Posted in 711, 7eleven, fun run, half-marathon, running event

Freebie Overload!!!…7-Eleven Run 1500

Fun runs or running events have flaws, it could be so small that most people won’t bother acknowledging those flaws and it could also be so big that runners would go batshit crazy on the organizers. It’s hard to organize a running event especially an event that is expected to exceed 10,000 participants. But, not having a contingency plan for a volume run will question the organizers capability to organize such event. 7-Eleven Run 1500 has a lot of flaws, it was still an organized event, it would have fared better if there were fewer participants (like say 5,000 and below), but in the end, there was still a lot of ‘needs improvement’ criticism when it comes to handling a large volume run. We’ll get to the those criticisms later. Let’s start with my experience in proper sequence.

The first and one of the biggest problem was the race kit distribution. I registered as early as February 4 on the website and paid the fee the next day at a 7-Eleven branch near our home. The receipt indicates the claiming date of March 13, 2 days before the event. Also got the acknowledgement email on the same day I paid my registration fee. Everything seems fine, until the race kit claiming date came. Days before, I already read some comments at the 7-Eleven Run FB page about pissed off runners unable to claim their race kits because it didn’t arrive on time at the 7-Eleven branches. Some of my office mates who registered at a later date, got their kits on time and as early as March 9. That’s understandable because they paid their registration fee at 7-Eleven branches in the Alabang area (where the event took place) which is the priority. I was worried that I was gonna be another victim of the delayed race kits, and guess what? I was. I went to the 7-Eleven branch at the exact date indicated on the receipt and the manager told me that the race kits were there the day before, but they sent it back to be consolidated at the event site because the event is just 2 days away. My reaction was a big ‘huh!?’ and ‘why!?.’ I mean, why sent it back the day before my claim date? and why claim it at the event site when the 7-Eleven Run website clearly states ‘absolutely no claiming at the site.’ The manager called someone and assured me that the race kits can be claimed on the 14th and 15th of March at the site of the event. I went home, disappointed, and immediately logged in on facebook to ask questions through PM at the 7-Eleven run FB page. They asked for my number and somebody called me, she apologized for the inconvenience and gave me the assurance the same way the 7-Eleven branch manager did. So, I cooled down and just do as instructed (kit claiming starts at 1pm on the 14th). After my shift (12mn-9am), I slept at the sleeping quarters of our office to kill time. Woke up around 11am, ate around 12nn, and went to the event site around 1pm.

The race kit claiming area near Vivere Suites in Filinvest City.
The race kit claiming area near Vivere Suites in Filinvest City.

Everything seems fine, until I was informed that they lack 21k Wave D bibs (just when I thought everything will go smoothly) and offered Wave E bibs instead (which was the 2nd batch to run after 5 minutes). I don’t want to run at Wave E because my running mates are on Wave D. So, after waiting for quite some time, they finally decide to give us E bibs, but converted to run on Wave D. I accepted, just to get it over with and we have no choice anyway, and I just wanna go home and rest.

My race bib. Wave E converted to run in Wave D (the 1st wave of 21k runners).
My race bib. Wave E converted to run in Wave D (the 1st wave of 21k runners).

So, I got home and I really want to sleep, a proper rest to prepare me for a good PR. Unfortunately, because of the excitement, I can’t sleep. I tried, but all I ever did was lie down and closed my eyes, but still consciously awake because I kept thinking about how I’ll run to achieve a new half-marathon PR.

A good rest before the race failed, so I left home and arrived early at the activity area of the event (as early as 23:36).

Walking towards the activity area around 23:30. Our gunstart was 02:00. Excitement pushed me to early.
Walking towards the activity area around 23:30. Our gunstart was 02:00. Excitement pushed me to go early.

I witnessed the 42k runners as they run their respective gun starts (Starting 12mn for Wave A) and explored the activity area while waiting for my office mates. A college schoolmate and fellow runner from previous fun runs, J.A. (Wave E runner), found me and we had a brief chat before parting ways.

