The 2nd Antique Marathon: A Short Race Recap

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.

A welcome banner at the Rose Travellers Inn in San Jose, Antique

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.

With new found friends during the race kit claiming at the Black and Yellow Carwash in San Jose, Antique. (L-R) Cecil, me, Mark and Joseph.

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.

 

Last minute tweaks being made by Race Director Manie Magbanua (standing) before the start of the race

Breakfast was being prepared while the Bulalo was being cooked!

Beef Bulalo being prepared courtesy of Jun Villasor of Bulalo Fiesta

With  Swedish runner, Astrid Helene Strand who was running her first half-marathon

A view along the route

There’s this tiny hut-shaped cover situated in the middle of a rice field. A water pump is beneath that shade.

Literally means scissors but I assume this means “Gupit” or haircut…

One of the main roads of the 21k and 42k route

A bridge near the turn-around point of the 12k and 21k runners

The entrance to the 5km rough road/trail

Part of our history and history books!

 

The Panay settlement landmark

More of the rough road between rice fields

Trees provided shade during the latter part of the race

A bamboo bench to rest those weary bodies

Affluent residences along this route

Pangpang Bridge in Sibalom

Sibalom’s Pangpang River

Tree-lined road

An irrigation system

Waiving with the other runners

Taking a break with these kids!

The Boracay Running Team

During the awarding ceremonies

RD Manie Magbanua with a Podium finisher

RD Manie with the 12k Female Winner

Manie with a German Podium finisher

With the race organizers

 

Saw this while exploring San Jose, a day before the marathon. Their version of street food! Yummy!

The Sierra 51050-50k Relay and Half-Marathon: A Short Race Recap

Taking our time at the Sierra Relay and Half-Marathon in Tanay, Rizal. (Photo by Running Jack Morales)

As a runner who has frequently ran the roads and trails of Tanay, i definitely supported the Sierra 51050 Relay and Half-Marathon as it brought many to see all the great scenery (and run-walk the killer hills) Tanay has to offer!

The race venue was at the Ten Cents To Heaven Resort, a previous starting venue of a trail race i once participated in. Race started on an easy downhill slope but the fast yet easy stroll over a secondary concrete road turns havoc when you start climbing it back and it’s about 2 kms of continuous uphill to get to the main highway. After that, you’re in for another 16 kilometers of rolling hills!

Having ran a 16-kilometer training run the day before, and a 10k tempo run 2 days prior, i ran this race at a very relaxed pace, taking it easy on the downhills and walking the steepest uphills on a brisk pace, whenever possible. No hurries!

There’s really no easy way to describe running the Sierra 51050. Organized by Rundezvous Events, it is just something you have to experience yourself:

  • Great venue for the race start and finish–the Ten Cents To Heaven Resort which is high above the mountains with a nice view of the Sierra Madre mountain range.

By the pool of Ten Cents To Heaven Resort

  • Cool Baguio-like weather greeting the runners as they preferred to huddle inside the hall to keep warm rather than venturing outside just before race start.
  • Major sponsors with their booths lined-up before the start. Freebies galore after the race. Thanks to Maxxed Running shoes, Light Water and Nutri Bar!
  • Running and chatting with two “fabulous” running divas-bloggers with talks ranging from bird collection to ultramarathons. Chatting to these two made walking the uphills easier.

With the two Divas, Cheapanngang Diva and the Running Diva

At a water station along Marcos Highway

  • Looking at all the Harley Davidsons and other powerful 500 cc motorbikes zoom past you along the highway.
  • Beautiful backdrops whichever way you look. There’s always something new to gaze at and scenery seem to constantly change every 10 seconds.

Along the race route

Refreshing rural settings

  • Looking at the relay runners tough it out with their support vehicles nearby shouting them some encouragements.
  • Adequate water at various aid stations except for the last turn-around when they ran out of it.
  • Making a new friend along the route where we discussed common friends, injuries and a hustler RD.

Hello to you again, Ms. Ae!

  • A very festive atmosphere during the awarding ceremonies as gift of sponsors were raffled off! Too bad i didn’t win the Spyder Optic Shades.
  • Finishers medal was nice, and the Finishers’ shirt was awesome! Hope they make it into a dri-fit shirt next time!
  • Very dedicated race organizers who did a great job, despite the finish line fiasco which affected some of the leading runners. Congrats to Pedz, the “Running Atom”, Chris, Abet, Allan, Za, Irish, Nette and the whole Rundezvous Team.

