Posted in 21k, fun run, half-marathon

How to properly organize a running event… Laguna Run 2015

The things that caught my attention and got me interested was the event location, registration fee, and the trophy for 21k. At a resoanable price of 650php for 21k, you get to run in Nuvali, all the race kit essentials plus a trophy. But, trophies are only for Top 10 finishers, something that wasn't indicated on the poster.
The things that caught my attention and got me interested was the event location, registration fee, and the trophy for 21k. For a reasonable price of 650php for 21k, you get to run in Nuvali and all the race kit essentials plus a trophy. But, trophies are only for Top 10 finishers, something that wasn’t indicated on the poster.

Note: Laguna Run 2015 1st Leg was held on 31st of May. I wasn’t able to write this race report earlier because I got busy and not much motivation to do this ASAP.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no expert and don’t know how to organize a fun run. But, I have joined numerous running events and had witnessed the difference between an awesome experience and a mediocre one. The first time I saw the poster of Laguna Run 2015, I was already sold because of the event location (Nuvali was my favorite running ground last year and still among my top favorites), the low registration price for a 21k run, and a trophy for a 21k finisher? oh yeah! Unfortunately, it turned out that trophies are for top 10 finishers only and it wasn’t indicated on the poster (they should’ve put an asterisk and small note in there). Not a big deal, it’s misleading, but that did not sway my interest from joining the run because the location is very good and the registration fee is just right.

Proceeding to the activity area. Time on the exif data of the photo was 3:56 am. A bit quiet and not a lot of people present at the time.
Proceeding to the activity area. Time on the exif data of the photo was 3:56 am. A bit quiet and not a lot of people present at the time.

Race day came, and I decided to go to Nuvali early because I had a good rest. The event location is well lit and the parking was still spacious at the time. After preparing myself at the parking area, I went to the event grounds before 4 am (gun start was set to begin at 4:30am). It was a bit quiet, not very energetic, and only a few people present.

Seems like a lot of 21k runners were late.
Seems like a lot of 21k runners were late.

Minutes go by, people come, but still doesn’t seem like a big crowd and the stage doesn’t have a program. With only a few minutes before the 4:30am gun start, there are some people talking at the stage, but they’re not initiating any exercises or warm-up before the race begins. Then, it’s 4:30am and the race still hasn’t started. 21k runners gathered at the starting line, but no one is giving instructions, no warm-ups or anything, just a crowd of 200-300 21k runners waiting.

A few minutes before the race begins. No warm-up exercises or at least hosts to give us instructions or entertain the runners to boost the excitement.
A few minutes before the race begins. No warm-up exercises or at least hosts to give us instructions or entertain the runners to boost the excitement.

Then it’s 4:40 am and the race finally started! wait… it started without warning. No countdown or music to boost the runners excitement, it just started (I think I heard a gun pop) and a lot of runners, including yours truly, were surprised.

I estimated the number of 21k runners to be around 200-300 participants.  And, yes, the starting line is facing the wrong direction.
I estimated the number of 21k runners to be around 200-300 participants. And, yes, the starting line is facing the wrong direction.

The first 3 kilometers of the route was near Abrio and EvoLiving Center, which had many turns and it feels like you’re running on a car racing circuit. It was fun and a bit exhausting because of slowing down on the turns (or cornering) then speeding up on the straights. It was also very dark, no street lights, but the marshals are there to guide you.

After that racing circuit style segment of the route, it’s the long straight road towards the roundabout then to the main Nuvali road. We passed by Avida Estates, Xavier School, Miriam College, Republic Wake Park, and Avida Village. This is what I like about running in Nuvali, the scenery is beautiful, the air is always fresh, and there’s no need to play ‘patintero’ with vehicles. The water stations were placed properly as well and most of the marshals were very attentive to the runners by handing out water cups.

I finished the race at 2 hours and 24 minutes. The guy handing out the medals told me that I finished at number 60. I’m not disappointed because prior to the race, I’m not planning to go fast, I just want a smooth and relaxing run as I recover from my right knee injury (which, at the time of writing this article, is better now, but not fully healed). I didn’t take anymore photos around the activity area because I was very exhausted and there’s nothing interesting to take pictures of.