The activity area before thousands of runners arrived.
The activity area before thousands of runners arrived.

By the time they arrived, I already got over the fact that no sleep may not affect my performance after all, so I just ate a cheeseburger and consumed Red Bull more than an hour before the race. We just hang out and had our pictures taken at the photo booth before our gun start.

They finally arrived. Photo  by Grey Gapit.
They finally arrived. Photo by Grey Gapit.
Me and my officemates (Vic, Jaypee, Alvin, Grey, and his friend Frances) all of them running their 1st half-marathon. This is my 2nd half-marathon run.
Me and my officemates (Vic, Jaypee, Alvin, Grey, and his friend Frances) all of them running their 1st half-marathon. This is my 2nd half-marathon run.
We're so excited we can barely contain our teeth from exposing itself as we smile.
We’re so excited we can barely contain our teeth from exposing itself as we smile.
At the SafeGuard Active photobooth waiting our turn.
At the SafeGuard Active photobooth waiting our turn.
Pre-Race confidence! My target was a Sub-2:30 PR. My 1st 21k run, I finished at 02hrs 51mins. On January this year, I ran a 20k finishing 02:29. This run was to prove that I can do better.
Pre-Race confidence! My target was a Sub-2:30 PR. My 1st 21k run, I finished at 02hrs 51mins. On January this year, I ran a 20k at Resolution Run in Nuvali, finishing 02:29. This run was to prove that I can do better.

The starting line was near Filinvest Tent going around Acacia Hotel, the new Toyota showroom, and then towards the tunnel heading to the skyway. I left my office mates early in the race and it was hard swerving around and overtaking. Fortunately, it gets less crowded once you reached the first uphill of the Skyway.

Run Happy!
Run Happy! Photo Credit: Active Moments

I had a smooth run during the first 5 kilometers. Running on the Skyway is soothing, I feel very relaxed and the view is very nice (you can see city lights around you). I started to slow down as I pass the 7th kilometer while also starting to feel some sting on my calves, warning me of impending cramps if I don’t take caution (the uphills are my weakness).

I slowed down significantly in the 9th-12th kilometer with many runners that I’ve already outran, as well as fast runners from Wave E, catching up and passing me by. I had my 1st taste of Bacchus energy drink after the U-turn and at cold temperature, it tastes great. Knowing that the uphills of the skyway gave my calves a punishing hard time and the possibility of another serious cramping (like the torturous experience from Resolution Run’s uphills), I ran at a mild pace with other veteran runners. I still had random stings and had to slow down to brisk walking at times and even had my calves take some medicated sprays to minimize chances of cramping.

Run strong, but also run with caution. Uphills can cause serious leg cramps. Photo Credit: Active Moments.
Run strong, but also run with caution. Uphills can cause serious leg cramps. Photo Credit: Active Moments.

Even though the race route is just a straight path, the last 4 kilometers seem long, even you can see Crimson Hotel from a distance (which indicates you are near because the hotel is just across the activity area and finish line).

Smile to hide the pain of cramping calves. Photo Credit: Active Moments.
Smile to hide the pain of cramping calves. Photo Credit: Active Moments.

At some point during the last few kilometers, I saw a girl suffer from a very serious cramp that stopped her on her tracks and prompted her to cry for help (a marshal and a runner I was pacing with stopped and helped her). I traded leads with some runners, but still had to maintain a mild pace and even walk, not because of depleted stamina, but because of the serious cramps starting manifest itself with wild stings.

In the last few kilometers, my focus shifted to this girl. She's fast. I'm on the left behind the bald guy. Photo Credit: Active Moments.
In the last few kilometers, my focus shifted to this girl. She’s fast. I’m on the left behind the bald guy.
Photo Credit: Active Moments.

It was also at this time that I engaged in a duel (in my mind at least), like a finally found my rival. A girl zipped pass me, running at a consistent pace with no signs of slowing down. I trailed her, not letting her out my sight, because I think her pace can help boost mine. Although there are times that I wanted to speed up and regain my lead, I can’t, especially knowing that I could trigger the dreaded cramps any time.

