03 September 2010

Mumblings over PAU 65K (70K?) race

Bangui Windmills

So this is the 2nd race of Philippine Association of Runners (PAU) for this year. The first one was the 50k held on 09 May 2010 (http://baldrunner.com/2010/05/10/official-result-1st-pau-50k-run-tanay-rizal/).

Among the two, the 50K route was the hardest so far. Long kilometers of ascents and descents under the scorching heat of the sun. If we runners here keep doing these runs, we will be sunburned beyond recognition. Not even the highest SPF will save our skin. Bataan Death March (BDM) 102K race has the longest length of sun exposure which is being held ironically during the summer season. They do not call it "Death March" for nothing but historical nonetheless.

But then again, we keep joining these ultra races year after year :) Crazy as it may sound. Well BDM has taken ultras on this side of the planet to a new level - pilgrim. Yes, pilgrim. Some runners I know have likened BDM to an annual pilgrim of some sort. (BR must be happy :). I don't know. I have never been the dogmatic-type but if that is what it takes to finish the darn race, feel free to feel that way. 

I am obviously disgressing. Okay, this is not about SPF, sunburn, BDM, pilgrim, "Death March", skin disease, etc.

The main reason in joining this race (65K) was to see how my current training is going for the ultra in November. (PAU standing is just collateral.)  A some sort of feedback mechanism. The best  feedback was right after the race. Legs were okay and even the day after. DOMS was practically non-existent. Just a pair of tired legs. On the beach the next morning, the 20-minute recovery jog was enjoyable. Learned one or two lessons though during the race which hopefully will come handy in succeeding races.

Truth to tell, even several minutes before the race there was no decision yet whether to race or  just run it. To end the debate, it sort of dawned on me that the proper approach would be to consider this as a long run - an indispensable part of training for ultras. Just sort of allow the circumstances and other variables of the race to dictate the pace and eventually the outcome. Besides, there was no specificity of training (mostly on trails and hills lately) I invested in this race to make it THE race worth such huge efforts and jeopardize subsequent weeks of training because of extended recovery. I think it is really important to adjust accordingly during the race and not be solely dictated by pre-race plans, etc.

The day before the race, the weather was promising. Drizzle here and there and overcast sky during the 12-hour long trip. Yes, 12 hours.  Some runners took the plane. Good for them. We have this huge coaster all for ourselves but with sore butts and lower back after the journey. After the race, we wondered though whether it was worth the travel time of 24 hours or so. Well it was worth it because our female teammate finally became an ultrarunner - Precy. She is the one with bib number 116. Congratulations.

The weather during the race was totally the opposite of the weather the day before and after. It was so hot that it felt like our back and shoulders were rubbed with chili powder. (You should see our skin now. Burned to perfection :) All of us were sunburned even with use of sunblock. And those who thought were "immune" to it like those who are of dark complexion were not spared. Perhaps, the race should have started earlier than at 5AM. Or could it be that the air/wind coming from the South China Sea aggravated our condition?

It was nice to talk to some of the top finishers during and after the race. For instance, there were several hours during which I shared the road with the Zaldy (no. 5 overall) and Cris (no. 7) especially on the long stretch along the Bangui Windmill area. We knew implicitly that somewhere, somehow, all of us had to run at their own pace and be ranked acordingly. But for now, we enjoyed each other's company. Eventually, Cris surged ahead and we thought that would be the last time we would see him until we bumped into him with 7 kilometers to go to the finish line. His feet were battered that he could hardly walk (reminds me of my first 100K - TNF). Blisters and he thought there was some bleeding down there. His classic mistake was dumping water over his head and letting his feet get soaked in the process. I was not suprised since this was his first ultra. Zaldy on the other hand was suffering from cramps. Absent any of these conditions, they would have probably finished strong and ahead of me. I learned both were sponsored athletes (or used to), far younger than me and triathletes in their own rights. We have something in common though... sunburn :)

For the most part, Zaldy and I ran together until the last kilometer of the race. We overtook Ed, the no. 5 then (ranked no. 9 after the race) who was not having the best times. Ambulance vehicle was shadowing him now. He seemed exhausted and cramps were killing him as well. With less than 1 kilometer to go, something struck me and it was without a doubt the symptom of cramps. I must have done something wrong or failed to do what the circumstances called for. My inner thighs were turning into a knot of some kind. My suspicion was insufficient electrolyte intake. It was not suprising that it would happen sooner or later as my crew could not ideally make it on time as there was only vehicle for 5 runners in our team. First incident of cramps in my ultras. Walking was the only option until the last 600 meters where my legs felt better. 

In fairness to Zaldy who would want us to finish together, I had to send him off. After all he deserved to finish ahead and take the no. 5 position. No worry. 

