomes more pronounce after rain. From here more woods and trail until we got out into a concrete road which in Front Runners magazine’s event the area was Payag-ew the 29th kilometers while in the current race the 14th kilometers.

 

Due to landslide and road repair, the portion going to the Pongas Falls was no longer taken by runners instead took the concrete road that led to Sumaguing Cave entrance. This is unfortunate because this portion of the race may be another stunning place to see. Actually I thought this was the same falls we saw in Sagada Circuit Marathon but upon checking the one in Sagada Circuit Marathon was Bomod-ok Falls whose access was via crossing Aguid Rice Terraces. Farther at my left nestled in the mountain I could see the communication tower the next important landmark in the 42k race route, which seem to be so high and still so far away. Soon I saw once again the 34th kilometers of Front Runner Magazine’s Sagada Circuit Marathon located at Gaia Restaurant where we were declared DNF last year. This time I was moving pass it in order to reach the road that would take me to Mt. Ampacao Saddle or Tower Peak the one stop I never got to see close in Sagada Circuit Marathon. On the steep and quite exhausting uphill trail that ushered us towards the road to Tower Peak I was dogging the 58 year old, trekking pole bearing Roberto Ramos who no matter what I do to get pass by him I always end up behind him. Close by was another runner Allan Palomares who was also running abreast with Roberto. I momentarily lose the two runners in favor of another male runner who suddenly overtook me after a much faster female runner made a dash out of nowhere passing by me on the way into another wooded area. The race ribbons that we were following began to thin out and could not be located easier since the distance in between gapped wider. I heard the male runner ahead of me speaking with another runner on his cellphone. Apparently, the runner on the other line was originally ahead of us but now found lost along the trail. Soon Ramos and Palomares were again overtaking me. I initially thought that upon reaching the summit we would turn back to retrace our path until we got down to the concrete road again. But I was wrong. We did not actually reach the Tower but turned to the ridge opposite of the path leading to the Tower. The Tower completely faded away from our path and I was afraid that we might have taken a wrong turn or something. But we were relentless in following the red ribbon route markers which although at a certain time seem to have completely disappeared suddenly reveal itself at the most opportune moment. As soon as I caught up with Ramos we stopped to rest and admire the breathtaking view of other mountains and Sagada Town below. Other runners began to appear out of the woods and likewise stopped. One of the runners mentioned that we were just at the 21st kilometers, which I could not believe after all the effort I had done. There might be something wrong with the watch or something, I thought to myself. Although taking 4 hours to get to the first half of the marathon was not too far fetch and finishing the 2nd half in another 4 hours was still pretty much decent for me, I just can’t imagine how another 21 kilometers could fit in with the remainder of the route indicated in the race map. It became apparent that we were actually traversing another ridge that soon led downhill until finally I saw we were already at Lake Danum area and soon having refreshments at the Aid Station 3. I heard later from Arel another runner who ran in the 21k that there were those who got lost at Lake Danum area because there were no ribbons to indicate which direction to take. I and my two other companions were much luckier because I already had gotten to this area in Sagada Circuit Marathon and therefore I know the way out to the road where the Aid Station awaits. The next destination was the Langsayan Peak that lies at 1,950 masl. I figured this would probably be 4 kilometers hike to the summit. But somehow it didn’t seem to have taken that long to reach the summit and from there the marshal told us that we were just down to 10 kilometers before completing the whole course. I couldn’t believe it that I was going to get my redemption after all with a finish time that beat my other Cordillera Series. In fact we reached Aid Station 4 at Bangaan quite quicker again, that when we were told that we were at the last 2 kilometers of the race, Palomares could not agree because in his watch we were just at around 28 kilometers. The last portion of the route after the AS4 was not at all 2 kilometers but rather 6 kilometers. But even with this remaining kilometers left for us to accomplish this would just be only 34 kilometers total. It turned out due to the change in the race route the 42k distance was actually reduced by several kilometers. Therefore even though I came through the Finish line with a time of 7 hours and 36 minutes it was still not 42 kilometers. Of course I could argue that the missing 6 kilometers would easily be conquered within less than 2 hours (in Sagada circuit marathon it took me 9 hours to get to the 34th kilometers) still I felt the celebration was not complete. So, in spite of completing the 42k series of Cordillera Series I was still feeling short of the kind of redemption I sought. I however, was now hesitant if I will be back if Front Runner Magazine undertake another shot at Sagada Circuit Marathon.