L-R: Allan Enriquez, Pedz, “Running Atom” Vedarozaga, Race Director and Abet Ocampo

With Zarina Segundo (of Rundezvous) in the dark

With Pat Concepcion and Rashel Pena

With Jun Santiago

If you live somewhere in the Metro Manila area and would like to go to out-of-town races which doesn’t take much time traveling too much, then this is DEFINITELY a race to check out not only because of its positive vibe, but because Tanay is a fun and cool place to be too!

Trail Chronicles #22: Salomon City Trail Intramuros Run

It was great to be part of this first ever Salomon CityTrail 12k Run inside and around historic Intramuros in Manila where you get to immerse yourself in the walled city’s vintage atmosphere from start to end!

The start line was situated near the entrance of the iconic Fort Santiago where we were once brought as children on our first school field trip to study the life and death of our national hero, Dr. JP Rizal. And that was the last time i ventured into this place. From here, the short 12k course is a veritable festival of historical sights.

So what is a CityTrail (or CityTrail running), one might ask? How could it be possible to have trails similar to Tanay, San Mateo or on wooded forests when this one is located in a highly urbanized, old city like Manila?

Well, it’s a venue event label by Salomon, the shoe brand that brought us their famous trail running shoes. The  CITYTRAIL™ Races are part trail and part concrete running events that challenges runners to explore different terrain settings like pathways, bridges, tunnels, grass, stairs, etc. within urban landscapes simulating those in trail running. And what better venue to exemplify this than the historic Spanish and World War 2 settings of Intramuros!

We were lined-up and took our positions at the back for the 4:30pm start with about 500 other 12k runners. I was with Terri Boyce, a Balikbayan friend and a marathoner who had just arrived from California for a very short visit. Seeing some of the old churches and Spanish-era buildings just a few minutes from the start, we decided to be  kitschy tourists and had to stop several times from running to snap some pictures on both sides of the road.

The 12k route is grand (on a small scale) and quite scenic taking both the old, unrestored ruins and the newly restored buildings into account. Among other things, we ran past the Palacio Del Gobernador, the just restored and re-opened Manila Metropolitan Cathedral, the San Agustin Church, Ayuntamiento, Revellin De Recoletos and through a lot of old elevated pathways, thick stone wall corridors and narrow streets in the oldest parts of the walled city.

Running the entire route leisurely took us more than 1.5 hours including the photograph breaks and chatting with the marshals who are also friends in the running community. And there were lots of stops where you can walk and just take pictures so this is a run where you just say the heck with the time and just enjoy the fresh ambiance of old Manila.

As for the race, it was well organized–water stops were plentiful and exceptionally managed as there were jugs separately for Gatorade and you can even have ice cubes, if you want. There were enough volunteers in each aide station ready to assist which were strategically positioned so there’s not a herd of people rushing to one area. The marshals were awesome, cheering us whenever we reached their stations (they were all friends, btw).

The only drawback of this race was that near the end of the 4th loop, some of the 12k runners were mis-guided to turn right towards the finish line when they should have been directed towards the last 2km loop thus missing the pink wrist band given somewhere on this loop that would have been a pre-requisite to get a medal.

Inspite of runners’ protest, volunteers at the medal tent won’t give the medals until they can show a pink wrist band. Well, given the ingenuity of runners, they came back to the volunteers after a few seconds dangling the pink band on their wrists! Go figure! 🙂

Over-all, it was a cool and decent race. Got this very nice medal, a nice box of snacks, there was a lot of interesting things to see on the route which I can’t say for other races.

I’ll give this race a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars!!

You can check out the race results here: http://www.results.runningmate.ph/index.php/event/result/173

Here are some pictures taken along the route:

At the Fort Santiago gate in Intramuros a few minuted before the race. L-R: Me, Terri, Rhett, Franc and Rodel

At the starting line

The Intramuros river, a view at the starting line

Governor’s Palace

Plaza San Luis Complex

Ayuntamiento

Revellin De Recoletos

Baluarte de San Diego

Baluarte De San Gabriel

Pamantasan ng Maynila

Baluarte De Dilao

Bayleaf Hotel

Casas Consistoriales

Muralla Street

Hi Terri!

Balluartillo De San Jose

Jackie, Rodel, me and Rhett

With actress Rian Ramos

Dining at Dampa, Macapagal Avenue after the run

Sofitel Manila Half-Marathon Recap

Last Sunday morning, teammate Chito and i drove to the Mall of Asia to run the Sofitel Manila Half-Marathon. Turns out to be a large size half-marathon race as we were able to managed to be near the middle of the 200 meter long line of runners!

It’s Coach Rio’s familiar, easy course that started along Seaside Blvd., proceeding to Macapagal Ave. that took us along Roxas Blvd for the most part of the route before ending back at Seaside Blvd. I couldn’t run my normal pace as my acid reflux issues are still bugging me but was able to treat this as an LSD run together with husband and wife team, both Doctor-runners, Doc Elvis and Doc Evelyn.

