Eugene, with his running monicker "Eugenator", is Team Alpha1's fastest, yet humblest of the bunch. I remember his sworn statement never to run longer than a full marathon, but look at where he is now - a certified ultra-marathoner, and a 2nd runner-up overall finish to top it off - 102 freaking kilometers!
This is a recollection of the events that transpired on the 3rd and 4th of March - in a support's perspective.
Meet the Team Alpha1 support team - all first-timers on doing ultra-marathon support.
Jesy - car provider, the driver, post-race host
Daves - back-up driver, race planner, the "motivator"
Marvin - the team nurse
Rolly - the navigator, overall race prep guy, peacemaker (lol!)
Noel - photographer, link to the outside world (through Facebook page updates)
Bry - nutrition and hydration provider/runner
We had an early meet-up time, 8:00am at Rolly's residence at QC. I drove to Manila 7am to pick-up Marvin and Bry, and then another stop to pick-up Daves. Then we're off to QC. Rolly welcomed us with a hearty breakfast of suman and kapeng barako, which was so strong I swear it could keep me awake for the next 24 hours. An hour later, Eugene arrived.
My car was jam-packed! All the support stuff were in the trunk, and I had 5 passengers with me. We traveled North via the NLEX, with our next stopover at Sta. Rita exit. This is where our vehicle exchange would happen, Jesy meeting us on his Ford Expedition and his driver bringing my car to his Bulacan residence.
And so the Alphamobile was born! Our excitement went higher when we saw the team logo on the vehicle's hood and doors. After loading all the race paraphernalia in the Alphamobile, along with a few camera snaps, we were again off to a long ride.
Team Alpha1 and the Alphamobile
Everyone's up and high as we sped along SCTEX, talking about what's to happen on the race that night. And as we had our first glimpse at the BDM kilometer markers, we were even more stoked as we are now getting a preview of the actual race route. At around noon, we arrived at Bay Spring Resort (located near the BDM km 19 marker), where we'll be staying to relax and to do some more race preparations.
shot of the Alphamobile upon arrival at Bay Spring Resort
shot just before entering the villa gate
Our villa room was spacious! There were two beds on the first floor and 5 beds on the 2nd. Too bad we we'll only spend a few hours here, as the race starts 10pm that night. Marvin and Rolly had a swim in the resort pool, while others spent their time to snooze a bit.
The long travel left us all famished, and it took a while for us to spot a good place to have our late lunch. After driving a few kilometers from our hotel, we found Romalaine, a restaurant serving Filipino cuisine. We ate there like we're all doing an ultra. I have to mention they got the best sisig (according to Marvin - a 10/10 rating).
pigging-out in Romalaine
Upon twilight, we started preparing. Marvin, Rolly and I got busy putting in the BDM102 "Race in Progress" tarp in the Alphamobile, while the others were putting on rock tape on Eug's shoulders. When we got inside the room, Bry was already putting Phiten Titanium disc stickers on Eug's back and legs.
Rock Tape and Phiten Titanium Disc stickers applied
It was then time to say goodbye to Bay Spring Resort.
group shot before leaving
We decided to have dinner again at Romalaine, instead of trying somewhere else new. It was yummier the second time around. We were still on track to meet our 9pm target arrival time at the KM0 race start area. Before leaving Romalaine, Eug and I said a little prayer with the team. In a couple of hours, Eug will embark on the longest run of his life, and it was just apt to ask His blessing of strength and endurance, and for keeping the support crew safe as well.
Arriving at KM0, everyone can't just help but smile at the sight of the numerous support cars and crew. It was electrifying! Jesy was so inspired at that moment he already stated his interest of joining next year's BDM!
Team shot at the BDM KM0 marker
shot with the man who started the ultramarathon craze - Sir Jovie Narcise aka "Bald Runner"
The race briefing then commenced, with all the BDM102 warriors assembled at KM0. Sir BR had a few words to say to everyone, and there were three national anthems sang - Star Spangled Banner of the USA, Kimigayo of Japan, and Lupang Hinirang of the Philippines.
Sir BR during the race briefing
Before the rush of other support crew starts, we already went ahead to the first pit-stop at the BDM KM06 marker. The path leading here is a dark, zigzagging hard incline. Runners have been warned to take it easy on this part.
And so we wait.
As the first runner passed - a British guy, the crowd cheered. 6 more runners arrived and then we saw Eug with a couple of runners running alongside him. He's strong at 8th place! Bry was waiting for him at the other side of the road and gave him his hydration. Everything happened so fast, and then we had to go and leapfrog to the next pit stop location.
Of course, supporting wouldn't be half as fun if we didn't have some booboos along the way:
- HYDRATION WITH NO HYDRATION. We handed out a water bottle to Eug without water in it. Anyone who might have witnessed how we reacted after this incident would laugh. Everyone's kind of on a blaming game. Voices are raised yet some are still cool and trying to pacify the situation. I guess things like these are really bound to happen. It's just a matter of how we handle it.
- POCOBRA. Pocari with a touch of Cobra drink. There's this one pitstop wherein Eug complained about the weird taste of his Pocari drink. Pocari in a Cobra bottle. Go figure.
