It wasn’t too long ago when I was a newbie runner who finally made the venture to the running scene. I was a lone runner (hence, The Rogue Rebel Runner moniker), hesitant to join at first and nervous when it was finally the time to run. But, after my very first fun run, I became addicted to the world of running events and started to join more. So, I created this guide for the newbie runners, those who frequently thought about or considered joining a running event, but still unsure about it. The information regarding this article are based on personal experience and research with some of it collected from message boards and forum. I am not affiliated with any organizer, so, I guarantee you that there is no bias information or opinion. The article is open for updates and corrections, and I welcome anyone who can share information.
WHAT IS A RUNNING EVENT?
A running event is an organized event for runners. Some events are open for all kinds of runners regardless of their physical fitness level. Other events are intended for the more advanced runners, requiring experience and proper training to join and compete.
WHY JOIN A RUNNING EVENT?
Reason #1: Join a running event for fun. You can run alone or better yet, run with friends or family for even more fun. I’ve seen people run pushing strollers just for their baby to join in the fun. I’ve seen people run with dogs, an elderly couple running together, kids with their parents, all of them running with smiles on their faces. Reason #2: To challenge yourself, to see how fast and how far you can go, and find out how you stack up against other runners. This is for the advanced runners to compete and make PRs (Personal Record). Reason #3: For a different kind of experience than your usual jogging session. Believe me, there are so many running events to choose from that you might actually try them all.
A common response that I usually hear from other people when asked about joining a running event for the first time is ‘Magbabayad pa ako para magpakapagod’ (I’m gonna shell out money just to get tired), which is a negative outlook from those who doesn’t even consider trying to experience it. This is why Reason #4 is about the benefits. Sure, you can run anywhere and anytime you want without spending money, but, the problem is that it’s not always true, you can’t always run anywhere and anytime. For example, can you run on the Skyway anytime you want? of course not, the authorities will not allow you or close the road just for you, and it is dangerous to do so with vehicles moving around you. By joining a running event, not only is the Skyway temporarily closed to motorists for the runners to run free, there are medics and marshals to make sure you’re safe and hydration stations to hand you water or sports drink (and, depending on the kind of running event you joined, food and other stuff). Another benefit is discovering new places to run that you never knew existed. New routes and trails that you never tried to run before because you’re not familiar with the place or just don’t want to try running there alone for safety reasons. You can run fast and overtake other runners and joggers on the road, but it doesn’t answer the question of how good or fast you are. Sure, you can ask others to run with you or try their best against you, but how many will join you and are they really fast runners? By joining an event, you get to run against hundreds or thousands of runners, and some of them are the elite. That’s the definitive way to find out how good of a runner you are. And lastly, the experience alone is worth the money, but you also get more. You get a singlet, a finisher shirt + medal (depends on the event’s terms or inclusion), raffle entry, and sponsor freebies (sometimes the sponsors are so generous that you actually get more than what you paid for). And if the running event is a Run for a Cause, you’re running while also helping the people in need. So, to sum it all up, you should join a running event to have fun, to compete and test yourself, to discover new places, for the freebies, for a cause, and for a great experience.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MARATHON AND A FUN RUN?
A common misconception among non-runners and newbies is the difference between a marathon and a fun run. Non-runners tend to call a fun run as a marathon because they don’t know the difference. A Marathon is a running event with a total distance of 42.195 kilometers (or 26.2 miles). A Marathon is on a competitive level and running it requires good physical conditioning and endurance training. A Fun Run is a non-competitive run that vary in distances, from short (500 meters, 3k, 5k, 6k) to long distance (10k, 16k, half-marathon). Unlike a marathon, a fun run doesn’t require a high level of physical conditioning, anyone can join, even non-runners. The primary purpose of a fun run is to have fun and the events usually have themes to make it even more appealing. The one thing that a Marathon and a Fun Run have in common is that both running events can be a Run for a Cause.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF RUNNING EVENTS?
There are many kinds of running events, some have themes and style to make things more fun and interesting. While other events offer different challenges for the competitive runners.
