January 25, 2010

Running Beyond: The Bataan Death March 50km Ultramarathon

The conquering of the bataan death march run had begun. Early morning of saturday, january 23, 2010, our group headed to mariveles, bataan for the reconnaissance run of the coming BDN102 ultra. This was the test run for the first half of the route, a 50km distance from mariveles to abucay in bataan. Heading north, we met the other groups in lakeshore and proceeded to bataan in a convoy of five vehicles. Tha travel too us about three and a half hours with pitstops at tabang, mexico and dinalupihan, before reaching our destination.

It was cold and breezy when I stepped out of our vehicle in mariveles, majority of the participants were already in the starting line, huddling. I jumped-in with them immediately as bald runner, the race director, delivered his pre-race speech. After some briefing and some photo-ops, we were sent out for the run.

The excitement begins.

"Start slowly, then back off. Because when it comes to 50-milers, pacing errors no longer penalize just your finishing time, but the possibility of finishing at all. Start of a full 30 seconds per mile slower than your prescribed pace. Hills, hills, hills! Whether your goal race is hilly or not, the more hills you do in training, the stronger you'll be and the better prepared for your ultra."

My first three kilometers was in easy mode, spent running alone and sometimes running with jun c. while jay was left behind. The next 4 to 7 kilometers were ascending, the summit about 240 meters high, I run relaxed incorporating walks most of the times. One cardinal rule in ultramarathon is to walk the uphills, no matter how steep. I stuck with my plan and covered the first seven in 50 minutes, feeling alright at all, until reaching our support crew.

The marathon pace.

"Middle distance workout. If the run is around 15 kilometers, you'll get an excellent workout, and you'll recover quickly from it. You can run this distance as a tempo run. Don't let your long runs drag on for hours. Keep your pace up. When doing your long runs, don't let your pace slow down to a shuffle."

I grabbed my hydration pack from our vehicle and proceeded with my run. I switched my pace to tempo in this rolling terrain battling the strong headwinds. The morning breeze is subsiding as the blinding sun got up on us. Jun c. and I ran side by side until the 14th marker. We continued our run exchanging leads from time to time. In between km 17 & 18, I caught up rod apolinario (rodrunner) and we ran together for one kilometer. This pace was a good training for jun c. who is in his last long run for his condura full marathon this february. We ran this route by the sea overlooking portion of manila bay, the busy ports of lamao and the oil refineries that lined the coastal bays of limay. At kilometer 28, jun c. completed his long run and I was left alone soldiering the remaining distance.

"Eat, drink and (try to) be merry. During the race, eat whatever worked for you during your training runs; cookies, raisins, figs, crackers, pretzels, energy bars, whatever. And drink continuously; eight ounces or so every fifteen minutes, including electrolyte-loaded sports drinks. Consider high-caffeine drinks such as mountain dew over the last miles."

Running alone, I employed my old strategies of enjoying the scenery and cheering with kids along the way, giving them high fives and exchanging greetings to avoid boredom, it works all the time. I stuffed myself with gels and hydrated regularly, I brought along raisins with me and the water from my hydration pack. At every support group location, I ate either boiled saba or eggs and hydrate with ice cold gatorade. Do not let hunger get ahead of you.

Beating the heat.

"Find a rhythm. One popular run/walk work pattern is to run 20 minutes, walk 5 minutes. Do this from the outset or after you've run the first 25 kilometers, or whatever pattern has worked best for you in your training. Some prefer a shorter mix of running 5 minutes, then walking one, believing that this is less stressful than the 20:5 pattern."

Somewhere in kilometer 35, I caught up with the group of isko and jeff of team hardcore, we ran side by side until I went ahead and caught up on totoy santos. We ran together exchanging stories until we caught up on another runner in ben saludario. The three of us pit stopped in our support vehicle and shared the food I brought along. We continued our journey under the searing heat of the sun. Walk breaks helped a lot in long distance running.

Somewhere in kilometer 41, jay caught up on us from behind. After a brief stop in the support vehicle, the four of us continued. At the last 2 kilometer, I was slowly left behind with the three inching their way ahead of me. I was comfortable with my own pace at the moment and didn't mind to get to them, until I received a call from jun c. regarding the location of the finish line. A kilometer away to the finish, I called xty to rely my message that I'm that close enough. I ran with my phone on my ear, this was the time wherein I'm on my strongest self. She wished me luck and hanged up the phone as I continued to end my race.

At the end of the line, bald runner and jonel were there to congratulate me for conquering this 50km ultramarathoning world. I was headed to the traditional cold bathing in "tabo" proportion and doused a full of iced water over me as they welcomed me to the club.

Thanks to the company of joey, franz and jun c. who lend their time for us. And jay for accommodating me in his support group.

My first step towards the historical bataan death march 102, 2nd edition ultramarathon was conquered. The first half can be done, there's no way the other half can't be.

more photos here.
and the 50km route here.


  1. Welcome to the ultraman world Idol Vener! :P I wasnt able to join the test run but it looked like a lot of fun :) I'll see you on March 6! :)

  2. Thanks Luis. You missed a lot out there. See you then.

  3. This is great! Congratulations on your maiden Ultra run! Safe and injury-free preparation for your 102!

    Eric A

  4. Congratulations! Remember, it never gets worse. Also, train your mind equally or perhaps more than you train your body. Most often than not, the mind gives in even before the body crumbles. And in ultra races, the mind is the moving force and not the legs :)

    See you soon...

  5. welcome to the club vener! congrats! pero marami pa tayong kakaining aspalto! see you soon!


  6. Agree with Jonnifer, train you mind too. The battle is on the second 50k and the mind played major role in this sport.

    Congratulation, Vener...
    and welcome to the club!


  7. those kids cheering really made a difference. and they were genuinely happy giving & receiving high fives!


  8. Congratulations vener, the best ka talaga pare! We will be praying for the best for you your BDM run. God bless! Congratulations again!_ Bro J and Swthrt

  9. Hi Vener galing ng gameplan sama ko diyan ha? Congrats! Chito

  10. @ Eric. Thanks, the prep for the real 102 is gearing up, I hope I could sustain.

    @ Jon. Thank you. I'll live with your insights, you're the man here. Before my mindset was just good for a 42fm now it's focused farther beyond. See you again.

    @ Jonel. I know I'm just half of it, at di lang aspalto, lahar pa kamo. Thanks, thanks, many thanks.

  11. @ Jerry. Thanks. I haven't seen you lately, I wish I could run with you at the real bdm 102. Regards pare.

    @ Rod. I wasn't able to witness your finish, but you did great. Thanks for the company on the road. We'll do it again.

    @ Bro.J. Thank you, your prayers will greatly help us in this struggle. See you at condura 42.

  12. @ Chito. Thanks, of course kasama ka. See you again and congrats sa cebu marathon.

  13. @ Janine. Thank you. What's next for you, condura 42? Never be late again.(LOL)

  14. congratulations vener.... it was tough last saturday... the only consolation on that particular part of the route is that we will tacle that during the night, must be easier compare to last sat...

    rest and recover pre...

    see you in condura...

  15. @ Junrox. Thanks pare and congrats too. Meron pa tayong mignight run sa saturday, kita muna tayo dun.

  16. ultramarathoner ka na rin! good luck on BDM

  17. @ Wilbert. Many thanks and best regards, mag training ka na rin para sa bdm.

  18. Malupit ka talaga!!! Go go go Vener!