Archive for November, 2009

28
Nov
09

Laoag Tour: The Preview

It was another long weekend here in the Philippines, another chance for a great adventure.  For me and three other guys from the takbo.ph camp it would head us north—way up north—to the city of Laoag, Ilocos Norte, primarily for Run Ahead Raising a Roof race tomorrow morning.  Of course this city had much more to offer, and here are some previews:

About six hours into the bus ride: sunrise

Our Laoag-bound bus on a stop-over

We arrived at the city proper after about nine hours of travel. Arriving at our hotel we were treated to a breakfast buffet.

Breakfast

Buffet

Takbo.ph in Laoag

These are just previews of our first few hours, watch out for my complete story soon…

25
Nov
09

Dare to be Fit ‘N Right Fun Run Race Results Redux

For the second time, the results for the Dare to be Fit ‘N Right Fun Run has been published at http://www.runningmate.ph/del_monte/result.

Guess what, it’s sorted alphabetically by last name!  Sigh.  (I’m sorry, I’m just dumbfounded by this)

If you have any concerns please do contact the organizers via racetime@runningmate.ph.  Is this official?  Ask them as well.

23
Nov
09

Dare to be Fit ‘N Right Fun Run: Weighing In

After several consecutive races, I can finally have a race I can call my own—no more running others’ pace, no more target time—freedom to run as desired, and Fit ‘N Right was the right venue for me.  It was a particularly interesting event especially that this was my first race at the SM Mall of Asia compounds. Here’s my rundown of things as it happened.

Background

A lot of runners were concerned when race packets weren’t outright distributed with registration because recent similar events went unwell, and despite the organizers’ best efforts what many runners feared happened again—delayed race packets distribution.

I registered a few days before the regular registration cut-off date.  Registration went smoothly and the people manning their booths were very friendly and accommodating.  As one of the endorsers of the event I knew how race packet claiming should have been, but when the claiming date came I’ve heard of problems.  I decided to claim my kit Thursday before the race and to my surprise my kit still wasn’t there!  I didn’t bother showing my disappointment with the people in their booth as I clearly know it’s not their fault and they were already being battered by anguish from angry runners.  They were very apologetic and informed me that they’d contact me if my kit was available, but until Saturday, hours before the race, I received no such message.  I was prepared for the worse—running without a race number.

Pre-Race

A few minutes before 5:30AM I was on queue to claim my race kit.  I was surprised at how many runners were actually there!  This was in no means your small time event; it was even comparable to events by Runrio!  After being in line for some time I was able to get my race packet containing a singlet, course map, and a race number with RFID—say what, RFID?!

The seemingly regular race bib

Yes, the biggest surprise for this race was the use of RFID, a first in local races.  We were introduced this year with disposable timing chips, and now FNR “silently” introduced RFIDs which I prefer over the former because you don’t have to lace anything to your shoe—it’s just there with your race bib!  Registration cost for this race was one of the cheapest for the year so it was pleasantly unexpected.  Things suddenly turned up for this race.

The RFID atop the race bib

Early on we had a hint that there may be a mass-start but thankfully somebody must’ve advised the organizers to start by category, making for a better start.  It was already past 6AM but the pre-race program was still being staged, and with much pressure from the 10K runners the race started 6:23AM, five minutes later followed by the 5K which was my event.

A Cautious Race

It had been a very long time since my last 5K run and I have to admit that I really missed it.  After doing an International Marathon sweep you may be wondering why I went back to 5K.  The reason was simple—I’m on my taper period for the forthcoming Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon.  Of course being free of any pacer duty I can run freely—the temptation of “touching” my almost year-old 5K PR was too much to pass over.  With the flat and Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA)-certified course it was a perfect venue for a race, and a PR.  Unfortunately I had pains on my right side so I decided to take it easy—going as fast as comfortably possible without risking aggravating the injury.

I thought I had started relatively near the front row but I had a hard time navigating through the crowd.  Since I wasn’t able to warm up properly I just took that opportunity to do just that, and to my surprise the pain that was bugging me wasn’t there!  A few minutes later I spotted Natz (i2runner) and thought he’d be a good pacer so I ran behind him.

Since I’m in a “cautious mode” I decided to “ignore” other runners, including Natz whom I know was just around.  This was my race so I decided to race with myself and nobody else.  Before I knew it I was heading back to the Finish line.  That’s the beauty of a 5K—you won’t get bored.

Final kilometer, 18 minutes, a possible new PR looms.  500 meters later, I can see the Finish line.  It was one of the longest 500 meters of my life as I attempt to shave a few seconds off my 5K PR and upon reaching the Finish, 22:25 says my GF405 (gun time), a new PR!  I didn’t really expect to trim my 5K PR by 46 seconds especially that I wasn’t gunning for it!  A nice race it was.

