This was actually my first “marathon” and even though I didn’t run the full 42.192K this was the first event I joined with a full marathon distance. This was the largest running event I’ve joined thus far, and I have quite some reactions: good, bad, and ugly.
The race route couldn’t be better: it was virtually a straight line, flat almost like a treadmill, the weather was nice, and it involved running on a flyover (which I really love). It was quite an “easy” course. The race started on time, I think it was actually ahead of time, so it was quite professional in terms of punctuality. And there are certificates to finishers and I think there are even medals to all 42K finishers.
Chaos! There was so many participants that it was virtually impossible to set a new PR if you’re stuck behind the mob, I mean crowd. Not only the first 2.5K of the route (the 90,000++ 5K runners’ halfway mark) very slow, you’re challenged by non-runners that basically have no idea about “running etiquettes” so you, a knowing runner, have to adjust your run so you won’t step on any of them, although in my case I was the one being stepped on because of evading runners that are too busy taking pictures to look where they’re going. This was also the scenario upon returning to the finish line: it was like a stampede was about to take place since all runners (regardless of distance ran) merge in this narrow space leading to the finish line.
And there’s the helpers’ issue: there’s a lot of “helpers” in the race in terms of number but sadly they’re no help at all! I arrived at the venue a few minutes before the 10K started and asked a few from the organizers where the baggage counter was, but none was able to tell me where! So after a few minutes of running around I finally found it, but then when I asked the people there where the portalets were, as expected they have no idea. Since it was quite early the park toilets were still closed, fortunately I found a pay-toilet at the back of the Quirino Grandstand (after searching some more) and thankfully they didn’t charge me because I didn’t have any money with me that time. To cut the story short, I started my run late so I was at the back of the 5K pack.
Naturally in races such as this there are hydration/water stations. I was a bit dismayed that Nestlé, the brand owner of Milo, didn’t even provide runners with their sports drink, only water, but I was more surprised to see what was beside the water station: a big Maynilad Water truck! (Tap water, anyone?) This again was another reason why you should have your own hydration belt and fluid.
But wait there’s more! Back at the Baggage Counter: I don’t know why they had so many people there but only one or two were actually getting the bags, the rest won’t even look at you. Before I left I was appalled by what I saw: the people manning the counter were throwing people’s bags all over like sacks of potatoes! They really stuck to their policy of only admitting clothes. It’s a good thing I didn’t bring my laptop. Sadly when I claimed my bag it looked like someone stepped on it as it was quite dirty.
In fairness to the organizers they probably aren’t aware of what their people are doing. For first timers like myself I was very disappointed since Milo Marathon has been around much longer than me—they should have a lot of experience handling events as big as this. Well I was right: this race was about the experience—no race I’ve joined so far could compare to this one because of its massive scale: running with 90,000++ (mostly inexperienced) 5K runners in front of you (not to mention the 4,000++ 10K runners ahead of them), running sideways, sudden stops, being stepped on by “unconcerned runners,” seeing someone trip because they were not looking where they were going, lots and lots of students forced to join by their P.E. teachers, … I could go on and on.
Too bad my old PR still stands. I may have to wait until next year to have a new one since my next races are 5K (Nokia) and 16K (Yakult 10-Miler) consecutively. Yes, the course was conducive to setting new PRs but unfortunately I was in a bad “position” to do so. There are always good races, and there are bad ones. At least I had a free gulp of iced Milo in the end!