In the early days, runners use the stopwatch feature of their watches to check their Finish Time and it is assumed that the distance of the race route is accurately measured by the event organizers. Today’s generation of runners rely on the GPS functionality of smartphones and watches making it an essential feature. But, how accurate are the GPS of these devices? are they reliable?
I am not an electronics expert or engineer, I don’t know how GPS works technically, so don’t expect me to explain everything with scientific detail. I’m just a runner who relies on my GPS watch and smartphone app to record my performance and this observation and analysis is based on my experience in using them during training runs and running events. I use a Soleus GPS One watch and Samsung S7 Edge for tracking my runs.
Which is more accurate, a GPS watch or a smartphone app?
– Starting both devices and standing still, my S7 Edge using Nike Run Club app connects faster to GPS satellites than my GPS One. It usually takes less than a minute for the S7 to get a good signal, whilst the GPS One can take as long as 1-3 minutes to find a signal. The GPS One may also receive an unstable connection and deliver very unbelievable results like a running speed of 40-70 kilometers per hour which is impossible considering that Usain Bolt can run at a top speed of 44 km/h. The GPS One also has a tendency to lose signal in places where only a few tall buildings surround the area. There are times that the GPS One can yield better results than the smartphone like the time I ran the 2nd Philippine Marine Corp Marathon. When I entered the famous Kaybiang Tunnel, both devices lost connection, but the watch re-connected faster and delivered a more accurate distance. It should be noted that I was using a mid-range smartphone at the time, an Alcatel Flash 2, and not the S7 Edge that I’m using now. I mentioned this because high-end smartphones and GPS watches with superior hardware may be able to deliver more accurate results than entry-level like the GPS One and mid-range devices.
UPDATE (07-23-2017): I accidentally activated the mobile data of my S7 Edge instead of the GPS. Nike Run Club app relied on internet connection and due to the weak signal and speed, it resulted to a big miscalculation, counting 600-800 meters as 1 kilometer.
– Distance discrepancy between the two devices is not unusual. Sometimes it can be as short as 100 meters to as long as 2 kilometers with the GPS watch very likely to be inaccurate. One example of this was during Run United Exceed half-marathon last April, GPS One recorded the total distance of 23.45 kilometers, whilst the S7 showed 22.5 kilometers. The race route in Bonifacio Global City is surrounded by tall buildings and locking on to the satellites takes time, but I was able to get a signal for both devices before the gunstart. But, I’m very sure that the GPS One was inaccurate because it showed me that I passed the first kilometer in 4+ minutes whilst the smartphone app told me that I ran it at 5 minutes and 45 seconds. I’ve also seen social media posts from runners and most of them also covered 22+ kilometers. Others got results of less than 21 kilometers, but it’s very likely that they started their devices while it was still trying to get a signal and only got one after several kilometers (i.e. 18 kilometers of total distance was likely the result the device receiving a signal after 3 kilometers of running). During my usual Wednesday and Friday morning runs, it’s often that I get distance discrepancies and most of the time, the GPS One delivered inaccuracy.
GPS devices or just trust the Organizer’s Race Route?
I did an experiment to compare if the distance displayed on a car’s odometer will yield the same or close results with the GPS devices. I did a quick google search and found out that GPS is much more accurate than car speedometers when it comes to measuring speed because it is affected by tire size and condition. But, I’m measuring the distance and disregarded speed, so we focus on the odometer. Stopping the car at 1, 3, and 5 kilometers, the distance difference is somewhere between 30 to 200+ meters.
This experiment should be taken with a grain of salt since gps reading is affected by the position and availability of the satellites (take note that the experiment took place on a road devoid of tall buildings). It’s likely that distance discrepancy will increase if I travelled farther.
The verdict: Accurate or Fu*k-urate?
– So, are GPS devices like smartphones and GPS watches accurate when it comes to measuring distance and pace? the answer is yes… but, only if you get a good and stable signal. The advance technology in these devices assures you accuracy, but not always. There will be times that you will get unstable signal and even lose the signal especially in places surrounded by tall building or trees and that guarantees fu*ked up results. The reason why I use both a GPS watch and smartphone app is for cases when one fails, the other won’t (hopefully). A small distance discrepancy (like 100-300 meters) between both devices is acceptable, 500 meters or more is where you start to question accuracy and pick the one with less distance. In my usual training routes, I can tell which one is giving me the likely accurate distance because of the numerous times I ran on that place. Even if that devices failed to connect with the satellites, I remember where the kilometer points are.
