This is article replaces my 2xxx Bests series where I take a look back and rank the best events and moments of the previous year. For this year’s article, I decided to make it shorter by limiting it to just running events and honoring only the best singlets/tech shirts, finisher shirts, medals/trophies, and then finally ranking the races. I participated in 10 running events last year and here are the goods starting with…
=== BEST SINGLET/TECH SHIRT ===
Run United Exceed Tech Shirt
The blue color and overall design of the Run United Exceed makes it the overall winner. It’s very comfortable too and quality is very similar to the 2016 Condura Skyway Marathon Tech shirt which is an honorable mention from last year.
=== BEST MEDAL/TROPHY ===
Yakult 10-miler Medal
Its minimalist design and stainless metal made it my favorite. No fancy use of colors or anything written or etched on front or back of the medal, just a simple design the looks elegant. And that Yakult pillow is a nice finisher bonus too.
=== BEST FINISHER SHIRT ===
Hero 2 Hero Rizal Day 50k Ultramarathon Finisher Shirt
This one became my instant favorite finisher shirt. I like the use of colors especially the red color tone on the right and gray on the left. And the logo is nice too with Philippine hero Jose Rizal’s face and silhouette blending with the yellow-orange color. Another good addition is the name on the back of the finisher shirt to let everyone know that it’s yours, you worked hard for it, and earned it. Gotta mention that it comes with a nice finisher trophy too.
=== 2017 Races ranked from worst to best ===
I joined 12 running events last year, but one of them, My Little Pony Run, got cancelled and rescheduled and the other one is a trail running class, I’m only ranking 10 official races that I participated in last year. So, starting from the worst experience….
Of all the races I ever participated in the more than 4 years of experience this is the worst. See that photo above? that’s the first time I (and maybe the other runners too) was stopped by highway patrol because we were running on a road where running (and cycling) is prohibited. Wait, what? then why was it part of the route anyway? what the hell was the organizer thinking? oh, and to top that, there are no finisher shirts and trophies for the runners to take home once they’ve crossed the finish line. The organizer said that the manufacturer made a mistake with the trophy design (and the finisher shirt? same manufacturer?), so all we got was the medals. The organizer said that he will ship the trophies and shirts once they’re made. So, it’s like more than 2 months of waiting now, still nothing. We’re not updated or even asked for the shipping address and contact details. Dunno if we will still get what we worked hard and paid for.
Run United Exceed seemed exciting for me at first, especially since the Run United Trilogy wasn’t announced at the time and it had all the good stuff like a nice looking medal, shirts, and the 2 1/2 time limit made it an exclusive for above average runners. I also convinced my college mate Ryan to join the event. But, when I found out that the race route is 2 loops around BGC, I was disappointed because I really hate repetitive loops. Still, it’s not that bad, I loved the tech shirt and the medal design is very good and a great addition to my collection.
Most running series don’t last more that 10 or even 5 years. Yakult 10-miler is the 2nd longest-running event in the country and that title alone is one of the reason for me to join at least once. I had a good time, it was one of my more relaxing runs and the finisher medal and finisher’s pillow are nice addition (especially with the affordable registration fee).
This is definitely one of the best family-friendly events in recent times. There’s an option to look for easter eggs along the route that you can bring to the finish line in exchange for prizes. With the affordable registration fee and lots of freebies, this is one fun run you shouldn’t miss.
This running event needs no introduction. Most people in the running community and casual runners already know the event’s reputation as a “grocery” run due to the fact that you can grab as many freebies as you can after the race. This year’s edition is as good as the previous ones and there are even better stuff you can get. What makes this race very memorable for me is that I was finally able to break the 5-hour marathon barrier, I’m now a Sub-5 marathoner. Since Condura Skyway Marathon won’t be returning for the 2nd year in a row, this is the only running event that allows you to run on the Skyway exclusively.
