March 29, 2010

The 25th Araw ng Kagitingan Ultramarathon Story

A Tribute to World War II Veterans

A Salute to Bataan War Patriots on a Silver Platter
After a heroic stand against the formidable Japanese Imperial Army, Mariveles, Bataan residents witnessed the coming of the dark clouds of our history as a nation when the United States Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE) with some 70,000 Filipino defenders and 11,000 American Troops surrendered to the invading enemy on April 9, 1942.

Forty four years later, in 1986 shortly after the People's Power Revolution, sportswriter and president of the San Fernando Runners Unlimited, Inc. (SAFER RUN) Ed Paez, pioneered the rediscovery of of the old death march trail of 1942. However, two years before this, ultramarathoner Max Telford of New Zealand made earlier attempts to retrace the dreaded route. True to our Filipino trait of hospitality, the Paez-led SAFER RUN tried to put up a supporting role by escorting Telford out of Cabalen country in 1985. But Telford did not want the local runners to run side-by-side with him.

Stung by the humiliating experience, Paez, a Novo Ecijano from Guimba, personally did his own historical research and interviewed original death marchers, the late Veterans Federations of the Philippines Post Commander Fortunato Cuyco and others, read books and visited historical markers to find out later that the track the New Zealander took was erroneous. He failed in his two tries to retrace the original route.

"Lumakas ang loob ko nang malamang mali siya, kaya isinulong ko na ito, na may basbas pa ng mga beterano mismo, kaya mga pinoy pa rin ang nakauna at hindi isang banyaga," said Paez.

The following year, a rag-tag band of 29 SAFER Run marathoners, with only a dump truck in tow as back-up vehicle, successfully took turns in negotiating the punishing 1942 path on April 8 and 9, 1986. The sun-baked route took them to the Bataan towns of Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Abucay, Samal, Orani, Hermosa amd part of Dinalupihan, before spending the night at Sta. Cruz, Lubao, Pampanga. The next morning, they completed their historic run after traversing the territories of Guagua and Bacolor to reach the town of San Fernando.

Today, what has began as a solemn vow to give homage to the fast dwindling war heroes, is now one of the most awaited events in the Philippine sports calendar. This unique running tradition went on and on through the years, spanning four Philippine presidents in more than two decades. Olympians Mona Sulaiman and Orly Bauzon, National Milo Marathon titlists Rey Antoque, Cresenciano Sabal and Bernardo Desamito, Jr., and Pinoy Global Runner Cesar Guarin were just few of the prominent running figures who joined this running tradition.

Now on its record 25th consecutive annual staging, the oldest, longest-running and the only privately-initiated run saluting our war heroes will hit the highways of Central Luzon again on April 8 and 9, 2010.

By walking (this time running) through the past, guiding the present via its long forgotten doors, showing the meaning of love, honor, compassion and sacrifice, sharing the secrets that enabled man not only to endure and survive and prevail makes this tradition worth running for beyond the last (man) Bataan patriot standing.

These are excerpts from the story written by Ed Paez.

March 24, 2010

Of Times & Chips: The Globe Run for Home

Timing chips, one of the most in-demand gadgets in running today. What's in it that attracts thousands of runners to join races? Is it because of the post-race runpix analysis or to simply outdo your personal best? Well, whatever it is, this chip is now a major component of the booming road races in the country, even though it's not cheap. But did you know that there was an international race in the past that did not post an official runpix result albeit the use of the deadly accurate timing chip. Pwede pala 'yun, and being a participant then, I felt I was deprived. And maybe so were the runners who joined since we understood that along with this chip come a runpix analysis.

the chips from what we've raced... so far

How It Works - The Technical part

Chip timing systems feature two components: a chip that carries a unique identification number, and a number of mats that activate the chip. The chip - along with an energizing coil - is encased within a durable shell, often glass or plastic, which is then housed in another plastic case. The shell is weatherproof, which allows for the chip to be worn in any racing conditions, regardless of temperature or moisture level. Significantly, there are no batteries inside the chip, and it can be reused again and again. (But not in the philippines wherein disposable ones are commonly used).

