“To be able to draw deep and pull something out of yourself is one of the most tremendous things about the marathon.” — Rob De Castella (former Australian Olympic Marathoner)
Drawing deep not once but several times during the last few kms of the inaugural Corregidor Marathon was what i did and it was truly amazing to have finished this difficult 42.195 km race!
I am thankful to have friends in the running community, like the Soleus Running team of Judith Staples, endless road training with Team 90% and a whole lot more of cross-training that brought me to the starting line of one of the toughest marathons i have ever finished. And this is my 24th!
After Judith informed me that i would be running the full marathon instead of the half, i immediately began focusing on doing uphill runs which was not so easy to do having just finished the C2L 53k Ultramarathon the week before. Having ran two Corregidor Half-Marathons the previous years, i knew this would be one arduous rolling mountain route to tackle so training on hills would be a factor to rely on.
This was like a week-end-vacation for me as i arrived at the Sun Cruises Ferry station at the back of Folks Art Theater last Friday at 12 noon. Me and Team Soleus were soon afloat along the strong currents of Manila Bay that took us an hour and a half to Corregidor Island. Right off the boat to a tranvia-like bus for the 4 minute ride to our hotel, the Corregidor Inn!
We explored the hotel grounds and parts of the island for the rest of the afternoon and it was windy, the cold air brushing our hair and light apparels that we were wearing. We even took a short jog up to the hilly part of the middle barracks but cut short our run as we thought of just reserving our energy for the following day’s marathon.
That night, we were brought to the grand ballroom of a resort where we had carbo-loading dinner and treated to a movie, the Spirit of the Marathon which was cut short when the organizers sensed that people were starting to leave as it was getting late. So they started the race briefing instead and had raffle prizes drawn out and we left the gathering at about 9:00pm.
Back at the hotel, i was sharing a room with Gerard Pizarras, the barefoot runner and tv/movie actor who was going to run the marathon again… barefoot! We exchanged stories, not about running but about life in general, his stint in show biz, children and stuff.
My alarm went off the following morning at 3:30am, got up, took a shower and prepared for the 6:00am start. We had breakfast of fried rice, tocino, fried eggs and coffee–not exactly your ideal pre-marathon race breakfast but good enough to help sustain you for the 5 hours of pounding the roads and trails of Corregidor.
We were now waiting at the starting line and there were no more than 60 of us doing this inaugural marathon, a very ideal number which means that it won’t get crowded–on the roads, trails, at aid stations and toilets that were situated in establishments along the course.
At about 6:10am, all 60 of us took off, with the scenic sea shore as a great backdrop. I started off conservatively as others who were familiar with the course did, trying to hold back what was to come in the next few hundred meters. I was pacing with Alfred (Running Atom) who usually would zoom out at the very start but restrained himself and ran cautiously too.
At about less than a kilometer from the start, the Achilles heel of the course would finally reveal its ugly foot when the 300 meter juggernaut of a hill, so steep that one would have to stop and walk up to the top came to greet us with pangs showing as in a devilish grin! The marathoners would have to tackle this murderous hill not once but thrice as part of the course! Wtf!
The roads leading to the grassy airstrip at Kinley Field was moderately downhill so i took advantage of this by shifting to a higher gear until we reached the Japanese gardens then to the turn-around point at the beach resort complex where we had our carbo dinner the night before.
One of tho most beautiful parts of the route was a trail of about 3 kilometers long located at the outskirts of the middle side barracks. It was were i took several stops just to take pictures of it. Most of it were dirt roads, single and double tracks which were camouflaged by big dry leaves and had large embedded rocks that when not threaded carefully might get you to trip on some.
I’m going to write a separate blog about it but here are some pictures i took on the trails:
The support of this race was tremendous and i love the volunteers for being pro-active, giving encouragements, some upbeat, some just smiling but their eagerness to assist really showed! Tinny weeny snacks were served like bananas which i wish were served whole instead of cutting it into pieces that i had to peel several of them to get the full taste of it.
Cranberries, coconut juice and even marshmallows dipped into honey that expanded into your tummy when you start your run again were available for the taking.
The second loop of the course was harder as we had to scale the long uphill to the middle barracks and it was here that runners preferred to walk than run! However, we had our vengeance when we went through the same route from the artillery/barracks up to the Dock which were all downhill and made up for lost times.
The finish line at the Beach Resort Complex was kind of obscured as you don’t really know how far it is right after turning around near the main hall and turning right on that isolated road. I knew i was going to do a sub-six so i just kept pumping to the finish.
Breasting the tape at the finish and getting one of those “platito-like” shinny medals will be one of my best running memories of Corregidor for sure.
Over-all, the race was amazing and one that every runner should strive to join-in. Thanks again to Judith and Team Soleus and congratulations to Race Director Edward Kho for an excellent inaugural Corregidor Marathon!
Oh by the way, i got first place at my age group category and received a Certificate of Achievement for it (if ever you can call it one!) 🙂
You can check the race results here: https://www.facebook.com/CorregidorMarathon