Condura Run 21K: My Half-Marathon Debut and the Making of a Running Bandit

The Condura Run last Sunday was easily one of the best races of the year not only for its historic SkyWay route but also in terms of how well it was organized.  To the organizers, especially to the running brothers Patrick and Ton Concepcion, thank you for making this great race possible and congratulations for a highly successful event!

This race officially marks my half-marathon debut.  I’ve had LSDs longer in distance but you can’t really compare it with a real race.  This was actually the longest time I ran continuously almost non-stop, stopping only to get a banana from the support van and when the traffic light halted our run for a few seconds.  Coming to this race I wasn’t even sure how long I can keep running without walking since I was getting used to the relaxed pace of LSDs.

No longer a virgin at 21K; courtesy of Vener (run unltd.)
No longer a virgin at 21K! Thanks Vener (run unltd.)

The Making of a Running Bandit
In one of my earlier post I mentioned about a possible sponsorship for this race.  I was assured of it and thought that it would be all settled, until less than 24 hours before the race—I got the bad news that the sponsor didn’t “just do it” and discontinued the sponsorship.  By that time it was already too late to register!

Five days before the deadline of registration I was set to do just that but I was informed during our Run Clinic that the sponsor agreed to fund our race, being part of their Run Clinic and being one of the sponsors of the race.  I, together with a few fellow unregistered runners that time, even filled out the registration forms for the race thinking that it’s all set.  Friday was the next session of the Run Clinic—when the bad news was spilled—no sponsorship!  Those who attended that Friday’s session were lucky enough to register, it was the last day!  I, on the other hand, thinking that everything was set, was on the other side of the Metro joining my friends from for a carbo-loading party.  Who would’ve thought that a big company and a major sponsor of that race would back-out of their words?

When I received that news less than a day before the race I was stunned—this was one of my most anticipated races of the year and I was preparing for this for a few months already… for me not to be able to join this race, it’s not an option!

What is a running bandit?
A running bandit simply is an unregistered runner—running the course but didn’t register accordingly.  It’s not strictly illegal, but it’s not something you’d want to do (often?).

Running bandit spotted
Running bandit spotted on SkyWay; courtesy of Vener (run unltd.)

I decided that being unregistered was just a “minor setback.”   I’ve waited for this race for so long that I won’t allow some setbacks to stop me from running, so being a running bandit was my last resort.

Pray.  It Works.
The moment I got the bad news I immediately talked to Coach Rio and asked for some help.  I was really worried then and I knew that he has his hands full that time so all I can do was to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  In preparing for the worst I found refuge in prayers.  I prayed that everything would turn out fine.  God knows all my efforts leading to this race and I know He won’t allow it to end like this—and it didn’t.

Race Day
I arrived at the assembly area early, eager to know if there’d be good news for me.  Alas, I didn’t find Coach Rio so I was prepared to be a running bandit.  I went to our booth ( and by coincidence or by divine intervention Coach Rio’s booth was beside ours, so I was able to talk to him for some fix.  Fortunately he had a “spare” race bib which would allow me to run, still a running bandit, but at least I am qualified for a medal.  That number belonged to a woman that is technically my sponsor for this race, and I could be called a running bandida!  (Thank you very much Coach!)

How to spot a running bandit: No race bib! Thanks Que for the photo.
How to spot a running bandit: No race bib! Thanks Que for the photo.

This was the first time I joined a race that I knew a lot of people—mostly from and the runner’s blog community.  When I started running it was just some of my friends and officemates and now I’m running with people that shares the same passion as me that not so long ago were mere strangers.  This was probably the most fun I had in a race, I was running alongside friends and cheering some along the way—it was a very nice feeling that you’re not running alone.

Mixing with the crowd is key to a running bandit’s success
Mixing with the crowd is key to a running bandit’s success; courtesy again of Vener (run unltd.)

The Race and Route
The race started 5:30AM for 21K and the turnout was huge!  Considering that 21K is not a walk in the park I was really surprised how much people, men and women, joined this race.  The race was very competitive and, as much as I don’t want to admit it, a lot of women were actually faster than me.

It was one of the most organized races I’ve joined.  The water stations were placed well, people manning it were very helpful, signs were placed well, a lot of emergency personnel, and there’s even a little shower on the SkyWay.  As for the route, I guess it speaks for itself—historic.  The 21K route was interesting and had a very good degree of difficulty.

