This was probably the worst run I have ever participated in.
Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration. I’ve participated in runs that didn’t offer much hydration,
was poorly timed, that didn’t offer quality freebies, but those runs did not cost P1150. I would understand if this was a free event, or even an event that costed P350, but this was a run with a major brand (National Geographic), organized by Eventking (they organized the Camsur Marathon and Condura), with an advocacy that is timely and important (Earth Day). I expected an event that would take care of the runner’s needs and make sure that the runner would have a satisfying and memorable experience.
Instead I got this:
- A poor quality T-shirt (I didn’t wear it at the run)
- No kilometer markings
- Hydration stations that were few and far between
- Hydration stations just supplied water—no sports drinks, no bananas
- Hydration stations were poorly situated, leading runners from both directions to converge, causing congestion.
- The published race results are all based on gun time and not chip time
By the way, there are two run results published with conflicting results. The Natgeo site says my time was 2:14:25. This site, supposedly from the company that provided the timing chip, listed me as 2:13:39. Based on my Garmin watch, my time was 2:14:40, so I’d say that Natgeo’s results are the correct ones.
To be fair to Natgeo and the organizers, they did get a few things right:
- The course distance seems accurate. My Garmin watch registered the distance is 20.98 kilometers
- The course was well laid-out, not too may twists and turns
- There was plenty of water in the hydration stations
- There was ice-cold water
- No plastic cups were used
Some have lamented on the lack of sponges. But again, this is supposed to be an environment-conscious run, so I suppose it was a decision to do away with sponges. Some of the marshals though were pouring water on the runners instead of handing out sponges.
Some may also complain about the absence of freebies, but to be fair to Natgeo and the organizers, if those complaining runners read the race announcement, they would find out that there really were no freebies. Caveat Emptor.
A word on the route: Brutal. The typical around Fort Bonifacio would snake around Bonifacio Global City. This route took us along Bayani Road, close to Libingan ng mga Bayani, and skirting Heritage Memorial Park, with a U-turn near C-5. That route had rolling hills, so early on the run I was subjected to relatively steep inclines. And there was still the Kalayaan Flyover to contend with! There may be a few who complained about the route, but let it be said that Natgeo did publish the route map. Despite the high registration cost, I signed up because I knew it would be challenging route.
And I underestimated the challenge. I was shooting for a 2:06 time and I started out fast. I did a 5:45 kilometer pace in the Yakult 15-miler so I was confident I could hold on to a 6-minute pace. By the time I exited out of Bayani Road, I felt the onset of fatigue in my legs. After the 2nd U-turn over at Ayala Avenue I knew I couldn’t make my goal time. The return flight up Kalayaan Avenue was tortuous. And at ta hydration station near the 18.5 kilometer point, I ground to a halt to catch my breath and grab some water. I gulped down two cups of water and poured another on me to cool down. It wasn’t that my legs ran out of gas; it was my lungs were gasping for air. I figured that it wasn’t glycogen-depletion that hit me, but a lack of stamina.
In hindsight, I should have seen this coming. Aside from the challenging route, there was the weather to contend with. The weather was humid—even at the starting line I was already sweating. To make matters worse, I decided not to bring a hydration belt, thinking that I would just grab water along the route.
Nonetheless, I still was able to get a personal record, shaving off 30 seconds fro my previous PB. I don’t regret starting off fast. One needs to constantly test one’s limit. Now I know my weak point.
And if I finished in 2:06, that would have meant I shaved off close to 9 minutes from my personal record (2:14:54, set in this year’s Run United)! Now that would have been an achievement! So baby steps is what I need to do. From now until my next 21K (Run United 2 in June), I’ll need to sprinkle some interval training and speed work into my training mix. Hopefully that’ll help my stamina. At race time I’ll probably shoot for a 6:15 per kilometer pace, which would make me finish at 2:11.