The scene in front of the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite last night, December 29, felt like New Year’s eve, people were on the streets reveling on some kind of festivity that was happening except that there were no deafening noise of fireworks, no church bells ringing, no hooting of horns, no banging and booming of pots and pans.
Instead, residents were greeted with the tumultuous presence of runners! And when me and the more than 600 of us took off at the starting line in front of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s ancestral home to tackle the Kawit to Calamba 53k Ultramarathon (K2C), it was like a “parada of runners” invading Kawit’s streets with different blinking lights adorning our foreheads, waists and caps to illuminate and guide us for the dark streets ahead that also looked like Christmas decors on our bodies.
When Judith Staples of Soleus, Head of the most popular GPS running watch in the country invited me to join this race, i was a bit hesitant knowing that my training has not been sufficient to tackle the distance. But then, the ribbing and pressure mounted by friends followed and insisted that they too have not been training well but are joining just the same, so i gave in! Talk about peer pressure!
I’ve heard good things about Runmania Events, the organizers of this race that have been staging various ultra races in the south of Manila and attracting hordes of both regular and newbie ultra runners. I’m running their race for the first time and will soon find that out.
I arrived at the race venue 3 hours early with friends Vladz, Carlo and his friend, Michelle with the facade of the late Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo’s home all lit up in glitters and color. It was Christmas atmosphere on the parade grounds as we waited in line at the grandstand to claim our bib nos. The energy and excitement from the grounds was just awesome.
The 11:00pm start was a bit delayed because people were still lining up to get their numbers but as soon as the race started, our huge journey to Rizal’s home town also began and we were all very excited!
The route is a mixed-bag of sorts. From the neighborly street near the shrine up to busy Tirona and Aguinaldo Highways, it was a challenge keeping up pace specially in dark areas where i had to adjust my headlamp many times and watch-out for drunks that come out of bars. I almost bump on one who was oblivious of the runners as he crossed our path.
At the 7th km mark, I had to leave my hydration backpack on our support car as the right strap was sliding off my shoulder so i used my reserved belt bag instead. I never worried about running out of water as the water stations were adequate as it came at every 5-7 kms as expected…and it was ice cold water at that! At around 11k, i made a pit stop at a Shell Gas station as i was experiencing some stomach discomfort and felt relieved after, even if i lost about several minutes of time there.
The best routes were in Daang Hari and Daang Reyna where the roads were quiet and you run in many diverse subdivisions. There were marshals stationed along strategic cross-roads and with them were route markers so you’ll never get lost along the way. The PAR running team was amazing as they offered their water and chocolates to any runner who happens to pass-by their aid stations. Thank you guys!
By KM35, i was already feeling exhausted which was probably my lack of long runs while training. The longest i ever did was a 27k LSD done 2 weeks before this race and i felt my energy dwindling when i reached past 32k. At km42, my thighs and quads were already screaming in pain so my walks became longer and the run part shorter. Thankful that a friend, Ener Galang decided to pace with me at this point and the stories we exchanged sort of distracted us from our discomforts.
The best thing that probably happened along the route was at an aid station when marshals were passing out ice cream in cones! That was really refreshing! While handing them out, they would ask your race number so you probably can’t get more than one piece. I could have probably finished 5 of those as it came at a time when you felt already exhausted, hungry and dehydrated!
I finished the race in about 8 hrs and 3 minutes and recorded in my Soleus Fit GPS a total distance of 52.8 kms. I came in at 379th out of 674 runners. I was surprised to see an ultra race this huge, and the organizers say this is the biggest ultra race staged so far in the country.
When everything was over, the finishing experience was smooth and organized as you would expect. The finish line tape, medals, nice dri-fit shirt and huge trophy were systematically given to all the finishers with properly rationed food and drinks for everyone.
There’s really very little negative to say about this ultra race although that’s not probably what you’ll be thinking when you reach km45 when your lungs and legs will be screaming in agony! The only negative i can think of is the claiming of the race packets a few hours before race time. With more than 600 runners, they should have distributed it days earlier so as not to delay the actual gun start.
But this is minor compared to the over-all experience which was great, and it’s pretty amazing how much planning, sweat, and security went into organizing this race. And i would highly recommend events of RunMania to anyone who is running their 1st or nth Ultramarathon.
Thanks to Judith Staples of Team Soleus and Pat Maranan and company of RunMania for this opportunity to run this race! To my co-runners Carlo, Bel and Vladz–you guys are great and to our support team Jarry, Edgar, Flor, Michi Ko and Michelle–you all are the best! Last but not the least, my team, Team 90%, my partners in crime!
Leaving you with some of the pictures during the run. (Thanks to my photographer friends).