The Run United series (also known as Run United Runrio Trilogy) is one of the most popular running events in the country. It is an epitome of competitive race series that urges runners to move up to the next level by running a half-marathon (21k) in the 1st leg, the Afroman distance (32k) in the 2nd leg, and finally culminating in the 3rd leg, the Marathon distance (42k). Medals are only given to those who run the trilogy distance and the medals interconnect with each other to form one big medal with unique and appealing designs. For most runners, joining and completing the Run United trilogy is like graduating a runners’ university. It is validation and achievement, proving that you have gone from someone who joins a fun run to a competitive runner who pushed all the way to the limit and even exceeded it a little (living up to their slogan, “Exceed Yourself”). I have never joined a Run United event. I always wanted to complete the trilogy, but the recurring issue with the 1st leg always sold out in just a few days has prevented me to join it.
This year Run United and Runrio Trilogy has split into two different running events. The former became Run United Exceed, a half-marathon race (sponsored by Tag Heuer) with an exclusive medal earned only by finishing the race under 2.5 hours. The latter is still the old trilogy (now sponsored by Adidas and Gatorade) scheduled on June, August, and October this year. With a bit of hesitation (due to the steep registration price of 1,350php for early bird and 1,550php for late registratrants) I decided to join Run United Exceed for several reasons. First is the medal, it looks very good, I want it for my collection. Another reason is that it has been quite a while since the last time I ran a half-marathon race, and I really wanna go for a new PR. And according to the Active Health site, they are “aspiring to bring a race experience comparable to a world marathon major in a half marathon distance.” So, did the event live up to the hype? was the registration price justified? Read on to find out.
For this race, I was able to convince Ryan, a college mate and a runner who entered the running scene earlier than I did. He was also hesitant to join because of the 2.5-hour cutoff time for the medal, but I encouraged him to try and trained with him. The event location is in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and since I’m going for public transportation on this one, I left home early and asked Ryan if I could hang out in their loft in Mandaluyong to kill time. I was able to take almost an hour of sleep before we left Mandaluyong and took an Uber ride with another runner to BGC. I’m very excited to run, so excited that I feel like I have to poop, but I can hold it as long as I fart discreetly (which I did several times… apologies for that).
GPS devices like my GPS watch and Nike+ Run Club app on my smartphone are having a hard time connecting to satellites because of the surrounding buildings. I was able to connect before the start of the run, but the signal is unstable. The race started on time at 5 am and with wave 2 to be released 5 minutes later.
I ran the first kilometer at a relaxed pace around 5-6 minutes per kilometer (my GPS watch shows a sub-5 minute pace, confirming unstable connection) and finishing the first 5 kilometers at a sub-30 minute time. The weather seemed fine, it wasn’t too hot, but I was sweating profusely. Noticing the kilometer markers along the race route, the discrepancy from my tracking devices is varying between 200-800 meters.
There are a lot of turns and it’s a dizzying experience, but I’m still doing fine going to the 10.5 kilometer mark (crossing the 10k mark at a sub-1 hour pace based on my tracking apps). It was around the 12 kilometer mark that I start slowing down, knowing that I’m running the same loop again. I really don’t like dual loop race route because it’s repetitive and uninspiring, it affects me mentally. This is the reason why my 2015 PinoyFitness 21k Challenge performance was poor compared to my other half-marathon runs. Had I known that this race is a dual loop route before I registered, I probably would have 2nd thoughts or likely joined other events. So, I just pushed through the 2nd half, trying to do my best.
Other than unleashing flatulence several times randomly (still the effect of not taking a dump earlier before the race. Just thankful for the absence of foul smell and the footsteps minimizing the fart noise) like a misfiring system of a turbo-charged engine, passing by the park where a zumba session was happening at the time and seeing the same buildings over and over again, nothing much happened from kilometer 15 onward. I’m just getting slower, exhausted, and I saw, heard, or felt nothing that can boost my performance. I saw Coach Rio along the race route in the last few kilometers and got a high five (also got one from a lady marshal) for a small boost.