Still trailing her while overtaking other runners. Photo Credit: Active Moments.
Still trailing her while overtaking other runners. That’s me, behind the 2nd runner. Photo Credit: Active Moments.
Gaining momentum whilst still trailing that girl. Photo Credit: Active Moments.
Me, behind runner 20494-D. Gaining momentum whilst still trailing that girl. Photo Credit: Active Moments.

By the time we finished running down the skyway towards the intersection between South Station, Crimson Hotel, and Wilcon Depot, it was just me and her, and she’s ahead by 100-200 meters. She slowed down on the small uphill of the intersection and that was my opportunity to overtake and I did. Just a few meters away from the finish line, I had one last sting on my right calf that made me flinch (yep, uphill weakness strikes one last time) and then slow down, brisk walking my way to the finish line and a new PR. Since my smartphone shut down, Nike+ Running app didn’t record my running time, and there was no timer at the finish line, so I could only guess my PR at the time (my initial estimate was between 02:18 and 02:25) and just wait for the official results (which turned out to be better than my estimate).

The lack of timer gave me the opportunity to initiate a chat with the speedy girl (who was walking next to m) by asking ‘ano kayang finishing time natin? anong oras na?’ Then I complimented her speed and even thought that she held back and lift the foot off the gas to let me pass. Her name is Adra, she works for Filinvest Inc, and this was her 2nd half-marathon. And even though I was able to overtake her on the finish line, she was still faster than me (based on official results). And get this, she was from Wave E, the 2nd wave of 21k runners that started 5 minutes after our wave started running. I had a 5-minute head start and she still caught up with me in the last few kilometers, now that’s fast! Her official time 02:09, my official time, 02:14. I got my ass whupped and I’m not ashamed of it because I lost to a really fast runner.

Her name is Adra. Freebie-grabbing buddy, Potential Friendly Rival.
Her name is Adra. Freebie-grabbing buddy, Potential Friendly Rival.

After grabbing our medals and loot bags, we explored the activity area to grab as many freebies as we can whilst waiting for our slow-running (sorry, guys) friends. Speaking of freebies, this run has the most and the best ever. Pocari Sweat, Blu Energy Drink, Lipovitan, Red Bull, Selecta Ice Cream, Gatorade, Bacchus, Nature’s Spring, LightWater, Reese’s, Cadbury, Lick condoms, Robust, Trust condoms, Head and Shoulders shampoo, Safeguard, Rexona deodorant + Tumbler for 21k runners, Saucony discount coupon and sticker, Skyflakes crackers, Slurpee, Dole bananas, to name a few.

A look at what I was able to grab (because my bag wasn't big enough). I went to the race with my backpack weighing less than half a kilo, when I got home, it was more than 6 kilos.
A look at what I was able to grab (because my bag wasn’t big enough). I went to the race with my backpack weighing less than half a kilo, when I got home, it was more than 6 kilos.

After more than an hour of hoarding freebies and eating food samples, all of my office mates finally crossed the finish line, Vic found me and I parted ways with Adra.

Check out our finishing times below:

Our finishing times based on gun time (our chip time was even better). Official results via MyRunTime here: http://www.myrunti.me/#/race/711Run1500
Our finishing times based on gun time (our chip time was even better). Official results via MyRunTime here: http://www.myrunti.me/#/race/711Run1500

I reunited with my running mates, Vic had to leave early, the rest of us took sat down at the activity grounds for rest and recovery before exploring the area again for some more freebies and one last photo booth shot.

Reunited with my running peers.
Reunited with my running mates. Photo by Grey Gapit.
Tired, but happy!
Tired, but happy! Photo by Grey Gapit.
21k Finishers of March 2015. Photo by Juanepri Tero.
21k Finishers Class of March 2015. Photo by Juanepri Tero.
The bright, sunny Sunday morning...
The bright, sunny Sunday morning…
800m, 3k, 5k, 10k, and 16k runners finally populated the activity area. Long lines, short patience (for some runners).
800m, 3k, 5k, 10k, and 16k runners finally populated the activity area. Long lines, short patience (for some runners).

