Posted in City Run, Gear Review, GPS watch, half-marathon, Marathon, Review, running, running event, Trail run, trail running, Valley Trail Challenge

Accuracy or Fu*K-uracy: A non-professional observation and analysis of GPS devices for running…

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.

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The race course was said to be 5 kilometers. My GPS watch said it’s 4.88 kilometers.

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.

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According to my GPS One, I ran a maximum speed of 72.9 km/h some time during my run. Wow! Good thing Usain Bolt is retired. I should probably go after Eliud Kipchoge then.

Distance Discrepancy?

–   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.

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3 minutes and 15 seconds in the first kilometer. If only I can really run this pace. I know for a fact that when I run below 4 minutes and 30 seconds, I start feeling cramps about to hit me. So, yeah I have never ran a 3-minute per kilometer pace before.

GPS devices or just trust the Organizer’s Race Route?

–   What you see in your GPS devices can also match the race course distance if you get a very good signal. But, the race route can be more or less of the total distance as advertised. It depends on how the organizer of the event measured the race route and there are some instances that could force the organizer to shorten distance like unfavorable weather or last minute changes due to traffic and other road-related incidents that is beyond their control. Other organizers will add extra kilometers as a bonus  or a slight change in the race route. If you really want a distance accurate race route, then look for an event sanctioned by an athletics organization like Philippine Athletics Track And Field Association (PATAFA).

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It was supposed to be only 34 kilometers, but a small change in the race route added 3 extra kilometers.

Comparison with Car Odometer (FINAL UPDATE)

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.

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Trial 1: Stopping at 1 kilometer with the GPS devices connected with good signal, the Nike app recorded a 40-meter difference, while the GPS watch showed a much bigger number at 110 (or more) meters.
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Trial 2: I reset the odometer and stopped at 3 kilometers. Similar results from the 1 kilometer run with 30-meter difference on the app and 110+ meters on the GPS watch.
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And just for comparisons sake, I did keep the car’s speed at 40+ km/h most of the time and sped up to 80+ km/h once to overtake a vehicle. I think the GPS watch got it right with the average (41 km/h) and maximum speed (83.2 km/h) reading.

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 yesbut, 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.

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My Personal Bests in Nike Run Club app. Guess which ones are fu*k-urate. Hint: I can’t run an elite marathoner pace.
Posted in 5k, 5km, adventure, guerilla race, Obstacle Course Racing, obstacle run, running, running event, ToughXRough

A Splashing Return! (Guerilla Race Splash)

The last time I joined an obstacle run or Obstacle Course Racing was 2 1/2 years ago and that was Men’s Health Urbanathlon. But, I am no stranger to the Guerilla Race series, and in fact, I am one of the pioneer participants of the very first Guerilla Race. The last Guerilla Race I joined was the 10k category of the Panther edition in Filinvest City back in October 2014. After that, I wasn’t able to join the other Guerilla events because they were held far from my hometown and I have very limited resources when it comes to joining running events. Now that Guerilla Race has returned to the south with the new water edition, my anticipation is not just at an all time high, I feel ecstatic.

For this event, I was able to get an extra race kit and gave it to my officemate, Jaypee (a Guerilla Race first timer). We arrived at the venue before 4 am and took a warm-up, reconnaissance stroll around the area. For some reason, the race started late at 0530 (suppose to start at 0500).

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Excitedly waiting. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)

 

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Definitely ecstatic. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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Talking about strategies that won’t go as planned, anyway. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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Rock (Jaypee) and Roll (Me). Photo by Tris (Active Pinas).

I was surprised when the first part of the race route is inside Splash Island and even more surprising for me is the first obstacle…

 

Obstacle 1: the Kayak.

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Me and Jaypee watching and staring at the first obstacle. Photo by Jhunejaved Mindana
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Shock and Stunned! What are we looking at? Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)

To be honest, I was a bit shocked and nervous about this obstacle because I don’t know how to operate a kayak. I kept thinking that I can’t stabilize it and will likely be moving sideways or unlikely to make the U-turn back to shore. Thankfully, I was able to relax, focus, and move it straight. I did bump unto other participants and vice versa, one time four of us bump each other but was able to get free easily. The next obstacle is much easier though…

Obstacle 2: Balsa River.

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Damn, it’s cold! Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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Refreshing! Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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That time when water is more fun than beer. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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The water is cool, but if there’s a warm spot, you know why it’s warm. Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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Now there’s a warm spot =) Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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Into the deep (ok, it’s not really deep). Photo by Tris (Active Pinas)
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Whatta watah! Photo by Tris (Active Pinas).
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Jaypee crossing the Balsa River. Apologies for the photo, I used my old and rugged Sony Ericsson XPERIA Active (the only smartphone tough enough for this kind of race) and photos were taken with an old 5-megapixel camera.

