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.




Pitting With the Pavement of Pangasinan at the Prince’s Event

When the 1st Pangasinan 360 70K Ultramarathon event schedule was announced by Prince Multi Sports Event, Inc., I saw an opportunity to accomplish my desire to complete the list of provinces forming a continuous line north of Manila that I had already ran in. So far the list is composed of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, (Subic) Zambales and La Union. This is apart from the other provinces in the Cordillera that I also ran at composing of Baguio, Benguet, Ifugao. If successful, along with three other events I hope to join in September and November, Nueva Ecija, Isabela, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte would be added to the list. Maybe by then I can focus on completing the southern portion of Luzon.

Just like in Trans Cebu Ultramarathon when the 1st Pangasinan 360 70K Ultramarathon was held last August 8, 2015, most of my running friends were at the 21k Mt. Marami Silyang Bato FKT Trail Run held in Maragondon, Cavite. Seeing them having fun in spite of being soaked wet with rain and merrily sloshing along muddy trail, I almost felt quite left out and envious. To me this was another trail running event missed in favor of ultramarathon, which I hope will buy me a ticket to running my first 100k. In Pangasinan, I and a few of my running friends namely, Mignon Ygnacio, Delmo Sullano, Nancy Buenaventura, Tess Templado, and Sherman Manuel helped filled up the 60 plus runners who registered in the 1st Pangasinan 360 run event. Pangasinan was supposedly one of the more difficult place to hold run events at because being located in the great plain of northern portion of Luzon and lies near the sea, it is expected that the climate there to be quite hot and humid. But the schedule of the Pangasinan 360 run event coincided with the possibility of the southwest monsoon being enhanced by a passing typhoon north of the Philippines. Rain was expected to ease the usually hot temperature of Pangasinan. However, come the actual event, the rain came only at the latter hours of the run around the last 10 kilometers after the runners had already had their fair share of exposure to the sun’s warm welcome of the participants.

The race route, which began in front of the Manaoag Municipal Hall covered 8 municipalities whose route when traced formed a shape of a Bangus or milkfish which is staple in Dagupan. The Bangus also figured in the trophy design, although I felt the image of the Our Lady of Manaoag was a more appropriate to appear in the trophy. The municipalities covered were Manaoag, Urdaneta, Sta. Barbara, Calasiao, Dagupan, Mangaldan, San Fabian and San Jacinto. The route was predominantly leveled which make it easier for those who want to establish new PR or run the route in Milo International Marathon qualifier pace more likely to succeed. I on the other hand, after losing steam earlier in the race and fell behind most of the participants had given up any notion of establishing PR. I settled instead to run in a pace that would at least guarantee me of having a few other runners running behind me by the time I finished the race to at least give me the satisfaction to gloat about not being the last runner to cross the finish line.

The route was supposedly straightforward hitting all the mentioned municipalities as one reaches the main intersection of the highway where ideally marshals were expected to be present to further guide runners. But in reality there were forks on the road where marshals could not be sighted for directions. Since the race route was a 360 there were roads along intersections that run back to where we were previously came from. So, aside from the need to remember the instruction given during the race briefing about landmarks to seek out and where to turn to, runners really need to ask the locals around for directions. On the way to Urdaneta some of us made a wrong turn in one of the fork along the road and led us into one of the secondary road. A timely appearance of a motorcycle-riding marshal saved us from heading to either a shorter route or from totally wandering off the route. A couple of runners in front of us were no longer turned back and disappeared like phantom. Along Sta. Barbara I broke running solo and joined the company of fellow runners Sherman and Noel Carreon of Team Cabalen. We separated only when we reached San Fabian and I decided I wanted to catch up with some of the runners I saw ahead of me that seem to be straggling like wounded animals.

While the 1st Pangasinan 360 70k ultramarathon was going on with barely a couple of weeks after the death of the runner Marvic Reyes at Milo Marathon Manila Leg, in another part of the country, in Cebu, another runner loses his life. He was a Canadian runner whom I met in front of the Family Mart along Ayala-EDSA while waiting for a service shuttle that will take us to the event, Aguinaldo to Bonifacio Ultramarathon. He was Anthony Dean Borg, 52 years old. When I met him he says he had been running for about a year in the Philippines with 106 kilometer as his longest distance, which he completed last December 2014 in the event Bonifacio ultramarathon. After the AUB Ultramarathon he flew to Cebu and participated the Cebu 360 70k Ultramarathon. At the time he died he was running in another event, a 12 km fun run event dubbed, R399 Run where at 2km after being released from the starting lane he collapsed and died on the spot. On-line news account reported of Dean having hit his head on the gutter when he fell from his motorbike while waiting for the gun start. It is sad that in spite of the benefits runners tell they get out of running, the sport is still steep with danger and may be compared with crossing a highway, one could get killed by an incoming vehicle when one is not wary of the vehicle. This is primarily why every time I run, especially in ultramarathon whenever I feel something awry I try to reduce my pace and try to sense if I should proceed at all with the race. That’s why most of the time I lagged behind. On the other hand, accident is altogether another matter that even the most cautious runners could not avoid from occurring. In an accident unforeseen forces, some calls it fate, come into play. Thus, this is just another way where running becomes a metaphor for living. We could not predict when our time is up but while the road to the finish line is still there one should keep pursuing it for in finishing a race one could still appreciate the sweetness of finishing pain and all while in death even the honor bestowed upon you does not even blow the candle that lit your grave.

Nearing the last 13 kilometers I began passing other runners whom since they were not within my eyesight, I thought had already gone to establish vast distance that gravely hurt my ego. However, I kept the hope that they were just somewhere near but beyond my sight. When I pulled away from my companion, among those whom I saw ahead and soon overtook were the runners Mignon and Delmo who both ran 100k in TransCebu Ultramarathon. Accompanying them was another runner I did not caught the name and the 60 + year old Tatay Potania, who ran 100k at Ibtur. I was able to close gap with them when they were actually taking a rest somewhere between San Fabian and San Jacinto. But as soon as they were able to get back on the road they proved to have unlimited stored stamina that they easily wrestled the lead from me again. I came close running just barely behind them at San Vicente about 7 kilometers from Manaoag but I just couldn’t sustain the pace. I dropped behind them further and further until I could not spied anyone of them along the road. With only 2 to 3 kilometers left, I gained upon 3 more other runners namely Tess, Thezz and Allan. Tess and thezz decided to walk along Allan the remaining distance to the finish line because Allan was already disgruntled with the proceeding of the race had wanted to take a ride back to the finish line. Tess who was my classmate back in the Elementary school days swayed him to just walk his anger off. By the time we finally made it at the finish line I ranked 43rd out of the 53 runners who actually finished the race within the 16 hours cut-off.

1st Pangasinan is the 3rd 360 run events I participated under the Prince Multi Sports Event with Makiling and Bulacan as the two previous events.