Beating Being Broken By Bonpen 100

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Advertisements

From T2N Take Two To The Falls Run in Bataan

After emerging victorious at TNF100 2016 with bruised knees, I set my eyes on conquering the 10th Tagaytay to Nasugbu held in May 8, 2016. I already ran in the Tagaytay to Nasugbu in 2014 when it still held two events in a year one in May and another in December. The one I happened to participate before was the 8th T2N, held in a much cooler month of December. This was the last time T2N was held twice in a year and in December. Finishing T2N then gave me a lot of confidence since this was my first time to run under the event of Bald Runner who is known to organized badass run events. Finishing the 10th T2N now when the temperature is searing hot would be a true test of mettle.

 

I thought having survived the hot temperature in the events Batoq 66 and Mayon 360 I would be quite formidable and invincible to the whim of the prevailing surge of temperature brought about by the El Niño. But what had embraced me in the 10th T2N almost brought me down to my knees. Speaking of knee, another thing that almost played a spoiler role in my quest was the bruised left knee I incurred at TNF100. My left knee had swollen and because of it I had difficulty bending my left leg. Thus hampering my walking and with a slightest touch my left knee exploded with pain. It seem that missing T2N was almost at hand and I was willing to accept it. After all my registration to T2N comes from offsetting my previous registration at 5th Fort Magsaysay to Dingalan 65k Ultramarathon an event from last year which was canceled due to typhoon. I planned before to have my registration transfer instead to Mariveles to Bagac the newest run event of BR but the scheduled initially coincided with Mayon 360 and so I decided to transfer the earlier registration to Tagaytay to Nasugbu. It seemed that I would be transferring once again my registration to another event or completely abandoned any thought of claiming offset. By Thursday however, the swelling had disappeared and I was even able to run a short distance though my left knee still hurts a bit.

 

On the day I was boarding the service van, I learned that Shiella the Shuttle service provider, was also running the 10th T2N. This was to be her first ultramarathon. She was converting the van into a support vehicle that would provide hydration at the 25th kilometers and the 46th kilometers. I was volunteering to act as support crew in the occasion I was not able to get a race bib for this event. However, the God of Running was generous with me, I got my race bib and was sure set to run T2N after all. This year the number of participants had shot up to 197. Many of the participants were probably running T2N as part of the requirement for running the 102k and 160k Bataan Death March. As a consequence of this sudden swelling of number of participants there weren’t enough Finisher Medals and Finisher shirts during the event and would have to be distributed later as I experienced in the 8th T2N when runners from the Milo National Marathon upon its postponement due to typhoon registered on site at T2N.

 

In this year’s T2N I saw more familiar faces than I had when I ran in the 8th T2N. This means many of my acquaintances will be running the BDM. Add this to last year’s finishers of BDM many of which were my running acquaintances. It is now becoming clear that most of the people I previously run with had already run the BDM. I am the only one that had been skirting the BDM. Should I feel any pressure? Among those who run in this year’s T2N were Peewee who is becoming a much stronger runner than the first time I knew him, Rob and Speedy Turtle who I ran with in Batoq 66 and Mayon 360. Tina the barefoot queen was also seeing action. So does mang Mando whom I ran with in 3rd Cavinti Trail run upgraded to ultramarathon. Another runners from Mayon 360 were Jhon of Team hero and Elmar another barefooted runner running this time with his five finger Vibram.

 

At gun start I tested the water whether my left leg can handle the task. I felt like there was a stopper lodged at my knee and could only extend it to a certain length. I was moving terribly slow. However after perhaps about two kilometers along Tagaytay-Calamba Road and then hitting the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road, I forgot about what was hampering my left knee. I could run a bit faster though I chose not to tackle the uphill like I did in the 8th T2N. A new concern arose. This time my stomach was acting up and I was in need to take number 2. I tried to endure it for a moment and focus on trying to catch up with everyone I knew including my van mate Dana a finisher of BDM in spite of having run just a couple of 50k ultra. She was a moment ago just running along side of me before she sped away and was gone from my sight. Day light came quite quickly. I remember from my 8th T2N that when I was passing by Mendez and Alfonso the surrounding then was still dimly lit. Now the sun was already beaming when I was passing along Twin Lakes, which was probably around 18 kilometers.

