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.
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.
In the past few years, 7-Eleven Philippines has created a stable of successful runners. In fact, the Milo Marathon Queen, Mary Joy Tabal, ran a half-marathon race for the team in Seoul and won. Since 2014, Team 7-Eleven Philippines’ runners has been winning races internationally and they’re winning it like it has become a yearly tradition.
In order to join the team, runners must first join the 7-Eleven Run series. The top 3 winners of the 21k and 42k categories will have the opportunity to run in Phuket. As for me, I was lucky enough that my 7-Eleven race report article in this blog was noticed and I was given the opportunity to join them as the blogger of the social media group. And aside from witnessing the race live, I was also given the chance to run the 10.5k category to experience the event. So, read on to know the full story, because it’s another good one to add to the record books.
INTRODUCING… TEAM 7-Eleven Philippines Batch 2016
This is the 2nd time 7-Eleven Philippines sent runners to Phuket (paradise revisited). This year’s batch consists of returning members, Mario Maglinao, Cristabel Martes, Eugine Postrado, Gregg Osorio, and Mark Anthony Oximar. And the new bloods, Richard Salaño, Argel Mendoza, Jho-ann Banayag, Lany Cardona, April Diaz, and Nhea Ann Barcena. It’s worth noting that Cristabel Martes was a former Milo Marathon Queen and the National Female Marathon record-holder, and Jho-ann Banayag was also a former Milo Marathon Queen and SEA Games Champion. How awesome is that? it’s like having living legends in your team line-up.
The runners were also joined by the 7-Eleven Philippines staff/support group/cheering squad, led by Project Head, Michelle Saludes and General Merchandise Division Head, Jose Ang jr. And the social media group, Jeff Lo of pinoyfitness.com, Paulo Fernandez and Kristian Encarnacion of Solar Sports, and blogger/runner, The Rogue Rebel, Gian Carlo Rodil.
RACE DAY 1 (June 4)
The first day of the event was for the 2km Kids Run, the 5km Run and Community Walk, and the 10.5k Run. Sir Jose, Sir Bernie, and Mam Joselle ran ran the 5k, and I ran 10.5k.
The event started at 5pm (6pm Manila time), it’s a sunset run, so it’s going to be a good run.
Over 1,400 participants in the 10.5 category and everyone was excited to run, positive vibes emanate the starting line as the timer initiating the run was counting down. The run started slow and the road was congested, it took some time for the faster runners to overtake and make some breathing room.
The only problem during the run was the weather, it’s hot and very similar to Manila temperature. Good thing that the event has proper hydration stations and ice-cold sponges are available for that much needed cool down. The race route is nice, some parts are scenic (I can even see the beach), and there are some long straight roads to make up for the loss momentum on the uphill segments of the route.
I finished the race at 01:04:12. It did cross my mind to do a Sub-1, but it was hot and I just decided to run a smooth pace, slow down to take some photos, and just enjoy the scenery. The event has an international appeal, the majority of the participants are foreigners, from countries like Singapore, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, and more. It was a fun race and I enjoyed it a lot, truly fits the ‘run paradise’ theme, and I highly recommend it for first time runners.
RACE DAY 2 (June 5)
The 2nd day is the main event, the Half-Marathon and the Full Marathon. This time around, I’m a spectator, part of the support team, and a photographer.
Mario Maglinao, Eugine Postrado, Argel Mendoza, Lany Cardona, and April Diaz are the runners for Marathon which started at 4:30 am.
Richard Salaño, Mark Anthony Oximar, Gregg Osorio, Cristabel Martes, Jho-an Banayag, and Nhea Ann Barcena will be running the Half-Marathon an hour later (Jeff Lo also ran the half-marathon just for fun).
THE HALF-MARATHON (21k)
Whilst the Marathon started on time, the Half-Marathon was delayed a little bit because the Princess of Thailand will be running and she probably got late due to traffic. Everyone in the event, the spectators, runners, and event the event photographers were politely asked to not take photos of the Princess. As a sign of respect, everyone seemed to have complied. When the Princess finally arrived, she was joined by a few runners (probably some friends or family), a personal photographer, as the police escort them towards the starting line. She was then surrounded by personal bodyguards who will be running alongside (it’s quite a sight to see a VIP surrounded by guards, think King Joffrey and his Kingsguard, but without the intimidating armor, the bad-assery of medieval weapons, and Sandor Clegane).
The race started with the Princess having a few minutes head start and the announcer said the the runners don’t have to worry about passing her during the race (and if that was King Joffrey, he’ll probably shoot a crossbow bolt on your rear end).
