The usual setup of a running event starts with announcements on-stage. Just the usual race instructions or rules, then some additional information like the beneficiaries, the raffle, or the prizes for the race winners, and some other stuff. But, the most important are the race instructions or the rules. The hosts or speakers should tell the participants when to proceed to the starting line in order to start the race, and more importantly, announce the time and which category should start first. This is the part where Manila Great Run: Duo Road Race Challenge failed. There’s nothing wrong with the event, it’s very organized, but, it confused a lot of people for not properly announcing or reminding them the gun start of their categories. The result, there are a lot of 5k (and probably participants from other categories) runners mixed up with the 10k runners. I was waiting for the race to start and I heard some people (probably newbies in a running event) talking and seemed unsure of their presence in the starting line. I heard someone say “ganun din naman yan,” probably thinking that 10k and 5k categories start at the same time. Another said “wala naman sinabi e,” probably a response to a conversation with someone who is also unsure of their gun start. When another runner told a group of participants that the 5k runners will start later and after the 10k ‘individual’ runners, they didn’t have much to say because of, well, the confusion. They just stood there, waiting for the race to start even when the other runner told them the the gun start time was posted on their website and the event’s facebook page.
Before I discuss even more flaws and confusing moments of the event, let me tell you my experience in running the individual category. The individual category is composed of two rounds, the first round is a 10k run that was suppose to start at 5 am, and the 2nd round is a 5k run, set to start at 7am. So, in total, it is a 15-kilometer run with a recovery break to which the duration varies depending on how fast you can finish the first 10 kilometers. The Team Competition is the same, but their gun start was 5:30 am and the male member runs the 10k and the female member runs the 5k.
The race started late (my Nike+ Running app indicates I started at 5:09 am) and slower runners from the other categories (who shouldn’t be there in the first place) ran it like a fun run (and zig-zagging to zip pass the slower runners provided additional challenge to the fast runners). After a kilometer, I was able to run freely and running along side the experienced runners (I even saw 7-Eleven teammate and LPIM 2016 Champion, Richard Salaño leading the pack with some Kenyans). The weather was hot and add to that the uphills and turns of the Filinvest City route made this one of the most challenging 10k run I participated in (also the fact that it was a route with two 5-kilometer loops, I hate loops).
I have a 62-minute recovery break before the next round. I didn’t take advantage of the free massage, but I did use the time to rack up some freebies and drinks.
Whilst waiting for the 2nd round of the race, I found out the you can now claim the finisher kit including the shirt and the medal. I was like, ‘WTF!,’ why distribute the medals and the shirts when the participants haven’t even completed the full race yet? It’s not like a half medal or a ‘partial finisher’ shirt. I had a conversation with another runner who wanted to claim the medal after finishing the first round. He’s not aware that the run is a duo race and told me he only signed up for a 10k only race, which doesn’t exist. And that only adds another story of the confused participants. It was clear from the start that this is a duo race and when I registered at Mizuno branch in Alabang Town Center, the store employees even told registrants that it’s a 15k race. So, why are there people unaware of this? I also heard some people didn’t like the concept of a recovery break in between, they said this should’ve been a 15k race straight up. Then why sign up for the race?
I didn’t want to claim the medal and shirt right away, I wanted to get it the right way, after finishing the 2nd round. But, I thought about the inconvenience of not claiming it ASAP, the long lines and the possibility of running out of shirt sizes (or worst, ran out of shirts) and medals. So, I claimed it, but still ran the 2nd round. I think some of the participants decided to skip the 2nd round because of the heat, but, it’s unfair to claim the medals and shirts without finishing a complete race.
To be honest, I don’t have the same enthusiasm in running the 2nd round. At 7 am in the morning, it was very hot and I made a mistake of over re-hydrating myself, I feel bloated and heavy. But, I signed up for a 15k race and I will finish that distance. I started really slow, I stopped thinking about finishing this round under 30 minutes and just run until I cross that finish line.