 

One indication that I was probably at the last portion of the queue of runners was when I saw Elmar passed me by while I was tucking my reflectorized vest and headlamp inside my hydration vest. In two races I saw him, he usually finish last. Another indication was my not being able to catch a glimpse of Shiella our Van provider. One of my co-shuttle Van User told me she was ahead of us being paced by another van mate. Finally, I sighted a gas station lying along the left side of the road that I can use to dispense myself of my troubles. As a rule of BR runners cannot cross the right side of the road for whatever reason. Seeking for gas station, which normally has toilet lying on the left side of the road along Tagaytay-Nasugbu was not easy since at the left side of the road was usually lies ravine. Upon reaching the 25th kilometer along Batulao Sandari area the sun was already scorching. This would be the norm all through out the route. I kind of envy those with support vehicles since they have unlimited hydration and refreshments while on my part I contended myself with what was on my back and what I could buy along the route. Bottled water was the most difficult to come by along the stores lining up the road. While those selling coconuts were usually found at the right side of the road. I survived on soda, “ice-water” or premature frozen water and sometime from the generosity of the other support vehicles, which extended whatever they can from fruits, water to sponge bath. The traffic of the incoming vehicle was as it was before which was frequent and unforgiving that was why I usually ended up running along the shoulder of the road ala trail running. The heat had really dampened my stamina and so I could only do a lot of zombie like walking. I was not however, falling far behind for I could still see ahead of me runners, which I could have easily overtaken if the heat hadn’t taken a toll on me. But from a couple of support crew I had spoken with there weren’t many at may tail and I was not far from ending up like how I finished from the couple of BR events I participated with after the 8th T2N, which was usually near the last runner to cross the finish line before the cut off time. In the end I managed to prevail finishing the race with a time of eight hours and thirty minutes. I managed to finish with a rank of 167th out of 188 who finished the race.

A week after Tagaytay To Nasugbu on May 15, 2016, I was thinking that after TNF100 I had enough of trail running for a while. But the trail leading to Pasukulan Falls in Pag-Asa, Tala, Orani, Bataan was beckoning me. I was actually trying to set foothold in Bataan through running so that I can add Bataan among the provinces I was able to run in. Although previously I was able to run in Camaya Coast located in Mariveles, it was more of a beach and trail at the fringes of Bataan. I wanted to have a longer line of road from Mariveles in absence of what running at the 102 kilometers Bataan Death March Ultramarathon could provide. The event 1st Mountain View Road to Trail Run was just one of the way to induct me to the other portions of Bataan.

 

1st Mountain View Road to Trail was a 26 kilometers run event that started from St. Joseph Bakhita Parish Church. On the way runners passed by Vista Tala Resort and Recreational Park, which is located about 1.5 kilometers from the staring line. This was where the concrete road ended and the trail began with steep uphill, which the 36 participants tackled, some like Ricky Runner and Tatay Caesar strongly other like RDF and I leisurely. Along the route in front one had a command view of Mt. Natib with clouds hovering on top of the mountain. One could also espied at the rear portion of the route the majestic Mt. Arayat towering above the sea of clouds while Morong lies at the eastern portion with the sea feeding Subic’s coastline. Trekkers usually traverse the trail from Morong to Mt. Natib. At about 4 kilometers was AS1, which featured Binutas View Deck. After that it was mostly wooded and light foliaged area along the route until Pasukulan Falls. From the moment RDF and I touched the trail I was bit careful with my steps. Whereas before when I was first time running the trail I was usually running without much care at the ground I stepped upon, nowadays I was careful. This was since a couple of trail events when I noticed I easily trip and quite often on rough surface especially when I am already tired. Someone told me I had problem with proper balancing. I almost avoided trail run events because of these but I still dream of running some of Jonel Mendoza’s trail events and I still have to do my revenge run on Mt. Ugo before thinking of retiring from any trail running.

