Last Sunday showcased how a long-established race could be improved—and Milo did it with flying colors. I am of course referring to the Manila Eliminations leg of the Marathon, now on its 33rd year, still being under the supervision of RACE. These reviews were based from a marathon runner’s perspective so it may differ that running another event.
Before coming to this race I’ve heard of a lot of not so good stories about Milo Marathon, particularly the lack of water stations. This would be my second Milo Marathon experience, the first of which were last year’s Finals where I only ran the 10K event so I don’t have the perspective to comment how last year’s marathon were staged. Coming into my first full marathon via this Milo Eliminations I naturally was a bit concerned. Fortunately I had a reliable support group I can count on as a fall back which brings the concern to those who can’t afford to have their own.
Like last year the baggage counter was still placed at the Quirino Grandstand, hundreds of meters away from the Start line making it still very inconvenient but reasonable enough since it is near the Finish line. To those who are unfamiliar with the route of Milo Marathon, the Start line is in front of Km 0 (across Rizal Monument) and the Finish line is in front of Quirino Grandstand. And like last year the people manning the counter were snob. I experienced this first hand when I asked if I could get my bag to fetch some money in case for some reason I needed it. They told me I can get it but nobody was lifting a muscle to fetch it so I had to walk my way around the fence to get my bag myself—such a hassle! One guy who was brave enough to risk his feet even climbed up their fence to get his bag.
Like last year everyone I asked that I assume were with the organizers do not know where the portable toilets (portalets) were or if they even had one! It was really a blessing that Quirino Grandstand has its own toilets which were really clean but it’s not free, so once again for the second time around thank you to the people manning the toilets for not charging me. Eventually I found out that they do have some portalets which probably arrived much later than the gunstart of the 42K event. Ironically it was placed just across the people I asked where their portalets would be.
And also like last year the people I asked wearing the organizers shirt were still ill-informed or uninformed about the event making them not really very helpful to runners. If you’re new to Milo Marathon you’d really feel like on your own (like I did last year) so it’s probably better to ask fellow runners. I almost started without being “checked-in” because of one of these clueless guys told me to proceed. I know there had to be some process for them to acknowledge that I started on the Start line so I as a runner had to ask around (imagine all the time I wasted) and fortunately somebody noticed and marked my race number so I can finally start.
Total toll for the not-so-accommodating support: about 30 minutes; more than 4 minutes of which I lost from the race time, which unfortunately started much earlier than the time furnished.
The Race Proper
The race course was still the same with the fast few or so years so if you did your homework, you can’t get lost. I think Milo Marathon organizers had this notion all along that they didn’t bother putting up directional signs. What about first time runners for the marathon? Race maps weren’t included with the race packet so again the responsibility to know the race course fell entirely on the runner’s shoulder. Since the route was “reusable” I wonder why the organizers didn’t invest on reusable directional markers which would be a long-term and useful investment. Thankfully in this day and age it’s pretty easy to get this information; I wonder how they did it decades ago.
On the other hand kilometer markers were placed all along the route. Unfortunately these markers were way off (1 kilometer off) of the way back from Kalayaan flyover giving runners unaware of the actual distance they covered false information.
The best thing I liked on this race was the well placed and plenty of water and Gatorade stations. I’ve never seen in any race before that had so many free-flowing water and Gatorade, and in two locations even sliced bananas were served. If there was one thing that Milo Marathon could be proud, this would be it. This was the most-improved element of this race that all runners welcome. With these changes support groups could be considered “optional” since the race can provide runners with basic needs. The only undesirable thing I observed were that some of the people manning these station (particularly the one serving bananas along Buendia) were late in their post (which was just preparing to open when I passed it the first time, and I wasn’t anywhere near the leading pack).
Finally, runners who were able to finish with the curfew time of 5 hours (and a few minutes henceforth) were awarded their much deserved finisher’s medal, along with a certificate, a banana, a bottle of Gatorade, and a loot bag with Nestlé products. With a measly fee of P200 for a marathon what you got was much more! Truly this was a perfect example of how a race could be great without asking for preposterous fees.
I am proud to have staged my marathon debut on the best Milo Marathon so far! It would have been one of the best races in the country had not it been for the people manning their stations not really doing their best for the job assigned to them, but still the standards that they set with this race really placed a challenge on other races to place the bar higher. Milo may not have those disposable timing chips (yet) but surely they could be proud to say that they are “the country’s premiere running event.”
- Excellent route
- The best water and Gatorade stations so far
- Traffic enforcers were also utilized as road marshals en route
- Possibly the cheapest race fee but with generous freebies
- No directional markers
- Misplaced kilometer markers
- Not-so-helpful people manning their stations at the Finish and Start areas
- Race didn’t start on time furnished (it started minutes earlier)