I had more than an hour to kill before the first runner crosses the finish line. So, I walked around the area nearby, just a quick stroll and sightseeing. I returned to the event site, near the finish line as the spectators await the first runner to arrive. Then came the announcement as the first runner from the half-marathon is only a few kilometers away from victory. The American announcer is enticing the crowd, creating suspense. And when the announcer finally said the leading runner is from the Philippines, followed by the word ‘maybe,’ (to stir up excitement and suspense) the 7-Eleven Philippines support/cheering squad erupted with joy, they started clapping and cheering louder, especially when the name Salaño was mentioned (even before the runner was on sight). I can hear and feel their excitement, they’re ecstatic. I’m excited too, knowing that one of us is just a few strides away from winning. Then I can hear their cheers getting louder and louder. They can see Salaño approaching, I can’t because the start/finish line arch is blocking my view. The best I can do is wait and capture his moment as he crosses the finish line. So, I’ll let my photos below tell you what I saw…
See that? it’s the moment! the stuff of legends, the result of hard work and dedication. Richard Salaño, the first runner to cross the finish line with an official time of 01:15:18. He is Laguna Phuket Internation Marathon 2016’s Half-Marathon Overall Champion.
After taking the photo above, I greeted and congratulated Richard. I also asked him if that amazing 1:15:18 time is a new PR. He said, no, his current PR is 1:10. How amazing is that? want to be more impressed? he actually beat 3 Kenyans at 7-Eleven Run 2016 to get here.
And the winning doesn’t stop there. Team members Gregg Osorio and Mark Anthony Oximar were right behind him, securing 3rd and 4th place respectively.
Moving to the Female category, the first woman to finish the half-marathon was Vivian Tang from Singapore who crossed the finish line at 1:27:11. The defending champion, our very own Cristabel Martes finished at 2nd place with an official time of 1:28:13.
Just a minute behind her is another team member, Jho-An Banayag taking 3rd place.
Triathlete and last year’s Run United 32k Champion, Nhea Ann Barcena, put up a noble effort and finished at 1:35:10, ranking 5th in the female category.
THE MARATHON (42k)
Moving to the Marathon Category, there is a new champion. Koji Nishizawa from Japan finished the race at 2:37:53. Congratulations to the new champion.
Our defending champion, ‘Super’ Mario Maglinao, fell to 3rd place overall with an official time of 2:49:54. He may not have won this time, but he put up a good fight and there’s always next year to look forward to.
Eugine Postrado and Argel Mendoza secured the 4th and 5th place, respectively. Mendoza finished the race at 3:08:50 and also ranked 1st in his age group, whilst Postrado finish at 2:55:36 and got 3rd place.
In the Female Marathon category, April Rose Diaz finished the race at 3:35:21. She ranked 23rd overall, 4th in the female category, and 2nd in her age group.
And finally, saving the best for last. This year’s Laguna Phuket International Marathon Female Champion, another newcomer to the team, Lany Cardona. This year’s Marathon Queen, Lany crossed the finish line at 3:23:00.
So, that it for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon. All of the runners bagged awards. Our runners dominated the Half-Marathon category including the overall championship. We also won the Marathon female category. It’s very similar to last year’s sweep, just in reverse (our 42k champion is now a female and the 21k champ is now male). And if the trend continues next year, it’s gonna be another successful run (pun intended) for Team 7-Eleven Philippines again. If that’s the case, the team might as well be synonymous to the words consistency and winning streak.
The support from 7-Eleven Philippines staff is amazing, it’s part of the runners’ success. They take care of you, they cheer loudly for you to boost your morale, and most importantly, they make sure you have fun and a good time. Want to be part of the Team 7-Eleven Philippines? all you have to do is join the 7-Eleven Run series (usually scheduled on the first month every year), do your best to make it to the top 3 of the 21k and 42k categories, and you’re in. Bringing out the best in you is what the team encourages. Work hard, dedicate yourself to your passion, and give it your all. The next international half-marathon or marathon champion could be you.
Thanks to Philippine Seven Corporation (7-Eleven Philippines) and their major sponsors, Safeguard, Selecta, Pocari Sweat, Del Monte, Nature Spring, Gatorade, Powerade, and Summit Water for the all-expense-paid trip and for supporting our runners and giving them the chance to shine in the international marathon scene. See you on the next 7-Eleven Run.
Since I started joining the running scene in late 2013, my passion has taken me to some of the most popular running grounds in the country like Nuvali, Filinvest City, SM Mall of Asia-CCP Complex, and Intramuros. Finally, for the first time, I was able to run in Bonifacio Global City, one of the most popular running event sites in the country.
Aside from the opportunity to run in BGC, I joined Financial Fitness Run 2016 because of the cheaper than usual registration price for a half-marathon race (850php vs the usual 1,000 php price), a plaque instead of the usual medal for finishing the 21k category, and the nicely designed singlet and finisher shirt. I was able to convince 2 officemates, Alvin and Cristian, to join me in this run as part of their preparation for running their first marathon (it has been quite a while since the last time I joined a run with buddies).