As mentioned earlier, the event was known to have a lot of flaws and complaints from the participants. Here’s what got some people pissed off:

– The race kit claiming inconvenience (as mentioned earlier).

– The absence of timer at the starting and finish line.

– The lack of staff at the loot bag and medal claiming area only slowed down the distribution process that tested some runners’ patience.

– I’ve also heard others mentioning the lack of cups at hydration stations. My office mate who finished 21k at around 3 hours said that he had to use his hand just to drink because some stations ran out of cups.

– The Finisher shirt is cotton and does not indicate the distance of the runner participated in.

Those were the major complaints and here’s my take:

> The kit claiming was really a hassle, especially for people like me who instead of just being at home resting, had to go to Filinvest City just to claim the kits early avoid long lines at the day of the event.

> The lack of timer is an issue for runners going for a PR (like me), because if you don’t have a tracking device or a smartphone, you won’t get your time after crossing the finish line, you had to wait for the official results to be released days later.

> The lack of staff at the loot bag and medal claiming area was an issue for most runners, especially for those who finished late and had to fall in line with the other runners from other categories. But, for us who finished quickly, it wasn’t a problem. When Adra and I went to the area to claim our medals and loot bag, it was a breeze, we just passed through, no lines because most of the runners are either getting ready to be released or still running on the Skyway.

> As for the lack of cups at the hydration stations, it seems like they ran out of cups because of us, the runners who finished early. Seems like we got all the cups and in cases like this, it’s better to have a hydration belt and have a quick refill.

> I agree with people who didn’t like the Finisher shirts, I don’t like cotton as well, I prefer dri-fit. But, it could’ve been better if they at least put the distance on the shirts. This is a big deal for the marathon and half-marathon runners because they trained and prepared to go the distance and deserve to be rewarded even if it’s just a small and simple acknowledgement of the distance they ran on their souvenir shirts.

Overall, the event was very good and my peers enjoyed it as well. The Skyway is an excellent running ground and the freebies are overflowing that if you have a huge bag or box, a lot of patience to line up over and over again to get more freebies, you can start your own mini store. I really got my money’s worth. The medal was also nice, the 21k and 42k distance is engraved on the medal, which made it special compared to the lower distances which had the distance number printed on the lanyard instead.

The 21k and 42k medals are nice. The distance is engraved on the medal instead of printed on the lanyard like the lower distance medals.
The 21k and 42k medals are nice. The distance is engraved on the medal instead of printed on the lanyard like the lower distance medals.

IMO, the organizer redeemed themselves from the race kit claiming fiasco because of the freebies and the experience of running on the Skyway. But, they do need improvements on the other major flaws, because if other organizers like RunRio can handle big events with very little complaints, then there shouldn’t be any excuses.

7-Eleven Run 1500 gave me another memorable running experience and moments. I successfully achieved my objective of getting a new PR (even if I wasn’t able to sleep before the race), a taste of what it feels like to have a rival, and I was able to once again test and push myself further. I look forward to the next 7-Eleven Run, especially the next location (it’s definitely okay for me if it’s Filinvest City and the Skyway again, but it seems like 7-Eleven Runs don’t do runs on the same location, so I prefer Nuvali) and hopefully, there will be little to no problems, and more fun (and freebies).

An hour before our gun start, there were like only hundreds of people at the activity area. By the time the sun shines, check out the photo below...
An hour before our gun start, there were like only hundreds of people at the activity area. By the time the sun shines, check out the photo below…
By the time we left some time between 7:30am and 8am, there were still thousands of people lined up for freebies, medals, and loot bags.
By the time we left some time between 7:30am and 8am, there were still thousands of people lined up for freebies, medals, and loot bags.
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