Like many Filipinos, I don’t know much about the real forced death march our forefathers went through during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. All I know was that it was one of the darkest chapters of human history, and it should be remembered so that we are not bound to repeat it. Sadly as one by one our war veterans depart, so too are their memories—all that’s left are symbols and monuments which not many cares so much for. Bataan is arguably more commemorated in the United States than here in the Philippines as in New Mexico an annual marathon event is staged in memoriam whereas in the Philippines where Bataan is, nothing remotely close is done!
Last year was the first time the Bataan Death March (BDM) Ultramarathon was staged—in line with the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) which also served to help commemorate our history. It was the first time I encountered the word “Ultramarathon” (even our favorite word processor’s dictionary is not versed with the word) and I was fascinated by such feat. I thought then that the marathon was the apex of distance running!
I really wanted to join then, not because of fame, fortune, or anything similar but for its historical significance. Upon looking up how to prepare for such feat all I got was “months of training” is “required”—much more than all the time then that I was running so I said to myself “one day I’m going to run BDM”—thus a dream was conceived. Little did I know then that a year hence I’d be able to, and my dream would be realized.
Several races, an ultramarathon, and six marathons later (yes, all that in just a year) just about everything was ready. BDM would set the record for my longest distance race at 102 kilometers, fastest ultramarathon with 18 hours cutoff and most expensive ever! (My Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon technically is still my most expensive in terms of total cost only because of airfare, cost of living, and side trips)
During the holidays of 2009 I had a series of “runner’s low” spanning two months wherein I had absolutely no motivation whatsoever to run. Fortunately I had already signed up for BDM earlier before this lethargic episode. When I got the invitation email from Baldrunner I really was in a pathetic state as far as running was concerned—I even considered skipping the race! Yes, even runners that regularly join races get “those” moments as well. What did I do to break this spell? I recalled my “dream.” I called upon my “old self.” I rejoined the company of my “running family.” Somehow their energy is contagious (running fever?) and little by little I started getting back into running and eventually racing. After snapping back to “reality” I admit I still wasn’t 100% of my old self but it’s a start—and I had a deadline! You can’t come to BDM unprepared—and you can’t do it alone!
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2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102: