Saturday, July 13, 2013

adidas KOTR 2013: A Roller-Coaster Ride!

It's been almost a week since the adidas King of the Road 2013 race. My blog title says it all: the race experience has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride. Excitement, disappointment, race event highs, race kit claiming lows. My biggest pitfall is that with the big brand, I had very high expectations, not to mention it's already the event's fifth year (from what I know, KOTR started 2009). In that time span, registration fee increased from 2009's P500 for the 21k category to this year's P1300 for the 16.8k category. With the increased fees, it follows that everyone would expect improving services from the organizer.

Registration Period:

During the registration period, which started way back May 2, registered participants were informed that race kit claiming will be from July 1 to July 6, on selected adidas stores. Singlet sizes were available on registration sites, which is a good thing. The official adidas KOTR site indicated that the singlet color will be on a first-come-first-served basis, so it's quite implied that most participants would get the correct size but not their preferred color, which is supposedly fine. It was also clearly stated on the site that singlets are of European sizes, and with our Filipino built, it's quite obvious demand for smaller sizes will be higher (and that perhaps the race organizer would order more of the smaller sizes). I selected XS when I signed-up. I promised myself I'll be one of the first people to claim come July 1.

Race Kit Claiming Disaster: 

Fast forward to June 28 (Friday): I got an SMS from PROACTIVE, saying there will be an early race kit claiming on June 29 and 30 at BGC. Uh-oh! A short notice announcement. I quite panicked. I knew this was a disaster brewing come the supposed first day of claiming. I had weekend plans as well so I had no time to insert claiming on my schedule. I have to wait until Monday.

June 30, Sunday night, I was already getting news of the lack of smaller sizes, particularly the XS size, after the mass kit claiming of big running teams/groups. I was still hoping though that new stocks will be replenished on adidas stores the following day for the regular kit claiming.

July 1, woke up early and went to adidas BGC. A long line greeted me upon my arrival. I wonder what's causing the hold up and saw only a couple of personnel manning the claiming booth. People claiming were also being allowed to fit the race singlet. WHY!?!

Long lines. Poor customer service.
Unfortunately, 30 minutes later upon approaching the claiming staff, I was informed that XS is no longer available, the smallest size that they have is S, and that is only for the infrared color. Smallest size for the yellow and the blue singlets is M. I was so pissed-off, but controlled my temper to argue with the staff. I settled for what was available. Do I have any choice? I ranted instead on my FB account.

Snippet of my FB KOTR race kit claiming rants and its comments.
After reading my FB post, Noelle De Guzman (Kikay Runner), coordinated with a contact from PROACTIVE to shed some light on the lack of stocks of smaller singlet sizes. It seems that the cause of the mishap points back to the weekend claiming: size swapping was allowed! PROACTIVE should have at least provided the sizes runners originally registered for, waited for the majority to finish claiming, and only allowed swapping on the last few days of claiming.

Reading on social media sites and forums, it was one of the worst race kit claiming ever:
- A friend of mine who registered online, got her kit delivered to her home address. You would think with the additional delivery cost, it would be hassle-free but no! She got a singlet for men.
- Read in a forum of runners who did online registration and got the wrong singlet sizes delivered to them.
- Saw a pic in Twitter of a person who waited 7 hours just to get his race kit.
- Saw another pic in Twitter of a long queue in BGC Trinoma. I remember while I was claiming, staff in BGC informed me not to even attempt going to Trinoma as it was already chaotic there.
- Pinoyfitness post on KOTR garnered one of the highest comments ever (of rants and hate and pandemonium)!

July 2, Tuesday morning, another SMS from PROACTIVE arrived. Race kit claiming on the adidas stores were closed and again centralized in BGC. Another short notice announcement, which I'm sure did not reach all runners. The SMS simply mentioned they wanted "to improve their services". There was not even a hint of apology for the hassles they have caused.

I dropped my expectations on race day significantly.

[On a lighter note, I had my singlet altered at Alter Station Glorietta.]

Race Day:

A complete 180 degree turn of events, race day is as perfect as it could be. It had all the elements of a perfect race event (using the winning formula of Runrio races):
- Organized pre-race program
- Well-planned race route and visible race markers
- Lots of security and marshals and medical aid
- Photographers everywhere!
- Great hydration
- Organized loot bag claiming
- A finisher medal like no other (this is c/o adidas and not the local organizer, I would presume)

All these and a bonus of race groups cheering along the way! It was festive and fun. (The weather even cooperated too!)

Spot Isabelle Daza!
A few (hundred) meters before the finish line
I finished with a time of 1:48:41, maintaining a steady, easy pace throughout the course. 

Race day performance - took a whole minute before crossing the starting line!
And now to the post-race photos:

By the way, I also had the privilege of being one of the judges on the cheering competition (thanks to Jham). There were a lot of running groups who participated and provided a much needed boost to runners especially on the final stretch of the race. Team Ponkan was announced as the winner.

With Jham
Post-race breakfast at Banapple
I really hope for improvement on 2014's KOTR, especially on the race kit claiming part. I'd like to quote a friend who posted a comment on my FB account. Here's what he had to say:

"FOR ME, the race experience starts during the registration process and also includes the waiting game and the claiming process, plus the organization of runners after they have crossed the finish line."

I could not have stated it any better myself.

Runner 18780 was all in!
*** Photos courtesy of Rick Petogo, Photo-Ops, JP Navarrete, Bee "Kamote Runner" Soberano, Ryan Santos, Paul Delina, John Henri "Jham" Mariano ***