We arrived at BGC around 1 am and decided to eat and kill time at a nearby Family Mart. Around 3 am, we left and headed to the event site with the excitement to run in tow. But, midway from the site, Alvin found out the he left his smartphone at Family Mart. Fearing that other customers might have stumbled upon it and took it away, his heart was pounding faster than it is while running as we brisk walk back to the store, hoping that it was still on the table where he left it. Luckily, was still on the table and we all had a good laugh about it.
With some time to spare, we walked around and checked out the activity area as we wait for the gun start.
The race started late. Dunno why, probably the hosts were late because when they were talking on the stage, everyone was in the starting line waiting for the race to start. So, they transferred to a smaller stage beside the starting line, initiated the warm-up, and the race finally started at 4:45 am, 15 minutes late than the original 4:30am gunstart.
I started the first 2 kilometers slow, assessing my buddies to see if they can keep up. But, as I was starting to run my normal pace, they can barely hang. They finally gave me the signal to go ahead and run my pace.
I like the first 10 kilometers of the race route, although there are a lot of turns, there are some straight roads to gain momentum. We ascended to Kalayaan flyover going to Makati and I noticed a change of route from the original race map. The first U-turn was suppose to be in near RCBC Tower (as seen on the race map), but the U-turn was placed within Gil Puyat Ave closer to the flyover. The reason for this? there was another running event happening at the same time as ours. Runrio’s DZMM Run had a U-turn on the other side of the flyover and it was reasonable to make adjustments so that the two groups of runners from different running events won’t clash or get mixed up.
The 2nd part of the route was the part where things got a bit harder. It was hot and there were a lot of vehicles around, smoke and some slight slow down due to traffic management was expected (traffic was handled well by the marshals). Since the route was revised, the next U-turn was in front of Heritage Memorial Park. Finally had a taste of cool Pocari Sweat drinks which makes up for the exhausting heat (worth noting that I accidentally drank on two leftover Pocari drinks. It was only when I saw the Pocari cups were filled almost full and I drank on two partially full cups that I found on the water station and not the 100plus station. Had a good laugh about the realization and shame on those runners for not throwing their used cups on the trash bins. I’m just glad that healthy specimens drank on those cups because I’m still fine by the time of this writing). There was also a candy station and ample amounts of bananas and cold sponges available around the route.
Going back to BGC, the last 5 kilometers got even harder because of the heat (this is why I think 2 or 3 am is the ideal way to start a half-marathon during summertime), I struggled a lot and just forgot about my plan to make a new PR. I just did what I could and run at a decent pace.
I couldn’t make a mad dash or sprint the last kilometer. I feel so exhausted and I want to avoid cramps, so I just jogged my way to the finish line. A smooth and easy finish. Amazingly, I still managed to finish at 02:15:02 (02:14:28 chip time), which is better than my previous half-marathon finish at 7-Eleven Run 2016 (02:17:00). Surprisingly, I was close to beating my current 21k PR of 02:13:20 from last year’s 7-Eleven Run 1500. But, it’s okay if I didn’t make a new PR, the most important thing is that I had a good run and my first time running in BGC was a success.
Financial Fitness Run 2016 is good event, it was handled well by RG Events, an organizer that I’m not yet familiar of. I’ve heard some complaints, one coming from Alvin, that some of the hydration stations ran out of water and Pocari drinks. But, it’s a common complaint in running events because the fast runners consumes too much that the slower runners are left with scarce supplies, and this is why hydration belts are still a good investment (wink wink) for runners. Hopefully, for some, the sponsor freebies make up for it. With its advocacy of providing information and to educate the public about the right way of investing and the importance of being financially fit integrated in a fun run, the event is a success. Let’s see what they can do next year.
Despite last year’s 7-Eleven Run 1500 flaws, it was one of the best running events last year. I loved it so much that it’s a no-brainer for me to join the next 7-Eleven Run. So, here it is, 7-Eleven Run 2016! did it improve from last year’s event? Read on to find out.
First improvement, there were no more issues with the race kit distribution like last year. I got my race kit from the 7-Eleven branch where I registered (7-Eleven at Fast Bites in Northgate, Filinvest City) and I haven’t read or heard any more customer complaints that pushed the organizer’s customer service into the DEFCON 3 equivalent of customer response last year.
The race village is done properly, some booths like the Powerade booth were conducting fun games for participants and people who were there to kill time, and there was an inflated playground for those who brought kids.
I didn’t stroll much around the race village, I was excited (and nervous at the same time) to run. So, most of the time, I just rest at one place and walk around to warm up and that sped up the waiting time.