 

Perhaps, not all race are meant to be completed in a manner like how it was done the first time. It’s the experience going through the process of getting that redemption should matter. The very reason one fell short the first time must not again be repeated and improve upon instead. If ever again one fell short the second time count the initial success garnered not the failure. Sometimes it is much better to continue falling short of finishing a coveted race than complete one and retire the whole sport after attaining that coveted race. Failure sometimes gives reason to keep on going while victor sometimes become a good reason for others to stop from going. I have another race event that I initially failed to finish but somehow successfully conquered the second time because the event was done in another venue. Now it is again returning to the venue where I failed. I want to come back and try again. TNF100 2016 Baguio-Benguet see you soon.

Running Amongst The Ruins of The Rock: My Corregidor Marathon and Corregidor International Half-Marathon experience

 

On January 8, 2016 after disembarking from the new Sun Cruises Terminal at Esplanade Seaside near the SM Mall of Asia complex in Pasay City, I landed at Corregidor Island’s North Dock to attend the run events The 3rd Corregidor Marathon and the 6th Corregidor International Half Marathon happening on January 9 and 10, 2016 respectively. The tadpole shaped Corregidor Island also once known as Fort Mill whose head is pointing westward toward the West Philippine Sea, lies 41 kilometers from Manila. Although Corregidor is nearer to Bataan at approximately 10.5 kilometers, it belongs to the Province of Cavite under Sangley Point which lies about 21 kilometers away. Corregidor is the biggest of the group of 5 islands which include: Caballo (Fort Hughes), Carabao (Fort Frank), El Fraile (Fort Drum) and La Monja which is just a rock cropping out of the sea. Looking around the crowd while waiting for boarding the ferry I saw some familiar faces beginning with the couple of tri-athletes Julie and Nheng whom I met in the First Hungduan Marathon, K.C. whom I also met in Hungduan Marathon, Emerson and Flor of the Team Philippine Star, Rex who I often get to see in other run events, Kupa Ociones whom I met at the 3rd Cavinti Road and Trail Ultramarathon and the photographer Jack Morales. Some participants based on the shirt they were wearing had run in the same event I ran in before and therefore I may had probably brushed along them one way or the other one of them was Joni Castillo. Among the running groups or clubs competing for the King of the Rock Team Category were Team Soleus, Team Monumentum Milers, P.I.G.S., Team Cabalen Runners (which later arrived in Corregidor with Noel via pump boat coming from Mariveles, Bataan) and Team Philippine Star.

Upon arriving at around 1:45 pm the participants proceeded to the organizers’ area at South Bottomside near San Jose Church and Corregidor Hostel to claim race kits of those who have not claimed theirs in Manila. Those who were done with this procedure were given their respective accommodation assignments and keys and then departed to their respective accommodations located in different areas of the island. For those camping out, they took the tranvia for a shorter ride to the South Beach where the Finish Line area of the race was also situated, while those occupying the Corregidor Resort Cabana accommodation rode farther heading towards the beach resort complex located at southeastern and tail portion of the island. Still others, such as I, could just walk a shorter distance going to Corregidor Inn although by mistake I took the tranvia that travel all the way to the beach resort complex.  Before leaving the organizers’ area, the participants were told of the regular Corregidor Island Tour happening at 3:00 pm, which they could avail for P300.00.

It was more than 10 years ago for the purpose of doing a paper on Conservation Management of Corregidor Island for our Masters in Cultural Studies requirements when I along with 3 other faculty members stayed overnight in Corregidor. Aside from the regular island tour which culminated with the Malinta Tunnel Sight and Sound presentation, we also took the Sunset and Sunrise Tour Package, the Evening Lateral Tunnel Tour and some other side visits not anymore covered by any tour packages. In another visit to Corregidor when I was assigned along with another colleague by UST Center for Conservation of Cultural Properties and the Environment in the Tropic (UST-CCCPET) to accompany the visiting professor and author, William Stewart Logan to Corregidor, I was able to visit the El Fraile Island or Fort Drum, which is an island nearer Cavite that was made to look like a concrete battleship.

At around 7:00 pm the participants who had paid the extract P250 per meal had carbo-loading dinner at the Cabana Beach Resort area. Edward Kho, the Race Director of CM and CIHM welcomed everyone formally and gave last minute reminders regarding the race event the following morning.  Although the 42k race route which was said to look like the shape of “8” or infinity (of suffering the uphill?) and to be done twice to complete the 42 kilometers was discussed in the briefing done during the release of race kit in Manila nothing could really prepare one for the actual experience of the race route dubbed by one of the runner I spoken with as, “the marathon for the big boys”.   I tried looking for anyone having written anything about the 42k route of Corregidor Marathon to shed some light on what to expect. But I drew blank. Only the 21k had one as suggested by Mr. Kho himself as a pretty good read about the route but I suspect it does not come close to what the Race Director’s smirk was trying to communicate.

