Spending My Weekend at Speed 50-Mactan

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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Conquering the Challenging Trans Cebu Ultramarathon 2015

After running the length of Marcos Highway going to Infanta, Quezon, I thought I had ran the run event with the most uphill and most meanest road race route ever. Two weeks later I was in for a rude awakening in another tough ultramarathon. While most of my running acquaintances were having a ball earning their respective 42k finisher medal at the Manila leg of the 39th Milo International Marathon, I was in Cebu. I registered at the 55km category of the TransCebu Ultramarathon 2015. There were 34 registrants in this category but later I saw in the race result that there were only 26 of us who finished within the cut off time of 12 hours. I was 14th with a time of 10:53:09. In the 105km category they had 100 registrants but only 91 were able to make it within the cut off time of 24 hours. 14 were women. 2 of these women registrant were acquainted with me.

The event started for the 105k runners at 9:00 pm, right in front of the Municipal Hall of Naga, Cebu about 23 kilometers from Cebu City while for us 55k runners we had ours at 5:30 am in front of the Municipal Hall of Balamban about 44 km from Cebu City. This was the 50th km of the 105k runners. While we were on our way to Balamban on a service shuttle, along the road there were already some 105k runners embarking on the 2nd half of their journey to the finish line. They had been running for about 7 to 8 hours on a predominantly flat road prior to Balamban and now negotiating the Transcentral Highway (TCH) a predominantly rolling road. To describe Trans Central Highway as one of the most challenging mostly steep rolling and bending road with an element of off road thrown in for good measure just seemed to be too sterile to fully give justice to what the participants of TransCebu Ultramarathon 2015 had actually experienced along the route. TCU 2015 for me was R2L2Q shortened (for 55k at least) but on steroid.

The weather was also an added factor. At first, it was a pleasantly cool shaded morning that led to a sunny but still pretty much cool morning. Then clouds began to accumulate to fulfill the weather bureau forecast of an isolated monsoon happening in the afternoon. Then it eventually dissipated and ushered the oppressing hot afternoon sun.

Originally the gun start for the 55k was slated at 6:00 am but as soon as most of the 55k runners had arrived, gathered and collected themselves from being dazed at the feat of the 105k runners taking a brief rest and recovery at the Municipal Hall of Balamban, the gun start was sounded at 5:30 am. Before the gun start Blu, the Race Director’s reminded runners to keep it slow and enjoy the route. However, upon release from the starting area a foreign runner simply propelled ahead of everyone else. I wanted to make my finish time faster as if I am running at a 9-10 hours cut off 50k race. So, when a clump of runners composing of runners from Team Cabalen began to separate I tried to catch up with them until about 2 kilometers where Gaisano Town Center is located. But as soon as the rolling hills began to make its presence felt the distance between the lead runners and I gaped wide open until I could no longer see them in front of me. Another foreign runner picked up speed from behind me and took off as if possessed by the spirit of a formula 1 vehicle or something.

At a certain portion where the road was still pretty much flat the surrounding view of mountains and hills kind of reminded me of Sierra Madre-Tanay Route then as soon as we hit the uphill I felt I was running the uphill of both Sumulong Highway going to Antipolo and the Kenon Road going to Baguio. Before reaching the Aid Station somewhere at the steep snaking uphill road going to the 9th kilometers the view of the sea along with the massive Balamban Shipyard served as the backdrop of the route. At the 12th kilometer runners took left of an intersection leading to the Barangay Magsaysay, which was in the premises of Tabunan. A couple of meters ahead, a station with porridge or lugaw was waiting for us. Although it was not the North Face 100 variety which I ate at Tagaytay Highland, the good old fashion porridge with only salt to taste brought back memories of my childhood when I used to eat this meal whenever I was sick. This off road route led to the 1,003 meters high Mt. Manunggal, the highest peak in Cebu. The special interest of this portion of the race was to have the runners visit the site were Former President Ramon Magsaysay met his end when his presidential plane, Pinatubo crashed on March 17, 1957. To commemorate this fateful event a monument composing of the replica of the cylinder block of the main engine was installed in the site. The same replica of the cylinder block of the main engine of Pinatubo was used as design of both the finisher medal and trophy of this event. Mix dirt road and cemented pavement going steep uphill and downhill pretty much make up of the route going to the above site in Sunog, which served as the u-turn. According to my father the crash may have been triggered by a bomb explosion whose device was smuggled inside one of the baskets of mangoes given to the former president. However, I did not get to see the Magsaysay and the cylinder block engine monument for upon reaching the government structure at Sunog we were advised to take u-turn already there and return to the road that took us there. According to Blu this was a much longer route than taking the original route of taking the stairs going to the two monuments.

