It has been more than 3 years since I started joining the running scene. Some events never change, some got better, and some end their series run (pun intended). The most important thing for me last year is that I evolved and ran to the next level, by joining my first marathon and ultramarathon. Aside from running, I started blogging about the other things that I love to do like photography, video games, and traveling. I started this blog in late 2014 as a journal of my fitness journey, the chronicles of my running adventure. 2016 thought me that blogging can be a tool for even more experiences and can even be a source of awesome benefits. I received invitations from organizers to attend their events or press conference to write an article or cover the event and in return, I got backstage pass, some nice tokens, and even won prizes from raffles. So, I revamped the design of my page, new look for 2017, and will try to run, travel, and do more interesting stuff and activities worthy of blogging. For now, here’s the best of 2016.
====== BEST MOMENT ======
Finishing my first Marathon (Condura Skyway Marathon 2016)
Though the event itself was just average, it’s the moment of crossing the finish line of your first marathon that makes it one of the most memorable and best feeling of your life. Running the marathon distance (42.195 kilometers) is the ultimate goal for serious runners. It’s like the last level of a video game, the last round in boxing, the grand finale of a concert, it’s the culmination of your fitness and running journey. And the bonus for me is that I became the first marathoner in the family (both father and mother side). I started it and hopefully, the future generations of the family tree will follow.
Running my first international run (11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon)
Never saw it coming, never expected it to happen, it was a surprise that I ran my first out-of-country run in 2016. A surprise delivered by 7-Eleven Philippines. It was my blog article/race report that got me the ticket for an all-expense paid trip to Phuket, Thailand for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon to cover the event as our country’s representatives give their best performances to win the race. I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5 category of the race (my first international run and first out-of-country trip) and we all had a rewarding tour around Phuket. We returned home victorious and had a great time, and that is the reason why this is so memorable to me.
Canyoneering in Cebu (Thanksgiving vacation in Cebu)
To set foot in Cebu for the first time is memorable enough, jumping 40+ feet off a cliff is just epic and unforgettable. It’s all about conquering your fear (especially if you have some degree of acrophobia and can’t swim) and the adrenaline rush that made it one of the best things I’ve done in 2016.
Finishing my first Ultramarathon (Altra Speed50 Tagaytay)
For all its shortcomings or failures, the event is below average (I love the first half of the race route though and the trophy and medal is good), but finishing a race that goes beyond the marathon distance is another milestone in my running life. Ultramarathons don’t have the flair of a marathon event nor does it focus on elite-level speed, it’s the experience and the validation that your body can endure and go the longer distance that makes it a special experience.
====== BEST MEDAL ======
40th Milo Marathon Medal
It’s gold in color, well-designed, big, and heavy. Should there be any other reason why this isn’t the best?
Batman V Superman Run Medal
The only way that a Batman v Superman medal could be better is if it was designed like a batarang with the S symbol in the middle instead of a round medal. But, this still looks very good, I like the cut of the BvS symbol and there was also an option to have your finishing time engraved behind the medal for a small fee.
Valley Trail Challenge VI Medal
It’s a cute medal and it’s not made of metal, so it’s one of the lightest medal I earned. I like the cow head design, it fits the theme of the trail run and it really looks unique compared to my metal medals.
====== BEST EVENT SHIRT/SINGLET ======
Batman v Superman singlet
This singlet is so good it makes you look like you have Batman’s abs. Color and design is modeled after the Batffleck costume, and I like it so much that I used it in 2 running events.
Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry
I got this from 7-Eleven Philippines as our official team shirt at the 11th Laguna Phuket Marathon. I like it because of the nice design, the fabric, the light weight, and skin tight feel. Also worn this on my first ultramarathon.
Condura SkyWay Marathon 2016 Tech Shirt
With ASICS as one of the major sponsors, this is just as light and comfortable as the Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry shirt (doesn’t have the skin tight feeling though). No wonder the registration fee of Condura Skyway Marathon is expensive, the quality of the tech shirt and finisher shirt is very good.
====== BEST FINISHER SHIRT ======
Condura Skyway Marathon 2016 Finisher Shirt
It’s quite clever that the finisher shirt of the 2016 Condura Skyway Marathon is blue in contrast with the red tech shirt. It’s like fire and ice or the yin and the yang. Like the tech shirt, the fabric is nice and comfortable. The back of the shirt also illustrates the race route, the map of the Skyway.
Financial Fitness Run 2016 Finisher Shirt
The shirt has the right mix of colors, white on the body with purple on the sides and lime green on the back. And that running man on the front completes a visually appealing design.