ZOMBIE RUN – This is the first running event that I joined and it got me hooked to the running scene. Also known as zombie apocalypse run, this is one of the thrilling runs for runners and non-runners alike and it’s pure adrenaline rush once the zombies start chasing you. The main objective is to avoid or dodge zombies to protect your life flags (starting with 3, but extra lives can be found along the way) and reach the finish line with at least 1 life flag to secure a medal or finisher dog tag. Some segments of the run require you to pretend like zombies (like a scene from Shaun of the Dead) to pass through an area, put something around your body to repel zombies, and moving stealthily to avoid detection. It’s like running in a live action video game and a huge number of the participants like to dress up or go running while cosplaying. Be warned though, things can get rough and injuries are very likely to happen because runs like this can be chaotic and jump scares (because some zombies are camouflaged and can pop up anywhere and anytime) make people panic and bump other runners. Some even trip and fall (I did during my 1st and 3rd zombie runs which gave me my first running battle scars). It’s still safe though as the zombies and runners are given instructions not to touch, grab, or hit each other and the zombies only go for the life flags. RECOMMENDED RUN: Outbreak Manila
OBSTACLE RUN – Also known as Obstacle Course Racing, it’s running through a military-style obstacle course. This is kind of run requires more than just running strength, it also requires some upper body strength and agility to be competitive. Some of the obstacles include fire jump, mud crawl, assault wall, cargo net climb, and arm bars. Most obstacle runs are set in the trails which is an added obstacle itself and there are also mini versions for the kids. Team categories are also offered for those who need a helping hand. RECOMMENDED RUN: Guerilla Race series, Men’s Health Urbanathlon
TRAIL RUN – If you prefer a more adventurous run, with beautiful scenery, closer to nature, and fresh air, trail running is the best for you. The difficulty level depends on the trail and the terrain. Some of the more advance trail runs are set on the mountains and may have some river crossing along the way. RECOMMENDED RUN: Valley Trail Challenge
COLOR RUN – Color-themed runs uses colored powder for daytime events and black light (run like a human bug zapper), glow paint, or neon lights for nighttime events and the result is a festive display of colors all around you. This is best enjoyed with friends and family and you don’t have to be a runner to enjoy this, you can just walk around, take selfies, and have fun. There is also a post-race concert with even more colorful activities and partying. Be warned though, colored powder and paint is hard to remove, so, you will likely go home looking like a homeless person or someone who accidentally bumped a rainbow. RECOMMENDED RUN: Color Manila series
MUSIC RUN – Like Color Runs, this is fun for the whole family and friends. Audio speakers are strategically placed around the race course and pump out energetic music to make you run faster or even dance along the way. There are also pit stops or check points that play different genre of music like disco, pop, EDM and more. Music Run and Color Runs are closely associated and some events offer a combination of both. RECOMMENDED RUN: Rexona Run To Your Beat, The Music Run.
MARATHON – As previously discussed above, a marathon is a long distance race with the total distance of 42.195 kilometers. Physical and mental conditioning, and proper training is an absolute must if you plan to run a marathon. Your stamina, endurance, and overall fitness will be put to the test. For some, this is where things go serious and may not be fun at all. This is the ultimate challenge for the evolved runner, so, better make sure that you are ready for it. For me, running a marathon is like ascending to Super Saiyan level, the point where you become so strong that you want to see how much further you can go. RECOMMENDED RUN: Condura Skyway Marathon, The Bull Runner Dream Marathon.
ULTRAMARATHON – When you finally conquered the marathon distance, this is the next and highest level (as if the marathon distance isn’t hard enough). The minimum distance is 50 kilometers and the longest can go beyond 100 kilometers. One of its attractions is that you get to visit many places and provinces on foot and you can rest any time you want. Speed is important for the competitive runners, but, for most endurance runners, finishing the race under the cutoff time is good enough. Relay categories are also offered for those who prefer a team and cut some of the distance and support groups are allowed for the runners’ aid and convenience (just don’t cheat). There are also Trail Ultramarathons that offer a much different experience and challenge than the traditional road race ultra. Like running a marathon, you better be sure that you are capable and well-trained for this, otherwise, you will be in a world of pain and regret. If a marathon is Super Saiyan level, Ultramarathon is Superman sun-dipped in the yellow sun or absorbed blue sun radiation level.
So, that’s it, the different kinds of running events to choose from. Most running events are also a ‘Run for a Cause’ and support either a person in need or a charitable institution (Doesn’t it feel good to run while also helping others?). There is something for everyone. Me, I try them all, the only thing I haven’t tried yet is the Ultramarathon, but I’m getting there sooner than I think (just waiting for the right event).
WHO ARE THE ORGANIZERS?
Running events are successful because of the organizer and an organizer makes its mark when it successfully created a good running event. Successful events is what makes the organizer a trusted name in the running community. Make more fun events and the people will follow. Below is the list of the most popular and well-established organizers in the country today.
