Proving that runners would go out of their comfort zones and travel just so they could experience running in a different exotic venue, runners from far-flung places trooped to this event in the province of Antique, a few hours away from Iloilo City. Antique welcomes you with its soaring rugged peaks, green-covered landscapes and an insatiable small population yearning to welcome visitors for its 2nd Antique Marathon which was held last Sunday, November 15.
I left Manila Saturday morning at 5:40am via Cebu Pacific and arrived in Iloilo City just before 7:00am. I was hustled to a van for the two and a half hour drive to San Jose, Antique’s provincial capital where i was to stay at the relatively new Rose Travellers Inn, a budget-friendly lodging inn. The room was small but it was clean, homey and cozy with very helpful staff who were always ready to assist you.
Off to my misfortunes first, when a few days before the race while still in Manila, my left heel was slightly throbbing in pain which i thought would just go away. The pain relievers i took was of no effect as it got worst the morning i arrived in Antique that i was slightly limping so i had to ask Race Director Manie Magbanua, Jr. to downgrade my category from the Marathon to the shortest distance of 12k which he graciously obliged.
This 2nd edition of the Antique Marathon is certainly low-key and allowed runners a lot of elbow room. The route started from the town of Sibalom (at a large Plaza fronting the Sibalom Municipal Hall) going towards the town of Hamtic then to the provincial capital of San Jose then back to Sibalom for the finish. Except for stretches inside the town of San Jose, this is a rural race…just you, the roads and the teeming rice granaries as backdrops. This route reminds me of the 1st Camsur International Marathon where they had vast open fields and small towns where townsfolk greeted the runners as they passed by.
The overly scenery is refreshing though, with bright green rice fields on both sides of the road, long mountain ranges that seem to envelope the province and almost dry river beds that makes you want to go down those long bridges to explore. The relatively flat terrain makes it easy to concentrate on the vistas of the vast towns of Antique although the scorching heat was a major hindrance and an obstacle to be conquered.
With my misfortune of having an injury a day before race day itself and as a result downgrading to a shorter distance, i didn’t have much to reflect on, except that i still felt the immense satisfaction of being part of this race, to at least document this experience and hopefully encourage the others to line up at the start next year. And thank God, the pain on my heel was generally tolerable and it only got a little bothersome during the last 2k of the run!
The race event was very well-organized and it appeared like everyone had a grand time. Volunteers and marshals were extremely helpful and did an amazing job providing runners with heaps of encouragement and never ending smiles and cheers. Although this was just the second year of the Antique Marathon, i was impressed with the pre-race organization, given the lack of time and resources this group had and it was obvious that the event had been created by dedicated runners, led by Race Director Manie Magbanua, Jr. that had a first hand understanding of what runners need and want from a marathon race.
It’s a great race for beginners running a marathon as the route is largely flat, with ample hydration and a post race breakfast of unlimited rice and bulalo. Interesting to note that the Bulalo was through the courtesy of co-race organizer, Jun Villasor who happens to be the owner of the famous Bulalo Fiesta and is a member of the Fairview Running Club in Quezon City. There were a couple of foreigners who joined this race and runners that came from neighboring provinces like Iloilo, Aklan and Capiz and the usual suspects from Manila were also there to grace the event!
Thank you, Manie, Mark Bergantino, Atty. Shyr Dubal, Tonsie Escano Gay, Nelson Arriola, Boogie Millamena, Jun Villasor and to the rest of the Antique Marathon organizing team for the hospitality and the opportunity to run this race.
Leaving you with some of the pictures taken at the race routes which covers the 42k, 21k and the 12k distances.