In the last kilometer, I saw two more Team 7-Eleven Philippines mates, April Diaz and Mark Anthony Oximar pass me by (in Commerce Ave. before the turn in front of Army Navy), running side by side. The last 500 meters was another struggling moment for me, (similar to the experience I had in the last few kilometers of PinoyFitness 21k Challenge 2015) it was very hot and I just want the race to be over. I did my last slow run all the way to the finish and crossed it in 30+ minutes. The official results of the combined run (1st round 10k + 2nd round 5k) is 1 hour, 29 minutes, and 26 seconds (rank 58 out of 623; the chip time is 01:28:49; the official results here: http://myrunti.me/#/race/MGRDRR2016/results).
I enjoyed the run, I didn’t like the 2-loop route, but it was a good challenge. The race is well organized, but confusing to a lot of the participants, resulting to a messy start. Let me address the flaws of the event below (some of these I heard at the event, people talk a lot because of their own confusion).
WHAT WENT WRONG:
1.) No one on-stage told the other runners (Team Competition, 5k, and 3k) or constantly reminded them that they will start after the 10k ‘Individual’ runners, so, some of those participants entered and stayed in the starting line. And the marshals don’t seem to know what to do either. I heard one marshal say that 5k runners move to the back instead of asking them to leave and informing them that they will start later. I heard a participant say something like “hayaan mo na, mainit na mamaya e,” implying that the person probably found out about the 5k gun start, but chose to run with the first wave anyway. So, who’s to blame for all this? the participants or the organizer? well, both, but, it leans more to the organizer because it’s their responsibility to inform everyone of their respective gun start. It’s their responsibility to fix any problems or to clear any misunderstandings before the race starts. It’s their job to make sure that runners from other categories don’t get mixed up with the first wave of runners. I also heard a mom saying that his teenage son, a 5k runner, didn’t know that he ran the 10k category. It’s a case of honest mistake caused by the lack of information by the organizer. The other runners who decided to push through and run the 10k “individual’ gun start can be partially blamed because they hesitated asking the marshals for clarification (or maybe the marshals also didn’t know) and some still ran even when others informed them of their respective gun start. They broke the rules, but only because no one from the organizer’s side was enforcing the rules.
2.) The distribution of medals and finishers kit should’ve been done after the 2nd round. Because what’s the point of a duo race if participants can claim their rewards without the need to finish the full race. I know serious runners will finish the race, but there are those who don’t care and don’t mind finishing just half the race. And those who claimed the finisher shirts after the 2nd round had the misfortune of having to accept (or reject) finisher shirts of the wrong sizes and have to accept the fact that they ran out of loot bags. I’m glad that I got my kit before the 2nd round of the race because I saw a long line of complainants at the claiming area after the race.
3.) Lack of Marshals in the field (specifically in the long stretch of Commerce Avenue). I’ve heard that some people got lost in the route. I had a chat with Richard Salaño and Gregg Osorio after the race and Salaño told me that some of the elite runners, Kenyans, got lost and just looped around the route.
4.) Even before the event, during the kit claiming had its own set of problems. The date was pushed back from May 23 to May 28 because, in the organizer’s own statement on their facebook page, ‘in order to complete all vouchers and freebies provided by our sponsors.’ This was posted on May 22, a day before the original kit claiming date. The problem is, some people didn’t read the facebook post and didn’t get a notification text. And that led to some pissed off people who went to the Mizuno stores and wasted their time and money.
5.) Below are some of the screenshots of the participants’ complaints I found the event’s facebook page which validates what I’ve written above.
That’s all I can say about the Manila
Great Run: Duo Road Race Challenge. It’s not great, but it’s a good event, just confusing and messed up. I’ll call it Manila Good Run instead. It succeeded as a fun run and it’s good that the event is a run for a cause. They did the right things on the race village, the presentation (pre-race warm-up and the cheering squad show), the hydration, and the sponsor freebies. But, messed up when it comes to enforcing the rules and order, the availability of credible marshals in the field, and the distribution of the finisher’s kit. It’s not their intention or goal to confuse the participants but they succeeded on that unintentionally. This event could’ve been great, but it had too much shortcomings (like a highly anticipated movie that failed to live up to its hype). But this can be seen as a first time mistake and there’s definitely room for improvement on the organizer’s next event. They just have to take notes of their failures in this event and do better next time.