The chip's transponder is passive, and sends no signals until it is placed within the magnetic field created by the special mats. But once within this field, the coil within the chip becomes energized, produces an electric current, and powers the chip's transponder. The transponder sends a signal, reporting its own unique identification number, and this signal is captured by the "receive" antennas in the mat, and then collected by a computer. The mats contain two types of antennas. One type creates the magnetic field, while the other detects the signal emitted by the activated chip. The mats are placed at key locations along the course of a race: the finish, often at the start, and, at larger events, various checkpoints. A battery and some wiring are attached to the mat, providing energy to the "send" antennas, which create a magnetic field. The entire process of activating the chip and recording its signal takes merely a fraction of a second.

The recent globe run for home 2010 was another testament of how this timing chips attract runners. Reportedly, there were more than 8,000 individuals who joined.

Two weeks after my ultramarathon race, I lined-up myself at the middle of the 5km runners. The plan was just to feel the rhythm of running short distances again, and this race was a good opportunity to test my old self. And so I ran in tempo pace after the horn was sounded until I found myself increasing close to my old racing pace in just a little while. There's something in me that projects me forward in each stride I made, maybe the timing chip laced in one of my shoes. I enjoyed my run as I went along and found myself in the finish line where people were a scarce at that time. An odd feeling for me for quite sometime, but, luckily I found my name on the first page of the 5km race results. Sana may runpix ngayon.

Did the timing chips made the difference? Personally, I guess so.

More pics from the race here.
And check-out photovendo here.

March 19, 2010

On Winning a Podium

My medals in running were arguably no match with what I got during the past two days. I have been collecting plates for sometime now from my races but I feel my efforts are incomparable with what these two kids achieved in the past years. I would just run in an hour or two to collect one, but theirs are months of hardwork. While I must sleep early at night before the run, they would stay late to study for the exams. I have been going up and down the stage twelve times for the last nine years but those are not for winning my races, its because Sofia and Andres are winning theirs.

I guess running in florsheims is better than running in nikes.

March 13, 2010

How Far Can You Go: The 2010 BDM 102km Ultramarathon Race (Part 2)

Way to go.

After a brief loading, stretches and replacements at km50, Erick and I continued our run towards the second half of the route. This time we are monitoring our pace and exact distance from Erick's garmin as we maintained an easy pace of 6:30mpk. But the roads leading to Orani is quite narrow and busy, we have to run on the graveled surface to avoid being sideswiped by vehicles especially the huge buses. This kind of road situation continued until km82 heading to Lubao, Pampanga. We crissed-cross the highway just to find a suitable running surface thus making me more cautious with my foot landing.

Suddenly after km54, I felt a slight discomfort in my right knee, which Erick suspected it to be a case of runner's knee, but I'm doubtful of it. After 50km+ of running with blister, this knee thing emerged and somewhat added to my worries. I am more concerned this time because at the back of my mind, the worst is approaching. I stayed calm and felt the knee stride after stride, I have been in this situations for so many times. I could still run for a short period of time then walk to rest for a while; I told Erick that my situation is already a liability and egged him to go ahead. At km60, the time was 08:17am, we pitstopped and refilled our resources as I told Erick to go ahead which he politely obliged.

with Eric at the roads in Abucay
Challenging one's self.

After km60 I employed the galloway method since the knee was bothering me, the blisters were just lemon compared to what the knee brings. Every pitstop became shorter at 5km intervals. I carried-on until I reached the next time station at km65, time check was 09:02am, the sun was brightly up. My rhythm was still good and the enthusiasm was just the same. After sometime, I exited the old Bataan highway and headed towards Gapan-Olongapo Road, the busiest of all, here I was running at the roadside to keep myself safe from the speeding vehicles. I passed by Layac junction and reached the Bataan-Pampanga boundary. It was 10:08am when I was at km70.