This one is easier and relaxing. You just go into the looping Balsa River and you can swim, float, walk, or run. We decided to take our time and just walk this one to conserve stamina. The third obstacle does slow things down a little…

Obstacle 3: Barbed Wire Crawl

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I wasn’t able to take a photo of this obstacle nor find a photo of us doing the obstacle, so I just grabbed an interesting photo from the Active Pinas facebook page.

One of the regular obstacles of Guerilla Race and it will definitely get you dirty and smelly. If you don’t go low enough and crawl, your clothes will get caught (see photo above) or the barbed wires will poke you like it did to me so I got down low and dirty the non-perverted way.

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After the crawl, it’s a few hundred meters of trail running to the next and slippery-when-wet obstacle. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

4th obstacle, Handrail walk?

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Difficult when wet (because it’s slippery). Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

I don’t know the official name of this obstacle, but this is one of the most difficult as it requires some degree of upper body strength and good grip because the rails are slippery. To add difficulty, you can only do this one time. As we approach this obstacle, we already saw some of the participants doing burpees as penalty for not passing the obstacle. When we started moving, it seemed very do-able, I was already halfway through when my right hand slipped and my foot touched the ground (as seen in the photo). Jaypee also slipped and we had to do 30 burpees as penalty. Doing burpees depletes your stamina more than the obstacle, so it is better to put effort in completing the obstacles than do burpees.

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Jaypee giving the one finger salute for his dislike of this obstacle and wanted to have another try (same sentiment here) because it is do-able.

Obstacle 5: Window in the Wall?

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This is very easy even in low stamina. Photo by My Run Time.
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The only way this is hard is if you don’t fit through the window. Photo by My Run Time.
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Thanks for this awesome action shot. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

I think this is called the military wall, but I’m not sure. Designed to just break your momentum, this obstacle is one of the easiest even if you lost some stamina after doing burpees. This will only be difficult if you don’t fit in the window properly, but I’ve never seen anyone having a hard time with this obstacle.

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Taking it easy, taking our time. Photo by Active Pinas.
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Walk like a boss! Photo by Active Pinas.

Obstacle 6: Bamboo Crossing?

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Pain for the thighs.

Dunno what to call this obstacle. The only challenge here is if you feel pain on your thighs or that tight feeling of your hamstrings. It can also be painful on the knees when you’re already overfatigued.

Obstacle 7: Mud Crawl

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Jaypee crawling first so I can take a photo of the obstacle.
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Jaypee crawling out with a smile. Me? not loving the foul smell of the mud. Photo by Active Pinas.
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Doesn’t smell like teen spirit. Smells like raw sewage to me. Photo by Active Pinas.
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But, the water is cool… Still, the smell though… Photo by Active Pinas.
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Don’t let it get in your eyes and mouth. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
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Out of the sewer! Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
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Everyone is smiling. Well, I did smile too after I got back to my feet. Photo by Active Pinas.

This is easier than the barbed wire crawl because of the watery mud and the cool water is refreshing and kinda soothing. But, it has a foul smell though, so you need to breathe wisely and close your mouth to avoid fresh dirty water getting in your mouth.

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Slow jog to the next obstacle. Photo by Active Pinas.

Obstacle 8: The Wall.

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I think it’s 6 feet high or more.
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What I did is jump and hang on. Then Pull yourself up. Photo by Active Pinas.
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You will struggle if you’re tired. Photo by Active Pinas.
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But, it’s easier than it looks. Just ask Jaypee. Photo by Active Pinas.
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You have to watch the ground before jumping though, to make sure you land properly and don’t slip or hurt yourself. Photo by Michael Allen Celestial.

The wall isn’t exactly as hard as the 1st and 2nd time I encountered it. In fact, I got it with only 1 try. I just jumped, hanged on to the top of the wall, and slowly push myself up. Jaypee who was very worried about this obstacle earlier got it in 1 try as well.

Obstacle 9: Inclined Wall.

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The Marshal asked the girl to go for the middle part of the wall instead because this side (right) is slippery. She told Jaypee to take this side instead because she thinks he can handle it. I also lined up on this side.
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It can be hard, but there’s a technique to easily climb up this obstacle. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
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Proper footing and the grip or your shoes (or feet if you run barefoot) is a key factor in completing this easily. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

This obstacle is easy if you know how to position yourself and pull yourself up. Plant yourself properly, firm grip on the rope and then move your legs and pull yourself up gently and relaxed. You can also run up just gather momentum and with the right speed and it will be over faster.