 

Mountain View was not actually one of the most difficult trail events though it has a fair share of challenging uphill and downhill that I was not spared from my usual fare of falling off my butt along the route. There were quite a number of river crossings with one dried that almost looks similar to the one that had me losing my way at Pico De Loro. Some were just a bit of a puddle of muck. I was seemingly off my elements when crossing two of the shallower rivers where I still managed to find my foot slipping off the rock or missing the rock completely and landing squarely on the water. At about 3 hours since gun start several runners had already passed us by returning from the fall. I had hoped since Ricky Runner and Tatay Ceasar had passed us by that the u-turn was just a little less than two kilometers away and the other runners were just having time swimming at the waters around the fall. So that we could level a bit the time between us by just making a quick stop at the U-turn. Finally we heard the unmistakable sound of water falling and voices of people probably taking a swim. We were nearing the U-turn of the race and it look like our target time of finishing the race before 12 noon was indeed achievable. But before we could finally reach Pasukulan we had to climb down a steep slope whose foothold had gotten so loose and powdery that one might easily slip all the way down. Aided by a lone vine I rappelled down. RDF who was in front of me disappeared to which I thought he just simply dashed off. When I reached where a marshal was waiting for the incoming runners, RDF was still nowhere to be found. I thought he might have gotten lost along the way, which was impossible for the path was straightforward. After a couple of photograph session with the falls at the background, I was settling down to take a rest when RDF appeared. It turned out he took a #2 somewhere. Some runners who had came in earlier and had just finished taking a bath at the cold waters of Pasukulan were getting ready to take the trail again. Among them was the Greeneye Runner whose troll hair or wig is the one that is actually green. After a couple of photo ops with them they left. RDF wanted to move closer down the water of the falls but I relented for I wanted to leave immediately. Then those three runners trailing behind us suddenly made their appearance. This was our cue to leave in spite the desire of RDF to take a dip on the water. The need to avoid finishing last was much stronger especially those who were trailing behind us were a married couple and a local runner who had gotten slow after we overtook him after AS 2. On the way back a couple of long steep uphill met us that had me huffing and puffing. But my TNF 100 experience was able to sustain our assault. Then mostly downhill to a more leveled path, which kind of made the rest of our trip less eventful. At AS1 the three runners behind us was almost closing in on us so once again we dashed off. Finally we were on the concrete downhill portion of the race. With a time of 6 hours and 30 minutes we finished the racecourse but not before the 3 runners we thought were the last runners behind us overtook us at the last 2 kilometers. We could not summon enough strength to catch up and therefore was not able to salvage our pride. However a hot Lomi meal after the race was almost enough to assuage our bittersweet finish.

A Taste of Badwaters in the 2nd Batangas To Quezon Endurance Run

The 2016 Manila to Baguio 250 Ultramarathon had already kicked off at midnight a day earlier when we participants of the 2nd Batangas to Quezon 66 kilometers (actually 69km) Endurance Run or Batoq 66 for short were given the gun start at 3:05 am of February 13, 2016. On the other hand, the 1st Calabarzon 160 Ultramarathon Challenge was launched 5 minutes earlier than us in Tagaytay. There were only 17 of us participants from the original 30 registrants who left the front main gate of Batangas City’s Provincial Building and ran along President S.H. Laurel Avenue. Only two of the participants, Omeng and Jayson were familiar faces to me whom I first met in 2nd Sungay 60k Challenge then got a chance to ran with again at 2nd Luneta to Tagaytay Ultramarathon and in one of the Run United run event. They seem to have suspected that this race would be quite different from the two above mentioned ultramarathon events where they ran without support vehicle. This time they came in with a support vehicle captained by Kenneth who was last year’s Batoq 66 Champion.

 

After running the roads of Manila for a couple of years in various run events I am now straying into the road where the big men of ultramarathon spent their picnic preparing for run events with 100 kilometers and above distances by running the events of Runn Active. One such event was the 2nd Batangas to Quezon 66 Endurance Run, which was a sort of BDM Jr. (Bataan Death March) whose dad I still have trouble seeing me running in it. The reason I find myself wandering far from the usual run event venues was to test my mettle now that I am aiming to one day run the 100 km and above distances in the future.  I just recently figured out from talking with one of those who ran Batoq 66 that it should not be mistaken for a walk in the park even when according to this source of mine that this event has the least rolling along its route than most of the events in Runn Active.

