If anyone wanted to have an idea how big 5,000 runners racing the Run United2 21k category alone was going to look like (out of the 14,000 total runners), the assembly at the starting line yesterday would have been your first indication. It was about 3:55am when we arrived at the Bonifacio Global City by bus provided by the organizers after June and i parked his vehicle at the Mall of Asia grounds. And what did we expect to see?
A humongous crowd of runners occupying every shaded part of buildings available around the starting area! It was still drizzling a bit when we were called for the first wave of runners to enter the starting line. Because of the slight rain, some runners were hesitant to be on the first wave in the hope that the rain would subside by the time they join the 2nd or 3rd waves. However we wanted to get this over with, rain or no rain because if this continues during the race itself, we’ll all get wet just the same.
I had taped my right ankle heavily as it was in pain 3 days prior to the race. I could not flex it side wards as i would really feel a sharp throbbing pain although i would not feel it if i step flat on my heel. Why do these things happen before an important race? I knew i could not give my 100 per cent so the run strategy was just to take it a kilometer at a time and see how it feels. I already told June that i was to abandon the race if the pain acts up during the run.
The customary warm-ups led by the 360 fitness instructors took place but we had no space to move and even jumping up and down was a bit of a stretch. After some low-key remarks from Alex Panlilio, one of Unilab’s big boss, the race commenced. June and i were pacing each other during the first part but it was Jet Paiso, a friend from Team Boring who took over June’s place at the start of the 3rd km and we shared pacing chores for the most part of the race.
As mother luck would have it, it didn’t rain at all during the run, except for needle-like drops of water for few intermittent seconds. The sky was cloudy-gray indicating that we won’t have the sun that baked us during the first Run United race the last time.
One thing very distinct that i noticed during the run along Kalayaan bridge was that this stretch has now been lit with lamps installed on electric posts. I was sure glad that Coach Rio did something to alleviate the darkness that marked this stretch. Headlamps weren’t needed this time . Well, i didn’t bring one anyway. I was feeling good at this point, no pain on the ankle so far.
The pass through Buendia Avenue extension came without a hitch as this was one of the choke points during RU1 when runners had to run side by side with vehicles which were just inches beside you. This time, there were cones lined-up away from where the runners were and traffic moved like precision. I would say that the marshals did a splendid job in controlling traffic as there were considerably less honking and shouting from irate drivers.
Jet and i entered Roxas Boulevard and when we made the first U-turn, it was only then that we realized the long line of runners trailing behind us and when we were atop Buendia Bridge, we could still see the vast sea of runners down, approaching Roxas Blvd and there were still thousands of them. At this point, some of the fast runners from the 3rd wave have started to overtake us but we were still coasting along just fine.
The hydration stations were abundant, lots of ice-cold water, Powerade and eat-all-you-can bananas which really helped sustain and complement the high-energy sports beans that i was popping up. I walked through the stations, bidding my time until i feel giving it a go again.
At around the 14 km mark, Jet decided to slow down and do his Galloway thing so i was left on my own. Incredible how i saw Coach Rio all-over the route, running along side us, monitoring the proceedings with just an APV phone on hand. He was moving plastic drums, picking up scattered cups, banana peelings, sponges and other litter sprawled on the race course. Amazing for a race organizer to do what he did!
At the 20th kilometer, i saw Dyep and Jixee suddenly pacing beside me (they were from the 3rd wave) giving some encouragement as i was nearing exhaustion although the pain that i was expecting from my right ankle never appeared. That last 200 meter stretch on Ocean Drive is like heaven. Every time i see that finish, i try to make a good last drive at it with all my remaining energy which i did again until i reach the orange line! 21k done!
The timer above the finish line posted a 2:21:50 finish and i was at first very surprised and pleased at the same time. However, relying on my Soleus GPS which i had set from the start (and always been accurate, for the record), it read 2:31:50 for the distance 21.11k. It could be that the timer on the finish line was intended for the 3rd wave as there was a 5 minute interval for each wave at the the starting line. We’ll see the official results soon.
Claiming of our finishers kit was a breeze! It was very orderly and you automatically go to the tent where your shirt size is indicated. Just took me less than a minute to get mine.
Talking to other runners about the race, all had positive views about the over-all conduct, that it was a great improvement from the previous one (Run United1) specially the distribution of race freebies after the finish. The generous hydration, bananas, great marshals, traffic plus good weather all contributed to the success of the race.
One minor suggestion to the organizers is to place the exhibitors booth in a more visible area of the Health expo as they were mostly located at the back side of the stage. Many runners were not aware that there were booths with products on display because they were not seen easily.
I am thankful for having ran this race injury free. I’ll be pinning for the third and last race of the trilogy series, the 32k race on September 16 and hopefully complete the medal puzzle above.
Race results will soon be posted in the following links:
Here are some more pictures of the race event:
After finishing Run United’s 2nd 21k run yesterday, i’ll be pinning for the third and last race of the trilogy series, the 32k race on September 16 and hopefully complete the medal puzzle above.