In Focus: Runnex Executive Classic

The Runnex 10k Executive Classic Race has weathered the many high quality races that had mushroomed every weekend. For one, it’s not a mega race that everyone could enter to nor is it one which is endorsed by celebrities or organized with high tech gizmos.

Yet, one thing has remained constant: It has still retained its exclusivity by serving the Professionals and Business Executive runners have their own race and it has been anticipated by its long-time followers. When last year’s race was canceled to give way for the preparation and staging of the first QCIM, a lot were quite disappointed as they had the race earmarked already in their racing calendars. When Runnex decided to hold it this year, plans of  staging was going to be low key, as registration was initially planned to be by “invitation” only.

However, when word spread out that the run was going to push through, a lot of requests were received from former participants to make this an open registration race, Runnex decided to open the registration barely a week before the race.

Its re-entry into the local racing calendar was welcomed by many as the race was also used as an opportunity for the Runnex Discover Running Clinic participants to use as a graduation run and finish a 10k ( story here ) .

Last May 23’s race had a new course inside the UP Campus that traversed past the Observatory and reached the newly paved rotunda that has become a new route for the running habitues of U.P.

This race will continue to be a simple event and it will remain a special one for those qualified to run the race. Perhaps it’s special because of its location, new route and the community spirit every runner feels when they join there. Maybe it’s the competition between middle of the pack runners, the awards and perhaps the great gathering after the race that entices many to come back.

Whatever the reasons, this race is here to stay and will continue to serve its purpose for the running community!

Here are some highlights of the race:

The start

Chi Running: This Sunday at U.P.

Mr. Lit Onrubia

Participants of the Sunday Runnex Discover Running Clinic are in for a treat when the Chi Running Method will be discussed and demonstrated this coming Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 7:45am after the customary group runs.

The topic will be discussed by the only certified Chi Running Instructor in the country, Mr. Lit Onrubia.

There are many positive aspects about Chi Running that all runners can use as i have written it here before (chi-running-with-mr-lit-onrubia) having attended its launching last January, 2010 at the Bonifacio High Street at The Fort.

Chi Running is basically a whole body approach to running form and with the help of self-visualization creates a balance state of mind and body. It utilizes core strength and the proper alignment of arms and legs, achieving a sense of “Chi”. When the balance and alignment is made, you slightly lean forward from your core, up– and let gravitation pull you forward.

Here’s a short demo on Chi Running:

The lecture is open to the public and will be held in front of Abelardo Hall, University of the Philippines.

Rites of Passage: Clinic Participants Finishes 10K

One of the sidelights of last Sunday’s Runnex Executive Race was the 10k graduation run of the participants of the Runnex Discover Running Clinic. After more than 10 weeks of training under the leadership of Coach Jojo Mac, the trainees’ endurance and skills were put into test. Majority of the participants were now going to run their first 10k, while a few who may have missed part of the clinic sessions would run 5k. 

Standing at the starting line after the Corporate Executives runners were fired off 10 minutes earlier, i felt a little concerned about my role for this graduation run but excited for these first time 10k runners i was going to pace. The day earlier, Danny Villavicencio, convener of the running clinic, assigned me to pace these newbies to finish their 10k at the same route where the Executive Run was being held. Aside from myself, the pacing chores will also be shared with Betty and Tonette. 

Although i was regularly promoting this running clinic through this blog, i rarely attended the Sunday clinics as i was either on out-of-town work related activities or was running some races elsewhere. I hardly knew any of the 72 participants although many recognized me through this blog. 

We started at a cautious pace of 8:00/km although Betty and Tonette’s group, who were leading the faster runners forged ahead in a 7:00-7:30/km clip. During my pacing with my group, i was bombarded with questions on running form, nutrition, speed drills and everything that pertained to running. It was a great feel interacting with them on a gut level and listening to their experiences gave a me a greater understanding of their concerns and aspirations. 

We reached the first loop (5k) in 44 minutes which wasn’t bad at all. Those few who had minimal training opted to finish the run, their first 5k race. The majority of us continued as i continuously gave some pep talks and motivation specially when some were taking walking breaks, which was just fine. 

A kilometer at the academic oval, another 2 kilometers at the newly paved rotunda and the slight incline going back, we finally reached back the academic oval. One kilometer to go! The group was now very ecstatic, their pace grew faster as we were near the finish. 