From left: Noel, Abet, Precy, Albert, Jeff, me, Arman? (sorry, man) and Boni

At the finish line, I was able to talk to the 1st place winner - Rey Pascua together with Zaldy and others. Rey was holding a bottle of beer when I approached him and he said "for recovery" and we both say "cheers!". They both hailed from the same province of Ilocos and who both knew the terrain well. It is amazing that both ran the Camsur (triathlon race) the week before and still managed to finish strong in this race. Rey holds a 2:26 PR in marathon. No wonder he won the race. He intimated to finish the race in 6 hours or less. 

I am, however, even more amazed by finisher no. 49 - Wellington Yao who likewise ran the Camsur. The difference though is age. He is 65 years old to date and a veteran runner (Boston finisher in his younger years). Now here is a runner worth emulating. Hopefully we'd get to be as strong like him when we reached 60 and beyond. Congrats to Wellington Yao who is fondly called "Uncle Willy" or "Tito Willy" in the running community. Oh he ran Fat Ass 2010 also. He signed up for 6 hours but managed to run beyond the time. His reason, he simply loved running... even in loops. Amazing.

Windmills in the background

Albert from Kapurpurawan rocks


I was asking for water but there was none. Instead of grimace, just smile!

The cool CREW (from left Bert, Pot, Rinna, Alex and Ann-Ann)

Now this is hospitality. Warms your heart.

Noel and Precy with less than 2K to go. Wohoo!

Hope you're okay now Isko. Congrats still!

The trophies

Mitch (female winner), Tito Willy and me

Albert, Boss Red (the chief crew), me and Boni

It must be the Bagnet (crackling fried pork). Darn good after the race!

Oh this time it must be the pinakbet (local mix veggies) with bagnet!




Now, this blog is not to be an instrument to foment suspicion, allow accusing finger or mudslinging without proof. Not my cup of tea being in the legal profession. So no naming of names.

There were reports of some runners "not following" the exact route and "leapfrogging" ahead of other runners.  How? I have no idea. However, Precy and Noel (who both paced each other) swore by it despite being repeatedly cross-examined during and after the race as to the veracity of their story. We asked a hundred or so variations of "They might be leading after all because so and so.", "Are you really really sure?", "Perhaps, you two might not have noticed it that ...?" and so on. They would not stop and were irritated (to put it mildly) about what happened.  We thought a good dinner would pacify them but to no avail. Even during our post-race mini celebration at the resort, this was the hot topic. Even days after the race, they still swore by it. Oh well.

Now I know this couple for years now and they are not the ones who will invent stories. At least, there is credibility in there. Ok, I'd say it. I vouch for them.

The problem with this type of shenanigans is that it is really hard to gather proof while it is being committed. So the chance of these runners getting caught is really slim.  

So what is the point of this postscript. Not much and many. Any damage or inconvenience? Not sure but not in the legal sense of the word. Precy was the most affected though and "nawalan ng gana" (lost heart) because of the incident. She joined the race with much respect for those whom she shared the road with and then this. 

Going back to the question, any damage or inconvenience then? Oh it was nothing. She just lost her early lead/position to those runners.

Jon (no cheers this time)


  1. Congratulations Atty Jon! Another one inspiring finish.

    Congratulations to your friends as well! They were very strong. Your support were also the friendliest =)

    Oh, those shenanigans (1,2,3). I hope it didn't cause much disappointment for a stronger finish for Prescy. It is indeed disappointing losing the lead.
    They got it now but they won't have it for long. Ultra roads should remain respectable.

  2. Hi Tin. We are not referring to the top 3 female runners. In fairness, they finished really strong.


  3. Oh, my bad. Was saying it is one, two or three pax. Of course, Mich & Siosan are really strong! =)

    witnessed one great appear/disappear act as well. & a trike driver too..& a...

  4. Oh oh. I think I opened a can of worms. At least, my friends' story can be verified by other runners.

    Thank you for your comments and off-blog email to me. We both know now who they are. It is a crying shame.

    On a lighter note. Congratulations. You have now become a strong ultrarunner yourself.

  5. congratulations for a strong finish atty !!! you did it again !!!

    im quite surprised to hear somebody would dare cheat br's race. i heard about this "cheating" on the way back to manila and we were told at least 2 runners did...


  6. Congrats for your 6th place finish!! Kudos for your nice article. I am truly honored to be mentioned in your writeup though undeserved.Thank you..Looks can be deceiving so even if I look 65, I am only 60 years young and growing younger.haha ha.See you in the next ultra being planned by Don this Sept daw..Here we go again......Willy Yao

  7. congrats atty jon...

    I hope someday i can run with you in clark...


  8. Jon, nice post and a nice blog. Hopefully, I'll meet you in November when I run my first ultra. Congratulations again on the 70K! - Wayne

  9. Jonnifer... if you have time, pls check this out:

  10. I don't know why I never had such heart for Ultra Running. I envy you guys who could go beyond the very limits of your mind and body. It seems that I can't face my fear with Ultras. I just hope that someday...... nah... I think I would really never run an ultra, hays!

    About the cheating, let's hope that the issue would be cleared out soon.