Since the first time I heard of Corregidor International Half Marathon 6 years ago I always wanted to experience running its pavements. But most of the times when I get to learn about CIHM, the registration to the event was either fully filled up or I have registered already at another run event coinciding with CIHM. When Corregidor Marathon, which happens a day before CIHM was inaugurated 3 years ago the reason I was not able to get on board on this event either because once again deluge of running enthusiasts registered to this event and the slots at the 42k got once again filled up quickly. Of course I am also partly to blame for dillydally with my decision to register when there was probably still slots available. Then last year I was able to finally registered at the CIHM and was all geared up to run the Rock but the visit of Pope Francis which coincided with CM and CIHM prevented my taking on the challenge because of the no sailing along the Manila Bay policy imposed by the government. The organizers were forced to reschedule CM and CIHM to March. The new date of the event did not worked out with my schedule so, I had no other recourse but to asked the organizers to instead have my registration be considered as an early registration for the 2016 CIHM, to which the organizers obliged even though it was not in their policy to do so. This year upon opening of the registration for the Corregidor Marathon I quickly wasted no time registering online for this event, never minding that I still have to confirm if the organizers were willing to honor my request regarding my previous registration. So, ho and behold when they did confirmed my last year’s CIHM registration for this year, I all of a sudden have two chances to run amongst the ruins of Corregidor Island and it is just a matter now of my surviving both runs.

At 4:00 am the breakfast buffet table was opened at Corregidor Inn. It was really a first for me to experience having heavy breakfast before an actual marathon run. In truth in spite of the belly-busting carbo dinner the previous evening I was really famished that morning. So, I figured I should indulge and put my cares away about eating so much that morning. The dreaded uphill I kept on hearing about would probably take care of the food I will be lugging along my tummy. The starting lane located near the Statue of General Douglas MacArthur at Lorcha Dock and the Corregidor Foundation, Inc. Office along the North Dock slowly began filling up with runners at 5:00 am although the sky was still blanketed with darkness. However, daylight quickly came and at 6:04 am the gun start was given. After a couple of meters running along the picturesque snaking coast line heading towards the island’s northeastern portion of the tadpole’s tail side, we finally saw the 800 meter long steep and winding incline that everyone calls “killer uphill”. We struggled climbing it.  The tail portion of Corregidor has a height of 100 to 400 feet above sea level. When the Japanese coming from Mariveles came to invade Corregidor in May 5, 1942 they beach head in this side of the island along Infantry Point and Calvary Point. Lumbering after overcoming the killer uphill and now in a more leveled ground, I followed the queue of other runners making towards the Filipino Heroes Memorial Garden where an Aid Station awaits. This was probably the 2nd kilometer of the race.  From this aid station runners proceeded towards the direction of Kindley Airfield. This portion of the road was more or less flat to slightly inclining upward.  Trees covered the left side of the road and made me I think some monkeys were residing this forested area for when I passed by a portion of it there was a kind of movement and noise among the trees. Soon we I spotted the airfield.