Like last year, the starting line was near Filinvest Tent going to Acacia Hotel, Toyota + Ford Alabang, and then finally that road to the Skyway. I did a good pace at the first half, almost similar to last year’s. The weather and temperature was excellent at the time, it’s cool and windy, it’s what I like best in running on the Skyway aside from the elevation.
After taking a leak in the portalet at the 21k U-Turn, I was smoothly sailing away in a good pace, feels like I could even set a new PR. Some time around the 13th kilometer, I was surprised to see 3 kids running side by side at a slightly faster pace than mine. Tip of the hat to the 3 kids, I rarely see kids run a half-marathon, let alone at a fast pace.
All seemed well for my run until the 15th-16th kilometer. As expected, the… cramps… are.. back!, here again to ruin my chance of a new PR. The pinching sensation was on my left calf. I tried to suppress it with an alternating walk-jog method, but it was only effective for a few hundreds of meters. My breathing was good, no problem there, just the cramps. I also ran with a different style to counter the cramp, by landing the left leg softly and letting the right leg carry the acceleration and harder impact, so it’s like running with the power being on one leg instead of both (kinda like a limping zombie but faster). It was kinda effective, helping me carry on with at least a 6-7 minute per kilometer pace. I was also tapping my right thigh every now and then to minimize thigh pain and the possibility of my old right knee injury manifesting itself. But, it didn’t take long for the right calf cramp to show up for the party. Yep, just as I feared, the cause of my pre-race nervousness, is back for a reunion.
So, I just had to make do with a jog and walk method, slow down every time I feel a pinch on my calves. There was one time that it got so bad, I flinched and lost my momentum. The runner just a few meters behind me noticed it and asked ‘okay ka lang?’ as he pass by. I gave him the thumbs up, though in reality, it was a sudden and very painful experience that required me to walk longer despite only being 2-3 kilometers away from the finish line.
I was very exhausted at the last kilometer. It was a very slow cruise, rolling with short jogging and some walks, I even took a selfie before going down the Skyway. But, I don’t care, despite the pain and exhaustion, I still had a great run on the first half and the hydration was the best ever (no more cold Bacchus energy drink near the 21k U-Turn, but the cold Fit and Right drinks near the last few kilometers more than makes up for it). I finished with a slow jog to the finish line at 02:17:09 (chip time is 02:17:00; while Nike+ Running app had it at 02:17:16 with 21.8 km total distance).
Walking back to the race village, the pain is still there. But, knowing that this is the 7-Eleven Run, you know you’re gonna get rewarded big time. It’s freebies overload once again. The Pocari Sweat booth was the first to greet and offer the runners their first taste of recovery. After grabbing my finishers kit and some freebies, I went to the car (parked at Festival Mall) to drop some of my initial loot and went back for some more. The exhaustion, the pain? they quickly subsided once you’re out grabbing free stuff. I was hungry after the race, but there’s no need to spend money and eat at nearby fast food establishments. All you have to do is walk around the race village. I ate food samples like Tulip luncheon meat, Mister Donuts, Dole bananas, chocolates (Reese, Snickers, Hersheys), noodles, and more. There’s also Kettle Corn, Sky Flakes, energy drinks like Red Bull, Extra Joss, Booster C, and Rockstar. Slurpee, more sports drinks like Gatorade, Powerade, Blue, Light Water, Vitamin Boost, POC, and more. Why do I always say more? because there’s so many sponsors I can’t even remember all of them. Need condoms? the Premiere Condoms booth got you covered (pun not intended) and they’re also handing out mosquito repellent (love-making on the great outdoors, maybe?). Robust also gives a free sample and a calendar. What about personal hygiene products? you can get Safeguard soap, Rexona anti-perspirant, Colgate tooth paste, Penshoppe cologne, and 69 sunblock to name a few. Want beer? free shots at the San Mig Light booth and next to it is the Boy Bawang booth, so beer + pulutan, pinoy style. There’s some free massage at the Salonpas booth, had some applied on my arms and calves (by that time, I barely feel the painful cramps anymore). Some of the booths also have games for even better prizes. Saucony, my favorite shoe brand, gives 500 pesos discount vouchers and there’s a raffle where you can win stickers or T-shirts (too bad I got the sticker, I wanted the Saucony shirt). And then there’s Selecta Ice Cream! I ate 4 ice creams sticks because I always went back to the Selecta booth for reasons below.
The race village is alive and filled with happy runners. Happy to be healthy and enjoying all the free stuff that only the 7-Eleven Run can offer.