Then something interesting happened, a runner passed by at a very fast pace, but he was running in an unusual way, like speed wobbling. I thought he was running that way because he has some sort of disability and another runner thought he was trying to be funny. He was very fast and out of sight after a few seconds, then he passed out. I saw him off the race route, on the other side of the street, already on the ground. I thought he collapsed there to avoid hitting other runners or maybe he didn’t have a sense of direction anymore because he was about to lose consciousness. I also thought he got hit by a Toyota Innova because I saw the vehicle coming out of the turn. It was likely a case of ‘hitting the wall,’ and luckily, there are marshals nearby who saw the runner and took action quickly. Never knew what happened to the guy or why he ran that fast (it was likely that he could’ve finish the race under the cutoff time by running at a steady pace), I hope he’s okay.
Looking at my GPS watch, I should’ve crossed 21k at a 1 hour and 58 minutes, but the kilometer markers indicate that I still have more than 2 kilometers left. Nike+ Run Club app on my smartphone has a 600-800 meter difference compared to my GPS watch and 21k should’ve ended in 2 hours and 3 minutes. There was still a kilometer or more and with no motivation to exceed myself, I walked a lot in that last kilometer.
When I finally crossed the finish line, I stopped my GPS watch as soon as my foot hit the line and it recorded 23.45 kilometers at 02:13:35. Nike+ app was stopped almost a minute later, yielding 22.57 kilometers at 02:14:02. In the end, none of my tracking devices mattered, regardless of the distance accuracy of the race route, my official time is 02:13:26 seconds.
Though it wasn’t a bad time and it is my current BGC record, I was disappointed for not exceeding myself. I tried to make a new half-marathon PR, I thought I can, and I trained and prepared for it. But, I just didn’t have the motivation and inspiration to do it. In the end, it is what it is, I didn’t fail to get a medal, and I’ll just take this as an experience and to challenge myself to do better next time.
As for the event itself, did it deliver the “race experience comparable to a world marathon major in a half marathon distance” as advertised? Well, IMHO, if a world marathon major is simple and doesn’t have enough pop or flair to make it special, maybe it did. But, I don’t know which or what marathon major can be compared to this event. My only international running event experience was last year’s Laguna Phuket International Marathon and in comparison, LPIM is more fun and with better presentation. To elaborate, LPIM announcers give updates on who’s leading the race (they even talked to our cheering team to ask about our runner who was leading the 21k race) and announce the runners name or number and country of origin as they approach or cross the finish line. The event also have a buffet for the runners who need to eat and rest. And you can hear music playing near the finish line to make the area feel more lively and energetic for the runners. Run United Exceed is an average event to me, there are cheering stations to help boost the runners, but it looks inferior to the cheering squad in the Gatorade Run series (which is also handled by Runrio Inc). The activity area is also a bit dull compared to other events, but it’s the event location at fault here. I’m also not a fan of looping race routes, I avoid it. It would’ve been better if the event had the same route as Financial Fitness Run which added the Kalayaan Flyover, some part of Makati, and Bayani Road to avoid a dual loop race route. It was an on okay run, just glad to run another half-marathon and I love medal design, it’s the best-looking one I’ve got this year.
– According to the official results, there are 2,937 finishers (MyRuntime results show 2,932). If we go by the cutoff time (including 02:35 for wave 2), the results show 2,072 runners got a medal. You can view the results in PDF format here RUE results PDF or at MyRunTime.
– It’s understandable that GPS devices are inaccurate in an area with tall buildings. Some GPS watches even showed less than 21 kilometers because their devices only got a signal after several kilometers. But, the majority of GPS tracking results from runners based on what I’ve seen while browsing instagram and facebook had it at 22+ kilometers. My Nike+ Run Club showed 22.5 kilometers.
– I saw a woman driving a Suzuki Swift who was stopped in one of the intersections of BGC because the runners are passing through. She seemed irritated as if she was going to be late in the office or something. I saw her passed through once the road was cleared. And then I saw here again in another part of the route, arguing with one of the marshals. Seemed like she made a turn on a closed road, had enough, and started shouting at the marshals. So, who’s right and wrong in this scenario. IMO, she should be aware of the event especially if she works in the BGC area, preparation and awareness of the closed and open road is important. Runners and marshals should be respected, part of the payment for the event covers the use of some parts of the road in the area for the runners safety. I don’t know the lady’s side of the story, but motorists should always keep calm and understand the situation, the world does not revolve to one person and don’t blame others for things that you’re not prepared for or aware of. I mean, if I’m late to the office, I don’t blame the bus or van driver or the unexpected traffic, I blame myself for my failure to anticipate and some things just happen that are beyond our control and we just have to accept it rather than be angry and lash out on someone or something.