We were cheered wildly as we crossed the finish line as the runners punched the sky with their fists and all of them had smiles big enough to light up Abelardo Hall. Our time was 1:31:00. These newbie runners represented the essence of what drew them all to the starting line last Sunday. The quest for better health and self-esteem. A sense of a fulfillment and direction to achieve their dreams. 

Crossing the finish line with them transported me back when i also was discovering running. I too had this sense of fulfillment and pride when i finished my first 10k. There is pride in achievement but most thoughts and emotions are internal. They have all finished what they came to aspire for and deep inside, they were  all proud of their achievement.

They now plan to continue with their training and pursue a larger purpose, to finish the 42k marathon this December 5. 

Way to go, guys!

Running clinic participants

Doc & Dra. Jun Kagaoan (1073/1072), Race Organizers of the Vigan Run taking a pose with Betty

Trainees in high spirits, ready to tackle their first 10k

My pacing group. Ecstatic with 1 km before the finish!

Pulling them to the finish! (Photo By Blas Tiangco)

Part of the 10k finishers

Doc Pinky Benitez winning the Runnex Executive 10k race (Womens Div) with Christy Roldan coming a close second

Cristy and Pinky holding their trophies with Runnex' Art Disini and Rudy Fernandez

Runnex's (l-r), Ofie, Owens, Rose and Armie

The Sun Chased Us!: The Neutrogena Run

I can say that last Sunday’s Chasing the Sun: The Neutrogena Run was another showcase of Finishline’s great race organization as they did a good job in plotting a new route for the 15k without passing through the Kalayaan Fly-over this time, plenty of field marshals in key strategic areas and the water and sports drinks were finally cold!  

Contrary to the run’s theme, Chasing the Sun, i supposed it would be more apt to say, “The Sun Chased Us!” as the heat became unbearable specially during the last stages of the run! It was hot and humid that morning as it was for the past several weeks. I was already sweating profusely when i did my short customary warm-up jog as my singlet was almost drenched in sweat! 

I was pleasantly surprised when some lady marshals were pressing-out tubes of sunblock cream and giving it to the 15k runners before the start of the 15k race, a first, as we liberally applied it to our arms, face and legs. But then, no amount of sunblock could beat the glaring heat of the sun as the humidity got the better of us during the run. 

I felt completely out of sync running the first few kilometers as i felt thirsty even before we reached the first water station. The heat was really sapping my energy and i never got my groove going. That said, i was only able to manage a split of 31 mins at 5k and 1:02 mins. at 10k. Even though it was a struggle maintaining my focus and cadence, at least, my pace was consistent, slow but consistent. Normally on good weather, i would have already found my rhythm and breathing easier. 

The last 5k, coming out of Bayani Road and back to Lawton Avenue was a struggle as i tried to maintain a pace of 6:00/km. Going down 5th Avenue, i was exhausted and felt like stopping to walk and find a shade in a tree or tall building. Somehow, i found another secondwind and passed-up some runners who were reduced to walking and tried to seize this opportunity as i focused more on my running. 

Fifty meters before the finishline, i saw some familiar faces who where cheering us on that stretch as if egging us to sprint the last few meters. I tried to focus my already bleary eyes to one enthusiastic cheerer, i think he was Manong Jovie (Baldrunner). A fine runner, ultra-marathon organizer and now a CHEERER! Unbelievable!:-) 

I crossed the finish line in 1:35:36 (Official Chip time 1:35:26) and felt relieved that it was over. 

After a continuous five week-ends of racing, i guess it’s time to get a much-needed rest and contemplate to another training phase that should lead to the Camsur Marathon this September. This is much more than chasing the sun or the sea… it’s chasing another dream– and that’s why i run! 

Here are some photos of the event:

With Doc Marvs and Coach Rio before the race

With Rodel (The Argonaut) and Irene at the starting line

The long queue for the freebies after the finish

Alfred and Mads (second from left and extreme right) with their group

Some of the freebies

The Colours of Vigan

I’m sharing with you some of the activities we saw during the celebration of the Binatbatan Festival of the Arts held two weeks ago in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. The Viva Vigan Heritage 15k Run held at the city streets was one of the festival’s highlights but there was more to running during the week-long activities. The trip to Baluarte theme park, unspoilt beaches at nearby Magsingal town, the stroll along Heritage Village and many more were among our undertakings during our short visit. One can easily move around Vigan on foot and while savoring the local food that were prepared by our hosts and sampling those cooked on the festival grounds, the delight of witnessing the locals prepare on their assigned activities is another amazing thing.

