Simply Wilnar, Simply Amazing!

When Wilnar Iglesia crossed the finish line, coming in First at yesterday’s inaugural Bataan Death March Ultramarathon 100 Miles (160 kms) Race, he reportedly apologized to Race Director Gen. Jovie Narcise (BR), “Sir, i slowed down during the last 15 kms so i came late in crossing the finish line. I’m sorry to have kept you waiting!” I can just imagine BR scratching his head and smiling to the heavens in amazement and wonder. Such is the humility and modesty of Wilnar.

It was typical of Wilnar to utter those words, a very humble and unassuming guy whose unpretentiousness  precedes his talent. He knew that BR was waiting for him at the finish line knowing that Wilnar was way ahead, leading the race and was at the vicinity of Camp O’Donnel, a few kilometers from victory. The only thing that could prevent him from winning was if he suffered from a traumatic injury and had to suddenly drop-out.

Wilnar (Bib 630) during the early part of the race

He reached the 102 kilometer mark (the benchmark distance of the previously longest ultramarathon race, the BDM 102) in a mind-boggling ten (10) hours which translates to a sub-6 mins/km pace and would have put him in the top 3 had this been the BDM 102 Ultra-Race which coincidentally starts this Sunday.

But this is a 160 km run, 58 kilometers more and to maintain the pace he did and finish in 17 hours and 35 minutes (17:35) is sort of amazing–the time would have been enough to beat the cut-off time for the BDM 102 race.

After the race, i caught him resting inside a van with his teammates, Team CB and approached and congratulated him on his victory. With his unbelievable finish, i asked him if he ever walked at any time during the race and he said, “many times, specially during the last 15 kms at Capas (Tarlac) when i had to literally crawl up those hills and resume running on the downhills.”

So, Wilnar is “human” after all. Not he himself thought of leading and winning the race handily. Neither did anyone else. His closest pursuer finished 3 hours later.

But anyone who tracked Wilnar’s progress these last 2 years could see that, like a “monster” in the making, the soft spoken resident of Pasig was gathering enough strength and speed to cause heavy damage by the time he hit the Bataan Death March 160k route.

Those soldiers, who died in the original Bataan Death March during WWII must have been roused from their graves and wondered who the guy running like an emperor on their sacred grounds was!

Simply…Wilnar!

(Thanks to Bave/Rodel for the photo)

BDM160: Pacers or Companionship?

Chito (left) and Mel

Sometimes, its hard to imagine what running friends are getting into when they enter a 100 mile race (160kms) on a route where thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were forced-marched during WWII and died on their way to Camp McDonnel. This event, now etched as the infamous Bataan Death March is now going to be revisited by about a hundred runners thru the Bataan Death March 160km Ultramarathon.

From my circle of close running mates, Mel Severino and Chito Carreon will be up to the challenge and complete the race, by hook or by crook. But both are seasoned ultra-marathoners and have been nipping the heels of other ultra runners since they joined ultra events two years ago. This is essentially a test of humans against distance and yet from the beginning, these two are poised to finish the race in an unchartered distance of 160kms probably living out their strange dreams out of their near twisted minds!:-)

We have now been tasked to help these two in realizing their dreams so we are now officially their support crew and help them as Pacers from kilometer 102 up to km 160 at the finish in Capas, Tarlac. Not only will we act as pacers but our task will also include feeding, massage and tending to other needs of these two destitute runners on their last 12 hours of running and that will be some grand fete.

Last night, we gathered and organized our team to plot out our strategies to ensure that they reach the finish line alive! We shall have two vehicles loaded with supplies and some cold beer waiting for them, assuming that they arrive. For an event that celebrates individual determination in the face of a lonely struggle, we are sharing our endless support and boost their spirits and hope for their survival! By the time they reach the 102km mark, when they are in the throes of exhaustion, when their calf muscles turn into stone and when feet transforms to sponges, we shall start our pacing and perform CPR as need be..

Support Team Leader Leo going over the list and strategies to be implemented

Pacing is hardly the operative word as they would hardly be able to run when they reach the 102km mark on their way to the finish. What these guys need is “companionship”, somebody who can boost their moral and spirit, somebody they can lean on in time of collapse and a light that would guide them in their ordeal.

So to Mel, Chito and to my other running friends running this ultramarathon, good luck in your 30-hour journey!

Team "Dilaw", the support crew

Good luck to both of you!