40th Milo Marathon Finisher Shirt
This finisher shirt is very similar to the Condura Skyway Marathon finisher shirt. The fabric feels the same and it also has the route map printed at the back.
====== BEST FREEBIES ======
All the stuff I got from 7-Eleven Philippines
Aside from all the free stuff (or should I say, grocery) that I grabbed from 7-Eleven Run 2016, 7-Eleven Philippines gave us a team jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt for the Phuket trip. Nothing can top that.
Saucony Kinvara 7
Not a freebie from a running event, I got this by joining a Saucony facebook contest. a free pair of running shoes means I was able to save money this year.
Stuff I got from the Special Force Online Press Conference
I was invited by PlayPark to attend the press conference of the returning Special Force Online. So glad that I did. PlayPark is a very generous company, they provided us with good food, fun games, and a preview of Special Force Online before the closed beta test. I though the good stuff ended their, until they’ve given us the loot bags that included a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and a Starbucks card loaded with 500 php. And I also got lucky and won a Razer ‘Network’ Hoodie. It was an awesome night, so awesome.
====== RUNNING EVENTS RANKING ======
This is it, the running events as ranked from worst to best. I joined 11 running events this year and this is how I rate them based on the experience and how the organizers handled their events.
11. Altra Speed 50 Ultramarathon Tagaytay
I joined this event because I really wanted to complete my objective of finishing my first ultramarathon this year and as the substitute for not being able to join the 50k category of Valley Trail Challenge. It was the ideal run for me because of the race route in Tagaytay, and the trophy and medal looks good. But, the event itself is below average because of the organizer’s shortcomings. The failure of the organizer to arrive early (before the participants) and prepare the event on time is their biggest mistake. The messy bib number (and the lack of it) distribution, the scarce supplies of the Palace in the Sky aid station, the absence of marshals and lighting/guide on the pitch dark part of the route going to Nasugbu, and the lack of trophies and finisher shirts for those who crossed the finish line at a later time (but still made it to the cutoff) all adds up to this disappointing event.
10. Manila Great Run Duo Road Race Challenge
The concept of Manila Great Run Duo Road Race is unique. It is a 15k run, but your first run is a 10-kilometer race. After finishing the 10k, there’s a 1-hour break before you start the 2nd round, the 5k run. Sounds simple, right? but it confused a lot of the participants resulting to an organized event with messy results. Some of the 5k runners started to run with the 15k runners because they were not reminded of their respective gunstart. A lot of the participants thought that they only signed up for a 10k run, unaware of the 5k run on the 2nd round. Some runners didn’t want to run the 5k run (because it was already hot at 7 am), so they just claimed their medal even without participating in the 2nd round (think about it, you got a medal for running just half of the race). Despite the mistakes of both organizer and participants, the event is at least well-organized with a lot of freebies and nice activities.
09. Eggciting Family Adventure Fun Run
I was very interested about joining this event, but I was a bit low on resources (funding again) at the time (after joining Valley Trail Challenge and registering for Philippine Marine Corp Marathon 2). Luckily, I got a free race kit from the organizer for attending their media and bloggers conference and blogging their event. This is one of the most fun, family-oriented event I joined with lots of activities for the kids and giveaways for everyone. And the concept of searching for easter eggs along the race route for a prize is a nice addition to the fun of just running.
08. 40th Milo Marathon
Running the Milo Marathon is a must for most serious and seasoned runners. It is the longest running (pun intended) marathon event in the country. The best runners of the country run the Milo Marathon every year. It is a very special event and I want to be a part of it. Though my performance was quite disappointing compared to my first marathon, I enjoyed the experience of finally running in the biggest marathon event of the country.
07. Financial Fitness Run 2016
I was able to join this event because to of my office mates finally decided to join and the registration fee is reasonable. I like the plaque for 21k finishers and the finisher shirt looks festive and good enough to be included in my best list this year. And another bonus is finally running on Bonifacio Global City grounds for the first time (because BGC is one of the most popular running event venues, so finally).
06. Batman v Superman Run
I only joined this run because of the singlet and medal. Little did I know that there’s so much more in store. It was fun to see cosplayers and runners wearing symbols of their favorite DC superheroes. This run is also memorable for my super delayed start (more than 20 minutes had passed when I started running) because I got caught in traffic and cramped like a sardine in a bus full of passengers at 5 am on a Saturday morning (first time experience).