beneath the Bataan-Pampanga boundary marker

After a brief pitstop at km73, I glanced on Dennis, walking behind me, and waited for him. Together we journeyed the next 10km of the route. He was concerned about his knee, and so am I, so we resolved on doing a 10mpk walk. He's terribly fast even in his walk and sometimes I had to jog just to catch-up on him. This long route was where the ordeal had begun for most of the participants. Many were already walking. The elements played a major role. After crossing km82, the wind suddenly halted. We were under the scorching heat of the sun, at 41 degrees as I found out later. It was 12:10pm, and the heat was punishing us. A group of bikers, maybe hundreds of them passed us, when suddenly I felt I was being light-headed. I could sense my vision getting blurred, and the bikers doubled. I could feel I'm about to collapse anytime soon, the worst feeling I've had in years. Fear struck on me.

I submitted myself to my support crew for verification, this time I'm more of feeling nauseous. I doused myself with cold water with sponges all over. I urged Dennis, who was with me to go ahead, as I would prefer to have a rest. I started to whistle, calling on the wind to blow again, and so it did. The wind arrived and cooled me down as I sat under the shade of a young mango tree. One by one my friends and runners from behind reached us and checked on me. Slowly, I felt better, and continued on my goal.

with Dennis at the stretch heading to Lubao
On my own.

My walks were so small from the start until I found my rhythm and increased my pace. I soldiered the remaining distance until I reached km90 at 2:39pm. Xty was surprised when a call from the bdm ambulance reached her. It was me at the other end checking on them where they were, because they did not find the detour after km91, in Guagua. I had to find a way to reach them since my fluids were drained and my phone was left at the vehicle. The bdm ambulance was the last resolve and the crew were generous enough to lend some help. After a while, somewhere at km92, Xty received a call from JunC, inquiring my whereabouts. Jay had finished, I supposed.

During the opening of the secondwind running store in Ortigas, Jay and I were invited to do a run from the first store to their new branch. Along the route we were chatting of some future plans, when I divulged my intention of joining the 2010 bdm. He was surprised when he heard my plan and even kidded, "ano namang nakain mo at sasali ka dun?" I told him it's because the challenge was there. A worthy try is looming. And we ended our run that way. After two weeks, I received a call from Jay asking me if I already signed-up for bataan. I thought it was the corregidor race that he was saying. He added that he already signed-up for the 2010 bdm that caught me by surprise. Just days ago it was just I who showed the intentions, and by this time it was him who's egging me to. After two days I made myself in too, he was 123rd on the list, me at 126th; and the rest was history.

Little by little I inched myself closer to the finish line. The sun at this time was cooperating but the wind was still hot. I could feel the excitement from every support vehicle that I passed by, the smiles and the encouragement from everyone was overflowing. The last 7km of the route was the most exciting, it was 3:26pm. I felt stronger, wanting to run, but the luxury of walking to the finish line weighed more. The bdm markers slowly receded as I got closer to the old train station. I'm just about to finish one of the toughest race on earth.

somewhere in Bacolor

At the last bend, I saw the glory that was the finish line. The bdm banner dangling atop waiting for me to reach her. I continued my slow journey, in the middle of the cheering, smiling and lively people that lined each side of the narrow passage until I crossed the finish line. I had finished the race, I overcame the challenge, with all my best on that day. It was 04:35pm.

crossing the finish line

receiving my award from the race director

More pics at the multiply site here.

March 12, 2010

How Far Can You Go: The 2010 BDM 102km Ultramarathon Race (Part 1)

It once started as an invitation.

Not long ago, my good friend Jon Lacanlale invited me to shift to long distance running such as ultramarathons. That was during the NB race of 2008 in Clark, Pampanga. He was then busy preparing for the 2009 BDM, and was in the peak of his training for his Singapore marathon. I just shrugged-off the idea since my priorities then are pure full marathon distances and how to improve my performances. He went on with his ultra trainings while I continued to pile fast-paced races. Our conversation ended at the comment section of my blog post here; and the rest was history.