Condura Run Route (click to zoom); courtesy of GF405

It was a nice day for a race.  The sun was rising by the time we were on the Skyway.  Seeing sunrise behind Makati CBD on SkyWay was a view not to many gets to enjoy.  By the time I was midway through SkyWay the leaders were already on their way back!

By the time I neared the turn-around marker atop the SkyWay (about 10.5K) I knew that I’m not setting any new PRs (pace-wise) since I was way off my 10K PR.  Still since this was my first 21K any time I register is a new PR anyway!

One of the perks of being a member is enjoying a support group.  I got my banana-fix on my way back to Buendia that gave me a boost when I reached Kalayaan flyover.  I remembered that I was walking that flyover when I first run on it last year during my first 10K and looking at my GF405 I was surprised to see I was actually sustaining a good pace—that’s banana power for you.  (Thank you and the support group!)

Being a tropical country that we are, temperatures easily rise with the sun and by the time I was on my way back to Fort Bonifacio the sun was in my face and it was starting to get hot (good thing I wore my visor).  It wasn’t easy running that long continuously but I knew I wasn’t running alone, and that that day was made for me to conquer my first 21K!

I finished the race with a time of 2:08:08 based on the timer on the finish line (unofficial).  That included the 35 seconds it took for me to get out of the starting line.  It was an average pace of about 6:05/km which I’m proud to have sustained for that long.  I didn’t get a “dream” time of sub-2 hours but I was able to join one of my dream races, and earned my very first running medal.  And I did it all as a running bandida! meets the Running Shield. Very nice to meet you Sir! meets the RunningShield. Very nice to meet you Sir!
Craig L. and the missus with
Craig L. with the missus with guys; courtesy of BastaRunnerSweetLover
the wacky family
The wacky family; courtesy of Carlo (Drum and Run)
Some more of peeps
Some more of peeps; also courtesy of Carlo (Drum and Run)

Thank you to all those who shared their pictures!  I actually forgot where I got some of these pictures, feel free to give me a shout out if I didn’t gave you credit.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. moljcy says:

    great run, great recap! im sure it felt great as well!
    congrats! see you around!

    > Thanks! Yes it was a great experience! 😀


  2. run unltd. says:

    Ang sarap tumakbo sa skyway, maraming naisusulat, was that part of a runner’s high? (LOL) Bandit ba yan, nakangiti pa sa camera, hehehe. Congratulations on your new milestone, keep those miles burning. See you again.

    > Thanks Vener! Memorable talaga ‘tong race na ‘to kaya marami akong nasabi hehe… 😀


  3. carlo says:

    congratulations for completing a memorable race (kahit na walang race number :P)

    oh, btw, there are a couple of pics in this post that came from my camera 🙂

    > Thank you Carlo and thank you for the pictures! See you in more races to come. 🙂


  4. i2runner says:

    Dennis, maybe if you didn’t bring those heavy 2liter water supply, you could have run below 2hours! Pero ok lang yan, at least masaya di ba? Ito na yata pinaka masayang run of the year! Yipee!!!

    > Hehe I was a bandit runner so I don’t have access to the baggage counter, thus I have to bring everything inside my bag (including change clothes, food, etc.). It’s interesting to run with extra pounds on your back.

    I agree this was the most fun I had in a race in a long time! Part of the reason of course was our community. 😀


  5. congratulations on your run
    and its great that you were able to get that miracle bib!

    It sad to hear about what happened about your sponsorship. about 3 days before the race i heard that about 150 runners were to be sponsored.

    that sponsor who was supposed to sponsor you is different from the official sponsor of the race – NIKE PARK – they were very very supportive of the race and came through for us and gave us 100% support. they did it!

    but anyway…its a good thing that you ran officially

    congrats on a fantastic accomplishment

    see you at the next condura!

    Ton Concepcion

    > Thank you Sir and Congratulations for a wonderful and successful event! It was an interesting turnout of events and I was really glad I had a chance to be part of it! It was one of the best running experiences I’ve had so far and I’m glad that I picked this race to be my first half-marathon and medal. I’m definitely a Condura Runner from now on. Keep it up Sir! We’ll surely be eagerly awaiting what surprises awaits us on next year’s race! 😀


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