Obstacles 10, 11, and 12: Sandbag Carry, Walk on Fours, and Tire Field

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Show offs can grab 2 sandbags and help themselves with quicker stamina depletion.
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Yeah on the catwalk. On the catwalk, yeah. I shake my little tush on the catwalk.

Before we engaged these obstacles, we took our time at the aid station to drink and wash off some of the mud on our face. Three obstacles in one go. First you grab a sandbag (grab 2 if you’re strong enough and want to show off the power of them guns) and then walk or run 100 meters (estimate) then U-turn back and drop the sandbag. After that, you run or walk another hundred meters to a point where you have to start walking on fours like an animal (I call it the catwalk). This is a bit hard on the thighs and can be tiring, so it’s better to move at an easy and steady pace. Thankfully, the distance is shorter and once you got up, you walk or run towards the field of tires. It’s better to look at your feet as you make your way through the tire field because there’s a chance that your foot will get caught by a tire and pull you down.

Obstacle 13: Tire Pull and Lift

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I’m not feeling smug, I’m pulling. Photo by Active Pinas.
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Doing it smoothly, feeling like a criminal. Photo by Active Pinas.
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Wax On , Wax Off is how you do this. Photo by Active Pinas.
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The lasso of lies. Photo by Active Pinas.
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Tire? Tyre? Tired? Photo by Active Pinas.
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Like a tire, I run on-road and off-road. Photo by Active Pinas

This obstacle can be done smoothly without affecting much of your stamina. First part of the obstacle is to pull the tire. Just relax and apply just the right amount of pulling power that it won’t affect your breathing. For example, pull with the left hand then breath in, now the right hand then breathe out. It’s that easy and keep your back straight. The second part requires you to lift the tire and put it back at the starting point for the next participant’s turn.

Obstacle 14: Money Bar

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Monkey Bars are regular playground equipment and when I was a kid, it’s easy to do. It’s a different story when you grow up and add some weight. Photo by My Run Time.

This is the second obstacle that I failed to complete. I made I mistake of having my hands gripping one bar apart and it put me in the position of facing sideways to the left. I was stuck and hanging for almost 10 seconds, trying to re-position myself, but I couldn’t and fearing that I might lose my grip. So, I decided to push through and tried doing the monkey bars sideways, grabbing 1 bar apart , and it seemed to be working as I made it halfway. Then I lost my momentum (couldn’t swing anymore and my hand couldn’t reach and grab the next bar) and I fell to the ground. Unfortunately, you can only do the obstacle once, so I just accepted the penalty. Jaypee got it right and avoided the stamina-depleting burpees.

Obstacle 15: Over and Under the bars?

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The added difficulty of obstacles that involves bars is that they’re slippery.

By the time we reached this obstacle, I still haven’t recovered some of the loss stamina from the burpees I had to do as penalty from failing the monkey bars. I allowed Jaypee to go first so I can observe how it’s done. You have to go over the first bar (you can jump if you want), then under on the 2nd (you can roll if you want), over again on the 3rd, and under again on the last one. When Jaypee did this his grip slipped and a 180 degree while still holding on to the bar, so he did not fall on his back. Same thing happened to me and it feels like a technique, just be sure to keep hanging on the bar and let your feet touch the ground to recover quickly.

Obstacle 16, Rope Crossing

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As I pose for this shot, I just realized that those ahead of me are already off the rope. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.
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My kind of hang out. Photo from Guerilla Race facebook page.

We refueled with cool water at the 2nd aid station (they ran out of cups, so Jaypee and I had to share with one that we cleaned before using) before initiating this obstacle. Balance with a chance of wobbling is best to describe this one. You step on a rope line with your hands grabbing another rope above you and then move to cross all the way to the end point. It’s easy until you end up in the middle with those ahead of you already got off the rope. As seen in the photos, I paused to pose for the photographer. I took my time for the photo that I caused a bit of a traffic and I’m the front guy now. Moving from the middle without any weight applied ahead of me made the rope wobble and it kinda threw me off balance a bit that I actually switched side (now facing right and the photographer on my six) just to regain footing. Once I got my balance back, it was easier to move again and finish this obstacle.

Obstacle 17: Cargo Net

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How’s it hanging? Photo by Michael Allen Celestial.
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Hang in there, baby. Photo by Michael Allen Celestial.