- 7 KILOMETERS PIT STOP. Initial parts of the race, our agreement is to meet Eugene every 5 kilometers. There's this one stop that we made after just 3 kilometers and when we met Eug, he told us he's still ok so he ran ahead. We should have met Eug after two kilometers but due to parking constraints (the road was so narrow) we continued driving for another couple of kilometers until a safer stop. A pissed-off Eug met with us, and we all felt guilty when we found out another support team provided his hydration earlier, Eug already feeling dehydrated in his false anticipation of meeting us after 5 kilometers.
- WRONG TURNS. There were a couple of road forks wherein we had to turn right, but we turned left so we had to make a U-turn. Funny thing about this is we kept reminding Eug beforehand of these right turns but we were the ones who made the erroneous turn.
We only got better with each mistake - everything is a learning experience for all of us.
BDM KM19 marker, we were back at Bay Spring Resort. By this time, Eugene is already in 5th place. I updated the Team Alpha1 Facebook page.
Bay Spring Resort again
The race is pretty much the same throughout the route. Seeing Team USB support - they overtaking our support car and then us overtaking them (a lot of waves and cheers were made between us and Doc Minnie along the way). The top 3 runners basically maintaining their lead, with the top 2 and top 3 runner even running close to each other on most parts. Eugene was in 4th place and 5 to 10 minutes away from the top 3 but still doing great and running strong. The support team is running their own competition by playing Temple Run while killing time.
We then arrived the km50 mandatory pit stop. Here, Eug had to check-in and his bib number noted by the race marshals. This was also the time he changed his shirt and have some chit-chat with the team. We're now at halfway point and it was time for another FB update.
mandatory KM50 pit stop. notice someone taking a video of Eug and the support crew.
And the race continues...
By the second half, tiredness and lack of sleep are now coming to bite us back. Our energy levels are going down. Jesy has to have a replacement driver so that he could have some shut-eye - good thing Daves stepped-up since I was hesitant driving his Ford. Bry, by this time, is down and asleep. Marvin replaces Bry on his duties.
BDM KM61 highlight - Daves falling asleep on a marker. Haha!
BDM KM65 - 2 man down! Bry and Jesy sound asleep
Around km 70, we had our first glimpse of dawn. Eugene is still at an approximate 5 minutes away from the 3rd place runner. 1st place was way too far and we hadn't even have an encounter with his support team. British Patrick Kennedy is at 2nd place and now running ahead of Team USB's 3rd placer. By this time, we were beginning to accept the fact that the standings will remain, as the top 3 have not yet shown signs of slowing down, and even enjoying the benefits of second wind. Regardless, Eug has given it his best and 4th place is still something to be proud of. Marvin and I are now resting inside the support vehicle. I even managed to steal a quick power nap.
At km82, another mandatory pit stop, Eug had to change his socks (and because he can no longer bend to reach his feet, Rolly had to change them for him). Eug was already feeling beat-up and tired and he kept on mentioning how strong the top 3 runners were, that whatever effort and push as he tries to catch-up doesn't work. We just had to give him positive words to continue on. He is now requesting to see us every 3 kilometers.
Daves was now taking over and brought out his famous "latigo" to keep Eug pushing.
km82 pit stop and post km82 shots
16 kilometers to the finish line, a miracle happened.
We overtook the 3rd placer's support vehicle and parked about a kilometer farther to wait for Eug. Upon Eug's arrival, he told us that it seems like he is now ahead and now in 3rd place! Whatever tiredness and sleepiness left my body at that moment. We were ecstatic! I ran to the nearest race marshal, looked at his notes, and confirmed 3rd place for Eugene! I delivered the good news to our HP officemates who were now on their way to the finish line area.
Now the question on everyone's mind is that can Eug overtake Patrick for 2nd place? We kept catching up with Patrick whenever we leapfrog. Patrick kept on glancing back and upon seeing our support vehicle, he speeds up. His pace is still strong and he's not showing any signs of slowing down. This time, we were meeting up with Eug every 1 kilometer just to give him the moral support he needed.
Salute to 2nd placer Patrick Kennedy!
We waved and told Eug we'll meet him at the finish line with 2.5 kilometers to go. While on the way to the city capitol, we were discussing last minute needs of Eug upon crossing the finish - hydration, chair, spare top and of course the team tarp. We parked in front of the city capitol, grabbed what we should bring, and walked proudly to the finish line area.
The sight of Eug sprinting, crossing the finish line as the 2nd runner up and receiving the congratulatory hug from sir Jovie just made us all proud. 10 hours, 50 minutes and 9 seconds of pure hard work came to fruition as Eug wore that medal and received his finisher's trophy. Officemates from HP were there to celebrate the end of his successful BDM102 journey.
Congratulations Eugene! Well-deserved 3rd place finish!
Team Alpha1 with Sir Jovie
more post-race shots - find the guy who's scared of the sun
As a celebration, Eugene treated everyone to a hearty lunch at Meat Plus Cafe Subic. Yes, we traveled all the way from Pampanga to Subic just to have lunch.
thanks Eug for treat!
It was an experience of a lifetime, supporting a teammate on achieving one of his running goals. I'd say 99.9% of the effort came from Eug and 0.1% from us, his support team. Congratulations Eugene! You know how proud we are of you.
Next year, we already have Team Alpha1 members showing intent to join BDM 2013. I'll definitely support whoever's running.