What I like about Resolution Run is its beautiful, but challenging route that covers Nuvali and the uphill parts of Baranggay Casile. You even pass by the famous Marcos Twin Mansion. This is my recommended January run for those who want to burn all those fats they gained from the Christmas season, this is your Resolution Run. Too bad I wan’t able to join this year’s event.
To wash off the bad taste left by my previous ultramarathon I joined this event. I’m glad that I did because it’s a good event. It’s very challenging, but finishing it feels good especially since it’s already New Year’s Eve once you’re done. I might join this event again if there’s a new route and if the trophy and finisher shirt looks as good as last year’s.
I’ve been eyeing Splendido Sunset Run since 2015 and I finally joined it last year. And I wasn’t disappointed. Set in Splendido Golf and Country Club, runners can enjoy the cool Tagaytay weather and the race route is just amazing, it’s beautiful. I love the downhill domination part and challenged by the uphill hell part. The 21k route has 2 loops and I really hate multi loops, and it rained adding more challenge, but with a route like Splendido’s, I’m not complaining. This is my highly recommended year-end race.
Before the popular obstacle course racing series Spartan Race made its presence known in our country last year, Guerilla Race has been around for more than 3 years now and has become one of the most popular obstacle course race in the country. Guerilla Race has one advantage over its competitors, it’s an obstacle run that changes its location frequently. That is Guerilla Race why is so awesome, it doesn’t feel like the same race as before. Last year was the Splash edition, taking place in Splash Island and added water-based obstacles like kayaking. The registration fee is also reasonable as you get a free pass to enjoy Splash Island after the race. Looking forward to more Guerilla Races this year.
and here it is, my favorite and best race I’ve ran last year is….
I always prefer trail running over road running and the only reason I’m not joining more trail runs is because most trail races are held in locations far from my hometown. Sandugo Pacific Coast 100 is no different, it’s even farther than most trail events because it’s set in General Nakar, Quezon. But, since I was able to convince 2 buddies to run their first trail run and kept the budget at a minimum, I finally ran my best trail race experience since Valley Trail Challenge V. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed the incredible scenery and friendly environment of General Nakar. The very friendly race marshals and staff plus the reasonable registration fee (taking into account the free ride and freebies) round up the best parts of my choice as running event of the year. I have a feeling that we might return for this year’s event. Could be the start of a new running tradition.
And that wraps up my 2017 races. For 2018 I’m not sure I can join as many running events as before, but I will still keep running and deliver more stuff about running, video games, photography, and more. Thanks for the readers who find my blogs useful and inspiring. I’m just here to share my experiences, I’m very thankful for your time to read, especially my articles that go way beyond 1,000 words. Thank you.
I was invited to attend the media launch of the Clark Sunset Marathon yesterday morning and here’s what I learned…
1.) This is the first marathon event to be held in Clark Freeport Zone.
This is the first Clark Sunset Marathon and the destination was chosen so runners can enjoy running in a place away from city traffic and pollution. According to Noemi Julian of Clark Development Corporation fun runs has been done in Clark before, but this is the first full marathon event.
2.) Four distance categories
There will be four distance categories, a full marathon (42k) and a half-marathon (21k) for the long distance and competitive runners. And 10k and 5k categories for those who prefer to finish the running event early to have some time to chill and explore. The 42k race route will have portions outside Clark while the rest of the distances is within the vicinity.
3.) The race route is AIMS / IAAF certified.
This is the first running event with a race route measured and certified by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) together with International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The route is measured using The Jones Counter instead of a GPS device for accuracy.
4.) One of the main objective is to attract foreign runners.
The event is expected to attract 5,000 runners including foreign runners who wants to run on an IAAF-labeled route (which means it has the same certification as world class marathons like the Boston Marathon, New York Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon) and promote tourism.
5.) A Music Festival after the race.
After enjoying the sunset and a nice night run, a music festival will be staged for a relaxing and more fun Saturday Night experience. DJ Ashley Rivera and DJ Tom Taus will be there to provide a memorable party for the participants.
