When Wilnar Iglesia crossed the finish line, coming in First at yesterday’s inaugural Bataan Death March Ultramarathon 100 Miles (160 kms) Race, he reportedly apologized to Race Director Gen. Jovie Narcise (BR), “Sir, i slowed down during the last 15 kms so i came late in crossing the finish line. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting!” I can just imagine BR scratching his head and smiling to the heavens in amazement and wonder. Such is the humility and modesty of Wilnar.
It was typical of Wilnar to utter those words, a very humble and unassuming guy whose unpretentiousness precedes his talent. He knew that BR was waiting for him at the finish line knowing that Wilnar was way ahead, leading the race and was at the vicinity of Camp O’Donnel, a few kilometers from victory. The only thing that could prevent him from winning was if he suffered from a traumatic injury and had to suddenly drop-out.
He reached the 102 kilometer mark (the benchmark distance of the previously longest ultramarathon race, the BDM 102) in a mind-boggling ten (10) hours which translates to a sub-6 mins/km pace and would have put him in the top 3 had this been the BDM 102 Ultra-Race which coincidentally starts this Sunday.
But this is a 160 km run, 58 kilometers more and to maintain the pace he did and finish in 17 hours and 35 minutes (17:35) is sort of amazing–the time would have been enough to beat the cut-off time for the BDM 102 race.
After the race, i caught him resting inside a van with his teammates, Team CB and approached and congratulated him on his victory. With his unbelievable finish, i asked him if he ever walked at any time during the race and he said, “many times, specially during the last 15 kms at Capas (Tarlac) when i had to literally crawl up those hills and resume running on the downhills.”
So, Wilnar is “human” after all. Not he himself thought of leading and winning the race handily. Neither did anyone else. His closest pursuer finished 3 hours later.
But anyone who tracked Wilnar’s progress these last 2 years could see that, like a “monster” in the making, the soft spoken resident of Pasig was gathering enough strength and speed to cause heavy damage by the time he hit the Bataan Death March 160k route.
Those soldiers, who died in the original Bataan Death March during WWII must have been roused from their graves and wondered who the guy running like an emperor on their sacred grounds was!
(Thanks to Bave/Rodel for the photo)