Posted in 21k, fun run, half-marathon, running, running event

A 21k mistake… NatGeo Earth Day Run 2015

Note: NatGeo Earth Day Run 2015 happened on 26th of April 2015. I wasn’t able to write this article early because I was busy at the time. The Baguio leg is set to begin tomorrow, 24th of May.

I was very excited in joining a NatGeo Earth Day Run, it’s one of the biggest yearly running event. Last year was held in BGC with a total of 18,000+ participants. This year it was held in SM Mall of Asia with a record-breaking 22,000+ participants. What was a very anticipated run for me turned out to be a dud because of so many things.

First, the registration. We registered at SM Aura in BGC on the 1st week of April and already the 21k category is lacking small, medium, and even large singlet and finisher shirt sizes. What was available at the time were XL singlets and XXL finisher shirts. The registrar said that there are L size singlets coming, but could not specify the number of stocks. We also don’t wanna come back to SM Aura just to register. So, we were left with the decision to just register and take what was available.

Second, the race route. It’s not bad actually, I liked it when we passed by Luneta (love seeing the Rizal monument and the large Philippine flag waving so smoothly at night) and City of Dreams (which kinda looked like a part of Las Vegas because of the all the lights), but it’s still flawed. Some parts of the route, specifically, the road leading to CCP Complex is very dark and has uneven surfaces. The overpass going to Baclaran is also very dark. Although traffic was handled well, one part of the route going back to Mall of Asia from CCP Complex had runners stopping or rush to cross the road. It was handled properly, but they could’ve just pick an alternate route with less traffic like in CCP Complex, the road leading to Sofitel and the old Manila Film Center/Amazing Show theater and connect to the other route to MOA from there. Also, as reported by some runners based on their GPS watch and smartphone apps, the distance is not accurately 21km, it has extra 600 to 800m (my Nike+ Running app recorder 22.18 km).

My official gun time is 02:25:10, my chip time is 02:20:44. But, according to most runners who posted comments at facebook and other sites, there was a discrepancy with the distance being more than 21km. My Nike+ Running app recorded my 21k finish as 02:14:00 and the total distance covered was 22.18 with 02:22:38 total time.
My official gun time is 02:25:10, my chip time is 02:20:44. But, according to most runners who posted comments at facebook and other sites, there was a discrepancy with the distance being more than 21km. My Nike+ Running app recorded my 21k finish as 02:14:00 and the total distance covered was 22.18 with 02:22:38 total time. Photo Credit: Running Photographers.

Third, the loot bag and sponsor freebies. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t run just for freebies, but because of the pricey registration fee (950php for 21k), most people would want a bit more than for their hard-earned money’s worth. So, what do people get? a loot bag with just the finisher shirt and a Nizoral cream. Some are lucky to even have an extra mint candy in there and some aren’t so lucky by having just the finisher shirt inside (no Nizoral or mint candy). There are other sponsor booths present but their freebies leave little to be desired and the only major hydration partner was Pocari Sweat.. As if the uncomfortable singlet and finisher shirt sizes weren’t enough. It’s a very big let down considering that the previous 21k run we had a month ago, 7-Eleven Run 1500, was overflowing with freebies (see here: https://theroguerebel.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/freebie-overload-7-eleven-run-1500/).

And lastly, it’s just not worth the money you paid for. As discussed in the 3rd issue above, the registration is just too expensive, add to that the people who couldn’t get a desired single and finisher shirt size, and the lack of freebies. If only the registration fee was at least 200 pesos lower for all categories (i.e 700php instead of 950php for 21k), it would’ve been justified (at least for me). Instead, I had to live with the fact that I skipped other runs to save money and join this run which couldn’t even provide the simplest satisfaction. My 21k mistake.

Damn! that finisher shirt makes me look fat. Photo Credit: Jaypee Tero
Damn! that finisher shirt makes me look fat. Photo Credit: Jaypee Tero
I'm smiling because it's over...
I’m smiling because it’s over… Photo Credit: Jaypee Tero
Despite an underwhelming 21k run, we can still smile for finishing another half-marathon. Photo Credit: Jaypee Tero
Despite an underwhelming 21k run, we can still smile for finishing another half-marathon. Photo Credit: Jaypee Tero
Also found my college mate and another running buddy, J.A.
Also found my college mate and another running buddy, J.A.

Despite all my criticisms, I also have nice things to say about the event. It was a well-handled run. The organizer, RunRio Inc. does their usual best and Coach Rio was as hands-on with the event as always because he was present at the event, considering that a little over 12 hours ago, he was in Boracay hosting another RunRio event (instead of just resting and let his people do the job, he handled both events. Now that’s what I call dedication). The fireworks before the run was a nice touch to give the runners a ‘fired up’ sensation to run and the medal is of better quality than the one we got from Rexona Run To Your Beat 2014 medal.

Fireworks during the countdown before the run is one of the nice touches of the event.
Fireworks during the countdown before the run is one of the nice touches of the event. Photo Credit: Jaypee Tero
At least the medal is nice. Better quality than RunRio's Run To Your Beat 2014 medal.
At least the medal is nice. Better quality than RunRio’s Run To Your Beat 2014 medal.

Still, I had regrets missing other running events because of this run. I should’ve joined the DC Comics All Star Fun Run or the Pro Earth Run (which happened the day before NatGeo Run) instead. I’ll just take this as an experience, in the future, I’ll try to assess running events thoroughly to see if they’re really worth it. Side Note:  The photo below has circulated on facebook and blogs. It depicts irony (being an Earth Day Run) and the carelessness of runners when it comes to the environment. Sure, the organizer have cleaners to handle the trash, but come on, let’s be responsible. I would be in favor of having to bring your own hydration belts or packs just to avoid incidents like this.

It would've been understandable if the trash bin was full, but come on, guys, it's probably not even 1/4 full. Is it really that hard to shoot a small plastic cup on a large plastic bin?
It would’ve been understandable if the trash bin was full, but come on, guys, it’s probably not even 1/4 full. Is it really that hard to shoot a small plastic cup on a large plastic bin?

Side Note 2: Is it possible that The MOA to CCP Complex to Luneta to Baclaran to CCP Complex to MOA 21k route harder than the Skyway 21k route? I think so. I thought at first that I could beat my Skyway PR because the Skyway has more uphills than the MOA route. It turns out, it’s much harder than we thought. I couldn’t beat my Skyway PR, my running friends can’t as well. We even felt the worst pain ever like knee pain and cramps (I almost had a cramp when I tried to sprint the last few meters to the finish line). Alvin suffered from knee pain and had to walk the last few kilometers. RJ had it worst, having cramps on both legs forcing him to finish almost 4 hours (and this is his first 21k run). We all had worst finishing times compared to the 7-Eleven Run from a month ago.

Our PRs (based on chip time). Official results here: http://runrio.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NatGeo-Earth-Day-Run-2015-Official-Results-21k.pdf
Our PRs (based on chip time). From left to right: JP, Alvin, RJ, and Me. Official results here: http://runrio.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/NatGeo-Earth-Day-Run-2015-Official-Results-21k.pdf

Side Note 3: i lost my Sony mp3 player. I bought it 2nd hand from a seller in tipidpc.com and has been my music player in the car and on my runs. It once stopped working because sweat got inside. But, miraculously worked again after a couple of days. I put it in my pocket when it stopped working when i was running on the road to City of Dreams. It must’ve fell out while running. I will miss that player, it has been with me for almost 4 years.

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