The grand parade was going to be one of the most anticipated entertainment and the preparations being made within Plaza Burgos, Quezon Avenue, Florentino Street and its adjoining alleys were abuzz with merry-making liveliness. Exhibits, trade/food fairs, religious rituals, Santacruzans and other presentations were in full swing but what caught my eyes were the colorful decorations of the carabao- (water buffalo) drawn carriages which were going to pull in different indigenous products that hallmarks the unique identity of the Biguenos. 

The people showed their artistic inclinitions that even the carabaos were not spared.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.:-)










Vigan Cathedral

Beach front which we all had to ourselves located at Magsingal, Ilocos Sur

Betty, wearing her Vigan Run shirt

The trail heading towards the beach

Enjoying the powdery sand

Taking a break at Crisologo Street

Gavin getting a tattoo

One of the many miniature horses at Baluarte

Congressman Chavit's unfinished mansion


The closest i could get to Cong. Chavit (and his tiger!)

The real mccoy!

Betty posing at the entrance

Chase The Sun: The Neutrogena Run 2010

I received an e-mail invitation the other day from Vince Mendoza, Finishline honcho to their upcoming Neutrogena Run: Chase the Sun at The Fort this coming Sunday, May 16. I already registered in the 15k category of this race and will claim my race packet at the ROX next Monday. I particularly like the Finisher’s shirt they’d be handing out after the run although i wish they would also give a singlet on top of this.:-)

Here’s the press write up of the Neutrogena Run 2010:

Chase the Sun at the Neutrogena Run!

A true runner will never let the intense summer heat get in the way of a good workout. But let’s face it. It would be a lot safer for her skin if she had something to protect her against damaging UVA and UVB rays. On Sunday, May 16, 2010, 4000 runners will finally get the chance to run under the summer sun with maximum sun protection. The Neutrogena Chase the Sun Run in Fort Bonifacio is the first road race organized by a beauty brand. A tribute to the woman who can sport beautiful, summer skin and strut her stuff as an active runner, the Chase the Sun Run will give runners the chance to experience firsthand how Neutrogena takes care of their skin.

For all their sun protection matters, runners need only look for the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer product line. This line of lotions and moisturizers offers runners superior sun protection through the Neutrogena-patented Helioplex technology. While other sunblocks are only effective in blocking out UVB rays, Helioplex technology delivers photo-stable UV protection that blocks both burning UVB rays and cancer-causing UVA rays from penetrating the skin. The Ultra Sheer product line comes in two convenient variants: Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 50+ and Waterlight Lotion SPF 50+ PA+++. Dry Touch Sunblock quickly gets absorbed into the skin, and its waterproof and non-pore clogging features are perfect for the active runner. Waterlight is an incredibly lightweight facial sun care product that is easy to spread, velvety, not greasy, and not shiny.  At the Chase the Sun Run, all runners will get the opportunity to sample both Ultra Sheer products, and testify to the superior sun protection that only Neutrogena can provide.

Ready to face the heat, runners will follow the Filipino running icon, Coach Rio, as he and his team of experienced race organizers have taken the Chase the Sun Run to exciting new heights. Aside from the timer chip that every runner will receive, the race routes will also pass through new roads that previous races have never before gone through. Runners can register for the 3k, 5k, 10k, or 15k races at R.O.X. in Bonifacio High Street until May 9.

The symbol of beauty and an active lifestyle is the Bull Runner herself, Jaymie Pizarro, who will demonstrate that only Neutrogena Ultra Sheer can give runners the freedom to Chase the Sun, knowing that their skin is fully protected.

On Sunday, May 16 at Fort Bonifacio, get ready to Chase the Sun with Neutrogena!

Race Category Registration Fee # of slots available Assembly time Start time
3k P400.00 1,000 5:35AM 6:05AM
5k P550.00 1,250 5:25AM 5:55AM
10k P600.00 1,000 5:15AM 5:45AM
15k P650.00 750 5:00AM 5:30AM

In addition to the Chase the Sun singlet, runners can also look forward to a filled-to-the-brim Johnson & Johnson lootbag and an awesome finishers’ shirt made exclusively by Team Manila. Furthermore, cash prizes await the winners of each distance from the male and female categories. But the gifts don’t stop there! Upon finishing the run, participants, friends, and family members can spend the morning treating themselves to activities and games sponsored by participating Johnson & Johnson brands, Carefree, Modess, Listerine, Johnson’s Body Care, and of course, Neutrogena.