Running events these days can be classified into two categories, a fun run and a competitive race. For those who just want a good and fun time with friends without the need to worry about being athletic or fast, a fun run is the most popular choice. For fast and elite runners who want to test themselves and compete for prizes, competitive races is the serious choice. A lot of organizers made a good effort to combine both, a running event that can be fun and competitive at the same time. But, none has reached the level of achievement that 7-Eleven Philippines and their partners has done. By creating a race that can still be fun even after you crossed the finish line and entered the activity area. It is the absolute definition of a ‘fun’ run for everyone.
Before I share my opinion about this year’s 7-Eleven Run, I wanna tell the competitive side of the event, the experience of running my 3rd marathon. This is the third time I joined the 7-Eleven Run series and for the first time, I joined the 42k category (I ran the half-marathon categories of the previous events, Run 1500 and Run 2016) to celebrate my first anniversary of running a marathon. My first marathon experience was joining last year’s Condura Skyway Marathon and since CSM is not available this year, 7-Eleven Run got their traditional first weekend of February date. And I’m very thankful for their presence so I can run a marathon handled by a different organizer for a different and better experience (because to be honest, last year’s Condura Marathon was just average at best).
Hours before the event, I was very excited. I have 3 objectives that day, make a new PR, break the Sub-5 hour PR, and come close to Anne Curtis’ New York Marathon PR (which has been an inspiration and motivation for this PR quest). I tried to sleep, but I can’t because my mind kept thinking about the race, what I’ll do, and what could happen. My only focus was the run and I’m so focused that I made a mistake of entering the RFID lane of the toll booth in Filinvest City. The guard/enforcer was about to give me a ticket, but he probably sensed that I’m in a hurry and just let me off with a warning.
I arrived at the event site before 10 pm and had some spare time to walk around and check out the sights and sounds of the activity area.
The race started on time at 11 pm with the Elite Wave leading the pack. There was no warm-up and most runners are ready to rip the road anyway. I’m on Wave B and set for release 5 minutes later. As planned, I initiated the run at a manageable pace, not too fast and not too slow whilst setting up the the music player of my smartphone.
I ran the first 5 kilometers in 29 minutes. It wasn’t slow enough as planned because I was trying to imitate Anne Curtis’ pace at the NYC Marathon which should be 33 minutes, 52 seconds for the first 5k. I probably got carried away and tried to slow down a bit more to conserve my stamina and as a result, I reached the 10k mark in an hour. I didn’t hit Sub-1 for the 10k and that means I’m on the right pace as planned, but still not slow enough to match Anne’s 1 hour, 6 minutes. I slowed down at kilometer 12 to walk a bit more and re-hydrate. At kilometer 13 to 20, I kept the pace within 6-7 minutes per kilometer which is still not slow enough and could affect my running efficiency in the 2nd half of the race. But, I feel fine, I can even run the uphill segments of the Skyway continuously, and just kept going. And that is why I had the opportunity to break my 21k (half-marathon) record. Looking at my GPS watch, there was a possibility to cross 21 kilometers at 2 hours, 10 minutes or lower to break my 2 hour, 13 minutes 21k PR (from 7-Eleven Run 1500) if I speed up. But, I hesitated because I know that I have to be patient and follow the game plan if I want to be successful in breaking the Sub-5 barrier. I decided to keep moving at a manageable pace and enjoy running with the beat of my music player (which helped a lot by distracting me from exhaustion). It’s worth noting that in this year’s race route, the uphill road going to NAIA Terminal 3 was not used because it was under renovation, so the U-turn going back to Makati was extended. Some time between kilometer 25-28, my body started heating up. A bit dizzy and starting to feel like I’m about to have a headache and fever, I slowed down and walked, using the time to eat, re-hydrate, and let my body cool down. Then speed up a bit at kilometer 29, taking advantage of downhills, only to slow down again at kilometer 30 because of exhaustion and the stress of running uphill. From kilometer 30 to 36, my pace dropped to 7-8 minutes per kilometer, with the slowest time close to 9 minutes per kilometer. My body finally started to break down, I managed to avoid calf cramps and blisters, but I feel pain on my thighs, just above the knee when I run uphill and slow down to walk. This prevented me from regaining momentum and the pace I ran earlier, so I had to walk and re-hydrate a lot (though I wasted a lot of Pocari Sweat because I had to take a sip only and not a whole cup to avoid the heavy, bloated feeling). Seeing the ‘Last 2 Kilometers’ sign, I had a renewed vigor (especially after taking a leak for the third time and drinking a cup of cool Del Monte Pineapple juice) and gave little bit of push to cover the distance faster. But, I was so exhausted that the thigh pain comes back and I can only do short bursts. The last 2 kilometers doesn’t feel that short at all, I feel dizzy again, feeling weak, and had to walk.