Okay, so 7-Eleven Run 2016 is an awesome running event. So, what about the flaws and compared to last year? well, I can barely think of any blunders this time around. It’s a very well-organized running event and has none of the complaints or flaws of the previous event. Walking around the race village, all I see are happy and satisfied runners, especially those who were new to this running series. I’ll just point out some things like the finisher shirt. Though the organizer listened to the previous complain of not having the race distance printed on the shirt, they corrected it this time. But, the shirt design is still the same and it’s still cotton. It’s not a big deal though, just a minor thing pointed out, and it’s better than nothing. And as a bonus, even the 5k and 10 category got finisher shirts. How’s that for good customer service?
Another minor complaint was the medal design. It still looks like the medal from last year, but it’s not a big deal. It still looks good.
In closing, all I can say is that the 7-Eleven Run is still one of the best running event series in the country. You run and get rewarded. I hope that the series will always be held on January or the 1st month of the year because it is the best way to start the year. Everyone was happy and a winner at the 7-Eleven Run 2016. As always, looking forward to run again next year.
The year 2015 was my 2nd year in the running scene and experience has brought me to new heights and going even more distance. Even though I missed some very good running events, I had 12 runs and 2 mountain treks (We also had a Taal Crater tour, but it’s not a mountain) last year, so, it’s not so bad and I had a lot of fun. Here’s the look back at the best of 2015.
*** BEST MOMENT ***
FINISHING MY FIRST FULL TRAIL RUN(Valley Trail Challenge 2015)
Nothing can beat the experience of running on an all-terrain race route at 3 am in the morning. It has that spooky vibe, the dead silence, the cool temperature, and all you have is your headlamp to guide you. Finishing my very first, long distance, full trail run is the best moment last year. I almost got lost twice, almost tripped and fall, had to go through the heat of the morning sun and battle exhaustion just to survive the 30 kilometer (confirmed actual distance was 32 kilometer) Nuvali trail. I loved the experience so much that joining and finishing the 50k category this year’s Valley Trail Challenge has become one of my top running priorities this year. And that means, this year, I’m running my 1st trail ultramarathon.
CRAMPS!!! (Resolution Run 2015, 7-Eleven Run 1500, PinoyFitness 21k Challenge)
Ok, I know, having cramps while running is not a good moment, it’s an awful experience. But, I included this as a best moment honorable mention because, for the first time that I experienced it, I was reminded of one of the most important thing in running, “ENDURANCE.” The capability to ignore pain and keep going, endure the suffering, is what defines a good runner. The most painful was during Resolution Run after a downhill stretch during the last 4 kilometers, I experienced the most painful cramps. It was so bad, that I slowed down to walking because I can’t even jog. The worst came in the last 2 kilometers, when the pain intensified when I stupidly bent my knee in annoyance, unbeknownst to me at the time that will only cause more pain. I almost screamed because of the pain and I did a full stop just to recover. Cramps, specifically on my calves, had a recurring role in some of my races, notably in 7-Eleven Run 1500 and PinoyFitness 21k Challenge and it is a big issue when it comes to performance. But, there are some races where they didn’t even occur when I expect them to (especially on long distance races like Valley Trail Challenge, Subaru Marathon, and PNPA Uphill Challenge), so I’m still trying to figure out the most assuring way to avoid cramps. So, the cramps are part of the best moments because it taught me a valuable lesson about endurance and to learn more about the other aspects of running (training, injury prevention, etc.), so, I’m glad I experienced them.
COMPLETING THE PINOYFITNESS CHALLENGES (Pinoyfitness Sub1 10k Challenge and 21k Challenge)
Before joining the PinoyFitness Challenges, I am very capable of running a Sub 1 hour 10k and a Sub 2 1/2 hour 21k. I just need the validation by joining a race with a time limit to get the medal. I’ve done my current fastest 10k PR at Sub 1 10k Challenge as you can see with that teeth out, dimple visible smile. Unfortunately, such is not the case with 21k Challenge. See that sad-looking face, I ran my worst Sub 2:30 21k PR, with only a couple of minutes left on the clock. I struggled during the run, had cramps and felt very exhausted. It’s amazing that I still survived and got that medal. Just happy to have completed both challenges.
DISCOVERING MY FAVORITE MOUNTAIN (Mount Batulao, Nasugbu, Batangas)
I’ve joined mountain hikes with friends in Pico De Loro, Mt Buntis + Mt Nagpatong, but, Mount Batulao is the best. I just love the trail despite being too exposed to the sun and too much dirt road. The scenery is just amazing, you can see almost everything around you because you’re on elevated grounds and not surrounded by trees. This is best for trail runners and day hikers especially on cool and windy season.
**** BEST MEDAL ****
PinoyFitness Sub1 10k Challenge 2015 Medal
Aside from having excellent overall design (love that runner on the medal), the medal is special because you can only get it if you can run 10 kilometers under an hour. It’s an achievement medal, proof that you have improved as a runner.