I’ve been running exclusively in trail races lately, but any road race organized by Coach Rio guarantees a great race event and i didn’t want to pass this up so it’s back to lacing my road shoe and it was good to be back on concrete. There were kilometers markers along the way, tons of water, Gatorade in quantity and big, ripe bananas towards the last few kilometers of the run.

Tech shirt and medal

Runners couldn’t have asked for better weather as the weather gods might have been looking down upon Roxas Blvd (overcast, moderate, with nary a drizzle). Had the race taken place the day before or after with the heat of the sun or heavy downpours, it would’ve made for one miserable day.

I bumped into Docs Elvis and Evelyn after the 1st turn-around point at Roxas Blvd and  the good doctors were employing the Galloway method where we did 3 to 4 minutes of running followed by 1 minute of walking then repeat. I felt less fatigued and allowed me just to concentrate and enjoy the revelry of greeting running friends along the course.

With Doc Elvis and Doc Evelyn at the 20th km mark

It’s hard enough not to enjoy running along this route with thousands of other half-marathon runners and it’s one of the best road race i’ve had in a while. There were some swags given from tents you line up to and get this nice dri-fit shirt which was cool to change into after running 21 kilometers!

Looking forward to running this event again next year! Thanks to Doc Elvis and Doc Evelyn for the wonderful company!

No hurry! 200 meters before the finish line

Doc Evelyn and Elvis Ponce

Dash to the finish

Run United 2, 32k Race: A Short Race Recap

What’s even better than driving over at Cavitex? Running over it and last Sunday’s Run United 2 offered that chance for me to run it once again after the Santey Barley Half-Marathon last year. This is the first time that a Run United race have used the Coastal Highway and Cavitex for its route and it’s a nice change of scenery!

The 32k Afroman course is relatively flat through mostly Roxas Blvd, except for the fly-over bridges along EDSA and Buendia and the Cavitex interchange bridge. It’s an out and back course which seemed that it would be tedious but the views at Cavitex all changed that and it was one great run over-all!

With team mates at the Yellow Cab before the start

At the starting line

Weather conditions were tolerable, humid and dry at the start and it got really warm at the finish. Water stations were aplenty although it got too crowded when both the 21k and 32k runners merged along the route starting somewhere at the 24km distance.

It was great to be running with my team mates, Team 90% and except for a few who were abroad, we were part of the large 12,000 plus runners who toed the line at the start and we all had a nice time.

Approaching the finish line

Thumbs up to the WRFGH photographers

So this is the 2nd race done from the Run United trilogy and i get to scratch this off my list. One more to go and that will be the RU Philippine Marathon on October 5, 2014.

After the running the 32km distance, we were all elated having experienced this awesome race. At the finish line we were given our medal and a bag with some sports drinks, dri-fit finishers shirt and small goodies from Unilab.

Overall it was a nice experience and we’re all looking forward to RU’s full marathon this October. Thank you to Janice Castillo and Claire De Leon-Papa of Unilab for the hearty breakfast at the Media Center!

Check out this link for the race results: http://runrio.com/2014/06/run-united-2-2014-results/

Our finishers shirt and medal

Goofing off at a 7-Eleven convenience store after the race

Brooks Cross Country Challenge: A Short Race Recap

Downhills, uphills, rocks, an almost dry waterfall, mountain scenery, stream and river crossings, town folks cheering, a near fall from my rappelling–these may well be the gist of my run at last Sunday’s Brooks Cross Country Challenge in Tanay, Rizal where i did the 24k distance.

Though i’ve ran here several times before, i still marvel at the views like i’m running it for the first time. The trails in Laiban, the mountains and rivers towards Maysawa are impressive. So was the race itself. Adequate water and Gatorade stations every 3 kms (except for the last 2 kms when they ran out of those containers), presence of marshals and unlimited fresh air are what we experienced along the route.

With some of the running bloggers

At the start, with friend Ener in raised fist

One thing unique about this race is that the starting line is located inside the grounds of the Sierra Madre Resort and Hotel, within backdrop of pine trees and not off the street fronting it, as you might expect. This hotel area has been the jump-off point of many trail runners and serves as an access in exploring the many labyrinth trails of Tanay.

You got to love this place as it epitomizes the perfect start of a trail race. The Brooks Cross Country run is a challenging course and don’t let the starting downhill fool you. The downhill road represents most of the first 4km descent and had us rolling easily. However, being an out and back course, these hills haunted us back with a vengeance.

The temperature was surprisingly cool when the race started at 6am but after 2 hours passed, the sun was really blazing down on us but i guess that was part of the obstacle and many more man-made obstacles during the last kilometer of the race.

