By The Company We Keep

They’re a special breed of runners you either want to be with or you care little about, depending on your outlook on running. For sure, they’re fun to be around specially when all talk is about their latest conquest of their farthest run ever and these include jaunts of 102km or 160 km ultra races.

I was with these esteemed runners just after their grueling 160km BDM “fun run” a few weeks ago when Ultra-marathoner Paolo Osmeña, who successfully finished this race after his 2nd attempt treated his “team” to a sumptuous dinner and drinking binge to celebrate his conquest, acknowledging the support he had during his trying times during the race!  So it was interesting to see how Paolo was doing (still ecstatic, as i noticed) and how the rest of the guys were coping up with their recoveries.

But recovery it seems is out of their vocabulary as most of them were already geared to run the Condura Marathon the week after and many of them did! Hard to imagine why they can’t get enough of running 160 kms as their main course and savor another 42kms the week after for dessert!

It was good to be meeting for the first time George Dolores, a regular in the ultra running scene and Keisha Fule,  who i initially thought was a Kenyan until i saw her pictures on blogs and realized that she was one of the guys (sorry po). She may be all hard-as-nails on the roads and trails but she is genteel and humble in person, none of the brashness that you may associate with other top runners of her stature.

Anyways, we had a great time drinking and dining and i had to be the listener most of the time when they tried to out-do each other in reminiscing the happy,  funny and mostly torturous moments ever imagined in their race of a life-time!

Again, congrats to Paolo and the rest of the BDM160 finishers!

Here are some pictures of the gathering (there’s more in my FB page if you care to look at it) :

Early guests

Front Runner's Jonel Mendoza, host Paolo Osmena and Mel Severino

Me, Blas and Keisha

Our hostess, Angela Jacinto (r)

One of the country's Ultra-running patriarch, Jonel Mendoza

Late comer, Chito Carreon (standing) joins the group

Mel, George Dolores and Meljohn (Boypraning)

Keisha, at her fullest?

No satisfaction for Boypra (may take-home pa!)

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!