RUNRIO Inc. – The biggest race organizer and the most popular name in the running community. Owned by runner-turned-product endorser-turned-entrepeneur, Rio Dela Cruz (better knwn as Coach Rio), the company had its humble beginnings from a 3-person staff, to a full time organizing firm that employs full time employees and over a thousand staff and marshals for their events. RUNRIO handles the largest events and is hired by the biggest brand names in the consumer product industry like Milo, Nike, New Balance, Gatorade, Subaru, and Sun Life. They also have their own original running series like the yearly RUN UNITED trilogy, TRI-United series (Triathlon), and co-organizing The Bull Runner Dream Marathon. Most of their events are fun runs and the longest distance they offer is the marathon distance (I don’t recall or heard Runrio organizing an Ultramarathon). As one of the contributors to the running boom in the country, Runrio was the first to introduce one of the most important innovations in running today, the disposable timing chip (commonly known as D-TAG or RFID chip which is used by most organizers today) for accurate race results. As the most successful and popular race organizer today, RUNRIO also had its share of blunders (which I also experienced from some of their events as well) and criticisms from the running community. I just hope that they do improve their events in the future to silence the critics and for us to have more good events.
RUNtarantantan – When celebrity/comedian, Bearwin Meily, disappeared from showbiz, he started running, loved it, and started his own race organizing firm, RUNtarantan. Like Coach Rio, his group started had humble beginnings from a small staff with his family to a full organization. Their events are mostly fun runs for the whole family and focusing on value for your money experience by offering low registration prices plus all of their race categories get medals and finisher shirts (so, yeah, even if you only ran or walk 3 kilometers, you get your token of participation medal). As of today, I have never joined a RUNtarantantan event, but I have heard mostly positive about the organizer and their events. The only criticisms are just the lack of timing chips for the competitive runners, they never organize a marathon, and they usually do their runs in the confines of the Pasay area (only in CCP Complex, SM Mall of Asia, Luneta). If you are a newbie or a non-competitive runner looking for that first running event to join and just wants to have fun, RUNtarantantan’s event is a good choice to start.
LEADPACK – I don’t know much about the LeadPack organization, I know that they are associated with Jinoe Gavan’s Takbo.ph and the organizer of the website’s flagship running event, Runfest. I have joined one of their events, Men’s Health Urbanathlon 2014, and I must say that they have nice and very helpful marshals, and the event is well organized. Recently, Leadpack is on the roll, organizing big projects like the SMDC Run and their biggest one yet, the upcoming National Geographic Run 2016. I only heard positive things about Leadpack and I think that they are one to watch out for. They have the potential to rival Runrio in the coming years.
RUNMANIA PHILIPPINES PROMOTIONS – When it comes to ultramarathons, Pat Maranan’s Runmania is one of the best organizers in the country. Focusing more in the provincial areas of CALABARZON (especially Laguna), their specialty is to provide the scenic routes for the best running experience at low registration prices. They also organize fun runs and run for a cause in the Laguna area. I joined 2 of their events last year and I was very impressed in the way they make their race routes. They really pick scenic areas for the runners to enjoy and because of them, I discovered some awesome places to run. They do have their share of blunders though, like delayed start of their races and delayed distribution of Finisher shirts (I experienced both in their PNPA Uphill Challenge run last December). Still, I consider them one of the best and trusted organizers in the country and I’m just waiting for more their ultramarathons that I can join this year.
PRINCE MULTI SPORTS EVENTS Inc – The other big player in the ultramarathon scene, Joseph Prince Baltazar’s organization offers a slightly different approach than Runmania by offering Southern provincial area to the Northern city area race routes. Some of their famous runs include the Luneta to Tagaytay 60km Midnight Ultramarathon and the UP Los Banos to UP Diliman 80k Ultramarathon. Another interesting event is the Taal Volcano 360 trail run, which offers you the rare opportunity to run around one of the Philippines’ most famous tourist attraction. Formed in 2013, it is a fast growing ultramarathon organizer in the country. I haven’t joined any of their events, but they are already on my watch list for my future ultramarathon run.
frontRUNNER Magazine – If you want to experience the spiritual high that trail runners feel every time they run the trails, then you have to seek Jonel Mendoza events. They offer trail ultramarathons in the mountains for the strong trail runners. And for beginners, you can try their most well-known event, The Valley Trail Challenge. I have experienced VTC last year and all I can say is that it was an amazing experience, it was my proper introduction to trail running, and it got me excited for this year’s event because I’m planning to join the 50k category. When it comes to trail running, in FrontRunner I trust.