Registration for Neutrogena Run at ROX will be extended to May 12, 2010.

For more details, runners may visit or call 703-1736.

Here's the finisher's T-Shirt

A Run From The Tigers!: 1st Viva Vigan Heritage Run

There are many reasons why one has to visit Vigan.

One is to enjoy the uniqueness of its historic town scape which is an architectural blend of Asian, European and Latin-American influences, showcasing its world-famous colonial ancestral houses.

Another is to sample their local cuisine and i’m a sucker for their bagnet, longanisa, empanada and sinanglaw.

For me, i wanted to visit Vigan to run the 1st Viva Vigan Heritage 15K Run!:-) Call me any funny word you will, such as addict or halimaw, it remains my firm belief and passion that running takes precedence over everything else and i’m sure most of you will concur. 🙂

Seriously, me and my running group of Betty, Mel and Tonette have been planning this trip way before it was announced that a race was going to be held in Vigan on May 2. Betty’s husband Ral is from the place and his family owns two well-maintained ancestral homes at the Heritage District so as luck would have it, the trip would coincide with the race itself.

After a nine-hour trip, we arrived late in the afternoon of Friday. The following day, Betty and myself had a trail run at the Baluarte which i posted earlier (the-trails-of-baluarte/). That run was supposed to loosen and flex our muscles but i ended up slightly sore and muddy as the trails were still damp as it rained the night before.

The city of Vigan is a serious running town and is spearheaded by its local running group, the TARAYEM Metro Vigan Runners Club which hold their daily runs around their scenic neighborhood. Tarayem, which means “run it” has joined major road races in Metro Manila like the first Quezon City International Marathon, Condura Marathon and the Milo races. No wonder that this running club has staged its first ever road race, the Viva Vigan Heritage Run which is now part of the city’s Binatbatan Festival of Arts, one of the biggest cultural events in the north.

The night before the race, i was able to meet Dr. Jun Kagaoan, the Race Director and one of the leaders of Tarayem. That night, he was hosting a small carbo-loading party for all the runners as we were given our race packets and a nice souvenir shirt of the run. Nice to have met the local runners and those from Manila who traveled all the way to Vigan just to join the race (see, i wasn’t the only addict!)

The morning of the race, i woke up early and had some coffee with Betty who was already done with her 2nd cup. We then changed to our running gear and proceeded to the race venue which was just a five-minute walk from the house. We did our customary warm-ups and by the time we finished, the race was about to start.

15k Race Course

Runners at the Carbo Loading Party. Second from right is Race Director Dr. Jun Kagaoan

Moments before the 15k race from left: Helio, Roselle, Mel, Betty and myself

Posing while waiting, from Left, yours truly, Doc June (Race Organizer), Helio, Roselle, Betty & Mel

The 15k race started in front of the Vigan City Hall, after the 3k and the 10k runners were sent off. We made a quick right turn, then a u-turn and quickly descended to the city’s outskirts. I was pacing with Betty and we ran just under 6:30/min pace which we maintained all throughout the race.

The road marshals, police and other race officials were in full force all throughout the route to direct the runners run through small neighborhoods, major highways and more neighborhoods while the residents were now out in their front yards, just staring at us without words being said. One thing surprising is that for every barangay (small district) we passed through, there were tables with cups of cold water being offered so water was abundant all along the more than 10 barangays. You could sense that each district contributed their share of drinks and residents pulled out all the stops to support all the runners.

I even saw jars of coffee, sugar, cream and a large thermos of hot water laid out on the table, probably thinking that we could stop and have a coffee break, then resume running!

The course was nearly flat as Betty and i passed some of the 10k runners. The road going to the Baluarte entrance was a bit uphill and we noticed for the first time the Bengal Tigers that were caged near the entrance. I over-heard a marshal on a motorcycle half-jokingly say that once runners pass by the tiger’s cages, Congressman Chavit (Baluarte’s owner) would release some of the tigers from its cages, engage these tigers to chase after us runners so we would be forced to run faster! When i finally reached Baluarte, my eyes were guardedly fixed on the cages!

We were his next meal!

The last five kilometers of the race were ran alongside a river where clams and other shellfish were grown. The river connected to the South China Sea and the scenery was awesome! I was still in-step with Betty and when we reached the last two kilometers, a fire truck was stationed, waiting to shower us with water. Shades of Condura!