Crossed the finish line at 02:24; took the photo at 02:25. Rank number 60.
Crossed the finish line at 02:24; took the photo at 02:25. Rank number 60.

Now, for my criticism of the event. It was an okay event. They got a great location and a fair registration fee, but it didn’t feel satisfactory for me. It wasn’t bad or anything worse, it just wasn’t satisfying because of some things that wasn’t done properly. Below is a breakdown of the things they did not do right.

– They did not do the proper way to start a race. No warm-up exercises, countdown, or at least a speech to boost the runners confidence and excitement. It just began with a lot of people left surprised by the sudden start.

– The first segment of the route was very dark, no street lights. There are marshals to guide you including a guy on a scooter, but stationary marshals should have flashlights or light markers so runners can see them and to avoid accidents.

– Where were the photographers? I saw one guy with a DSLR camera, but I wasn’t sure if he was an event photographer or just there to take pictures of his friends. (Still no photos of the event on Laguna Run’s facebook page by the time of this writing). (UPDATE: Photos were posted on May 31. It turns out that the photographer was positioned in a certain location in Nuvali to cover the lower distance category runners and activity area. In response to a runner’s comment, the FB page admin of Laguna Run said: “It was our fault. We contracted a group of photographers to cover all distances. Unfortunately for us, they did not show up at the venue. Sorry for this and we will do our best on the next legs. All of the pictures that we have uploaded came from the photographer of gov. We asked for his photos so even if only portion of the event was covered, we could still share it to our participants. Again, apologies for our shortcomings.”)

– For some reason, they ran out of medium and large size finisher shirts. Why? what’s the point of choosing a preferred finisher shirt size on the registration form if you’re not gonna get the finisher shirt size that fits you? I got a small finisher shirt, it’s a bit tight and I still would’ve preferred a medium size. (This is why RunRio events have the shirt size on the bib tags so people can claim that shirt size they chose on the registration form, no exchanges).

– Politics and fun runs shouldn’t mix. We paid for our singlets, so why is there a politician’s name and symbol/logo/emblem/whatever at the back of it? are we advertising for this politician for the next election? It’s okay if it was a free fun run sponsored by a politician, even better if it was a run for a cause, but it wasn’t. No disrespect to Governor Ramil Hernandez, I think he’s doing a fine job as Governor, he participated in the event, and he’s very friendly to anyone who wanted to have a picture with him, but this is very unnecessary.

Politics and Fun Runs shouldn't mix.
This…. ugghh… so unnecessary…

– Just a personal opinion, what’s with the pink color on the singlet? the 3, 5, and 10k singlet have the blue color instead of the pink, why pink for 21k? It would’ve been better if it was red to give it the Philippine flag colors or the pink for girls and blue for boys. Again, it’s just a personal preference, nothing major to complain about.

In conclusion, it was an okay event for me, I enjoyed the run, but I wasn’t satisfied with the event. They did some things right, but there’s just a lot of standard running event procedures that they did not do properly. The organizer needs improvement and hopefully there will be on their next leg.

The medal and finisher shirts are nice. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the preferred shirt size and I got a small and defective one (has a small hole on the chest area).
The medal and finisher shirts are nice. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get the preferred shirt size and I got a small and defective one (has a small hole on the chest area).

NOTES:

– For assurance when it comes to the quality of running events, you have to know the organizer and their reputation. This is why well-known organizers like RunRio, LeadPack, RunMania, Runtertainment, Runtarantantan, etc. have a lot of followers, they built a good reputation. They have their cons and criticisms (I’m looking at you RunRio for NatGeo Run 2015) because there is no perfect organizer, but most of the time, they nailed it when it comes to quality and satisfaction. The organizer of this event needs improvement and hopefully they will learn from their shortcomings.

– One of my favorite triathlete and blogger, kikay runner was doing her weekend cycling in Nuvali at the time of the event and noticed that some 21k participants stopped to sit down and rest. A clear sign of first timers who did not train properly for the long distance (possibly joined the run for the shirt and medal, completely disregarding proper fitness level and training). I noticed them too. Read her interesting post on her blog here: http://kikayrunner.com/2015/06/respect-the-distance/

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