RUNTERTAINMENT Inc. – Is best known for the zombie apocalypse run series, Outbreak Manila (inspired by the Run for your Lives zombie run from the U.S.). Though they also organized other kinds of events like the Smart Live More color run, their best and primary focus is the zombie run series. Headed by Angelo Cruz, they created one of the most exciting and chaotic running events ever (I know because their Outbreak Mission: The Narrows is the first fun run I joined and I love it so much that I joined two more missions). The Outbreak series also offers you a choice of becoming the zombies to chase the running survivors. After Outbreak Missions: Operation Stronghold in April 2014, the Outbreak Manila series has been on hiatus, and only returned briefly on December 2015 (rumor has it that an accident involving a runner in Operation Stronghold has suspended Runtertainment’s license to operate a fun run). During the time of Outbreak Manila’s absence, Runtertainment organized other events like the escape room game ‘Breakout’ and their summer event ‘Slide Fest.’ Right now, there is no word on the next Outbreak Manila, the organizer is busy preparing this year’s Slide Fest. Until then, I await for the next Outbreak.
PEP SQUAD EVENTS and MARKETING SERVICES – I don’t know much about Pep Squad. According to their website, they handle different events for big clients like GMA 7 and Robinsons Land Corporation, and their record shows that they are also experienced organizers of running events. Their best known work in the running scene is handling PinoyFitness.com’s challenge series, the Sub-1 10k Challenge and the 21k Challenge, and I participated on both events last year. I can say that they handled the events well and the singlet, finisher shirts, and medals designs are superb and of good quality.
GUERILLA RACE Inc. – Ever heard of the Spartan Race? the military-style obstacle race series is what inspired Lt. Col. Dennis Bumanglag to create the Guerilla Race series. I was one of the pioneer runners of the first Guerilla Race and it was one of the most memorable and greatest running experience of my life. Guerilla Race collaborates with other organizers to create the best obstacle run experience. The first one was originally to be handled by LeadPack, but, they backed out, and Guerilla Race Panther 2014 was a collaboration with Without Limits. Today, Guerilla Race is still the best obstacle run series, the name you can trust when it comes to the ultimate obstacle course racing experience in the country.
AFFINITEA PHILIPPINES – One of the newest player in the running scene, Affinitea Philippines is a beverage franchise and became a race organizer by starting the Affinitea Brown Race series. Mark Anthony Guzman Liu is managing Affinitea in the same vein as Runtarantantan by offering a good running experience at affordable registration prices. Sometimes, they even offer free shirts (from their previous events) as freebies for early bird registrants. How’s that for value?
WITHOUT LIMITS – I don’t know much about this organizer. What got me interested about them was after watching the Immuvit Fearless Challenge video on youtube, an obstacle race from 2013 (very impressed with what I’ve seen, especially being a fan of obstacle runs). So, I checked out their website to see their credentials and found out that they have been in the industry for a long time. Looking at their company profile, their 2010-2012 portfolio is impressive. It seems that they handled a lot of big running events like The Condura Marathon, Milo Marathon, SUNPiology, AVON Run, and more before RUNRIO and other organizers took the assignment in the later years. It also seems that they were also involved with Guerilla Race Panther 2014. I look forward to joining one of their events someday, I hope it’s something like the Immuvit Challenge series.
That’s the current info I know about the organizers. There are also smaller groups of organizers out there who have yet to make their mark in the running scene and there are some organizers whom I never heard before, but has done excellent work. I’ll update this article once I learned more, for now, the names above are the trusted names. It’s wise to know the organizer of an event first before joining to avoid scam runs. Speaking of scams runs….
WHAT IS A SCAM RUN?