05. Condura Skyway Marathon 2016
Last year’s Condura Skyway Marathon is so much better (except for the tech shirt and finisher shirt), they have better presentation, more photographers, more runners (even creating a record for the highest number of participants in 42k category), and better medal. But, I joined this for the experience of running a marathon for the first time. It was the culmination of everything since the day I started running, when I become serious about it, and when I finally decided that it’s time. I planned it for a year and it finally happened, I’m a marathoner now. It feels so good to finally reach this level, to finally run the benchmark distance for runners, and to finally say that I have done it rather than just thinking about doing it or just ponder if I could have done it.
04. 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon
This run I never saw coming, it’s a big surprise. Because of my race report of the 7-Eleven Runs, I got an invitation to join Team 7-Eleven Philippines as the blogger (and photographer). The winners of the 7-Eleven Run will compete at the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon and I was also given the opportunity to run the 10.5k category to experience the event as a runner. This is my first international run and I really liked it. It was a sunset run, but the weather at the time was very hot (kinda like summer in the Philippines). I like the race route is scenic and the event is so good there’s a lot of foreign runners (even pinoys) joining this race every year. The event is better organized than some of our local events, there’s even a buffet at the activity area. It’s a good thing my first international run was fun, because it’s memorable in a good way (compared to the other events I joined this year).
03. 7-Eleven Run 2016
Anyone who read my previous 7-Eleven race report/review already knows why the 7-Eleven Run series is one of the best in the country. The freebies alone speak for itself. But, it is worth noting the uniqueness of the race, it’s the only race where you can hydrate with the best brands of drinks in the market. Tired of drinking just Gatorade or water? don’t worry, there’s also Pocari Sweat, Powerade, Summit, and along the way. And after the race, why not help yourself with the overload of freebies at the activity area, supplements, food, hygiene products, just go and grab stuff. There’s even free unlimited ice cream at the Selecta booth, so I didn’t bother going to the nearest fast food restaurant to eat. That’s how good 7-Eleven Run, it’s very rewarding to get so much stuff after a run and with all the freebies, it feels like you just got your registration money back. Let’s see if 7-Eleven can even do better this year, they don’t have to improve because their event it already great, but it would be awesome if they have some surprises under wraps.
02. Valley Trail Challenge 6
Trail Running is my favorite genre of running, so it’s a no-brainer that Valley Trail Challenge will always place high on my list. The original plan was to join this event as my first ultramarathon by running the 50k category. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints, I had do pick the 25k category. It was the same route as last year but more than 4 kilometers shorter and with some difference on parts of the trail because of the current landscaping in Nuvali. What made it feel different from last year is that this time it rained hard and that added challenge as the trail became muddy and slippery. I enjoyed the experience of running the trail while raining, it’s challenging and refreshing. This year, I’ll try to join the 50k category and to finally explore the whole Nuvali trail.
01. Philippine Marine Corp. Marathon 2
I wanted to join the inaugural Philippine Marine Corp Marathon last year becuase of the interesting venue. But, I don’t wanna join it alone because it’s too far away from home. This year, I finally convinced 2 office mates to join, and it’s finally a reality. Unfortunately, one of us wasn’t able to join because of some circumstance we don’t know and it was only Alvin and I who pushed through (feels like the first time I joined a half-marathon, Alvin is my first running buddy and it’s the two of us again). The race starts and ends at the Marine Base in Ternate, Cavite and the race route is around the part of Mounts Palay-Palay–Mataas-na-Gulod Protected Landscape. And the event did not disappoint, I love the race route, it’s the best running grounds for me this year. Sure, there’s like kilometers of uphills, but the beautiful scenery made the run enjoyable even if we just walk or jog slowly. We passed by the famous Kaybiang Tunnel, saw the wildlife (snakes, monkeys, hogs roaming free) and scenic side of Ternate, and it feels good to visit Boracay De Cavite again and finally take a dip at the beach. We only joined the 25k category, the full marathon is probably even more awesome and joining that category is already on my mind. Let’s wait and see if I can finally join again this year.
The year 2016 has been a great year for me. So many surprises and got a lot of free stuff. I also had my first time for a lot of things. I ran my first marathon, first time to run on BGC, my first out-of-country trip, my first international run, first time to run in Ternate, first time to set foot in Cebu, and ran my first ultramarathon. Also had a few non-running, blogging activities that I enjoyed a lot. As for my view of the running scene, I feel like there has been a drop in participation compared to last year. Some running series that had 3 or more seasons like Energizer Night Run, Salomon City Trail, Rexona Run, Men’s Health Urbanathlon, Greenfield City Run, and Outbreak Manila did not have an event this year. For this year, I look forward to new running events, the first in a series like the highly anticipated arrival of the Spartan Race series in the Philippines as well as continue joining the events that I love as my yearly tradition. I will also try to renew my interest in photography, my first serious hobby, and join other activities that is related to the things interest me and like to do.