The whole loop going to and from Mt. Manunggal was about 10 kilometers. There were runners coming from behind did not took this loop as a result they gained on those who did. When I returned to the Trans Central Highway, which was uphill as usual, the sun was pretty much heating up the road at around 10:30 am. I had already traveled about 22nd kilometers. The name of places like Tap Tap and Ayala Height were lost to me and I only learned of these places along the route after I googled for it. But it made no difference for the common feature that left deep impressions among runners were the unli-uphells although out the race. Midway to the Aid Station at the 32nd kilometers, probably around the perimeter of Ayala Heights, a volunteer group giving out refreshments and meal waited on runners. I took the opportunity to grab a pandan-leaf wrapped sticky rice and sumptuous adobo then downed it with a couple of cup of cold soda. After a photo op I went on my way. As I was negotiating the uphill rain started to pelt. I saw that in some area situated up in the mountains fog had already gathered. I assumed that we will be heading there for I spied concrete road going there. I reached the Aid Station in front of a sari-sari store at around the 32nd kilometers. The rain was starting to exhaust itself though the fog continued to linger. As I moved on I noticed a lot of trees around. This could be Kan-Irag Nature Park.

By the time I reached Babag the rain had completely stopped and the sun began to show itself. I rested for awhile at the foot of yet another monumental uphill to gather some strength. After assaulting this portion of the race and I reached the 40th kilometer of the race which lies along a fork. The marshal at the Aid Station instructed me and another runner to take the road to Bonbon-Sudlon 2 Barangay Road and run until the 1.5th kilometers where a supposedly marker will serve as u-turn. But we been running there for some time and yet there was no sign of any signage indicating a u-turn. A returning foreign runner echoed the same observation of the absence of hint of any to tell which portion was the u-turn. So, relying on my companion’s GPS we stopped at was approximately 1.5th kilometer and turned back towards the Aids Station. From the Aid Station we returned to the Transcentral Highway (TCH), which now seem to go downhill a lot. My companion told me that about two more major uphill and then we’re done with the uphill. The first of the two, which was the steepest of the two, was near the Malubog National High School beyond it I saw a billboard announcing an outdoor adventure camp and zip-line around. Then the last one was along Busay with its summit at Busay Mountain View Nature’s Park. This was the 50th kilometer of the race. At the Aid Station Race Organizer, Joseph Prince Balthazar who was also in Cebu due to his previous week’s Cebu 360 a 72k Ultramarathon event he helped organized along with Team Lingam and was also preparing for his participation at Cobra’s Ironman 70.3 was waiting for us. He was also well acquainted with the runner I was running along with. From this Aid Station there were only 5 kilometers of mostly downhill awaits us. From the maximum elevation of 976 meters which was at Sunog U-turn we had been descending to about 2,347 meters. The sky had already turned to somber and soon the sun will take a dip. The remaining few kilometers was seemingly more torturous as anticipation to reach the finish line at Cebu Hilltop Hotel heightens and I was getting impatient. I was booked at Cebu Hilltop Hotel, which was about 500 meters uphill from the town proper of Lahug via Cebu Veterans Drive, which is connected with Trans Central Highway. Twice I walked uphill going to my hotel coming from the city and once going down to the city, now I will see the Cebu Hilltop Hotel coming from the other end. Every time I see the mountainous area farther away from my hotel when I was hiking up I cringed on the thought that the route might actually take us beyond those mountain. Then I brushed away the thought thinking perhaps there were flatter road below those mountains. Now I know. The Finish Line was at the pool side of the hotel so upon arriving runners will have to go through the runners-infested lobby of the hotel and into the poolside. Since, most of the participants were still around the awarding of finisher medal, trophy and shirt became a warm and cozy occasion.

I was just simply glad I got through the race and was swearing I would not again find myself stepping back on any portion of Cebu Transcentral Highway and its conjoint twin the Cebu Veteran’s Drive. Well, at least that was my sentiment during the run but upon having rested and recovered a few days later, I was setting my eyes on marking with a pen the Naga-Uling Road, Toledo-Tabunok Road and Toledo-Tabuelan-San Remigio Rd as having my feet stepped on during a run event.