That’s about it, feel free ask questions or leave comments in the comment section below. Online and in-store registrations are open. I will update this article once I get the digital copy of the press release.
REGISTRATION AND RACE INFO:
5K – Php 650 (Php 1,300 international fee)
10K – Php 850 (Php 1,700 international fee)
21K – Php 1,400 (Php 2,800 international fee)
42K – Php 1,800 (Php 3,600 international fee)
Singlet, Finisher Shirt (for 21k and 42k categories only), medal, loot bag, and music festival ticket.
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.
When I join marathons, there are thousands of participants, and it’s the usual do your best for a PR, cross the finish line, and you’re done. A marathon is not a fun run, it’s painful, exhausting, and will test your mental and physical limits. It’s all about finishing strong. Or is it? maybe I just forgot that a marathon isn’t always about running fast or being competitive, it can also be a relaxing, laid back run just to have fun. That is exactly what I realized as a spectator at this year’s TBR Sunlife Dream Marathon.
Unlike other marathon events, TBR Dream Marathon focuses on the development of runners who want to run a marathon for the first time. It’s about helping people achieve their dreams of running a marathon in ways that don’t involve the torture of excessive and unguided training. Running 42 kilometers is an intimidating thought, but the TBR program seemed to be effective in encouraging and motivating the runners that finishing a marathon is achievable with little or nothing to worry about.
The event is only limited to 800 participants. The reason for this is to make it easier to prepare the runners and focus on their progress. And because the event does not have a large volume of marathoners, every one can have their near-the-finish-line moments like running with family, friends, pets, and finally, their own finish line victory pose. Runners like me, those who join competitive marathons with thousands of participants are usually deprived of moments like that. We can’t have our loved ones waiting for us near the finish line to run with us to glory because of restrictions and there’s just too many runners around you. And it’s very rare that we get excellent race photos because there’s a big chance that the photographers will miss you (it’s hard to shoot when there’s thousands of people running and approaching even if you have a fast camera). And this is why TBR Dream Marathon is a special event, it gives the runners the moment and fun. Most of the runners who run towards then finish line with their kids, loved ones, friends, or even pets have bigger smiles and off-the-roof runner’s high than most of us who just made a new PR. There’s just too much good vibes, feel good and happy moments in the event, that I enjoyed taking photos and witnessing the joy of these new marathoners. Congratulations to the marathon graduates of TBR Batch 2017.
Here are some heart-warming photos I took at the event. (Apologies for the quality of the photos. They’re taken with my camera phone and cropped because I couldn’t get near enough to take better up-close photos.)
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.
Milo Marathon, the oldest (since 1974) marathon event in the Philippines and considered by many as our version of the well-known Boston Marathon. This is the annual event where the fastest runners in the country gather and compete to become the very best like no one ever was. Okay, not really to become the very best like no one ever was, to be crowned the Milo Marathon King and Queen. Ever since I got seriously committed in running, I have always wondered what it would be like to run with the fastest, to be in the field of champions, to run on the same route. So, I joined Condura Skyway Marathon for my first marathon. The best of the best and the fastest non-elites in the running community also run that event, but it’s still does not have the same vibe as Milo Marathon. Finally, I had the chance to join a Milo Marathon event, my first one, the Manila eliminations. I prepared for it, trained properly, and even pondered the possibility of finally getting that sub-5 hour marathon PR that I want. I was very excited to run this event and when the day finally came, I was a bit confident and very eager to run.
This is a Rogue Rebel Run, I’m running alone and I did not bring a car to save money (because if I did, it would cost me at least 600 php compared to public transportation expenses of 200 php). I left home before 11 pm, rode a van to Ayala, and then a bus to SM Mall of Asia. It was still more than a couple of hours before the 42k gunstart and to be sure that I won’t get low on energy during the run, I ate a chicken fillet rice meal at the nearby McDonald’s. En route to the activity area, a runner called me and started a conversation. His name is Rick Frias, he told me that he recognized me during my training runs in Batino and Ciudad De Calamba and he was also in the same van I rode. We parted ways as I explore the activity area and took pictures.