7-Eleven RUN 1500 Medal
Subaru Marathon 21k medal
***** BEST FREEBIES *****
SPONSOR FREEBIES from RUN 1500 (7-Eleven Run 1500)
Nothing beats the stuff you can grab from the sponsors of 7-Eleven Run 1500. Aside from the usual finisher’s kit, you can get energy drinks, fruits, ice cream, boxes of condoms (oh yeah!), chocolates, tumblers, Saucony discount vouchers, personal hygiene products, etc. If you’re very patient, you can fall in line again to haul even more stuff. It’s a hoarder’s delight and very rewarding indeed after that long, exhausting run.
Re-energizing kit from Valley Trail Challenge
Doesn’t even compare from the stuff you can get from the 7-Eleven Run, but it’s not about what you can hoard, it’s about getting back all the energy you’ve lost during the run. And what you get from Valley Trail Challenge does the job, with a rice meal for breakfast and some deserts and hydration, and they also serve pineapples and bananas. I was so exhausted after my longest run of 2015, but hours later, after eating, re-hydrating and resting, I feel fine again. Oh, and pre-race, you also get Pharmaton vitamins, the ideal supplement to power you up before hitting the long trails. Thanks, FrontRunner for serving the right stuff.
****** BEST SINGLET and FINISHER SHIRT ******
Aside from the time pressure challenges and some of the best designed medals, one of the best reasons to join PinoyFitness events are the singlets and finisher shirts. Like the medals, they are designed to look good and give you the pride of participating in two of the most challenging running events in the country. The best singlet of 2015 for me was the 21k Challenge singlet, whilst the best finisher shirts was the one from Sub1 10k Challenge.
******* BEST RUNNING EVENT LOCATION*******
In 2014, Nuvali was my favorite and overall, the best running event location. Last year, it still is. Having a vast area of road and trail is enough to make it the undisputed best racing and training grounds for outdoor events. Recently, I did a training run from outside our home in Mayapa, Calamba City to Solenad in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa and I’ve seen some of the connecting roads of Mayapa, Canlubang, Cabuyao, and Nuvali which is 12+ kilometers in total and is just fine for those who want to do LSD training. Having discovered even more of Nuvali’s trail and scenic places nearby, made it my choice again as the best running event location. Because of Resolution Run 2015, I discovered the beautiful uphill area of Casile, Cabuyao overlooking Canlubang Golf and Country Club and the Marcos Twin Mansion. And because of Valley Trail Challenge 2015, I’ve seen and experience even more of the Nuvali trails, especially the scenic and famous “New Zealand trail.”
For the first time, I experienced running on the SkyWay last year. I ran twice, a 6k at The Condura Skyway Marathon and a 21k at 7-Eleven Run 1500. It was a great experience. I love the pollution-free road and it was a cool night and it helped with body temperature regulation. The sights of the city also looks nice, the city lights create their own scenic environment. I’ll be running again on the Skyway twice this year, first a half-marathon at 7-Eleven Run 2016 and then my very first full marathon at The Condura SkyWay Marathon.
*******RUNNING EVENT RANKINGS*******
Last year, I participated in 12 running events. Some of them are so good that that they instantly became a favorite and should not be missed next year. Whilst some runs are just okay, there are others that are just not worth it and you’re better off to do a training run instead. Here are the running events as ranked from worst to best.
12. PaRUN ng COWBOY
I joined this run because of the reasonable price of 650 php for the 10k category and you get a nice two-tone black and red singlet, a cowboy hat, a red handkerchief, and a sheriff star medal to complete the cowboy look. It turned out to be a dud for me. The race started way passed the proposed 5am gunstart (maybe I should be thankful because I got there late) and because of the delayed start, by the time the 10k runners passed half of the running distance, it was already hot and the aid stations rarely have ice water. But, likely the reason I did not enjoy the run is because I ran at Filinvest City hours ago, it was Color Manila: Black Light Edition which was actually a more energetic and ‘fun’ run than this. It’s like you just ate the most delicious meal (CM: Black Light) moments ago and then the dessert (this run) tastes bitter. At least, it was a run for a cause, so even if I didn’t like the run, I contributed for a good cause.
