Seen the movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Steve Martin’s character had to go through a hilarious journey of mischief with John Candy’s character en route to his family’s Thanksgiving Dinner in Chicago. What I’ve experienced in Guerilla Race: Panther Edition in Filinvest last week wasn’t so hilarious, it was a journey through tough obstacles and challenges, it was hard, and after the race, it was all Pains, Sprains, and Shin Splints… but, I love it.
I’m not new to Guerilla Race, I was one of the pioneer participants who joined the 1st leg in Nuvali on February 23, 2014. It was one of the runs I would consider best ever. I love the venue, the weather was good, and it was the first time I experienced a second wind or the so called ‘runner’s high,’ as I approach the finish line. It felt so good, I felt so strong, I had so much fun after the race that I immediately made the decision to join the 2nd leg ASAP. Unfortunately, because of the change of venue for the 2nd leg and lack of resources at the time, I had to pass the 2nd leg and just wait for the 3rd leg, hoping it will be held at a more accessible area. With imaginary angels blowing trumpets in the background, I was ecstatic when the announcement of the 3rd leg of Guerilla Race is to be held at Filinvest City. I plotted my vacation leaves and registered in the Warrior category (10km + 18 obstacles) as soon as possible.
So, the day, 18th October came. A running buddy and I made it to Filinvest around 5am on a rainy morning. Gunstart was slightly delayed because of the weather, but it was still a good start despite the drizzle.
The first 5km and the challenges were even tougher than the 5km Guerilla Race: Sprint we had in Nuvali. Some of obstacles are new, I don’t know the names of all the obstacles, I’ll just describe them. We passed through the fire jump, stepping logs that test your balance, a bamboo scaffolding maze, military up-and-thru wall, an obstacle where you have to pull a cement around for 100m(estimate), a sandbag carry where you have to stop midway to push yourself up an inclined wall (this is where I failed and had to the the penalty of 30 burpees) and then carry the sandbag again back to the starting point. There’s a javelin throw, and an obstacle where you have to pass through large rocks.
Those were the obstacles of the first 5km and it was very exhausting. What got me worried is when my mobile phone app, Nike+, announced that I have reached 5km in 52 minutes. I was worried because this time, there are cutoff times for each category, and for Warrior, the cutoff is 2 hrs. I was so tired by the time I passed through the barbed-wire crawl, and I couldn’t gather enough energy and momentum to help me get pass the 6 foot wall alone. So, I had to wait for another participant and we helped each other out. Then more running through a grassy and muddy field en route to a high climb towards a hill of sand at an area under construction, then down a pit and up again to another grassy, thorny field towards the cargo net. After that, back to the pit where a rope climb with an objective of ringing the bell at the top awaits. This is one of he hardest objectives and despite trying several times and reaching only he 4th knot of the rope, i gave up and just took the burpee penalty just to save time. After that I felt a little bit dizzy because of the burpee and stamina drain. I took a walk and had a small chat with a participant and moved back again to the big, spiky rocks obstacle. A bit slow because we’re all moving carefully, trying not to slip on the dangerous rocks. Then came the most refreshing obstacle, a low crawl with a water spray. You can just slide through the grass or move slowly so the water can clean and freshen you up. After that, it’s the last 1.5km towards the finish line with one last obstacle, trying to get pass through 3 guys (or Guardians of the Finish Line) with pugil sticks. I had a really tough time, I was confident before the start of the race, but was surprised by what they had in store for us, and that’s why Guerilla Race lives up to its reputation. I was glad to have finished under the cutoff time, some weren’t so lucky and finished longer, but a big salute to them for still finishing the race regardless of the time (as the GR motto would say, ‘Finish the Race or Die Trying’) and even without a medal. While getting the dirt rinsed off in the shower area, the pain incurred during the race temporarily subsided. I felt the renewed version of myself, I felt rejuvenated, stronger, very satisfied, I felt great.
There was also a ‘Kids’ category that was quite fun to watch and I give these kids a salute for spending more time in the playground for physical activities than the couch or computer shops playing video games.
It was only until morning the next day that I felt the many kinds of pain all over my body, but it’s okay, I love the whole experience and learned even more things to improve myself like resilience and strength. Looking forward to the next Guerilla Race, and maybe next time, I could complete all 3 legs and grab that coveted ‘Trifecta Medal’ that I missed this year. Next time, I’ll be more prepared, stronger, faster, even more determined to finish. Kudos to the organizer of Guerilla Race for creating a great event, one that will test your physical and mental limits, a race that inspires or motivates you to be stronger, a challenge that brings out the better version of you.