This is the one obstacle that really got me a bit of a scare and thought about doing burpees instead. This version of the cargo net is harder than the pyramid version. Once you make it to the top to cross over to the other side, that’s when the difficulty level goes up a notch. Once you look down, you have a good view of how high you are and then you realize how hard it is to put your foot to the other side. The net is wobbling when there are no participants on the other side to balance it and it makes you feel like you’re going to flip over and fall to the other side if you’re not careful. That is how I felt at the time since those on the other side already got down and there’s 3 (or maybe 4) of us left on the other side. In my mind I think I’m gonna flip over and fall and almost gave up. Until Jaypee and some other participant hold a part of the net to keep it stable and I was able to cross over. It was only until I saw the photos on facebook that there is a technique to crossover properly. Next time, I’ll be ready.

Obstacle 18: Hurdles

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It’s very likely that you have seen her in running events. Photo by Active Pinas.

Fortunately, the last obstacle, the hurdles isn’t as hard as hurdling (running and jumping). You can just walk and jump over and over again. Take your time if you want, the finish line is just meters away.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

The surprise of the event was the actual number of obstacles. There are 18 obstacles instead of the original (and advertised) 12. For me, 6 more obstacles is a bonus, it’s like getting more of your money’s worth. Jaypee and I finished with a minute left before the cut-off time of 1.5 hours. I know it’s slow compared to my first Guerilla Race finish time of 40 minutes and 42 seconds in Nuvali. But, the reason for this is because I wanted to pace with Jaypee to see if he enjoys this event and I really want to take my time and have fun. Also, my first Guerilla Race only had 12 obstacles and I can say that the obstacles in this event is more challenging (and fun) than what I encountered before. I probably would’ve rushed this event and finished the race faster if I ran alone. But, I probably would’ve not enjoyed it as much because in the end, the finish time didn’t matter to me, I was focused on having fun and running with a buddy, and that is both mission accomplished.

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49 minutes slower than my first Guerilla Race, but I don’t care because I had fun running with a buddy. Jaypee finished at 01:29:27 at rank number 100. We made it at the cut-off time. Official results can be seen at myrunti.me

Guerilla Race Splash (as always) is an amazing, awesome, challenging, and fun event. It’s the best way to test your overall fitness level. Obstacle course racing is intimidating to some runners and fitness buffs, but Guerilla Race is the epitome of a balanced challenge. The obstacles can be hard, but they’re not impossible, and finally finishing the race feels like a big accomplishment mentally and physically.

A big thanks to the Guerilla Race Team and mam Nikka Ramos for this fresh and unique edition of the Guerilla Race. We, the fans of this wonderful race series, are so thankful that all of you keep innovating to deliver an experience like no other. You are all continuing the legacy of its founder, the late Lt. Col. Dennis Bumanglag and doing it with excellence.

Guerilla Race Splash is a strong contender for my pick of the best running event of 2017. Jaypee, a first-timer in the Guerilla Race love the experience so much that he’s looking forward to the next events. It got a lot of things right like a reasonable registration fee (which includes a day pass to Splash Island worth 499 php and discount coupons), a good venue (the right choice for the summer season), and a memorable experience (challenging, but fun obstacles). I want to see it grow with more participants and interesting locales in the future. The next Guerilla Race will be at Camp John Hay in November. Stay tuned for the complete details and updates regarding this event once the press release is officially announced.

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Finishers! Photo by Jaypee.
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The freebies and loot bag include 4 pcs of Mega Fiber, 4 pcs of Goutritis Herbal Supplement, 4 pcs of Brai Master Herbal Supplement, Black Mamba energy drinks, and 100 plus.

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EPILOGUE

After the event, Jaypee and I decided to take advantage of the Splash Island day pass to maximize the day (especially since it was the long weekend for us BPO employees thanks to Memorial Day). It was also my first time in Splash Island (yes, I live in the South and I’ve been to Splash Island until this running event), so I have to see and experience the best things the place has to offer. Unfortunately, Splash Island was very crowded at the time with 2 company outings (NIDEC and Villarica Pawnshop) taking place along with the usual weekend visitors. But, I still got to experience the major attractions of the water park thanks to Jaypee’s encouragement (because if I was rogue running (solo) this event, I probably would’ve stayed in the pools) and 40 to 60 minutes of waiting in line for each slide. Tausug Trails is the first slide we took and after that, we lined up for Big Bamboo. Unfortunately, I don’t have an action cam with me to record the experience and I don’t want to hold my smartphone during slides. I was able to take some photos of the slides before I took my turn. Check out some of the photos I took before taking the splash.