 

At the onset of the race Omeng immediately catapulted among the lead runners probably tagging along Gene another runner who was with him, Jayson and Kenneth when I met them earlier before the race. Jayson and I occupied the second group of runners which was trying its best to catch up the first group. I was initially feeling nauseated and on the verge of puking whose reason for the malady baffled me. I tried to cover it up with coughing and sometimes growling lest I invite attention and be pulled out of the race without even breaking to sweat yet. However soon as we made a right turn to San Jose-Ibaan-Batangas Road near SM Hypermarket the feeling subsided and I was able to focus on trying to keep up with Jayson.  Along this portion of the route we encounter some bit of rolling and a lot of smell of poultry. Apparently, this portion of the province received much assistance from an elected political party list AGAP, which represented the poultry keeping industry. Earlier on the way to Batangas City I mistakenly I was already in Kumintang Ibaba and alighted from the bus just beyond the Toll Gate in a secondary road leading to Ibaan. When I realized my mistake, I thought from the spot I would be walking all the way to my original destination since it seemed to take forever for the buses to make a stop from where I was standing. I checked my watch and saw it was just around 10:00 pm plenty of time until gun start at 3:00pm. I was guessing erroneously my destination maybe just about 5 kilometers away. Thank God a bus finally came by and I was back again on the road to Batangas City.

 

Jayson and I caught up with Omeng who seemed to be limping. He was complaining of cramps. I on the other hand was having stomach trouble and was looking for a place to relieve myself of my trouble. I could have held it off for another hour or so if it were not for a misstep I made while looking at a Gas Station along the way and had a bad landing that led to twisting my right foot. This forced me to stop to nurse my foot and saw the opportunity to relieve myself at the nearby gas station.  When I returned to the road I saw that I was the only one left on the road. It was obvious that I must be the last runner. Since I was not familiar with the race route I needed to keep up with the others so, I paced up until I could espied upon one of the stragglers who happened to be a lady. When I ran passed her near a town I saw four or five more runners converging around a “taho” vendor. At this point the sky was slowly lighting up with daylight. I couldn’t see either Jayson or Omeng ahead, which I assumed had careened off after losing me earlier. At the Aid Station just after the main town along Pastor Avenue while supping on hot rice porridge I learned that Jayson and Omeng was not actually running ahead of me but was struggling to catch up from behind because they took a wrong turn and got lost along the way.  Sensing that most of the runners except for my two friends had already passed by the Aid Station I resumed running this time hitting the Rosario-San Juan-Candelaria-Gualberto Avenue. I soon found myself being adapted by the runners Roby, Van and Mau whom I kept trying to keep up with and if possible passed by completely. But every time I get close I tire and had to switch to walking. They again gain some distance ahead. At Zidro’s Place Restaurant where they stopped by I also stopped by to rest too.  This was the moment they invited me over to their support vehicle for some refreshments. From then on I became the fourth wheel to their group. It was actually providential because my having constantly refreshed from the supplies of Mau’s support vehicle and sometimes Omeng and Jayson’s proved vital to my finishing the race.

 

At this portion of the race the route turned to a more leveled with hardly any uphill left along the road. Except for the incoming vehicles which forced runners to run along the shoulders every time they passed by and with the sun beginning to beat down on us at between 9:00 am and 10:00 am, it seems for us just a matter of enduring the race until the finish line otherwise the race was no different from the other ultramarathon events I encountered before.  I learned that originally Mau was running all by herself. At a certain point of the race she contemplated on dropping out of the race. The timely appearance of her two “angels” Roby and Van however, prevented that from happening and provided her the encouragement she needed to push on with the race. Along the way to San Juan another running acquaintance of mine Albert who lives in Rosario met us riding his mountain bike. He dogged us most of the way shooting pictures of us with his cellphone camera and posting it in real time at his FB account. After passing by the Municipal Hall of San Juan which marked the 42.74 kilometers of the race we soon found ourselves crossing Bantillan Bridge which expanded over Malaking Tubig River. An arch which says we were already in Quezon welcomed us.  We approximated the distance still left for us to run to about 26 kilometers with 4 more hours left before cut off time. Upon entering Quezon Eco-Tourism Road we stopped by for water melon. The Quezon Eco-Tourism Road featured at the right side the coast and some resorts which I hardly noticed since I was staring at the ground most of the time if not looking at the Mt. Banahaw at my left side. This was a dreaded flat 7 kilometer mini Dinalupian road similar to BDM because of it being devoid of cover to shade one from the relentless sunlight. Rodel Mendoza dubbed this portion as the Badwater of Quezon Province. Badwater being the 135 miles or 217 kilometers Badwater Ultramarathon which is the world’s toughest foot race held in California’s Death Valley usually on July where temperature ranges to 49 degrees Centigrade.  The Quezon Eco-Tourism Road was a shorter alternate route from the previous year’s much longer route, which passes through Candelaria, Quezon before hitting Sariaya, Quezon. Actually I had little trouble adjusting with the heat. What actually became more bothersome for me was the rubbing so badly of my running tights with the skin underneath my crotches that later about three days after the race was completed I still walked bowlegged because underneath my crotches continue to suffer inflammation. I had to tell everyone the lie that I walk weird because my thigh muscles still hurting from the run. I learned from one of the elite runners of Runn Active’s event that the one time he ran and had similar issue with mine upon his crossing the finished line his running shorts was red with blood from gash.

