Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Race Event for the Runners by the Runners: Runfest

Me and my running friends were part of the early birds who registered for the Runfest last April. It was announced at an earlier date that only 3000 slots were available and lucky registrants would have their own personalized singlets, delivered right at their doorsteps! I opted to join the 5k race category (5k and 10k were the only two options).

My race kit arrived two weeks before the actual race day. I tried the singlet on and I was not that satisfied with its length (I got used to the perfect fit of Runrio singlets), that I ran to the nearest Alter Station and had the length adjusted. I also had the big "Universidad" logo removed from the lower left part of the singlet. After the alterations, I wore the singlet again, highly-contented.

July 25, 2010 - Early birds we were in registering, and early birds we were again during the race day. We arrived before 5am, but there were already a lot of runners at the area. I regularly visit the forum and post comments there every now and then. I was excited to see a number of forum members in the vicinity, but didn't actually have the guts to approach anyone. The introvert Noel got the best of me. >.<

I was able to get a quick chat with the man who started it all, Jinoe Gavan, as busy as he was with the race preps. Jinoe was my batchmate way back from my Intel employment days, and I'm still in awe at how big his influence became on the Philippine running community, with a simple idea of introducing a catchy website - I didn't miss the opportunity of having our picture taken with the soon-to-be parents. Congratulations to ManokanRunner and ChicksNiManok!

The race program started 530am. What made the event even more special is the participation of online running celebrities. The program kicked-off with the national anthem performed by the Running Diva. The warm-up stretch was then led by none other than Kikayrunner herself, Noelle De Guzman.

10k runners were first to head-off at 6am and 5k runners, fifteen minutes after. It was cloudy and it looked like it was gonna rain anytime, but there's nothing a prayer from thousands of runners couldn't do; it became another rain-free event.

I ran on my normal pace now, and back to my old, competitive self. I've now put my recent injury behind me, and just wanted to run a good race. I can never say anything bad about the race route, with a lot of marshalls along the way cheering runners on, good traffic control, and overflowing water and Powerade at the hydration stations. Purrr-fect!

During the final kilometer stretch, there's this grandpa runner who ran beside me, and told me he wanted to pace with me. It turned out I was the one who followed his fast pace! He was one talkative lolo and his statements didn't help my ego either: "Ang bagal ko ngayon, nakainom ako kagabi," and "Usually tinatapos ko ang 5k route ng 22 minutes." Nevertheless, I was glad to pace with him, and it helped me realize I still have a lot of training to do to bring out my full running potential. I found out that lolo was just a bandit runner when he said he wouldn't run with me to the finish line.

I knew I had a good race time when I stepped on the finish line mat; there were still only a few runners at the race village. I noticed someone was at the first-aid station and was surprised to see a medic putting on a bandage on Noelle's wounded knee. I asked her what happened and she told me she fell during the race, but it's nothing serious. I then asked her what her 5k time was. "24 minutes," she replied. Talk about getting an injury and still finishing that strong. Woah!

We had our group pic taken after everyone finished. We were surprised to see our officemate Chaniel; he was the only one who ran 10k.

We had two of the most memorable superposition shots here. Patrick "Runningshield" Concepcion already expressed his interest before of having the superposition shot with us, and it materialized during this race. A big bonus, however, is when Coach Rio agreed to do the superposition too. And he did it perfectly!

The icing on the cake? With manual timing done, the race results were released the following day! Can you believe that? (ACE Hardware, can you read this?) My time was 26 minutes and 42 seconds (A personal best!). I placed 46th out of 1092 5k runners, which translates to me being on the top 5%. I'm on the first page of the race results! Yay!

I'm definitely looking forward to next year's anniversary run. Congratulations to the race organizers! Two thumbs up!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Race Marshalls Ruin an Almost-Perfect Eng'gfinity Engineering Centennial Run

The University of the Philippines Engineering Student Council (ESC), in celebration of 100 years of the College of Engineering existence, organized a running event entitled Eng'gfinity: The Engineering Centennial Run. Me and my HP running mates (and fellow UP graduates) immediately signed-up. We were all excited since this is the first running event we've participated in to be held at the UP campus.

July 18, 2010 - Race day. I woke up early since I knew it was gonna be a long drive from Paranaque to Quezon City. I picked up Mils and Dada from their condo unit in Mandaluyong around 430am. We arrived at UP Diliman 5am, just in time for us to get our race kits and put on our Eng'gfinity singlets. Here's our running group showing-off our bright orange tops:

Another thing that made us excited to join this race is that it boasts of being the first in the country to use the RFID tag (that's Radio-frequency Identification for techies and geeks, hehe!). Runrio will just be introducing the D-tag, a similar timing technology, on the upcoming Rexona Run this August. I heard the RFID reader program to be used for this race was developed by some fellow UP students. I bet in a few months' time they'll be rich.

Here's how the RFID tag looks like when worn. It's just a strip of paper with an embedded chip - a lot more environment-friendly than the usual plastic timing chip.

Gun-start was supposed to happen at 530am, but since there were still a lot of people claiming their race kits, it was delayed by 30 minutes. It didn't matter though because the weather was perfect. Me, together with the other 10k runners, were first off (accompanied by a light drizzle). I was targetting a sub-55 this time.

The race route was simple - from the starting line in front of the Engineering building, we move counter-clockwise around the acad oval, until the Biology Pavilion intersection where we turn right and run along the back of Palma Hall all the way to the College of Architecture. Runners would then head to the Oblation area and race a short stretch of the University Avenue, then make a U-turn back to the oval. Upon reaching the starting line, that marks 5km. 10k runners just need to do another loop to complete the course.

Now here's where the race got ruined for a lot of runners (and me, almost): during the first loop, instead of leading 10k runners to go straight ahead and head back to the starting line, the race marshalls directed runners to turn right at once at the Biology Pavilion intersection. That means missing 2.2km of the course! Runners who did not time themselves were misled that they had new personal bests. A fellow HP runner, Ronnel Go, placed third but honestly admitted to the race committee that he missed that 2.2km as well. As for me, I was also misled by the race marshalls. During my second loop however, realizing my time was too fast and that the route was somewhat short, instead of stepping on the finish line mat, i still did another loop at the acad oval, completing my 10k.

Another race gimmick is a real-time reporting of all runners' actual race time. You just have to be in close proximity to the RFID reader near the finish line computer terminal and voila, your race bib number, name and chip time appear in an instant. Mine was 54 minutes and 29 seconds. Target met!

After the race, we took the opportunity to do a cam-whore session near the UP Oblation.

Of course, the superposition shot:

And the jump shot!

Congratulations to ESC for this well-organized, successful event. To Eng'gfinity, and beyond!

A Race from a Different Perspective: AMG Fun Run and PGH Outreach

HP AMG, or Application Management Group, holds an annual fun run which started last year. All proceeds from the event go to a charitable institution. It's one of our company's ways to give back to the community; we're an IT company with a heart.

This blog is a two-part entry - the running event and the charity event.

PART 1: The Race Day
June 6, 2010 - Piazza Mall, McKinley Hills

The AMG Fun Run had three race categories - 3k, 6k and 9k. The route is fairly simple: from Piazza Mall, which is the starting point, runners head to the C-5 road intersection and do their first U-turn there. They then return back to Piazza Mall and continue on the opposite direction, this time heading to the U-turn slot at Lawton Avenue intersection. Once they get back to the Piazza, that completes the 3k route. The 6k and 9k participants just had to do 2 and 3 loops to complete their respective categories.

Surprisingly, as addicted as I am to running, I've decided not to run in this event. I wanted to experience the race on a different perspective, that is, the race marshall's point-of-view.

We arrived 3:30am at the venue to do the race preparations - set-up the race organizer's table and the sound system, prepare the drinks and granola bar giveaways, set-up the water stations as well as the race markers. Delegation of people on who would man particular areas was done. JM and I were assigned at the Lawton Avenue U-turn, with the task of handing out the race necklaces runners would wear, as proof they finished the lap.

Here's a photo of me with runners Dada, Rap and Mils, before we went to our designated spot. Yay to my first race marshall ID!

I brought my digicam with me and I decided to make my own version of Photovendo, taking pictures of runners as they make their U-turn. JM took my picture before participants began to arrive.

During the race, JM and I particularly enjoyed mocking participants who were walking the uphill path. It was a very challenging terrain. You could see the difficulty on the runner's faces on the photographs I took. Lucky me, I didn't run!

Everyone was praying for a rain-free event and thank God He heard our prayers. The race ended, the rewarding ceremony finished, we were able to pack-up, and most of the participants have already gone home before the heavy downpour at McKinley that day.

The event was a big success! Overall, we raised P85,000 which would surely go a mile for our planned charity event. Congratulations to the race organizers!