With less than 800 meters left, I managed to run 300 meters down the Skyway, but slowed down to walk again because the pain on my legs and foot are preventing me to keep up the pace. I want to assure myself that I can cross the finish line safely and knowing that I will accomplish the objectives, I accepted the slow ascend to victory.
With the Finish Line seen just a hundred meters away, I shifted to a slow jogging speed for one final charge to glory. The timer for the 42k doesn’t seem to be displaying properly, I can’t see the time, so I just kept going until my foot hits the finish line. I hit the stop button on my GPS watch and see that my unofficial time is 04 hours, 50 minutes, 46 seconds (42.34 kilometers). And that’s it, not only were the 3 objectives met, the 3rd objective of coming close to Anne Curtis’ PR (4 hours, 56 minutes, 58 seconds) was even better, I actually bested it.
Running a marathon is hard, it’s not fun, it’s painful. But, completing your objectives made it a painful good feeling, crossing the finish line is like having fun with pain without being a masochist. And that is why I have a paradoxical love with running a marathon.
I returned to the activity area (walking another 100+ meters) where a Pocari Sweat booth greeted the finishers with their first taste of re-hydration. I went to the claiming booth to get my medal, finisher shirt, and loot bag (which is heavy and full of nice freebies). I decided to go to the car to rest, relax, and savor the moment. My whole body is in pain, I was having thoughts of just going home and forget about grabbing free stuff at the activity area. But, it won’t be a complete experience if I skipped the ‘grocery run’ part of the 7-Eleven Run series. After 30+ minutes of rest, I got up and prepared myself for the next fun part of the event. Then I realized I made one big mistake, I forgot to bring a grocery bag or any container to use for the free stuff. I went back to the activity area hoping that I can find something I can use to store my groceries. Luckily, the ATC Healthcare Corp. still have enough carton bags and I was able to get one. Roaming around the area, I saw what other people use for their loot, some would use empty stock boxes laying around the booths, others use a garbage bag, and I even saw a baby stroller used as a shopping cart. It’s how people become creative in times of ‘free stuff’ needs.
It was another great event from 7-Eleven Philippines, it’s bigger and better than last year. It’s also the most competitive event as seen in the marathon and half-marathon results, there are new winners with faster finishing times. I think this is the result of some elite runners, regular participants of Condura Marathon, joining the event (the total number of participation in the 42k category doubled).
I once asked my office mates why they don’t join running events and they all have the same reason and that is because they would have to pay just to get tired. I can explain in a lengthy conversation why they should even if they have to pay. But now, all I have to say is two words, “7-Eleven Run.” The 7-Eleven Run series brings both the fun factor and competitiveness of a running event in the highest level. No other run series has come close to what they have achieved. The spirit of competition is felt during the race where runners can do their best to go for the cash prize and the chance to race in an international event (fully sponsored by 7-Eleven Philippines). And even if you don’t win the race, you will still be rewarded in the form of grabbing all the stuff you can at the activity area. Not only do you get more than your money’s worth, you will feel great after knowing that you did your best in the race for a PR and got something extra for your efforts. Whoever said that you can’t have the best of both worlds (fun and competition) in a running event probably never joined a 7-Eleven Run.
