Making It To Mactan Via Marathon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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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.