2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 (Part 1: Background)

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!

The dilapidated and seemingly forgotten old railroad station of San Fernando (not in service)

This is part of a series

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!

Bataan Death March historical marker near the old railroad station of San Fernando, Pampanga: “At this railroad station of San Fernando, the Filipino and American prisoners of war who had been marched all the way from Bataan to Pampanga, in one of the ghastliest forced marches in history, were loaded like cattle on boxcars where, because every compartment was packed to the limit, many suffocated or were crushed to death during the trip to Capas.”

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.

Old San Fernando railroad station (translated): “Erected in 1892 as part of the Manila-Dagupan line of Manila Railroad Company. José Rizal alighted here during his visit to San Fernando. Also in this railroad station, in April 1942, prisoned soldiers included in the Death March were loaded on trains bound for Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, to be incarcerated.”

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)

Death March Km 102 marker

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:

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hey Dennis, galing mo!!! Congrats!


  2. Ann Sales says:

    Runner’s low – so true…good thing I found this article while I’m trying to decipher whether this runner’s low is ‘something normal’. thanks for sharing.


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