In preparation for the event, my training consists of 3 to 4 minute planks (which includes different variations), burpees, push-ups, 24-27 minutes 5k speed runs once a week (Wednesday or Friday morning), a slow 5-7 kilometer run once a week (Wednesday or Friday), and a long run on Sunday mornings. I also joined training run sessions by AHC Mentor Carly (who joined the 16k category of 7-Eleven Run) and participated in a flip the bottle challenge game at the office with punishments for the loser include clap push-ups, 300 jumping jacks, and push-up burpees. For a tune-up run, I joined Resolution Run 2017‘s 34k category.
In a strange easter egg-like setting, there are tables along the race route that have a bottle of Booster C (my favorite energy shot) in the middle. I thought it was an advertising gimmick that goes along with the product’s tag line “One Shot Energy” hence the single bottle on the table. No one was grabbing it, so I did while running (I actually dropped it instead of a perfect grab) and found it empty. It was one of my ‘sucker’ moments in recent times.
Like last year, Bacchus is not the sponsor of the 42k category (had to mention this because the cold Bacchus drink gave me a boost in Run 1500). The honor of the 42k sponsorship still goes to Summit Drinking Water. Also absent this year is Gatorade, last year’s 16k sponsor. This is probably because they have their own running series now and probably don’t like the presence of competitor Powerade (it’s like having DC comics and Marvel Comics in one event). Dole took over the 16k sponsorship this year.
The race route was measured and certified by Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA). No wonder both my GPS watch and Nike Run Club app measured it at 42 kilometers with only little discrepancy.
While going home, I was still having a hang over from the success of making a new PR and the fun of grabbing free stuff, I accidentally entered the wrong lane and ended up taking the Manila bound road. I took a U-turn at the Sucat Exit. So, like drinking and driving, extended runner’s high will mess with your focus on the road.
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.
Like most seasoned runners, I usually prefer joining half-marathons, marathons, and already planning to join ultramarathons. But, I still join fun runs for the sake of just going for a laid back run and having fun. When the Eggciting Adventure Family Fun Run was announced, 2 things got me interested. First, is the easter egg hunting theme and second, it is organized by Guerilla Race Inc, an organizer best known for obstacle runs. I kept track of the event until the full details was announced. An offer to spread the event’s advocacy through social media for a free race kit and an invitation to attend the media and blogger’s day made its way to my inbox, and I decided to go and see what this event has to offer. You can read more about that and lots of egg facts in my previous blog here: The Eggciting Fun Run Media and Bloggers Day
So, let’s move to the event. The run was originally scheduled on 26th October, but a typhoon hit Manila and it was rescheduled to 6th November. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling good at the time, lacking sleep and on the verge of developing cough and possibly tonsillitis, I was even a bit slow getting off the bed to prepare myself and leave the house. In short, I’m not really that “egg”cited, but I still push through because I have a feeling that the “egg”citement will come at the event.
I arrived at SM Mall of Asia a few minutes before 5 am because the 5k gun start was suppose to be at 5:15 am (and the 10k at 5 am). To my surprise, the 10k runners are not even on the starting line yet and I knew that Filipino time was observed. To kill time, I just wander around the activity area and relax a bit.
After some warm-up activities, the 10k race started at 5:50 am. It’s very likely that most of the “mamaw” runners are at the New Balance Power Run event at Bonifacio Global City, so it’s the near-mamaw level runners’ time to shine.
Our gunstart was at 6am. I plan to just run my usual pace of 5:30 – 6 minutes per kilometer. But, for some reason I ran a bit faster than my usual even with my tongue and throat feeling dry during the first kilometer. Maybe, because I was speeding up for the first water station because my mouth feels very dry, not thirsty, just feeling dry.
When I finally reached the first water station, I slowed down, grabbed a cup, and rinse my mouth. Sped up again and at the 3rd U-turn in the 3rd kilometer, I found the easter eggs. They’re on the side of the road, very visible, just look for dried up grass that looks like a nest. I passed by the nest, I think 5-6 meters away, but reacting quickly, I turned around and grabbed one. Another nest is just a few hundred meters away and I got another egg. The easter egg hunt objective is to find 3 eggs for the 10k, 2 eggs for 5k, 1 egg for 3k and take it to the finish line without breaking them. If you do that, you win a prize. Mission accomplished for me, I just have to take it to the finish line.
