I might as well get this out of the way.
I have been meaning to write a post about my experience as a sweeper for the first time during H1. The race took place last May 18, 2023. Initially, I was requested to pace a runner but she decided to postpone her first take on the race. She was not confident. I understand. Truth be told, I actually trained as a pacer since there was still a good 60 or so kilometres until the Finish line. That is not something to sneer at especially in a mountain race like H1.
We used to joke that a pacer should "pace" his runner and not the runner pacing the pacer :) Besides, it would be a shame to appear weaker than your runner since he or she needs to feed off from your strong and fresh energy or vibe. So that the pacer should train as well as his runner doing everything to make sure his runner crosses the Finish line within the cut-off time or time barrier as they say in Europe.
H1 for short or Hardcore Hundred Miles Trail Ultramarathon is the culminating race of the KOTM series up in North of the Philippines. One of the toughest races on this side of the planet and I had the "crazy" pleasure of doing it 3 in a row in 2013 (1st edition), 2014 and 2015 to get in the Hall of Fame. My first race report you can find it here and just search for the other articles using H1 as key.
After hearing the news that my runner decided not to go, I volunteered to be a sweeper instead. Something new to me. Besides, I did not want my training to go to waste but doing the entire 100 miles was not option. Firstly, I did not train specifically for it and lastly, I do not want to ruin my record of 3-in-a-row accomplishment. It would be a tragedy to DNF this race. Not now.
So, I got in touch with RD Jonel to allow me to sweep. I was given the duty for this section, Babadak-Cabayo-Banao-Castillo during nighttime or roughly 40 kilometres stretch. Not bad. Better than nothing to do with all the training. I had no idea what to do so I researched a bit. In our conversation, I jokingly said it would seem I would act as a "babysitter" for the last runner or group of runners, and he said that to listen to them "whine" - a common occurrence amongst ultrarunners especially when the going gets tough. Well, believe me there was more to it than whining that I had personally witnessed and how the human spirit can be a very powerful aid to successfully finish this race or any ultra for that matter. More on this later.
Here are some pictures:
“Out of sufferings have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” (Kahlil Gibran)