It was around 2:30 am when the marshals allowed the runners to approach the starting line. I was reunited with Rick and got separated after the marshal checkpoints (they’re very strict in checking the bibs of the participants). The long stretch of the road was occupied by thousands of marathoners, I positioned myself near the starting line, and the weather was humid, most of us were already sweating before the race even started. A few minutes before gunstart was the usual warm-up exercise as well as a send-off video (from a previous Milo Marathon) shown to motivate runners. Distracted by the video, I was unable to activate my new Soleus GPS One watch and when the race started, it was still searching for a satellite. Good thing I already started my Nike+ Running app as the timer counts down. After 100 meters or so, the watch finally locked on and started tracking, but I already crossed the starting line, so there’s a 100+ meter discrepancy between the watch and the smartphone app.
The plan was to run a 6-7 minute per kilometer pace to conserve energy and starting re-hydrating on each stations after 6 kilometers. It was hard to overtake during the first kilometer because of the cramped space. It was around the CCP Complex area that most of the runners have sufficient space to run their intended pace. This is the same route as the previous Milo Marathons and Run United events, I like the mostly flat road from of Roxas Boulevard all the way to the Luneta U turn (in front of the Rizal statue) because it’s the right time to run fast and relaxed. But, the part going to Baclaran is what I disliked the most. It’s very dark and at one time, some of us hydrated on a water station at the wrong side of the road (it was for the runners heading back) and that prompted a runner to shout “ilawan nyo kasi” (get it properly lit) when the marshals told us to go to the other side. Who could blame him? most of us share the same sentiments because the area was poorly lit. There were also pedestrians crossing the road in the Baclaran area and all you can see of them are silhouettes that blend in the darkness. People could bump each other, some may trip and fall, and worse, the darkness can be the perfect opportunity for pickpockets.
By the time we passed City of Dreams and approaching the next U-Turn near the NAIA road-Coastal Mall intersection, a cool breeze of winds starts to blow by, a sign of the possible storm coming. It was a little worrying, so I sped up my pace a bit. Some time in the 18th kilometer, running in Sen Gil Puyat Avenue, I felt hunger at the worst possible time. I did not bring food with me, not even a small chocolate bar because I thought I ate enough before the race and will rely on just hydration and bananas. Unfortunately, there are no bananas on the hydration stations that I passed by. I slowed down significantly, my stomach aches like I’m having an ulcer attack or something. From that point of the Makati route, I started feeling bad, I feel a bit dizzy, weak, exhausted, and even had thoughts like saying to myself “Bakit ba ako sumali pa dito” (why did I even join this?) and “dapat nasa bahay nalang ako sa oras na ito at natutulog” (I should’ve been at home, sleeping at this time). I was even pondering if I should join another marathon or just stick to half-marathons after the race.
My condition seemed to normalize before going up Kalayaan flyover, I still feel exhausted, but stomach pain was waning. I got a bit of a boost going down the flyover, and then had more walks around BGC to regain stamina. It was still a jogging session with some walking in the Lawton Avenue area. I also poured cold water on my head and grabbed a cold sponge to keep my body cool. Finally, at the next U-Turn, Kilometer 28 at the area near the turn going to Bayani Road, I found the bananas. I consumed it quickly and continued re-hydrating with a cup of Gatorade and water. I feel much better and when Nike+ Running app notified me that I reached the 30th kilometer at 3 hours and 33 minutes, the possibility of getting a sub-5:00 marathon PR is within reach. I ran an average of 7m30s per kilometer from kilometer 32 to 38. There was a time when our pace faltered when the marshals decided to give the full stop to us instead of the motorists and that cost us precious seconds and affected our momentum (it’s hard to regain it when you rest). Returning to Makati, I started to lose speed again, I feel a tightening pain, like cramps, on my right thigh (It can be brushed off by walking properly). I also started feeling pain on my right ankle joint and under my right foot and that forced me to walk a lot, I’m back at a much slower pace of 8-9 minutes per kilometer. That along with the event’s kilometer markers not in sync with my GPS watch and smartphone app (more than a kilometer of discrepancy) was the moment that I decided to just finish the race without hope of the sub-5:00 finish. I still did short bursts of running, I tried to run before traffic lights run red, I still had thoughts of a second wind, but I just don’t have the same enthusiasm as before.