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Splash Island Map.
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The attractions.
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The River Calm!
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The crowded Balsa River.
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The not-so River Wild.
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Using a water-proof pouch for my S7 Edge to take Splashing photos.
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Jaypee getting splashed.
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The twisting slides of King Pilipit.
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Rio Montosa, more twists and turns than M. Night Shyamalan’s movies.
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Before our turn in Rio Montosa. Normally this ride requires 4 people, but 3 will do. One person joined me and Jaypee. I screamed a lot during this ride because it feels like we’re about to tip over.
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Seeing that dark and twisty tube of King Pilipit made my heart beat faster than running a 5-minute per kilometer pace.
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Like Mario going down the pipes. My turn. No turning back. In the end, I loved it. Definitely my favorite slide.
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Magellan’s Drop is our last slide. This is the tall and long slide you see along SLEX (coming from the South). Photo taken while lining up for our turn.
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Last slide of the day. Took a photo before my turn. This is definitely the scariest for me since I can see where I’m going. But, I enjoyed it. We couldn’t repeat the slides because of the long queue, so left before 3 pm.

 

 

Posted in 5k, 5km, adventure, fun run, guerilla race, Obstacle Course Racing, obstacle run, run for a cause, running, running event

Running Soon: Guerilla Race Splash – The Water Edition

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Press Release

BEAT THE HEAT AND SPLASH YOUR WAY AT GUERILLA RACE SPLASH – THE WATER EDITION

Summer is all about having fun and creating extraordinary memories. This year, Guerilla Race, the first, premier and only obstacle race in the Philippines, will turn your summer moments into something offbeat as it takes an exciting yet audacious route, daring to infuse water adventure into the race.

Aptly titled as “Guerilla Race Splash –The Water Edition”, the race is a fusion of land and water obstacles.  Aldenver Marketing, Inc., the organizer of Guerilla Race, in partnership with Splash Island will hold a never before seen event, enticing both pro and neophyte runners and fitness buffs in the country.

This unconventional race will happen on May 28, 2017 in Binan, Laguna. It will not only provide extraordinary challenges but also exceptional enjoyment, as racers are expected to plunge into the water and get drenched in several water activities to test one’s versatility, strength and stamina. Fun is an understatement.

The Sprint Category will have the 5km run and 12 obstacles. It will be a combination of water and land obstacles. You can enter as an individual or as a team which has a minimum of four members to ten members. The cut off time is 1.5 hours.

The racekit costs Php 1,250 which includes a singlet, finisher shirt, finisher medal and giveaways from sponsors.

Like any of the Guerilla Race series, part of the proceeds of this upcoming race will go to Armed Forces of the Philippines Educational Benefit System Office (AFPEBSO), an organization that supports education of the soldiers’ orphans. Therefore, your summer will be filled with precious memory because you have helped less privileged people through this race.

The race will not be possible without our generous sponsors : Dermplus, Regroe, Lifesaber, Atmost Fit Elite, 100 Plus, Black Mamba, Mega Fiber, Cranuti, Blackwater, Deuter, Grand Encore International, Iolytes, Curves, Anytime Fitness Fairview, Sta Rosa, Iron den Crossfit, Crossfit Mad Minute, Fitness Unlimited and support from our Media partners – Manila Bulletin, Business Mirror, Malaya Business Insight, ANC News Channel, Philippine Graphic, Pilipino Mirror, Health and Fitness Magazine, Travel Life, Food Health and Scined Magazine, Vanity Life, Pinoy Fitness.com, wheninmanila.com, V81 Radio and ABS CBN Sports and Action.

For inquiries, you may contact Veronica Ramos at 0927-8484533 , aldenver.veronicaramos@gmail.com Also our facebook page: Guerilla Race

 

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Haven’t joined a Guerilla Race before? why? I can tell you as one of the pioneer participants of the very first Guerilla Race in Nuvali, it’s a challenging, but fun race. It tests you physically and mentally. And to preview the awesomeness of the Guerilla Race events, read my race report of GUERILLA RACE PANTHER in Filinvest City. So, if you have the guts to get off the couch and take on the challenge, see you on May 28.

Posted in 21.0975 kilometers, 21k, City Run, half-marathon, running, running event

Slightly cracked, but not broken… (Run United Exceed 2017)

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).

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At the starting line of Wave 1.
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A former colleague, Mark, found me whilst walking toward the starting line.
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Ryan and I before the start of the race. Photo by Mark Pizarra.

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.

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Doing just fine in the first 5k. 

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.

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Flatulence unleashed like an Anti-Lag System of a turbo-charged rally car. Odor-free and footsteps suppressing the noise, it’s Passing Wind done right. Photo Credit: takbo.ph

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.

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When there’s nothing around you that can motivate or inspire you to exceed yourself, just keep going steady and safely. Photo Credit: Run S.A.

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.

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Didn’t Exceed myself. Just Run Simple. Photo Credit: MyRunTime

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.