Part 2: The Charity Event
July 10, 2010 - Philippine General Hospital Pediatric Wards 9 and 11

All proceeds from the AMG Fun Run will go to our chosen institution which is the PGH Pediatric Wards 9 and 11.

During our work shift, we were preparing our giveaways for the kids - boxes containing toiletries and some toys. Here are a few of the volunteers during our packing session:

Most of us are working North America shift, so after our Friday work, with little or no sleep, we proceeded to PGH. We were briefed on how the program would go - visit Ward 9 first then mingle with the kids and their guardians. Hosts from Jollibee would then hold some games, then the Jollibee mascot would make his appearance while we are handing out food to everyone. Finally, we would donate the boxes of medical supplies to the hospital management (most are boxes of syringes which are a big hospital need). We'd do the same things all over again in Ward 11.

It was heart-breaking to see all those kids there in pain. One of the guardians cried when we approached her, telling the story of how she was the only one taking care of her niece, Angelica who had a liver problem. "May mga tao pa palang gusto lang tumulong, tulad nyo," she told us ("There are still people who are willing to help, like you"). Here are some pictures captured with two of the ward patients:

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” The experience left me a heavy heart, but it also gave me such a fulfillment. Thank you AMG, for giving everyone the opportunity to give, even in our own little ways.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Great Things Start from Small Beginnings: The 34th Milo National Marathon

I'm a Milo kid, i have to admit it. I was that kid who would go to the kitchen and prop open a can of Milo and eat the contents in its powdered form. Little did I know that my favorite drink and new hobby had something in common.

The Milo Marathon started way back May 26, 1974, with only 767 runners competing. As years progressed and as the sport sparked interest among the Filipino community, the participants grew exponentially. And as this year's 34th Milo Marathon kicked-off in Manila, everyone was not surprised to see a whopping 28,331 participants, all sporting the Milo green singlets at KM0, Luneta.

July 4, 2010 - Race day. I was with Kits and Mia Falcis (they are new running companions, both regular runners). I knew parking was gonna be a problem since Roxas boulevard would be closed for the race, so I told them we need to be at the venue early. While driving, we already saw 42km runners along Roxas, and I was wondering how my friend Eugene was fairing (it was his first full marathon!). I then parked my car at Kalaw Street, near Manila Doctor's Hospital, and it was a good, long walk to the starting line (and a nice warm up too!).

We were just in time as 10k, 5k and 3k runners were asked to assemble at the starting line. The gun start of each category will only be minutes apart. 10k runners were to be in front, 3k runners in the middle, and 5k runners at the back. Majority of the runners (mostly students - were they forced by their PE teachers?) are in the 5k category, and you'd be stunned that Milo had approximately 20,000 5k registered participants.

Just before gunstart, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim gave a quick speech on Milo's great cause to give out shoes to unfortunate children who cannot afford to buy their own pair. The recipients of the new shoes were then called to go up the stage to show-off their new green and white shoes. It was such a great feeling I was able to contribute on Milo's advocacy.

The 10k race route was pretty much straightforward - from KM0, run along Roxas Boulevard, pass one flyover, then make a U-turn at Le Pavilion and use the same path on the way to the Quirino Grandstand finish line. Here's a great shot from Photovendo which made it look like I was leading the pack. Haha!

Of course the run wouldn't be complete if we didn't have our post-race photos taken. Here's a photo of me with siblings Mia and Kits.

Mils was still battling her way to retrieve her bag from the baggage counter (it was a disaster!) so she missed doing the superposition with me, Tey and Earl. Eugene finished his full marathon at a later time so he failed to join us in the photo-op as well (but I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on a strong finish for his first 42k).

And of course, the classic Luneta background shot, while proudly holding my Finisher's Certificate.

Runner 18718's official finish time was 1 hour, 5 minutes and 18 seconds. I was in the top 22% of 10k finishers. At this point, I can already say I am back on my pre-injury running form.

"Great things start from small beginnings" - the famous Milo commercial tagline. I may have just ran 10k this year but I'm planning something big for the next. If everything goes well, I'm up for the full marathon on Milo's 35th anniversary run.


The running community was devastated to hear the news of a death of a runner during the 34th Milo Marathon. His name was Remus Fuentes. I do not know him personally but he also worked for Intel and Hewlett-Packard (my previous and current employers), and a fellow running enthusiast.

My condolences and prayers go to his family. He has finished his race of life and is already in God's good hands.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Run to Read - Run for a Cause on August 15

It's my first time to promote an upcoming race event!