Kindley Airfield in contemporary history of Corregidor was where Jabidah Massacre happened involving the killing of some 180 Tausug and Sama Muslim soldiers after Operation Merdeka, a plan to destabilized Sabah in the 1967 petered out because of the mutiny of the soldiers who only learn on December 1967 after several months of preparation that they will be killing their fellow Muslim brothers in Sabah. Therefore the need to eliminate the soldiers became necessary and was put to action by mowing down with machine guns in groups of 12 these soldiers. Only 1 managed to survive this incident by the name Jibin Arula.  The news of this incident what finally united the warring Muslim groups in Mindanao into Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Runners ran both ends of the 800 meters grassy former landing strip before exiting the airfield to head back towards the Filipino Heroes Memorial Garden. Not far from the Airfield the Mindanao for Peace marker which probably was placed to commemorate the Jabidah Massacre. Still not farther away from this was the next Aid Station marking the 4th kilometers. From here we ran towards the Filipino Heroes Memorial Garden and turned left heading to the Japanese Memorial Garden, which was heralded by a huge Jibo-Kannon Stone Buddha. This portion was downhill that led to the Beach Resort Complex. Upon hitting the end of the downhill runners turned left until the start of the beachfront. Runners were treated to the breathtaking view of the South Channel kissing the rocky edges of the island. Runners then passed by some of the cottages that accommodated some of the participants and climbed the stairs that spilled runners back on the road. We turned left for the U-turn located in front of the Cabana clubhouse where we had the previous evening’s carbo-dinner and then proceeded to the uphill leading back to the Japanese Memorial Garden. This was probably the 6th or 7th kilometers of the race. From here we ran westward of the Island or towards the South Bottomside on a initially gradual then turning to a little more steeper downhill towards the east entrance to The Malinta Tunnel marking the end of the first loop of this portion of the island. The 925 feet length Malinta Tunnel served as shelter of the inhabitants of Corregidor including General Douglas MacArthur and President Manuel L. Quezon during the time the Japanese invaders were bombarding Corregidor beginning in December 29, 1941. Now it showcases dioramas simulating actual events in the Island. Seeing daylight at the other end of the tunnel photographers waited for the emerging runners and another Aid Station was located. From here runners were directed to proceed towards the North Dock where the Starting Line was located and from this point to turn left and then right again towards the direction of the Engineering Dock. Runners then veered left passing at the right side a ruined building, which ushered runners into a long trail. The whole scenario no longer recalls of World War II scenario but rather seemingly a more Indiana Jones or Laracroft adventure feel into it. Runners now found themselves running towards the Northwestern portion of the island and about to hit the portion called Topside, which jutted up the North Channel at 628 feet above sea level.  The trail has the view of the sea at the right side although foliage obstructed the view in some portion. The path leads to Battery Point and Morrison Point. The Topside served as the nerve center of Corregidor which held army post headquarters, barracks, officer’s headquarters, underground ordnance shops, the traditional parade grounds, hospitals, schools and etc. Currently this zone is part of the Memorial Arc Zone whose entrance runs along the steep uphill Ramsey Ravine where the second loop for this portion of the race will pass through later. I don’t know where exactly we exited but somehow we ended up on a road that soon led to where at the right side of the road the eerie ruins of the Middleside Barracks stood seemingly taunting us to imagine seeing ghosts of the soldiers walking about or peeping through the ruins.  From here runners soon entered a trail which featured the ruins of a hospital building that cannot fail to send shivers even to the bravest of us runners once you tread this path alone.

Upon emerging from this area runners wound up making way towards Battery Way which is one of the two (the other one being Battery Geary) principal defense of Corregidor during the War. This battery used to contain four 12 inch mortar10 ton that could fire upon Bataan. It was said that this placement was the last to be silence during the Japanese invasion of the Island. An Aid Station awaits here which probably marked the 12th kilometer of the race. Runners then made way to the 2 10-inch mortar totting Battery Grubb for a U-turn and then to run around the Battery Hearn, which is a 12 inch mortar facing Bataan before forging ahead to Battery Geary which has 8 12 inch mortar facing Cavite and Battery Crocket which has two 10 inch mortars also facing Cavite. After the batteries runners emerged on a road that featured the ruins of the Mile Long Barracks at the left side of the road while the Parade Ground at the right side. An aid station probably marking the 14th kilometer stood along this area. Upon turning right runners next encountered the ruins of Cine Corregidor, Pacific Memorial and the Freedom Torch before entering another trail that passes by the Spanish Lighthouse. Upon exiting the trail runners encountered about 3 kilometers of downhill along Ramsey Ravine which led back to the Bottomside towards the Starting Area at the North Dock to begin all over again of climbing the killer uphill going to the northeastern portion of the island for the second loop. Upon completion of the run at the Tail side of the island, runners proceeded again towards the Memorial Arc Zone where runners previously encountered the Battery Placements and Ruined structures only this time taking on the uphill along Ramsey Ravine for the 2nd loop of this portion of the island. Once the second loop completed runners headed back downhill along Ramsey Ravine passing by the North Dock, which leads to the 3rd and final run with the killer uphill. Once done with this portion only about 700 meters of downhill towards the Malinta Tunnel and about a hundred meters more going towards South Beach separates runners from the humongous medal waiting at the Finish Line.