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Jogging towards the finish line. Route distance accuracy aside, I’m finishing it with a medal in tow. Photo Credit: PinoyFitness

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.

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The strange part of the result is that my gun time and chip time is the same and I know that there should be at least 19 (or more) seconds of difference because I started my smartphone app at gun time whilst my GPS watch was started on chip time (the time I crossed the starting line).

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.

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Gonna Run Better next time. Happy with the medal. Photo Credit: Run S.A.

 

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.

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With AHC mentor Carly and Elma. They are the 02:30 pacers of the run.
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Ran with my Saucony Kinvara 7. My weapon of choice for half-marathons and marathons.
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Done with my first ever Run United event.
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Didn’t exceed ourselves. Tip of the hat to Ryan and the runners who didn’t make it to the cutoff time, but still pushed through and finished the race. Noble effort can be more inspiring than medals.
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Courage – Commitment – Passion
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The medal is worth it. Photo Credit: Run S.A.
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Aside from the Gatorade and bottled water, we got this loot bag.
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One of the best looking medal in my collection.

 

RUNdom NOTES:

– 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.

Posted in 42.195 kilometers, 42k, Marathon, running, running event

What Marathon Dreams May Come (TBR Dream Marathon 2017)

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.)

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So nice of you to ‘Grace’ us with your presence.
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Happy Mommy of Three.
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Photographer, check. Cheer Leader/Motivator, check. Sweeper, check.
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Now that’s just cheating… nah, just the photographer
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Finish line is so close, he can almost taste it.
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It rained during the event, but the big smiles made it go away.
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The dedicated video/camera man
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Marathon Graduation Day!
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Running with your daughter to the finish line is more fun than a walk to the aisle.
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More fun than running alone.
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My favorite photo from the event. So much smiles, too much happiness.
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Waiting for mommy.
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Blazing, Blitzing Blue team.
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Smooth (camera) Operator…. Smooooooth (camera) Operator…
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Will she make it to a Sub-6 finish?….
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… She didn’t. But, it doesn’t matter because she finished her first marathon and 6 hours isn’t so bad.
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This kid is a hero, a Runner’s Hero! =)
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I’m happy because you’re happy =)
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My money’s on the dog.
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Mexi-CAN finish a marathon.
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The Runner Family. There’s Daddy Runner, Kid Runner, and Mommy Runner.
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Tee off!
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Yellow vs Blue.
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Supporting Tito… Sportito!
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Race signs to boost motivation. “Run Like You Stole Something” very good motivation, indeed.
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Three-way!
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Drag Me To …
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Leeeeeeerrrrooooooooy…. Jenkins!
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High Five for a boost in Runner’s High.
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Man’s best pacer.
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Runner’s Hero finally spotted mom and he’s finally unleashed
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And off he goes to run the day!
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Smile a little… then smile big at the finish line.
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It made me smile to see a runner’s entourage trying to catch up with their runner.
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The guy on the left’s sign reads iRUN because #YuanIsLove.
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BlazBlues
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Let’s dash to the finish line. But first, let me take a #selfie.
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When you’re so happy that you don’t care about PR anymore.
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Most of the runner dads here have a daughter or two.
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Run With Me is sweeter than those trending “Follow Me” instagram photos.
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A pacer and spectators encouraging an exhausted and injured runner towards the finish line (just a few meters away).
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Ignore the pain and keep going. Smiling Guy’s got your back.
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Wave and say hello to WINNER.
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Like a dog parade in a running event.
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Baby girl is experiencing her first run without actually touching the ground and running.
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Fight the pain or walk with loved ones, just keep going.
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Let’s try to beat Dad.
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Grandma is one of the most cheerful spectator. She cheers for everyone especially when she found their runner. A few seconds off your PR is worth it for a photo with a wonderful person and loved one.
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PR doesn’t always matter. You all did it. That’s all that matters.
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Mom’s best escorts.
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Jesse Quick! A marathoner in the making right there.
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When the gang’s got your back.
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Running for Mr. RUNiverse 2017!
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You don’t have to finish strong, just finish happy. And when you’re happy and smiling, even the spectators are happy and smiling. It’s infectious.
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Game face still on. Go Jen!
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It rained several times that day, but it didn’t stop the runners from making their marathon dreams a reality.
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GoPRO Hero got nothing on GoPAPA Hero.
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As a 3-time marathoner, I will never have the chance to join TBR Dream Marathon. But, I will always be happy to watch it every year to feel the good vibes and see the joy of the new marathoners.
Posted in Marathon Training, Runmania, Runmania PH, running, running event, trekking