The last 3 kilometers of was the hardest, I walked longer, an re-hydrated too much making me feel bloated. I got myself showered by the fire truck volunteers and the sprinkler near the Mall of Asia area to cool my body.
Walking in the Mall of Asia route in the last kilometer was one of the most unsatisfying feeling I ever had in a race. I’m not ashamed, just a little bit disappointed that things did not turn out the way I want them to be. A group of finishers from the shorter distance passed by and asked us, “42k kayo” (are you 42k runners?), saying yes and seeing their reaction gives you that thought that you’re doing great because you’re doing something a lot of people can’t do or doesn’t have the courage to do (yet).
There were some cheers from the spectators in the last 500 meters. It helped a bit, we did run, using our last burst of energy to smile for the cameras, and seeing the finish line just a few strides away, makes you happy that it’s going to be over.
There comes a time when we want to give our all to get what we want. I did not promise a sub-5:00 marathon PR, but I want it. I don’t care it’s a 04:59:49, as long as it’s a sub 5, that’s all. The 4oth Milo Marathon Manila Elims was not the time to give my all. At the time, I was thinking, if I give this a push, ignore the pain, and give everything I have, who’s got my back after crossing that finish line? No one! I’m alone in this event, I don’t have someone to take care of me or drive me home after the race. I’m going home, riding public transportation and I need to be able to stand and walk. Given Milo Marathon’s track record of serious runner injuries and deaths (I even witnessed one of the fallen runner lying inside an ambulance in the BGC area), I decided to play it safe. With the thought, I finally accepted the fact that I can finish this within the time limit, I won’t be satisfied, but I get to go home without serious injuries and get to fight (I mean, run) another day.
I crossed the finish line with an official gun time of 05:21:54 (chip time 05:21:00), rank 1,004 out of 2,097 marathoners. I like my first Milo Marathon run, I wasn’t able to perform my best, but it was a great learning experience. Before the race I was prepared, I trained properly, and had the excitement of a runner ready to run his first race. After the race, I felt like a runner on his way to marathon retirement. Former U.S.A. President, George W. Bush, said in a Runner’s World interview, “I learned that running can make you feel 10 years younger the day of the race and 10 years older the day after the race.” That quote best described my first Milo Marathon experience.
I was very tired and in pain when I walked to the activity area, I even forgot to stop my GPS watch and Nike+ Running app, only noticed it when I was about to claim my finisher’s kit. I walked around a bit to see what more freebies I can get or what drinks I can get for free. Unfortunately, my favorite, the Milo Nutri Up drinks were served hot, and the regular Milo served cold. Rick found me at the baggage claim area, he told m e he finished at 05:34, not bad for a first time marathoner. He went back to the activity area to take some photos, I told him I will follow after changing clothes, but I also stopped by at a nearby Starbucks to freshen up. Never found him again when I went to the activity area. I will run a marathon again and I will still try to get that Sub-5 PR I always wanted. I’m just gonna take it easy for now and recover.
On a sadder note, my smartphone’s micro SD card got damaged when my phone got wet at the sprinklers area (or maybe from the fire truck), so all the photos at the event are gone, including my favorite photos.
The official Milo Marathon Manila Eliminations 42k results can be seen here: https://www.milo.com.ph/sites/milo_philippines2/files/media/40th%20National%20MILO%20Marathon%20Leg%203%20-%20Manila%20Overall%20Full%20Marathon.pdf