The 5K Perspective

The Dare to be Fit ‘N Right Fun Run was a surprisingly well handled event, and in fact if it weren’t for the really notorious lowlights it would’ve been a very good race.  Here are my observations based on my 5K perspective:

Good:

  • Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA)-certified race courses
  • Excellent venue for setting new personal records
  • Use of RFID
  • Route markers (with color coding)
  • Relatively cheap registration fee
  • A lot of giveaways and raffle prizes

The lively stage

Bad:

  • Race packet distribution
  • Late start
  • Insufficient water at cramped water stations
  • Insufficient portable toilets with the number of participants
  • A lot of runners weren’t given the post-race freebies
  • Cramped baggage counter
  • Late and inaccurate race results

Relief goods?

Summary:
It was another event with very good highlights and nasty lowlights but overall the race was Good (3/5).  I noticed that most of their problems stemmed from distribution (race packets, giveaways, baggage counters) and some from lack of experience (lack of water, lack of signs at the finish line, lack of portalets) but seeing how well the race was managed I can only assume that the organizers got the lessons that they needed. For the awareness of the organizers, here are some of the issues that are for improvement:

Late Start
Running takes time and for the sake of runners’ skins we try to avoid running with the sun high up in the sky by starting early.  If a program was to be held pre-race start it early so as not to delay gun start.

Water
Water supply should at least be sufficient for all runners, and the station should have long tables to avoid crowding.  Cups should at least be the number of times each runner would pass that station.  How much water is needed could easily be computed based on the number of cups.

Marshals
Some marshals are noticeably inexperienced.  You shouldn’t abruptly stop runners upon crossing the Finish line as it may cause them injuries. Get runners’ times with being obstructive.

Crowd Control
Crowds weren’t managed well at the Finish area leading to a very crowded area for late finishers.

Signs
If signs were placed atop the Finish gate there wouldn’t have been much of a need for Mr. Rey Langit to repeat himself over and over to guide runners.

Giveaways
Not all received their giveaways.  When I arrived (about 27 minutes into the event) there was already a long queue at the booth because the people manning the station stalled.  The situation turned worse as more runners arrived and until it was like a “relief goods distribution” center did I saw some movement.  Unfortunately they also didn’t pack enough for all the runners so many went home empty handed (including myself).

Baggage Counter
With more than 4,000 runners the baggage counter was ridiculously small and was seriously understaffed.

Fit ‘N Right 5K Route (10K is two laps of this course)

Hopefully the succeeding races pickup from the good points of this race and learned from its shortcomings.  To the more than 4,000 runners that Dared to be Fit ‘n Right, especially to those who have bettered themselves, Congratulations!

UPDATE: My time based on the original race results was actually 22:22 finishing 20th overall out of 1,181 5K runners!  One of the best finishes for me and it’s from a PATAFA-certified route!  Nice!  🙂

18
Nov
09

Shoe Review: New Balance 681

Choosing a good quality shoe need not be expensive.  The 681 from New Balance in an entry level running shoe that not only looks good, it also performs well.

Features

  • ABZORB®
    Forefoot and rearfoot ABZORB® to soften the impact of road running
  • C-CAP®
    Compression-molded EVA for superior midsole cushioning and flexibility.
  • Stability Web
    Optimal arch support that’s both rigid and lightweight while preventing midfoot flex.

First Glance

At first glance the 681 looks good and upon closer inspection you’ll notice the Abzorb cushioning is also placed in the forefoot area.  The shape of its sole is also unique that it seems to aide forward movement especially for forefoot strike runners.  You can’t really tell that it is an entry-level shoe until you’re reminded when you see the insole.

The Test

I tested this first walking a few kilometers to and from a nearby running specialty store and it passed with flying colors.  The shoe fits well and it very comfortable.  Cushioning was sufficient and is breathable enough.  Things changed when I finally tested it for a seven kilometer test run—you immediately feel the slightly narrower front as you feel your fingers rub on its sides.  Coming from Asics Kayano I can feel the difference with the cushioning which was sufficient although I wouldn’t recommend it for runs longer than 10K or exceeding an hour.  It’s also not as bendable as other running shoes but it’s very negligible.  On the good side though the slightly concaved shape of the front sole really aide runners with forefoot strike.

Conclusion

New Balance 681 is a very comfortable shoe that looks good and fits well.  It provides good cushioning not just in the heel but also in the forefoot and it sole is shaped to aide forefoot runners.  The narrow front may be its biggest fault making it unsuitable for long runs, but for casual use or easy runs it fits well.  Overall this is a good shoe for those 5K or even 10K runs, or simply for just walking around.  This shoe may have been designed for those who just started running and didn’t want to risk spending a huge sum, or those looking for some affordable everyday good trainers.

17
Nov
09

PRs at Timex Run

Timex Run, the most expensive sub-marathon road race in the Philippines thus far not only set the race registration fee higher, but also introduced a lot of new PRs.

PR = Piolo + Rio

One of the possible reasons that the race became a huge success despite the steep price was due to the celebrity factor—Piolo Pascual.  He is undoubtedly one of the most popular television and movie actor in the country and apparently tapping on his huge fan base was a great idea.  Of course we can’t say that the Rio dela Cruz factor didn’t have an added effect on the race’s success, I mean who can’t resist the charm of an afro?  Who knows better how to organize a running event but a runner himself?  (Peace Coach Rio!  I really admire your hair).