34 x 34 (Resolution Run 2017)

Mountain hiking, cycling, and cardio workouts only complements marathon training. A long distance training run is still necessary to complete the marathon preparation. I do 5 to 8-kilometer runs on Wednesday and Friday mornings, and 10 to 15-kilometer training runs on Sundays, but I know that I have to run a longer distance if I want to get a respectable PR. And the reason I don’t go beyond 15 kilometers is because I get bored running the same route over and over again. When I found out about the 34k category of Resolution Run, it got me interested, but also hesitant to join because I was also trying to save money. Then two things convinced me to join, the chance to finally run the full distance of Resolution Run’s Nuvali and Casile route (I joined Resolution Run 2015’s 20k category and only reached the Marcos Mansion and a small part of Casile) and to run 34 kilometers at the age of 34. So, it’s 34 kilometers for a 34 year old runner. That sounds nice.

The last time I joined a Runmania event was December 2015 (PNPA Uphill Challenge) and I’m not surprised that the race started late as usual (it was suppose to start at 3:30 am, we started at 4 am).

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Arrived at the event site around 2 am, but the race started 30 minutes late…
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just continuing the organizer’s tradition of delayed start. Photo Credit: LagunaRun.Ph
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All smiles at the start of the race, different story when you’re about to finish it. Photo Credit: LagunaRun.Ph

It was a cold morning and some parts of Nuvali are pitch-black. The organizer was able to properly lit some of the darkest parts of Nuvali, especially the road after Miriam College. They did it right compared to the organizer of the previous running event I joined last December (my first ultramarathon) who failed to provide proper lighting or safety markers in the dark areas of the race route.

The plan was to attempt a sub-4 hour 34k run and to keep the pace at 6 to 7 minutes per kilometer. This is to test my capability to maintain a consistent pace and the result is part of assessing myself to see if a Sub-5 hour marathon PR is doable. Nuvali main road has a lot of uphills, I was able to maintain the pace for 12 kilometers, and after that, the pace exceeds 7 minutes per kilometer, but also goes back to the target pace, depending on the terrain. The pace begins to shift to a crawl at the 24th kilometer when we start to ascend towards the Marcos Twin Mansion and Baranggay Casile.

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The steep uphills start here. Going up to the Marcos Mansion (to the left is the Canlubang Golf and Country Club) and Baranggay Casile.
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Fun Fact: The Marcos Twin Mansion is the setting of the 2015 local film, Haunted Mansion.

I am very familiar with the Marcos Twin Mansion part of the route because I’ve run the route twice. It’s okay to conserve energy and walk (which I did), even some cyclists get off their bikes and walk this part of the road. What I wasn’t prepared for was the very steep uphill segments of Baranggay Casile. I started to feel cramps on my thigh and calf, so I really had to walk a lot and be careful in shifting my pace. I caught up with fellow runner, Rick Frias (whom I met at the 40th Milo Marathon) somewhere between the 26th and 27th kilometer who was also walking at the time.

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But, you have to love life at the bottom first.
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This is the first steep uphill stretch of Baranggay Casile…..
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and the second steep uphill feels like a small mountain and it made the first steep uphill look like an ant colony in comparison.

I paced with Rick as we reached the 34k U-turn and veteran runner, Iliquim also joined us back to Nuvali. It started to get hot at the time and some aid stations ran out of supplies and started packing up. I also noticed that the race distance will exceed 34 kilometers based on my GPS watch and smartphone app’s reading and my experience running in the area.

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Run like there’s a police car on your tail… oh wait, there is! Photo Credit: Run S.A.
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Smile like you just ran 34 kilometers and got 3 more kilometers for free! Photo Credit: Run S.A.

By the time we passed the Nuvali Roundabout, it was more than 34 kilometers and because we already know that a sub-4 PR is out of reach, the motivation to run or at least jog our way to the finish line faded. We walked a lot, alternating with short jogging until we reached East Nature Avenue. I still have some gas and started running when I finally saw the finish line from the distance.

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I started speeding up in the last 400 meters. Photo from Runmania FB page.
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a pinch of cramp was felt on my right calf. Photo from Runmania FB page
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So, I eased up and kept moving at a constant speed. Photo from Runmania FB page
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Kept running until I cross the finish line. Photo from Runmania FB page
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Fake smiling to hide the pain and exhaustion. Photo from Runmania FB page

I finally crossed the finish line at 4 hours 41 minutes with a total distance of more than 37 kilometers. It was also good timing that I saw AHC Mentor Carly standing on the podium bagging 3rd place of the 8 km category. A congratulated her before entering the activity area to claim my entitlements and re-hydrate.