11. Laguna RUN
This run seemed good as advertised, for only 650 php, you get to run the cheapest 21k category in recent times, plus you get a finisher shirt, a medal, and a trophy. Even better is you get to run in Nuvali, one of the best and my current favorite running grounds. Then it turns out to be another case of good advertising, bad execution. The was obviously not organized by an experienced running event organizer. The run just started all of a sudden without warm up or introduction, they ran out of the right size finisher shirts (what’s the point of indicating your preferred shirts size if you’re not gonna get them anyway?), trophies are only for top 10 finishers (something they didn’t point out on the ad posters), the medal is low quality (it now has some rust), and why the hell do we have a politician’s name and logo behind our singlet? if it was a free, politician-sponsored run, that’s okay, but we paid for this. The singlet color scheme (pink, blue, and white for 21k) alone was bad, a politician’s name and logo only made it worst. There were also no official or volunteer photographers (except for the 5k category where the politician ran). The only good thing about this run was the location, but I could’ve just done a training run and used my 650 php for other runs or things instead. Never again for this run.
10. National Geographic Run 2015
I joined the NatGeo Run because it is one of the most popular running events in the country. Just curious to see what it’s all about. I also managed to convince some of my office mates to join this run. All I can say is, it’s not a good experience for me, it’s not a bad running event, but compared to the runs I participated in before this, it’s just below average for me. The finisher’s kit and freebies is just frugal, something you don’t expect from the biggest running event organizer in the country. You get the finisher shirt, an eco bag, a small tube skin disease treatment (from a sponsor), pocari sweat, that’s it. And since this is a volume run (I heard 24,000+ participants in all categories), if you register late, you won’t get your preferred singlet and finisher shirt size (happened to us). At least the medal is of good quality. The event also became subject of runners’ etiquette as a photo of the road littered with plastic cups and the trash bin seemed like it wasn’t even half full circulated in social media (come on, guys, it only takes a second or two to put that cup inside the trash bin). Would I join this year’s NatGeo Run? I’m not sure yet. It will depend on the registration price and the location.
09. PinoyFitness 21k Challenge
After successfully finishing PinoyFitness 10k Challenge, I got excited and look forward to getting a Sub 2 hours and 30 minutes 21k medal. I know sub 2 is way too much in regards to my current physical condition, but sub 2:30 is something I can confidently say “easy work.” Four of the five 21k runs I did were all Sub 2:30, so I know that I can do it. Then I found out that the race consisted of 2 loops around Pasay and SM Mall of Asia area instead of the usual route going to Luneta and Baclaran then back to Mall of Asia. I’ve never done a looping 21k before, but I thought it was still going to be another easy run. I though wrong. I think the race route was repetitive and because of that, I lost motivation on the 12th kilometer onwards. I got cramps and feel very exhausted to the point that I don’t think I can make the time limit and even thought about going DNF. But, the runner in me reminded me that it’s better to finish than to quit. So, I did and still got my medal with only 2 minutes left on the clock. I did not enjoy the run especially because I felt like a newbie trying hard to achieve something that normally would’ve been easy. I was spent physically and mentally. I like what I got from the race, the singlet, finisher shirt, and more importantly, the medal. It is a symbol of achievement, reminding me of what I had to go through to get it and that alone was reason enough to place this higher than the other running events. Would I join this running event again? Probably, but it will depend on the event location and race route.
08. Condura SkyWay Marathon 2015
Like NatGeo Run, I wanted to see what Condura Skyway Marathon, one of the most popular and prestigious running event in the country, is like. The experience was better than NatGeo Run and since I only ran 6k (due to the high registration price), it was a preview of what it was like to run on the Skyway. The race also resulted with my unexpected 6k PR with an official chip time of 33 minutes and 03 seconds, and official rank number 35 out of 1381 runners. Overall, I was satisfied with the event, the only downside was like the NatGeo Run, it was also a big event by the biggest running event organizer in the country, but offers frugal post-race freebies (considering the high registration price of 900 php just for a 6k category).
07. PinoyFitness Sub1 10k Challenge
Back in 2014, I just started running 10k and it was really hard for me to hit a sub1 PR. It was in early 2015 that I started doing it properly on my training runs. So, all I need is to solidify my PR by getting an exclusive sub1 10k medal (a medal that can only be achieved by successfully finishing a 10 kilometer run in under an hour) and only PinoyFitness offers that challenge. I joined the race and even before it started, I was nervous, thinking ‘what if this is one of those runs where something could go wrong and I fail.’ I just ran my usual pace, slightly a bit faster than my training runs because I was very motivated, and successfully set my 10k PR. I enjoyed the race for being a real challenge, one that can only be achieved if you stepped up your game and ascended your fitness level. I got the best-looking medal and finisher shirt I got this year, so I’m very very satisfied.
06. Subaru Marathon
Subaru Marathon was my comeback run after a 2-month break from running events. It was also the very 1st Subaru run in the country, so it’s special to be part of the 1st in a series. I would say that this race got everything right, it was the right comeback run for me, it had right the weather, the right race kit (because blue is very appealing and the design is simple, but nice), and the right location (although I never really like the RunRio Mall of Asia race route, the city is the right race route for this kind of theme). I have nothing bad to say about this, just a lot of ‘rights’ and none of the ‘wrongs.’