I Ran At Hunat

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I ran my farthest race event venue to date at Hunat Sugbo 3 held at The Terraces, Ayala Center, Cebu last June 23. It has been more than a decade since I last found myself wandering the street of Cebu. The little of what I seem to recall about Cebu includes the bridge connecting Mactan Island with the main land Cebu. I could not even remember seeing the Magellan Cross.  Maybe I didn’t saw it after all. The rest of my memories like the Ayala Mall and SM Cebu were slowly dissipating away ala Jim Carrey’s memories of Kate Winslet in the movie, “Endless Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” which was gradually wiped away. That is why I took pains to see to it I would not miss this run event even if I have to be in Cebu for just the weekend. Barely long enough to get a whiff of the air in Cebu. True enough the little images left flashing before my mind such as the airport and The Waterfront Hotel in Mactan- where once we were temporarily kept when during a heavy rains in Manila, our flight going back to Manila got diverted to Cebu – were not quite helpful to make me recognized how I will go about wading through the city that rivals Manila in so many ways.

From the airport, I took a multi-cab. It coughed me a mere P8.00. I alighted at Quezon National Highway thinking this was far enough from the airport and away from ravenous taxicab drivers preying upon passengers at the airport and later extorting the latters with huge fares, a practice prevalent here in Manila. However, the taxicab I flagged and which took me to the race registration center at Parklane Hotel along Escario Avenue seems to be not of the same breed as those thriving in Manila. Perhaps that also goes the same to all taxicabs in Cebu. From the Parklane Hotel it was just a 5 minutes walk to my hotel at Molave St. and about a little more going to the race event venue which conveniently fronting the mall, The Terrace where I spent the afternoon before going to SM and saw World War Z. I noticed though while walking around the city including the race venue itself there seem to be a lack of any promotional materials announcing the event that would increase the excitement for this event to fever pitch except for the one tarpaulin near the registration area. This was not how an event should be promoted considering the “Hunat” is already on its third year.  My fear was further galvanized when I arrived an hour earlier at the race venue on the day of the event itself, I found not much of a stir going on. No sponsor’s booth sprouting around which is a normal sight in run events in Manila. There weren’t much people around except few personnel putting up the official race timer on the race arch. Worst there were no portalets to be seen. The only ones available are a pair of comfort rooms located at the second level parking area, which later were swarming with queuing runners. I was convinced this was another flop race event. However, about 20 minutes before the gun start, runners materialized out of nowhere and soon there were a significant number of them packing the starting arch area.

At 4:30 a.m. we were sent off. The route took us from Ayala Center and into a business district via Gorordo Avenue and M.J. Cuenco Avenue.  So far from this part of the race the road were leveled but the route was along the highway with little marshal to keep watch of the runners’ safety from the on-going traffic. Then we hit a road that was uphill. The bad part about this was that a garbage truck doing its rounds of picking up garbage was plying also the same route. A turning point was located on the top of this road. I ran the downhill part letting the momentum and gravity pull me to make up for the mostly walking I did going uphill. I am not exactly familiar with the route but base from how I interpreted the race map we took Juan Luna Avenue then Governor Cuenco Avenue then Salinas Drive where in we passed by JY Square Mall and into Cebu Veterans which was another uphill run.  After a turning point, we went back to the intersection where we passed by JY Square Mall and into Gorordo Drive again. We ran pass University of the Philippine Cebu College where I once stayed when I attended a historical conference sponsored by my former employment. We turned then to Escario Avenue where the road took us to the looming Provincial Capitol building. Turning left of it we hit President Osmena Boulevard the end of it was a huge open space with a rotunda and statue.  This is Osmena Circle.  We ran until we reached Rodriguez Avenue then turned left to the intersecting Rama Avenue.  Near the Calamba Cemetery was the turning point which led us back to the Rodriguez Avenue. We run until YMCA. We sought Osmena Circle again and end up in Osmena Boulevard another turning point that led us back to the Osmena Boulevard going to the rotunda until Escario Avenue again. The whole stretch of Escario was the last leg of the race. At the end of Escario was Parklane Hotel while the road under the flyover intersecting Escario will take the runners to Mindanao Avenue and into the Ayala Center and finally the finish line. After crossing the finish line and the medal hung, the runners proceed to the open activity area of The Terrace where we were treated to a meal of hardboiled egg, rice wrapped in pandan leaves, longganisang Cebu and a packed juice drink that was very satisfying.

I think the experience was truly well worth the effort and the money spent. I believe the organization was quite satisfactory. I even thought of having another run in Cebu if I could manage to squeeze in the up-coming run event in November if there will be no other run event that fancied my desire to join in. After all I still haven’t fulfilled my intention of seeing Cebu’s tourist spots and cuisines to install fresh memories of the place.