Scam runs are organized running events designed to profit from runners and sponsors without delivering a fun or satisfying experience. Ever since the running boom started in the late 2000s, there have been numerous running events in the country each year. In a month alone, there could be 2-4 major running events and numerous smaller events in provincial areas. Scammers see the running scene as an opportunity to milk some runners and sponsors’ money, huge amounts of money. How do scam runs work? the scammer organizers create an appealing and interesting concept, even making it a run for a cause, to trick sponsors into supporting their proposed event. It is then advertised as something hip, cool, or awesome, a marketing scheme so effective, it is guaranteed to attract unsuspecting runners and non-runners alike. Once the victims registered for the scam, the scammers organize deliver a piss-poor event. The scammer organizers disappear from the event faster than Houdini escaping a Chinese Water Torture Cell, or worst, don’t show up at all, leaving a chaotic, unorganized event with their own marshals and volunteers taking the fall from the angry victims. Let’s revisit some of the past scams as examples:
MAKATI AFTER DARK HALLOW FEST – A Zombie Run + Car Show + Cosplay Event all in one, sounds very ambitious to me and very appealing. Even the cinematic promo video on youtube was impressive (now removed). The Makati Tourism Office endorsed the event and it was also promoted by local celebrities like Raymond Bagatsing and Jeffrey Santos. Want more? there’s also a post-race concert from local bands like Callalily, Chicosci, 6 Cyclemind, Sandwich, Moonstar 88, and Grace Note. It was also a run for a cause for the benefit of the families affected by the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas that year. It was organized by an experienced (of what? scamming) U.S. promoter called J.R. Usi (stands for John Richard Usi, a name I never heard before). With all that? what could go wrong? well, everything. The run started without proper introduction or gun start, and what was suppose to last until 3 am, was cancelled at 10 pm. The promised 3,000 zombies? well, fewer than a hundred was present and some of them are gatecrashers. According to some of the official zombie volunteers (some of them are bloggers) and participants, the gatecrashers dressed up as zombies and harassed the runners. Some said their private parts were touched and one zombie even asked for the runner’s wallet (WTF?). Turns out some of the gatecrashers were pickpockets who infiltrated the event and managed to victimize some of the participants. And the music bands? they backed out at the last minute, none of the bands played at the event. The event resulted to a lot of angry participants who demanded a refund and they deserve that refund. They were harassed, they did not get any of the freebies or loot bags, they wasted 1,000 pesos for nothing because people can just walk in and out of the event any time even without paying the registration fee (shows how poor their security management was). I don’t know what happened in the end (the facebook page made by the victims to get is not updated anymore) it’s very likely that the scammers got away with it. It’s really sad that they advertised it as run for cause just to profit. If you’re interested for more about this scam, here are some links:
The Rappler report: http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/42709-makati-after-dark-fun-run-cancelled-refund
A blogger/volunteer’s account: http://dollhana.com/2013/11/makati-dark-bogus-nightmare-event/
The facebook page of the victims: https://www.facebook.com/Makati-After-Dark-Bogus-380931368705590/
NEON INVASION FUN RUN – I found out about this scam because some of my office mates were victims. I remember reading the facebook page from the complainants of the event about their experiences. Unfortunately, that facebook page as well as posts by the complainants on the Quezon City Hall page were deleted. From what I recall, the problem was complete absence of management at the event, it turned into an epic mess. Some the participants had to wait for an hour or more for their race kits, some got the wrong singlet colors, and others never got their race kits at all. What seemed good on paper was crap in execution, scarce supplies of glow sticks, colored water was lacking, the booming music form the music station was described in my understanding was ‘meh,’ the bands got booed, the race course security is non-existent as vehicles and non-participant can get in and out. And like any good scam run, it was advertised also as a Run for a Cause. The event managed to scam an estimated 4,000+ participants and a lot of sponsors. The facebook page and posts were gone, but there is at least a blog post that can still tell the story from a blogger’s experience, go here: https://renz15.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/neon-invasion-fun-run-not-so-neon-after-all/
APOCALYPSE RUN – As a multi-run event, it sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, like the Neon Invasion Run, it was impressive on paper, but poor on execution. I remember reading the runners’ complaints about this event. Some of those include the lack of colored powder, the unsafe race course (because it was set in a construction site), the distance was less than the advertised 5 kilometers, and the overall experience was mediocre. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find out the facebook page and comments, they were deleted, and the apocalypserun.ph website and facebook page doesn’t exist anymore. The beneficiary of the event was Operation Blessing Philippines Foundation. I hope that they at least got what was promised to them.
Those are some example of scam runs. I must point out that their is also something I call a ‘Failed Run.’ In my own description, a failed run is an event that did not succeed in meeting the runners’ expectations or at least delivered a satisfying experience, but at least still delivered their promise to their beneficiaries. So, if anyone can provide proof that the examples above had actually fulfilled their promise to their beneficiaries, please let me know. Otherwise, they will still be branded as scam runs.
UPDATE: Rence Chan, the blogger who was on the scene of the Neon Invasion event, has confirmed that none of the beneficiaries of the event received what was promised to them by the organizer of the event. This confirms that Neon Invasion Fun Run is indeed a scam run. Read his comment on the comment section and you can read his article by following the link in the Neon Invasion Fun Run section.
That’s it for now on this article. This is open for updates, so please let me know if you have any suggestions or corrections.