Fast forward to the present and here I am celebrating for finishing and surviving the 2010 BDM 102km ultramarathon race, my first attempt in ultramarathoning. It was a totally different experience.

Now I am here?

After sixteen weeks of rigorous training and accumulating more than one thousand kilometers, I was one of those 125 starters at KM00 in Mariveles, Bataan. I nervously placed myself at the back of the runners since I would be running blind. Blind, because I don't have any idea what lies ahead of me. My longest distance ran was during the test run of 50km, and although I finished strong and satisfied during that course, the remaining 50km of this distance will be full of tricks. As the horn was sounded, we were sent-off. These brave men and women of the 2010 BDM, young and still young, newbie and vets slowly eased themselves towards what was considered a goal.

My goal is to run easy allthroughout and finish the race (the conservative one). Prior to the race, I could proudly say that I like to finish it in 15 hours whenever someone ask for my goal time, knowing where my training had brought me.

The first 3km was an easy jog until we reached the first incline. Erick and I started in our comfortable pace, since both of us was armed with a goal of a 15hour finish time. The remaining 4km were mostly done by walking and occasional run since the distance is uphill. Jay was just ahead, while I joined the company of Erick, Dennis, Sam, Glenn and Tina. At 12:34am, we reached km7 and dropped by our support crew. At this point, the air was humid and thin, so I decided to change into a comfortable singlet, grabbed my hydration pack and continued our run. The terrain now is rolling with plenty of decent slopes that invited us to increase our pace amidst the darkness of the road. It was a sight to see the partial-lit moon ahead of us. Rows of small blinking lights up above in the distance is inviting, enticing us to come up and reach them. We were already some 200masl yet there are still mountains to be climbed. Erick and I exchanged leads as we ran, going faster if he's in the lead, and going comfortable if it was my turn.

At 02:07am, we were at km20, just a little ahead is the section heading to the area of Lamao. Our support was already stationed as we reached the rendezvous, it was our fourth pitstop. We continued towards Limay as we traversed this still sloping course, the hills were unforgiving, luckily these hills were at the earlier part, on our freshest self. By this time, the moon is now trailing us on our right side. We reached km30 at 03:45am or after about 04h15m of running and km40 at 04:30am. At the time station in km35 we were informed by the marshals that the lead runners past there in 02h:30m, that's what I call efficiency, speed ultramarathoning.

Please take note that I am benchmarking on the markers since I don't have any garmin or equivalent to denote the actual distance. I knew that some of the locations of the markers are placed inaccurately.

Just 10km more and we will be at the halfway mark of the route; here the night is slowly changing into day, more and more people are occupying the narrow streets and so are the vehicles. It's quite tricky to negotiate the road. Church bells were ringing, as if calling all devotees to attend the early sunday mass; I called-up on Him everytime I passed-by His house. After gulping taho at Abucay, we reached km50 at 06:26am, still fresh, strong and willing.

with Erick & Cesar approaching km50

with arroscaldo on hand

To be continued . . .

March 9, 2010

Pagbabalik Tanaw: The History of Bataan Death March

Ika-9 ng Abril, 1942, ang pagbagsak ng Bataan ay naging luksang kabanata sa kasaysayan ng bansang Pilipino. Ngunit para sa higit na 70,000 kawal ng USAFFE na naging labi ng digmaan sa Bataan, ang mariing dagok na ito ay hindi nagwakas ng araw na yaon. Mula sa larangan ng digmaan, sila'y inilikas ng mga Hapones bilang bilanggo ng digma, at dito nila dinanas ang libong hirap at pagtitiis sa paglalakbay na natitik sa kasaysayan ng bansa sa bansag na "Death March".