I finished the race with a time of 6:33:13 with a rank of 72nd place out of 148 runners. One of my acquaintance seem to have DNF the race while the three other runners to whom I had dinner with, whom I thought I had more experienced in running, finished stronger ahead of me.  The four of us were discussing over dinner about proper spacing of time between run events to participate in. Their finish was a more convincing proof that it was more beneficial to have ample time between each run events to allow the body full recovery which obviously I do not follow. At around 2:45 pm most of the 42k runners boarded the Sun Cruises Ferry bound for Manila. I remained for yet another take at the Rock the next day at the Corregidor International Half Marathon under the 21k category. Although it was not quite hard to believe that there were those who run the CM and CIHM year after year like PinoyFitness’ Franc Ramon who had done the CIHM four times already, while my friend Emerson did CM twice, it was not unlikely there were also others who like me were taking CM and CIHM back to back. One of whom I know doing it was Rey, a runner I met at the 2015 TNF100 and another Flor of Team Philippine Star. The real question was whether I would find the route boring now that I had ran in it already and having encountered numerous uphill along the path would I still have the stamina to make another run of the Island. It turned out that getting bored was the least of the problem I got to deal with.

Some runners from the 21k category arrived at Corrigedor at 5:45 pm and just as what happened the day before, they proceeded to the organizers’ area for their kits and accommodation assignments. The rest of the 21k and 10k runners arrived at 6:45 am the next day. I half expected that there would still be more running acquaintance of mine that would be coming but unfortunately this was not so. For there were several other run events coinciding with CIHM that Sunday January 10 that got my other running companions registered. There’s Cebu City Marathon, PSE Bull Run 2016 happening in Bonifacio Global City, Maharlika Half-Marathon at CCP Complex, Fat-Ass Run 2016 in Clark Parade Ground, Pampanga and the Tarak Ridge 25k Trail Race which happens just across the North Channel in Mariveles, Bataan and by the time I probably reached halfway of the CIHM route I expected some of my friends were already be on top of the ridge and could actually espied upon Corregidor Island.

I did not expect some of the tweaks in the 21k route could actually make the CIHM run a bit more interesting after having run the CM already. But somehow it did. Upon gun start at 8:00 am runners hit the uphill road that led to the west entrance of the Malinta Tunnel first. This made the first time Corregidor runner think this was already the dreaded uphill mentioned to them as “surprise”. Upon exiting Malinta Tunnel it was still an uphill surge for runners. In truth during this portion of the race I couldn’t revved up. It seems the previous day’s exertion was going to haunt me although out the run until I could not anymore finish the race.   Another difference in the route was upon hitting the Filipino Heroes Memorial Garden runners immediately were directed towards the Japanese Memorial Garden and into the Beach Resort Complex. Only upon returning from both that runners headed to the Kindley Airfield. At this point I had already gained my strength and was pacing much better than the first 2 kilometers. Far from getting bored the familiarity with the route enabled me to anticipate distance of the next Aid Station and landmarks which gave me an idea on how to pace myself better.  After accomplishing route at the Tail side of Corregidor and was now about to cross to the other side of the Island.  The 21k route did not anymore utilize the long trail along the Battery Point and Morrison Point instead followed the 42k second loop route of going to Topside via the uphill along Ramsey Ravine. Only at the last 2 kilometers did the runners of the 21k finally get to meet the “surprise” killer uphill before heading for the finish line. I ended up finishing the race with a time of 3:08:42 with a rank of 129th out of 286 participants. I felt I made another milestone in conquering yet another run event that is known to be challenging and which had eluded me for so long. The whole Corregidor run experience coincided with the Black Nazarene Procession and because of it I can’t help point out the similarity of experience. For those who were looking from the outside at the participants, the whole exercise seems to be painfully difficult experience to undergo and even to comprehend. It is not a big surprise therefore that others question the motives of the participants. But to the devotees emerging from the melee comes out feeling blessed and justified. To them is all what really matters regardless of other people’s opinion about it. I believe this was also mirrored in the Corregidor run that was why some runners come back for another take of the Rock. The difficult journey around the island promises some form of redemption. It would even be more meaningful if the lessons that Corregidor Island holds from his multifaceted history could also be absorbed by the participants so that those who had crossed the finish line would have gain more than a weighty medal but a weightier knowledge of the country’s rich history and heritage.

 

 

Mindanao Shoe-journ

Several years ago around 2001 I think, I came to Cagayan De Oro on an assignment from my previous employment whose detail I could not anymore recall. All I know I went to Bukidnon coming from Cagayan De Oro to witness Kaamulan Festival. The other time I was in Cagayan De Oro I made a side trip to Camiguin.  Anyway, as a result of some bad experience in Manila, I was always a bit apprehensive of taking a ride with unscrupulous taxi drivers  not sparing those operating at the airport terminal, that is why I always make it a point to walk from the airport terminal to anywhere outside the terminal where I can either take other public utility vehicles, or walk all the way to the city if manageable or flag a taxi cab that would not anymore be able to charge fare that seem to include purchasing a share of stocks of the airport terminal. My first time in CDO, I tried to walk from Lumbia Airport Terminal which lies on top of a hill along Masterson Avenue but after about more than half an hour of  walking and seeing only lines of trees and occasionally the overview of the lower portion of the hill, I finally relented and flagged a taxi. I saw then that I was still too far from the city proper which still lies below after crossing Cagayan River.