The riverbanks

The last kilometer was the most exciting part as we ran along Crisologo Street, the main street and showcase of the Heritage Village, and felt our feet pounding the cobble stones beneath us. The two of us ran our lungs out with probably half a dozen marshals on motorbikes who were on our back and sides with blaring sirens and “wang-wangs” so deafening as they were escorting these two “turtles” who felt they were Haile and Paula being led to the finish line!

Crisologo Street

As the crowd began to gather to see who these two hotshots were, we sprinted the last 100 meters as Betty crossed first and i was less than a second behind.  Sheesh, that was fun! Our time, 1:40:16. We hung out a bit after the race and took some photos of the proceedings. It was a great event and a welcome change of pace and scenery from our usual chaotic race scene in Manila.

The atmosphere was upbeat and all seemed to be happy with their times as the course was measured accurately. We had some free Gatorade after the run, while Roselle and Betty were 5th and 6th over-all respectively, in the women’s category and both won some cash and a nice trophy mug!

When race organization is carried off with this degree of skill, precision and close cooperation with the town’s constituents, it stops being just another race and stands as a great event that will be highly anticipated and talked about on its subsequent staging!

Great job, Doc Jun!

Group pic after the run

With Manila runners, Roselle, Jaja, Mel and their friend

With Vigan runners and members of their race committee

Podium photo (?)

Some of the run participants

A larger group

Next: The Colours of Vigan!

The Trails of Baluarte!

We arrived in Vigan, Ilocos Sur last Friday at 3:30 pm after a gruelling 9-hour trip from Manila. Betty, BDM-er Mel Severino, Roselle (runningdiva) and myself were slated to run the Vigan Heritage 15k Run that Sunday and we were all going to be guests at Betty and Ral’s ancestral home at the Kamestizoan District, just a stone’s throw away from the Vigan Heritage Village. Roselle would be arriving at 9:00am the following morning, Saturday while Mel would be checking-in after lunch.  

It was nice to be back strolling around the shops and ancestral houses along Crisostomo Street which they now call the Heritage Village. I remember being in Vigan last year but not much have changed, except that some of the old houses were noticeably restored and painted. I was just contented to look around and i noticed new buildings that didn’t blend well with the surroundings like the Max restaurant which is so modern! Anyway, after a few more walks, we headed towards Burgos Plaza and went to a kiosk and ordered their famous “empanada” which still had that distinct ilocos-empanada taste!  

Crisologo Street, Heritage Village

We were back at the house just before 7:30pm as most of the shops and eateries were closed by now. Sad thing about this place is that they don’t seem to have a night life. We had a sumptuous dinner of “Bagnet”, “Pinakbet” and some brandy to wash it down before we called it a night. Betty had then suggested that we go for an early morning run the following day and explore some of the city while running.    

We woke up at about 5:30am the following morning and after having two cups of coffee each, Betty and i donned our running gear and headed out of the gate and started our run. We had no idea where to run at first, then Betty remembered that Baluarte, Congressman Chavit Singson’s theme park and habitat which houses some of the rarest and most exotic animals from all over the world was just a few kilometers away. 

More surprising to us was a presence of a trail that was located at the rear side of the 80 hectare theme park enclave. Here is our exploration of the trails: 

On to Baluarte

Entering Caoayan town

Amidst all election posters, the signage to Baluarte

Posing at the entrance

A chapel at the main entrance

Ostrich above greets us

Now inside the Baluarte

Betty continues the run inside

Road to the right part of the theme park

Towards the back side entrance

Going towards the trail's descent

Downhill trail with the South China Sea in foreground

Betty leads the way downwards

Part of the trail

Betty at the edges

A new discovery for us so we thread forward

The surface was a little wet brought about by rains the previous night so our shoes got heavy with mud

The trails were continuously zigzagging

Now out in the open

Towards the foothills

Charging the hilly terrain

Trying to catch up

Into our 4th kilometer

Betty getting the hang of trail running, mud and all!

Get the mud off your shoe first!:-)

Another incline

I do the catching up this time

Taking a pose, catching some breath

On to the woods

Dried leaves all over the surface

We we're now on our 7th km

A sudden uphill!

A plant in the middle of the trail while Betty scrubs off mud from her shoe

The trail ahead

A seemingly endless trail

Taking a walk break

The trails was so serene and the weather was mild