RUN TO READ is a race event aimed to help build and restore libraries for school children. Such a good advocacy!

August 15, 2010
Fort Bonifacio Global City
3k | 5k | 10k | 15k | 500m for kids

Registration Fee:
PHP 500 for 500m for kids (tandem with 1 parent)
PHP 300 for 3k
PHP 350 for 5k
PHP 400 for 10k
PHP 450 for 15k

Registration fee is inclusive of singlet, race number and certificate

Regular Registration is from July 1 – August 8, 2010

Registration Areas:
BrandWorX Inc Head Office Penthouse, Eurovilla Bldg. 2, VA Rufino St., Legaspi Village, Makati City

Runnr Store Bldg. B3 Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City, Philippines

Second Wind Running Store Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village | Ortigas Home Depot

All Terra Cyclery Club 650 Libis, Quezon City

Reebok Trinoma | Megamall | Festival Mall

Royal Sporting House Glorietta 4 | Robinson’s Place Manila

For more information about this event email: or visit

The race singlet with different kiddie colors is such a great concept! Here are the colors to choose from:

Register early to get to choose your favorite singlet color! I think I'll get mine in purple.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

ACE Hardware Eco-Friendly Run aka Epic-Fail Run

One key learning that I had from joining the ACE Hardware Eco-Friendly Run is never participate in a running event for the wrong reasons (registering just to get a great-looking singlet and a lot of promised freebies). I feel bad for influencing my officemates to join this event too. The advertising was promising, with big brand names as sponsors, and JC Tiuseco and Reema Chanco as the event endorsers. To the organizers, what did go wrong?

June 27, 2010 - Race day. This is my second running event with my sister, and we both registered again for the 3k category. This time however, I decided not be her pacer. I wanted to attempt doing a faster pace, given this was just a short distance and I felt I already had enough recovery time from my previous injury. Here's me and my sister sporting the red, white and blue singlet.

The 3k runners were last to have their gun start. There were a number of 3k runners but we were fortunate enough to squeeze our way in front. The starting line arch was the narrowest of all race arches I've seen! There was an LED timer at the side, and the race marshall shouted we'd start once it hits 00:20:00. We heard the gun start signal when it hit 00:15:00! What the hell! I did not even have time to set my watch timer. Everyone was surprised and just started running.

During the first kilometer I knew I was in better shape now than my previous races. I was on my way to a new 3k PR! But there was something wrong with the race route which could potentially affect my time and others gunning for their PRs as well: poor traffic control! Runners were running beside moving vehicles. Where are the race marshalls? Talk about race safety.

There weren't ample water stations too! With only three short race categories - 3k, 5k and 10k (which is just a double loop of the 5k route), the organizers should have planned on putting more water stations. It was humid and runners would have wanted to rehydrate more often on that condition.

On my way to the finish line, I was confident I had a pretty fast time. I noticed the 5k finishers were already starting to queue up in handing out their barcode strips to the finish line race marshall (too bad for us, there are no timing chips and only manual recording of time will be done). The 3k area didn't have a queue yet; lucky me.

I met Mils a few minutes later and after collecting our loot bags, we walked around the village and were fortunate enough to have our pictures taken with JC and Reema.

We went back to the finish line arch and was shocked to see long queues on all race categories, specially the 5k. I could have sworn there were more than fifty people in line just to hand out their barcodes. I also heard one of the race marshalls dropped the barcode strips, picked them up and just arranged them in whatever order possible. How would the runners even get a bit of accuracy on their results?

But that doesn't end there. The real disaster was on the baggage counter, where there were literally mounds of bags placed on top of each other, and runners trying to claim their belongings, with no queue system whatsoever. It was just plain havoc.

We still managed to do the superposition though, amidst these race horrors. Here's Rap, Mils, Dada, Me, Nic, BA and Sharra. Most of them are new running companions.

We found out later in the race forums that the actual race distances of each category was nowhere near their supposed distance - the 10k route was just 8.4k and the 5k route was just 4.2k. The icing on the cake however, is that the 3k route was 3.9k in actuality. I estimate my time to be around 19 minutes, so that would mean I ran the course in a pace of less than 5 minutes per kilometer. Woohoo!

A week and four days have already passed as I write this blog entry. The race results are still not released. I am not expecting the organizers to release them anymore. My only plea is for ACE never to attempt organizing a running event ever again. Majority of the running community has the same sentiment.