 

When I recently came back to Cagayan De Oro to participate at the run event, Pryce Gas International Marathon which happened December 13, 2015, I didn’t know that Cagayan De Oro has a new airport terminal located at Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental about 40 kilometers away from CDO’s city proper. When I took a cab from the terminal to my hotel at Pryce Plaza Hotel located along the old airport road or Masterson Avenue, my fare totaled P467.00. Imagine if I attempted to walk once again from the airport. I might have gone crazy turning up in the middle of nowhere in Misamis Oriental without an easy access to public transportation around to bail me out of my fetish.

 

With about 15 years apart from my early visit to Cagayan De Oro, the Pryce Gas International Marathon would have reoriented me with CDO’s city proper and perhaps reveal more of the place that I was not able to see before if the race route went full out and back starting from Pryce Memorial Garden near the former airport terminal in Lumbia. Instead, the race made used of two loops to complete the 42 kilometer distance for the marathon. In the previous year the route had taken runner as far as Opol a town nearer the new airport which showcased the view of the sea and beaches along the route. But with the current road repairs going on it was understandable that request for the use of that older race route was not permitted and thus the 2 loops.

 

From the starting line a 7 kilometer downhill along Masterson Avenue provided runners with enough momentum to propel them into a much faster running pace which will make up for the ones that might be taken by the uphill on the return trip to the finish line area. Aside from me, the 72 year old Master Vic Ting were the only runners from Manila in the 42k category while Lyndon Datu and Victor Urgel were the only two runners I know from Manila running in the 21k category. Of course there were the Kenyan runners about 8 of them all gunning for the 42k podium slots. Upon reaching the foot of the downhill, runners crossed the Carmen Bridge or Golden Mile Bridge and headed towards Rodelsa Circle turning left along Don Apolinar Velez Street. This portion was the introduction to the City. Among that could be espied along this route was the Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan which lies at the right side of the street near Bonifacio and Magsaysay Park. Rows of establishments like banks, fast food chain and hotels line this route. The previous day I went to Ayala Mall from the hotel. Although the distance was not that far the fare for taxi had me churning out a hundred bucks. I told myself I cannot spend this much on transportation fare every time I go out. So, on my way back I tried walking from Ayala Mall to my hotel. I did not break so much sweat in doing so even with the 500 meters uphill.  So, with taxi meter seemingly on a sprint pace my next concern was how to get to the airport without spewing P467.00.  I was even told that no taxi will ferry passenger on a meter basis other than on an automatic P800.00 fare? The answer lies at SM City Cagayan De Oro near my hotel. They have a van service at the transportation depot that take passengers to Laguindingan Airport for a fare of P199.00 per head otherwise I was told that at Limketkai Center there are “Magnum” maybe van also that ferries passengers the same as those at SM City.

 

On the downhill stretch I really packed some speed and was able to pass by some runners ahead of me but as soon as I hit the flatter road some of my steam got tapered. Pretty soon a lot of those runners I had overtaken were again gaining their lead from me until I was pretty much sure I was lagging behind most of everyone. This made me think that in the provinces there were fewer people joining run events as compare to Manila. But those who do join run events in the provinces were pretty much prepared for the races. They were stronger, faster and determine to establish respectable PRs than those many people who join run events in Manila and run in a leisurely pace and maybe out of joining a fad.

 

