There comes a time when a runner realizes he got tired of the usual race routes of big running events. It’s that time when a runner tries to seek other places to run, a route that is rarely visited by runners, a faraway location with scenic views, and a different kind of challenge. That time came when I finally decided to join the 2nd Philippine Marine Corps. Marathon in Ternate, Cavite. This is definitely the farthest event location for me to join, so, I decided to invite Alvin and Aian to join me running the 25k category, and when we all had the mutual agreement to face this new challenge, we registered ASAP.
Unfortunately, come race day, Aian made the decision to drop the race due to lack of sleep and other reasons. So, it was just me and Alvin running just like the first time we ran our first half-marathon back in October 2014. We went to the Marine HQ in Taguig for the free bus ride to Ternate. It was already passed 2230 when we arrived at Magallanes and I was a bit nervous, thinking we’ll miss the bus ride. We took a tricycle ride, and because of our unfamiliarity in the area, we agreed to be dropped on the nearest gate. Unluckily, the gate was closed and the guard told us to walk straight and just stick to the sidewalk. We continued walking, I feel like we’re near the main gate, so I ask this guy who was sitting on a shed. He was acting like a weirdo when I asked him if he knew where the main gate is. He was just sitting there, holding his mobile phone, just glance at me for a second and he wasn’t responding when I asked again if it’s nearby. Dunno what he’s problem was, maybe he was high or shy, maybe a shady person, and I only asked him twice because Alvin was standing next to me. Luckily, the lead escort vehicle spotted us walking on asked if we are runners for the marathon. We said yes and he told us to board the MMDA bus. We almost missed it, the vehicles were suppose to leave at 2300 sharp, but it left minutes earlier. We’re so lucky at the time because if we’re left behind, we probably would not have ran at the event. A soldier, very nice guy, offered to find us better seats (we sat on monoblock chairs) because he warned us of the instability once we hit the curvy roads of Ternate.
We arrived at the Marine Base around 1 am and we have a lot of time to spare since our gun start was 0430. We ate and roam around the beach and the activity area. We were so excited to run and luckily, time flies fast.
And for a gun start they do it in the most bad-ass way, by firing a howitzer. I was taking photos of the 42k runners at the starting line and I was startled by the loud sound of the howitzer, even felt the shock wave. This event is the pioneer for a cannon start.
When it’s our time to run, Alvin and I positioned ourselves on the front, feeling like elite runners. But, we just wanted to have our photos taken and I planned to run at Alvin’s pace instead of running for a PR.
And then the race started with another powerful howitzer blast. We ran a few meters and then slowed down and let the faster runners overtake us. The first 4+ kilometers to the entrance of the Marine Base is 98% uphill and that was very tough for those who did not train for it like Alvin. It was also very dark and I was glad to have brought my Energizer 7-LED headlamp to light the way. I handled the uphills fine especially moving at Alvin’s pace, but I can sense him having a hard time. A lot of runners overtook us, even a whole squad of marines and soldiers doing their military cadence. If Alvin had good training for this run, it would’ve been fun to run alongside these strong and brave men.
It was still dark when we reached the 5th kilometer, which was already outside the Marine Base. The main route is part of the Mount Palay-Palay-Mataas na Gulod Protected Landscape. Tall trees, roaming wildlife, and scenic landscape all around us, and of course, more uphills.
The beautiful scenery around the route made its majestic appearance when the sun finally came up. We are enjoying the view around us, so it’s okay to slow down and walk a lot. Not much vehicles around and the road is wide. As we approach the 11th kilometer, excitement within me spiked a little bit, knowing that Kaybiang Tunnel is near and a long stretch of downhill helps speeding up our pace.
Moving forward, I thought the 25k U-turn was just a few hundred meters after coming out the other side of the tunnel. It was actually more than a kilometer. But, it’s okay, with beautiful scenery on a fine day, the distance is worth it.
When we finally reached the U-turn, we ate and re-hydrated a lot. Going back will be harder because of another long uphill segment after the tunnel.
Going back after the tunnel is a bit of a challenge because of another long stretch of uphill. Even running at a slower pace than my usual, I feel tired and pain on my legs.
The last 8 kilometer is where we encountered some of the wildlife living around the area. I first noticed movement and noise on the trees and saw 2 monkeys jumping around from one tree branch to another. Then I saw 2 dead snakes along the road and they look like poisonous ones. There are also wild hogs and turkey near the entrance of the Marine Base.
Finally reaching the Marine Base entrance and the last 4 kilometers of the race, I asked Alvin to jog all the way to the finish line since it’s all downhill from here and to get a Sub-4 finish. We had a good start, until Alvin started slowing down and walked. I kept going, wanting at least a Sub-4 finish and I paced with him for 21 kilometers anyway.
The last 2 kilometers was easy, but I felt very tired despite running slower than my usual pace. I crossed the finish line at 03:52:05 (rank 345 out of 448 runners), while Alvin finished at 04:07:07 (rank 387). It was a very hard run, the PNPA Uphill Challenge that I joined last year is a cakewalk compared to this. I enjoyed the challenge and even wondered if I could finish it with a Sub-3 if I ran my pace. But, that is another challenge next year if I joined this event again or the full marathon.
Though we crossed the finish line, the fun did not stop there. I went to the beach to take a dip whilst waiting for the boodle fight at noon time.
After a refreshing time around the beach. We went around the activity area to have some photo ops with guns.
Then, it’s boodle fight time. We were so hungry and the meal was highly anticipated by everyone.
It was a different kind of challenge, I love going to a faraway place for a new race route and an awesome new experience. It was nice visiting Boracay De Cavite again and finally had the chance to bathe in the beach. It’s cool to see the Philippines Marines training and how nice and very friendly they are to the people. Congratulations to Frontrunner Magazine for another challenging (like their trail runs) event and the 300% increase in participants (with more than a thousand participants in all categories) is a testament to this growing event. Hoping to see you again next year.