I crossed the finish line at 00:24:49 (chip time is 00:24:41) without breaking the eggs and even made rank number 10 out of 242 runners (because most of the mamaw runners were running in BGC at the time). Amazingly, I don’t feel as bad as before the race started, I actually felt great. I think I finally felt the “egg”citement when I was running and making sure I finish without breaking the eggs.
Went back to the activity area and this is where the event truly an “eggs”travaganza. There are a lot of sponsor freebies and the easter egg area is pure fun for the kids.
I had a fun and relaxing time at The Eggciting Adventure Family Fun Run. It’s really nice to run and just have a good time, not worrying about the effort, distance, speed, just move your legs and enjoy. Guerilla Race Inc. did an “egg”cellent job in creating a fun and family-oriented event. Everyone had a fun time and I hope to see more of this kind of events especially in the south area like Filinvest City, Greenfield City, and Nuvali, so I can bring the whole family too.
EPILOGUE: My cough did develop the next day. I had sore throat and mild head aches. Decided to take a sick leave to rest and recover.
It’s August, the rainy season. This month should be my hiatus in the running scene, but, I made an exception because one of my favorite running event, Valley Trail Challenge, was set on August 20. As part of my preparation and because it’s free (oh yeah! who doesn’t want a free fun run), I joined the 3rd leg of Salomon Philippines’ Run the City.
I went to Salomon Glorietta on the same day I registered for Valley Trail Challenge. The slots were already taken, but the nice store personnel put me on the reserve list, in case someone backs out. I didn’t expect to be included in the event, so, I e-mailed Salomon and offered a proposal for a product testing and review of their Salomon trail shoes for the benefit of the consumers and for me to try Salomon shoes in the trails of Nuvali. As of today, I never received a reply. But, luckily, the night before the event, I got a text message for confirmation of attendance.
Since I was working on that day (12th August, Friday; requested for a change shift of 12 am – 9 am), I decided to take my break before 5 am and do the run (I know that it’s impossible to avoid overbreak because the event starts at 6 am and I only have 1 1/2 hours of break time in total, so, it was a sacrifice I had to make). It was a cloudy weather and it rained when I arrived in Makati, but, it’s okay, I was expecting bad weather and prepared to get wet.
Distribution of the free event singlet (looks like the one from last year’s City Trail event) and the test shoes was quick after providing a valid I.D. and the run started before 6:30 am. (Note: Photos without watermark were taken by me, photos with watermark were grabbed from the Salomon Philippines facebook page.)
We were told that the distance is 6 kilometers around Makati avenue. When the run started, it was 6:27 am on my Nike+ Running app and Soleus GPS One watch. The first kilometer covered the Glorietta and Greenbelt area, and to get there means we have to run up and down the stairs of the pedestrian tunnels and bridges.
We were running at a smooth and easy pace of 7+ minutes per kilometer and had a quick break before kilometer 2 to wait for the others. Then the run continued towards RCBC Tower, the 3rd kilometer where we took another quick break.
Running towards kilometer 4 to 5 feels like deja vu… indeed… it’s part of the Milo Marathon route and I hated that part of the route. So, I didn’t think much of it and just keep on running. We entered the Ayala Triangle Gardens in the last kilometer or so and finally back to the parking lot where we started. According to Nike+ Running, we covered a total distance of 6.36 kilometers (at 43 minutes), while my GPS watch recorded 6.54 kilometers (at 42 minutes, 58 seconds). It was a nice run, a different experience from the usual fun run where the road is yours and you don’t have to run up and down stairs.
But, wait, there’s more! The fun did not stop there. There was also a raffle and you can win nice Salomon items. I got a lanyard, and the lucky ones got the Salomon Wayfarer sunglasses (same one from last year’s Salomon City Trail), Salomon water bottle, and the best one (I think), is the Salomon long sleeve, dri-fit shirt.
It was a great marketing strategy for Salomon Philippines. The consumers get to try their products, advertise the brand in the streets (or the city), and it was fun for everyone. By the time I finished this article, there’s one more Salomon Run the City event and it will be held on the 2nd of September at R.O.X. in Bonifacio High Street. So, if you want a good run, a free singlet, and a chance to win awesome Salomon stuff, then finish reading this article, get up and off that couch, stop hunting Pokemons for just a few hours (oh, wait, you’re going to BGC anyway, I heard there’s a lot of ’em there), and sign up.