The next turn the runners took was a left turn near the Flyover which is part of the Iligan-Cagayan De Oro-Butuan Road and into Marcos Bridge. This portion of the route until the first 42k U-turn near the Renaissance Motel was very much similar to the Talisay portion of the route in Cebu City Marathon.  On my way back since it was still dark I did not paid much attention to the route and the only remarkable aspect of the route that registered to me was the uphill portion going to the 2nd U-turn for the 42k.  Remarkable in a sense that you can feel the uphill while the flatter portion came and went like a breeze.   On my way to the 2nd U-turn while crossing the Carmen Bridge, I came across my two other acquaintances running in the 21k category by this time the huge cluster of 42K Kenyan runners had already passed me by and so with the Filipino lead runners in the 21k. After crossing the 2nd U-turn for the 42k about less than 5 kilometers downhill awaits. Unlike the first time I was not able to pack some speed at the downhill. I noticed also that there were probably just 3 more other runners behind me on the way up to the U-turn. It was already bright with the sun was shining hot and brilliantly at the time I was again crossing Carmen Bridge. I thought I was really doing terribly for I could not see runners ahead of me. But as soon as I reached the city proper I gained sight of few stragglers. I hurried my pace and was soon slowly passing them by. I was full of delight.  By the time I hit beyond Marcos Bridge I was again gaining on some more runners. This kind of restored some confidence in me and even my strength seemed to get a second wind. After crossing the 3rd 42k U-turn, I saw that behind me were other runners just making for the U-turn. They were still quite a handful. As I was passing by near Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Complex a religious song was being played in the background. Somehow I was touched by it and felt I was being fed with renewed spirit. So, I raised my right arm and slowly waved it in the air in the act of praising the Lord above.  My biggest coup of the day however, was when on my way to the final 7 kilometers uphill along Masterson Avenue I caught up with Master Vic who was pacing a lady and another runner. From thereon I ran close by Master Vic who was trying to establish a finish that is less than 5 hours and 45 minutes. Quite impressed by his feat, people taking the opposite lane of the road took photographs of Master Vic with their cellphone camera.  Running close by Master Vic might have provided me with an opportunity to have my photograph with Master Vic landing in some of the local newspaper or in someone else’s Facebook account. I ran close by Master Vic until were about a kilometer and a half away from the Finish Line when I started to pile up my pace and left Master Vic speaking with the race organizer who was then moving some race cone closer to the service side of the road to give way to the opening of the left side of the road to regular traffic. I finished 91st out of 122 participants with a time of 5:50:31.

 

The following week I was again flying to Mindanao. This time to Davao City to participate in the event, Punisher 50 a trail run event organized by Doi Calbes held in Sargeant Barracks Resort, Babak, Island Garden City of Samal, Davao Del Norte. I was registered at the 25k category. This time I was the lone participant from Manila. This was by far my farthest run event venue I had participated in. As in Cagayan De Oro, Davao City also has a new airport terminal. But at least this was nearer the destination I was heading for which was the Samal Ferry Terminal at Sasa. I took a barge that ferried across the bay not just people but also vehicles to the terminal at Kinawitnon, Samal Island. I was originally apprehensive about going to Davao City because at the moment I was flying to Davao a Tropical Depression named “Onyok” was passing by the Caraga Region. The race organizer posted at Facebook that rains were expected to fall during the event. I imagine the scene we had just before the suppose gun start time in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija at the height of the typhoon Lando. It did not help ease my apprehension my bringing along the book, Finding Lost: Season Six by Nikki Stafford, which is about the TV Series featuring the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 which crashed on a mysterious island.

 

Like in Cagayan De Oro, I first came to Davao before via some assignments from my former employment. Among them were my trips beginning in October 28, 2001 to Sibulan, Davao about 50 kilometers from the city where about 15 kilometers of which was done going up into the mountains and into one of the original settlement area of Tagabawa Bagobo. I was there to document the opening of a Bagobo School of Living Tradition. Then in 2002 I went to Kaimunan, Mati, Davao Oriental about 3 hours away from Davao City and in Sangab, Caraga, Davao Oriental an hour away from Mati, Davao Oriental right smack into a settlement caught in between NPA rebel and military conflict to witness the Kalindugan ng Sangab for Mandaya. In almost 13 years a lot of things had change in Davao City and my memory of the place seemed to have been washed away by the currents of years.

 

When I came out of the plane it was far from the stormy weather that I imagined Davao City would welcome me with. In fact it was more like summer there.  So, after depositing my things at Sgt. Barracks Resort at Babak, Garden Island City of Samal, I took off to see the city that I used to walk along at. However, I instead spent most of the time caught up in a slow paced traffic going around the city without me ever recognizing what I was seeing. Only on my way back to the Ferry Terminal did I saw some of the features that were familiar to me, like the Central Bank Building, Ayala Mall and Gaisano Mall. By the time I got back to Samal Island I was stressed out and was instead looking forward to the next day’s event which started with this evening’s race briefing done in Visayan language of course.