PR = Posh Race

Timex Run is definitely at a different caliber as it’s one of the few races in the Philippines that utilize timing chips.  It also has one of the better race singlets with Timex Ironman mark at the back which I really love.  Celebrities also dot the course of various events making this a very star-studded race.

The grand start gate of Timex Run

PR = Pretty Route

Timex Run’s main event, 21K, went to places no other races went before, literally, making this a discovery race for many who haven’t been to the unpopular running areas of Bonifacio Global City.  Even familiar routes were given an interesting twist keeping the event fresh to seasoned BGC runners.  But more than a pretty route, the distance was almost GPS-exact 21K so taking into consideration the topography of the route it’s more than valid for those distance-conscious runners.  Even the distance markers were freakishly accurate by Garmin standards for most of the time.

Sunrise at Rizal Drive

PR = Pace Required

For the nth time I was again a pacer, an optional one.  It was a pretty loose pace—just aiming to finish in a decent time so it was for the most part an easy duty.  Because of the relaxed attitude I was able to take some pictures in-race making this also a “picture race.”

Along 5th Avenue

The 21K leader

Entering Heritage Park

PR = Postmortem Report

Timex Run was easily one of the best races for 2009, period.  Despite the higher registration fee the cost was pretty much worth it because of a very good quality event, a lot of giveaways, excellent activity area, a finisher’s shirt and medal, all while still able to generate funds for charity.  Indeed Timex had proven that with the right pizzazz cost may not be a barrier to having a well attended event.  It was also another proof that celebrities really make good endorsers, especially here in the Philippines.  I just hope this isn’t the start of more expensive races, but instead the start of quality races.  Congratulations Runrio for consistently delivering excellent and successful events!

The nice but generic finisher’s medal

PR = (Personal Record)

I’ve seen a lot of PRs with this race and as for my Personal Record (PR) I also set a new one, a negative one as I set the longest 21K race so far surpassing the two hour 20 minute mark, but it was worth it as I bore witness to another 21K dream turn into reality.  Congratulations Carol!

PR = Pros + Rejects

Pros:

  • Good quality race singlet
  • Timing chips
  • Punctual start
  • Excellent route
  • The longest water station yet seen in local races (that never ran out of water and even supplied 100 Plus)
  • Practical placement of timing chip sensors
  • Excellent finisher’s shirt
  • Huge and heavy (although generic) finisher’s medal
  • Finisher’s certificate
  • Free breakfast
  • Excellent goodie bag with products from sponsors
  • Lots of portable toilets for everyone
  • Lively activity area
  • Same day accurate race result (unseen for quite a while) with fancy presentation
  • Race photos courtesy of PhotoVendo
  • Part of the proceeds went to charity
  • Very Good race (4/5)

Rejects:

  • High registration fee
  • Lack of cones at some areas
  • Lack of marshals after 8:30AM (three hours and 15 minutes 21K gun start)
  • Medals could’ve been more customized to reflect which event it was given

Timex Run 21K Route

PR = Pacquiao Reloaded

As a bonus perk to everyone Timex was kind enough to provide everyone free viewing of Manny Pacquiao’s match versus Miguel Cotto live via satellite from Las Vegas, USA.  We were so lucky to have witnessed history being made by now seven-time world champion, Manny Pacquiao.  Thank you Timex and congratulations Manny!  He’s definitely the best boxer our generation has ever seen.

I would like to thank Doc Art who made it possible for me to join this race.  Thank you very much Doc and congratulations!

14
Nov
09

The Search for the Bests of 2009 is ON!

We’re practically midway with the month of November and it would be just another month before we close the year 2009, and with that I would like to start compiling the highlights (and lowlights?) of the year as far as running in the Philippines is concerned.  We’ve seen how running had evolved this year and at the same time also devolved.

For this year’s best races I have the following categories:

  • Best Race
  • Best International Marathon
  • Best Marathon
  • Best Half-Marathon
  • Best Sub-Half Marathon (below 21K)
  • Best Ultra-Marathon
  • Best Trail Run
  • Best Race Finisher’s Medal
  • Best Race Singlet
  • Best Marathon Route

I already have my secret nominees for all these categories and you too can participate by sending me your vote via comments (which would remain anonymous and unpublished) of your personal picks.  Results would be published on my year-end special recap.

With that I also have a poll that I hope you’d join:

Update: Poll is now closed.

Depending on the poll result I may even publish the lowlights for 2009 so aside from your best picks you may also include your “worst” picks with your comments (also will remain anonymous) and please mention why so we can inform the race directors and organizers.  I know the running community has a lot to say, good and bad, and now it’s your time to be heard.

14
Nov
09

The ROX Trail Running Clinic

ROX has a free urban trail running clinic all Saturdays of November, 2009 from 3PM – 5:30PM.   The route starts from ROX and goes though the Fort Bonifacio Army Camp, Fort Bonifacio’s Bike Circuit (Dirt Trail) and back to ROX.   To register sign up at the 3rd level of ROX or email your name and contact number to rox.cs@promegrp.com.




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