It was dry, most of the streams were just ankle deep and even the waterfalls at Maysawa which many had hoped to splash and wade under it turned out to be a “falls-alarm” as runners jokingly defined, like reduced to just trickles of water dripping down from a kitchen faucet! Summer woes!

Directions of the route was marred when somewhere at the 9 km mark before reaching the Maysawa Falls, many 24k runners missed going to the Falls for the first turn-around and instead turned right directly to the 2nd turn-around point. When marshals realized the confusion, they immediately set up wooden barriers to block the right turn path. By then those runners whom we overtook were now ahead of us on the return.

More pictures here:

Water falls no more

With eventual Champion, Lito Divina

Those last 3 km uphills were the worst part as i struggled walking, together with those around me just to make it 100 meters at a time. The inclines were tough and so was the very warm temperature.

Entering back to the Sierra Madre Resort for the finish, we still had to run about a mile around the resort grounds and hurdle several man-made obstacles that were erected. I nearly fell and got bruised during the first rappel when i went off balance and partly slid off the ropes, my back againts the ground.

Clinging on the ropes, i froze momentarily for a few seconds trying to figure out how to recover from the situation. With all my might I made a reverse turn as the marshals were shouting to hold the ropes in between my legs. Slowly, i lowered myself to scale down the last 12 meters off that ravine! I got a nasty cut on my elbows and wiped off the blood several times with my gloves.

Unofficial time: 4:25. Ugh!

Shout-out to the organizers of this event, Ian Alacar and Ben, his father for a very challenging race! It was great seeing and greeting other friends along the route, Ener, Franc, Jham, Erick, Chips, Pedz, Irish, Norma, Alvin, Lito, Weng, James and many others. Good job to you all!

Thanks to Vimz Mendoza and to the other bloggers who were all part of this race!

(Thanks to Ener and Photo-Ops for some of the photos!)

Nat Geo Run 2014: A Short Race Recap

A high five to all the runners for this years Nat Geo Run 2014!

Temperatures last Sunday was on an all-time high and we surely felt it even before the 12:00 midnight gun start of their inaugural marathon race, as i was already sweating! Except for the temperature, there’s really not much negative to say about this year’s edition of the race although that’s not definitely what i thought when i had to stop about 5 times just to have my cramping thigh muscles sprayed with liniment oil by the medics!

With friends before the run

There were lots of nice things going on at the Nat Geo Run and it is just something to experience for yourself.

For me, some of them were:

  • Nice route and getting back to Bayani Road was a breath of change scenery at Fort Bonifacio. Although this route was very well used back in 2010-2011 races, it sort of disappeared from the racing scene thereafter for reasons i’m not aware of and it was great seeing the Heritage Park once again.
  • The entire course was absolutely packed with runners and though it was a bit crowded, it never hindered the movement of runners doing the full marathon when they merged with the 21k, 10k and 5k runners.
  • Aid and water/Pocari stations were aplenty, more than i was expecting. There were great water marshals who were working their arses off and they were doing the best they could to service the 12,000 runners on the race route. All were very courteous and saw to it that each runner were being provided for.

  • We have been told by the organizers to bring our own water bottles as they won’t provide water cups but still allotted some for runners who didn’t bring hydration containers with them. I’ve always been wary of water running out along the course so i always bring my own hydration belt in case there’s a stretch without water on aid stations. This time however, i had rarely used my own water bottle as there were more than enough on the water stations and ice-cold at that!
  • Was able to pace Jham Mariano, a co-blogger who was running his very first marathon during the 1st 15kms and although not too confident in his training prior to this race, he was able to finish in a respectable time.

With first time marathoner Jham Mariano

  • My acid-reflux was again bothering me and managed to contain it only after the 16th km. My thighs went ballistic and it was cramping during the 2nd half of the race. Good thing that medics, who were completely equipped with first-aid remedies were on every 2 kms of the course. They sprayed liniment and even massaged my cramping thighs!
  • Had severe problems with chafing along my inner thighs (near the groin) that after the race, blood was prevalent on my shorts and under-wear. I was grimacing in pain when i took my shower.
  • Great to see my running mates Carol and Gemma finish strongly on their half-marathon race. Carol even finished 8th over-all among the females.

With Carol

Nearing the finish line

With Carol and Doc Gemma

I cannot stress enough how well organized this inaugural Nat Geo Marathon turned out to be. Ice-cold water and Pocari almost every two kilometers, enthusiastic and courteous marshals–they did a hell of a job, the ever present medics, all made a huge difference for making this race an over-all success.

This is my 16th marathon and what an experience it was!