 

On the race day the weather turned a bit gloomy with light rain pelting since the evening.  The gun start for the 25k runners was reset to 5:40 am.  The previous day I initially feared that I might have made the mistake again of joining an event participated predominantly by seasoned trail runners and imagined myself eating most of their dust just as what happened in Akyathlon in Mt. Ugo. But upon arrival of my bunkmate Louie who originally hailed from Silay City but currently working for 5 years now in Davao City, I learned that this race was his second trail run event with his R.O.X. Mapawa Trail Run held in General Santos as his first. In that event he got DNF after running about 18 kilometers in the 22k category. I took this with a grain of salt for he might just be doing a reverse of bragging. Even I resort sometime to sandbagging my capabilities so that I do not reveal so much of what I am capable. According to what I could make out of the briefing. For the 25k we have 7 hours to complete the route before being considered DNF. The route was paved with orange ribbons indicating the route to take while the yellow caution tape signifies, “do not go this way”. However, upon gun start at the onset of the race finding the ribbon had already presented itself as a problem especially at the time of our release the surrounding was still not very much well lighted.  Runners smartly were trying to keep up closely with each other so that they would not get lost along the way while allowing the lead runners to figure out the path to take. By this time the rain had already halted. But the rain had already made our path both muddied and pocked with pooled brown water. After I got acclimated I soon picked up my pace and began overtaking some runners. Before I knew it upon hitting an uphill overlooking the sea, I saw I was 9th overall and was even about to overtake four more runners. But soon the other four lead runners found themselves getting lost.  Shortly, I joined them in trying to figure out where the next route. Soon most of the runners behind us caught up with us. So, when finally someone figured out the right route and everyone else resumed running, I ended up at the tail end of the queue for having to leave the area last. After the Aids Station at the 6th kilometer of the race the gaps among the runners gape wide open. I soon was running along a group who found ourselves again getting lost. It turned out we exited at a wrong side of the trail and into the concrete road. A timely passing of motorcycle riding marshal pointed out to us the right track which we soon got back on and negotiated. I then lagged further behind the couple Theo and Melanie which I was following due to almost twisting my ankle at one point. By the time I tried to catch up I could no longer determine the path they took. I was alone by myself figuring out where the orange ribbons where located. I soon found myself again getting lost. I ended up exiting in one of the concrete road near a building that resembles a local government hall. I asked around if runners had passed by this way but I could not understand Visayan. However, I was pointed at a stationary ambulance where Doi and another marshal was standing by and waving at me. I ran towards them and was directed to the path the other runners had taken.

 

The whole route even the occasional uphill was actually manageable in terms of technicality. This made me wonder if the 50k category of this race was achievable for me without getting caught by the cut off time if ever I return along with my other running acquaintances next year.  By the time I was about a kilometer away from the 25k U-turn at Hagimit Falls the other runners were already returning from it. But I noticed there were fewer of them I came across with. At the U-turn I caught up with Theo and Melanie who were getting ready to leave the Aid Station another runner who was nursing his legs had decided to quit the race. While another one just arrived who seem also was contemplating on quitting the race. Just as I was about to leave three more runners appeared. They were from the Panabo Runners Club and one of the original lead runners was their companion. I knew they were originally ahead of the group I was running along with. In fact the two ladies from this Panabo Runners Club were the leading female runners of the 25k category. However, they told me they got lost and ended up running near the shoreline. Now the new leading female runners were the two women in the group I was originally running along with before I fell far behind them and couldn’t catch up until the Hagimit Fall U-turn. But they’ve been gone long when the Panabo Running Club arrived.  To avoid getting lost again I decided on the way back I will run along with Panabo Running Club. The other runner, Prince who almost quit was also encouraged to join our pack. On our way back after about 2 kilometers from the U-turn we encountered another group of runners just trying to make it to the U-turn. Louie was among them including the American but now Davao based David Cooper whose running club membership he listed was with the Team Titan Davao. They also got lost along the way.  The trip back was not really much of a big event. We walk the most part and running only around the last 3-4 kilometers of the race. Along the way I was able to overtake about three more runners. I finished the race 18th out of the 28 who participated with a time of 5:02:13 much longer than my last Salomon X-trail finish of 4:50 at 24k category. I could have gone much faster if I hadn’t gotten myself lost and probably if I pushed myself further to run.  When I left Samal Island after I had gotten my free lunch meal I wondered if Davao would be my farthest in Mindanao. 2016 held a lot of promises. There are still run events I wanted to conquer that entails longer distance. Will this get in the way over my desire to try to run in places that require me to fly long distance? I feel I am just stretching my muscles. I am just beginning to warm up. Maybe it is not far-fetch that the following year will usher for me international venue for my next runs.