Nagsimula sa dalawang pook ang "Death March", mula sa Mariveles noong ika-10 ng Abril at mula sa Bagac noong ika-11 ng Abril. Araw at gabi'y pinaglakad ang mga kawal na Pilipino at Amerikano, sa nakapapasong init ng araw o sa lamig ng gabi, pasuray-suray sa mga bayan ng Cabcaben, Limay, Orion, Pilar at Balanga, sila'y pinagpahingang sandali at pinainom ng kaunti. Buhat sa Balanga, ang mga bilanggo ng digma ay pinagpangkat-pangkat mula 100 hanggang 200 bawat pangkat at isinailalim sa mga tanod habang naglalakad sa mga lansangan ng Abukay, Samal, hanggang Orani at doon ibinukod ang mga bilanggong Amerikano sa mga bilanggong Pilipino at magkahiwalay na pinaglakad. Ang marahas na pagpapalakad ay nagpatuloy pahilaga patungong Abukay, Samal, Hermosa hanggang sangandaan ng Layak, pagkatapos pasilangan patungong Pampanga sa pamamagitan ng Lubao, Guagua na dito pinagpahina at binigyan ng kaunting pagkain sa bakuran ng National Development Company, Bacolor at San Fernando.

Laganap ang daing ng mga kawal Pilipino at Amerikano na duhagi na sa pakikibaka ay pagod pa sa paglalakad. Ano mang karamdaman o sakit ng katawan ay hindi dahilan upang makapag pahinga sapagkat ang pagtigil ay malaking sagabal na nangangahulugan ng lalong malupit na parusang igagawad ng walang awang mga kaaway. Libo-libong buhay ang hindi na nakarating sa paroroonan. Salamat sa mga mamamayang naglakas-loob sumuong sa panganib, makapag- abot lamang ng pagkain at inumin, may mapapalad pa ring tumanggap ng pangtawid-buhay.

Sa San Fernando ay higit na makahayop ang pakikitungong tinanggap ng mga bilanggo ng digma nang sila'y sala-salansang isakay sa bagon ng tren. Ibayong dami ng buhay ang nakitil, at mabibilang ang nakarating ng buhay sa Capas. Mula sa Capas, ang mga nalalabi'y muling pinaglakad hanggang Kampo O'Donnel, isa sa mga kulungang maituturing na impiyerno sa ibabaw ng lupa noong panahaon ng Ikalawang Digmaang Pandaigdig.

The Death March of Filipino and American Prisoners of War
Mariveles and Bagac to Camp O'Donnell, Capas, Tarlac
April 1942

Immediately after the fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942, the USFIP forces were evacuated by the Japanese from the field of battle as prisoners of war. The more than 70,000 Filipino and American troops who had survived the battle of Bataan underwent, in this evacuation, the ordeal that history now knows as the Death March.

The Death March started from two points in Bataan; on April 10 from Mariveles, on April 11 from Bagac. The Filipino and American Troops were marched day and night under blistering sun or cold night sky, staggering through Cabcaben, Limay, Orion, Pilar and Balanga, where they were given a brief rest and some water. From Balanga, the proisoners of war were organized into groups of 100 to 200 and under guard marched on through Abucay, Samal and Orani, where the Americans were segregated from the Filipino prisoners of war and marched separately. The march continued northward through Hermosa to Layac Junction, thence eastward into Pampanga, through Lubao, Guagua, where the prisoners were listed and given little food at the National Development Company Compound, Bacolor and San Fernando.

Already suffering from battle fatigue, the Filipino and American troops were strained to utter exhaustion by this long march on foot. Many were ill, most were feverish, but none might rest. Thousands fell along the way. Townspeople by the roadside risked their lives by slipping food and drinks to the death marchers as they stumbled by.

In San Fernando, the death march became a death ride by cargo train where the prisoners were packed so densely into boxcars that many of them perished from suffocation. Those who arrived alive in Capas had still to walk the last and most agonized miles of the Death March: the 6 kilometers to Camp O'Donnel, which was to become one of the most hellish of the concentration camps of World War II.

mga tala hango sa Pambansang Kagawaran ng Kasaysayan, 1967

March 4, 2010

The Chairman's List

I am one of those who were called.

Click on the man to view his list.

He will be there watching. He will be there waiting.