Botak 100: From an “Active Spectator’s” Perspective (Part 1)

Botak 100 was the first road ultramarathon set entirely in Metro Manila with routes spanning the cities of Marikina and Quezon City and being an “active spectator” I got to see this race from a different angle this time around.

I called myself an “active spectator” during this race because unlike a normal spectator that only sees the event by the sidelines I was actually participating in the race, and no not as a bandit runner, but as a pacer for one of my friends doing the 100K leg.  I guess it’s inevitable for an ultrarunner like myself to stay on the sidelines as a spectator when his 10 mile race got deferred.

“You’re a running addict if: You run an ultra, unregistered, call yourself a pacer, just for the fun of it.”

A pacer is the nearest support person a runner could have.  Yes, aside from moral support runners do need other means of support.  In this case a pacer can serve as a courier for a runner’s basic supplies but more importantly a pacer’s purpose is to keep the runner in line with his target pace, and of course companionship during those really dull moments of the race (which is a significant amount during ultras).


I am registered to run Botak 100’s 10 mile side event but due to some viral issues the side events got postponed to a much later date.  Because of this I suddenly found myself run-less for the last weekend before my Milo Marathon debut.  Refusing to call it a taper, I devised of some means of getting these frantic feet moving—and the idea of being a pacer for the Botak 100 succumb.  Truth to be told, if Milo Marathon wasn’t there the week after I would’ve probably run the ultra as well.

The idea of pacing came to me when some of my friends mentioned that they’ll be pacing Pat (The Running Safety Pin) for the last 10K leg of his 100K race.  Looking at the 100K route I was really curious about the second half of the route in Marikina City so I asked Pat if he wanted a pacer for the second half.  I don’t think he really needed it though but maybe he figured what’s going on in my mind and agreed with me running with him on the start of the second half from UP Diliman to our Aid Station in Km 80.

Based on what we agreed upon pace and the assumption that the race starts on midnight I estimated Pat to be within UP Diliman grounds by around 5-6 AM but the race actually started at 1AM, and due to some unforeseen circumstances he actually arrived in the area much later.

The vastness of Commonwealth Ave. diminutizes runners
The vastness of Commonwealth Ave. diminutizes runners

A Road Marshal’s View

I eventually found myself waiting at the Ylanan gates of UP Diliman where all 50K and 100K runners would eventually enter since the Start/Finish area which was the Km 45 for the race was just a few meters away.  Of course being a crucial spot there are marshals there so while I was waiting for Pat to arrive I got to see how a real marshal works—it’s not easy!

The Ylanan Gate of UP Diliman Campus
The Ylanan Gate of UP Diliman Campus

The marshal on this point had a difficult job of making sure he/she sees the runners approaching in both directions and leading them the right way.  While that task doesn’t seem difficult enough, he/she can’t really leave his/her post (which would occasionally be under the heat of the sun if it wasn’t for the clouds) even if there seems to be no runners arriving.  Runners arrive sporadically so there’s really not much “safe time” to leave the post unattended.  Killing time would be one of the toughest issues here since the race was an ultra and waiting time is very long.  Kudos to the marshals that do their job!

Marshals at the Ylanan gate hard at work
Marshals at the Ylanan gate hard at work

It was around 7AM when Pat arrived.  We headed off to the Start/Finish area where runners can have their rest and also eat.  You also get to see 50K runners finishing their race (after another lap around UP).  The mood was festive and I even get the chance to talk to the ultra race director Neville Manaois and hear his side of the story.  Based on the no-frills start/finish area I see this race as a straightforward as it can be—you get what need and not much of the commercial stuff (except from partners and sponsors of course) which I think was nice.

The utilitarian Start/Finish line
The utilitarian Start/Finish line

One by one some of my friends running the ultra arrived including my friends from TNF100 so I guess you can say that it’s a reunion of ultrarunners.  It was also the birth of new ultrarunners including one of my friends from Luis who successfully finished his first 50K race.  Congratulations!  Welcome to the club!

After a few minutes rest Pat and some of our TNF100 gang were off for the second half of the race.  It was very exciting for me that I’d be running on areas I’ve never been to, another running adventure for me that was about to begin.

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Botak 100:

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Thank you so much Dens. Your words of encouragement really helped me out during that painful, terrapin-like last 5 k. I could barely walk, but you guys towed me through. Those words “Welcome to the Club” makes me feel it was all worth it my friend 🙂

    > You’re very much welcome Luis! I guess it’s innate for us runners to give a hand whenever needed (since we can’t lend our feet 🙂 ) just as other runners in the past have helped me. Now that you’re officially an “ultra-man” I guess it’s more appropriate to say “Welcome to the brotherhood!” Only you can tell me if it was worth it, and I hope it was.


    1. Oh it was hella worth it buddy 🙂 I’d do it again haha 🙂

      > We’ll be with you next time 🙂


  2. Nice photos runningpinoy. This is one blog post I enjoyed. Rarely does one get to read about a marshal’s, paces or as you put it, “spectator’s perspective”

    Its also nice to know that people appreciate the work marshals and organizers put into their races, be they volunteers or otherwise. Good luck on this Sunday for Milo 🙂

    > Thank you Mr. Passion Runner! It’s about time that we give credits to other people involved in making a good race.


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