 

The road seemed to stretch farther every time we stopped by and struggled to cool ourselves over the little shade given by sparse vegetation in the area. Now we were beginning to feel the real reason this area was being compared with Dinalupian. Albert scouted ahead and reported that two runners had already finished the race while just about a couple of kilometers ahead of us were two runners. Encouraged by the news that we were not doing quite so badly with our pace since there were runners just a little ahead of us, Roby and I took off reaching Lutucan-Guis-Guis Road. We turned left at the road that had began to surrender plenty of shades. Van soon joined us while Mau tailed us from far behind. In the kilometer marker it announced that Sariaya was about 15 kilometers away. We could no longer see Albert shadowing us probably because it was way passed the midday he might not be able to get back home before darkness hit him. Roby got his second wind and began to plough ahead while Van and I felt depleted walked most of the distance. There was a portion along the route when the sun was even fiercer than we had encountered in the Quezon Eco-Tourism Road. We even saw Mau’s support vehicle’s driver scouring for ice to replenish their supplies.  Having taken my last energy gel, I soon recovered and got my own second wind. I began hitting the pavement with faster pace. I saw the two other runners Albert mentioned about and was overtaking them on the road before reaching the Daang Maharlika or Pan-Philippine Road. I initially turned leftward but my timely asking around for the direction going to Sariaya Municipal Hall saved me from going the wrong way. The right way was actually to turn right upon reaching the Daang Maharlika. It was strange that before reaching Daang Maharlika the kilometer marker indicated that Sariaya was just about 4 kilometers away but after hitting the Daang Maharlika Road the kilometer marker stated that I am still 6 kilometer short of completing the race. I saw Roby ahead of me. Running on the stony shoulders of the road again I little by little caught up with Roby until we were shoulder to shoulder. Upon crossing a bridge the St. Francis Assisi Church began to loom bigger. We turned right to Sariaya-Tayabas Road and finally to the Finish Line. Roby took the 10th place while I finished 11th with a time of 12:58:38. The two runners we overtook came in next then Van followed by Mau. Finally after almost beyond the cut-off time Omeng came ahead of Jayson to finally complete the list of participants.

 

While waiting for Omeng and Jayson to arrive at the finish line I listened to Rodel Mendoza tell the stories of how he came to run for BR’s BDM102. He had to go through lots of BR’s run events first. Now many who run in BR’s more than 100 kilometers run had at least experienced a couple of Runn Active’s run events which were said to be quite formidable but promises picturesque view of Quezon Province along the way. It was a good thing I had to run Batoq 66 first before blindly committing myself to Runn Active’s newest race, The Lucena to Antipolo 105 kilometer Ultramarathon. Now I know I should probably set it aside for now. With Roby’s assessment of our performance at Batoq 66 he was a bit grim about how we will fare in Mayon 360 in April with 16 hours cut-off time for 80 kilometers whose route was characterized with lots of uphill and unlimited sun exposure. But I had to shelves this thought out and not allow it to cloud the celebration of the moment’s accomplishment. I still have one more blessing coming in that would put a damp on whatever worry coming come April and that is the Batanes Winter Marathon happening on February 21, 2016.