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Time and Distance as recorded by my Soleus GPS watch.
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04:41:17 my official time. Rank #81 out of 450 runners in the 34k category.
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Smile of Survival (surviving uphells, cramps, and the heat). Photo Credit: Aquizzed Snaps Photography.
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With the overall champion and fellow Team 7-Eleven Philippines (batch 2016), Argel Mendoza.
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With fellow runners, Iliquim, and Rick.

The run isn’t exactly the 34 kilometers for a 34-year old runner that I had in mind. More than 3 kilometers is too much of an extra distance, so where did the additional kilometers come from? I think the actual route had something to do with it. As seen in the photo below, the original route layout posted on facebook illustrates that the runners are suppose to run on the road going to Republic Wake Park and then back to Nuvali main road. But, the actual route had us going back to Miriam College instead, adding the extra 3 kilometers in the total distance.

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The change in route as illustrated in the original route layout versus the actual route recorded by Nike Run Club app. If they directed us to run towards the Republic Wake Park road then to Nuvali main road (shorter distance) instead of going back around to Miriam College (longer distance), the overall distance probably would’ve been around 34-35 kilometers.

The extra 3+ kilometers added challenge and it’s a good thing especially for those who joined the event as their marathon tune-up run and that is probably the reason why no one really complained about it.

I really enjoyed the run, sure the uphills of Casile was torture on the knees and food for the cramps, but I enjoyed the scenic views and fresh air. And I firmly believed that the challenge only made me stronger and physically prepared for my 3rd marathon on February 4.

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The trophies for the podium finishers. Same trophy design from last year’s Cavite 2 Laguna (C2L) Ultramarathon.
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Some nice post-race freebies, certificate of participation, the medal, and finisher shirt.

 

Posted in 10 kilometers, 10k, 15 kilometers, 21k, 5k, 5km, 711, 7eleven, adventure, backpacking, best moments, City Run, Duo Race, Expo and Events, fun run, half-marathon, Marathon, Milo Marathon, Photo Shoot, Photography, run for a cause, running, running event, running locales, Running Photography, travel, ultramarathon, Valley Trail Challenge

2016 Bests!

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)

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You will never forget your first marathon. Photo Credit: Pinoy Fitness.

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.

Honorable Mentions:

Running my first international run (11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon)

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One of the biggest surprises in my life. Me, running my first international run in Phuket, Thailand.

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)

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Glory of Love?… Loving what we’re doing 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)

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All smiles for another milestone. Photo Credit: albertthebackpacker.com

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

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This year’s Milo Marathon medal is bigger and looks better than the previous years medals.

It’s gold in color, well-designed, big, and heavy. Should there be any other reason why this isn’t the best?

Honorable Mentions:

Batman V Superman Run Medal

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Like a shiny Batarang.

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

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It’s a Moo-dal!

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

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Feels like Batman on his non-brooding days.

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.

Honorable Mentions

Team 7-Eleven ASICS Motion Dry

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Blue is the Coolest Color

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

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According to sports studies and statistics, those who wear read in competitions and matches are likely to win. Not me though.

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

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If the red tech shirt is fire, the blue finisher shirt is ice.

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.

Honorable Mentions:

Financial Fitness Run 2016 Finisher Shirt

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Purple Power!

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

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Milo Marathon is like the Philippine equivalent of the Boston Marathon. The theme color is green (because of the Milo products) like the Boston Celtics.

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

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My loot from the 7-Eleven Run 2016.
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The Team 7-Eleven Philippines jacket and ASICS Motion Dry shirt.

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.

Honorable Mentions

Saucony Kinvara 7

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For that green-minded runs

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

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Contents of the loot bag include a Special Force T-shirt, mouse pad, and Starbucks Card.
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Just got lucky and won this awesome Razer Network Hoodie from the raffle. I checked razerzone.com for the price and it’s worth $79.99

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

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My first ultramarathon finish is memorable, the event itself is forgettable.

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

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10k run first and then 5k run after an hour. hmm….

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

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It’s the November Easter Egg Hunt. Photo credit: Bicolano Runner

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

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Feels like I’m running the local version of the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: Photo-Ops

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

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One is a rogue, Two is company, Three’s a crowd. Photo Credit: Active Pinas

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

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I am the day. Photo credit: Running Photographers

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

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Achievement Unlocked: Reach Marathon Level. Photo Credit: Team Foot-Ah

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

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The non-elite runners of Team 7-Eleven Philippines.

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

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Highway to the safer zone.

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

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Wet and Wild, the non-perverted way. Photo Credit: Active Pinas.

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

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Tough x Rough?

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.

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EPILOGUE:

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.