05. Color Manila: Black Light Edition
The luckiest moment for me last year was winning a race kit for Color Manila: Black Light Edition from a Filinvest City facebook page contest. I really wanted to join this run because of the race kit and the event location, but I had some funding troubles at the time, so I was very thankful for winning that contest. And the race didn’t disappoint, like any other Color Manila Run it was festive and energetic, it’s a real ‘fun run.’ The Black Light theme was really a great sight at night. The Color Festival party, the main highlight or the post-race concert/party of the Color Manila series was loud and fun as ever (too bad we didn’t stay long to finish it because I still have that paRUN ng Cowboy run hours later). It was definitely better than the ‘Glow Paint Edition’ we joined in 2014. And best of all, I got the cool Brother Ink pillow that I always wanted, which now rests inside our car. I hope Color Manila continues to make great concepts like this, they’re worth the money if you like to run and party with friends.
04. Resolution Run 2015
Resolution Run was the best way I started 2015, running on the 1st month of that year, at my favorite running location, and it introduced me to Runmania events, best known for organizing races with scenic routes. This run was also a surprise for me, I already know the race route, but I was surprised by how good it was. It was the first time I ran in total darkness with only a headlamp to guide me and the first time I ran on the other scenic places near Nuvali like the Bgy Casile uphill route where you can see the Canlubang Golf and Country Club and the famous Marcos Twin Mansion. The race also gave me a memorable experience of extreme pain because for the first time in running, I felt the most painful cramps ever. Still, the satisfaction of overcoming adversity and finishing the race is one that I will never forget from last year.
03. PNPA Uphill Challenge
I joined the PNPA Uphill Challenge as something of a revenge run to myself after the lackluster PinoyFitness 21k Challenge performance. I ran with relaxation in mind (as opposed to running with a PR in mind) and to find the right pace in preparation for my first marathon this year. It was a success, I finished the race injury-free and satisfied with closing a year with a good run. I also bumped into a long time running buddy along the way and I enjoyed the scenic route that organizer, Runmania, never fails to deliver.
02. 7-Eleven Run 1500
The 6k run from Condura Skyway Marathon 2015 was just the appetizer, the 21k run of 7-Eleven Run 1500 was the entrée (because the main course was the 42k). When I heard about the 7-Eleven Run series, the thing I hear people talk about the most is the overflowing hydration and the bag (or boxes) full of freebies. They weren’t kidding. When it comes to hydration, they are placed around the Skyway and you can drink almost all of the sports drink brands out there, you have a Gatorade, Powerade, Pocari Sweat, Bacchus, Red Bull, and more. And the freebies were truly like grabbing stuff from a grocery store, you can get personal hygiene products, ice cream, fruits, tumblers, boxes of condoms to name a few. This is the best value running event because aside from the experience of running on the skyway, the freebies you get is well worth the registration price. That is why I’m already registered for this year’s 7-Eleven Run.
and the best running event of 2015 for me is…
01. VALLEY TRAIL CHALLENGE 2015
The most memorable experience for me last year was running my first 30 kilometer (actual distance was 32 km) trail run. Nothing beats the thrills of running at 3 am in the morning on the trails, complete darkness with only a headlamp to help you navigate. The event is also one of the best organized race I’ve ever joined, gotta love the food and drinks at the aid stations and the race route is the best, love the fresh air, the scenic view, and the great weather at the time (cool at night, a bit hot at 7am). It also has a time limit (6 hours for 30k category), so you know that getting that medal is special, a great achievement because you worked hard for it. The run was so good that I already made the decision to run my first trail ultramarathon on this year’s Valley Trail Challenge. See you at the trails.
Last year was all about performance improvement while still having a great time. Back in 2014, I was struggling to even make a sub 30 minute 5k PR and it was only in the later part of the year that I was able to achieve it. In 2015, I was able to do a sub1 10k and a sub 2:30 21k at will and I was able to solidify it with the completion of the PinoyFitness challenges. I was also able to endure pain and learned more about how I can prevent them in the future. Running my first full trail run was the best, and that is why I plan to join more this year. I was very disappointed to have missed some good running events (especially obstacle runs) like the Guerilla Race series, TNF 100, Salomon City Trail, the Run United Trilogy, Outbreak Manila, and Men’s Health Urbanathlon due to limited budget or resources and other reasons, but I still had a great year with some of the races I participated in. This year, I’m looking forward to running my first marathon, my first trail ultramarathon, joining more obstacle runs, the return to Outbreak Manila, and finally completing the Run United trilogy. For now, I just have to keep training to be in the proper condition when race day comes.