This year’s installment of the National MILO® Marathon (Manila Eliminations) takes the race on an entirely new level. Personally I’ve never had any local race come close to what MILO® had achieved with this year’s Manila Eliminations, and despite so many new developments it still had plenty of room for improvements.
I consider MILO® Marathon as a runner’s race. Never in any race have I met so many “real” runners. I say “real” because of their genuine passion for the sport. They’re not in it for bragging rights, nor the prize, but instead to prove their worth. And this race never runs short of them. Runners coming in all sorts of form: some without an arm, or a leg, some short of height, or youth, or health, but definitely never short of honor and talent. I’m humbled by the presence of these runners as in their eyes I’m still a mere “visitor” in their turf—a turtle in a race of rabbits (so that’s why I was wearing green! :D).
I remember vividly on my way to the final turn-around, a lady old enough to be my grandmother already on the way back! Definitely gives a literal meaning to the Tagalog saying, “Papunta ka pa lang, pabalik na ako.” (roughly, you’re just on your way forth, I’m already headed back)
Where there’s light there’d be shadows, and lurking within the crowds of the runners and the participants like myself were those self-centered glutton thieves, out to steal pride and honor that they lack. I won’t dig deep into the rotten pits of the underworld but it seems that where they came from qualifying for the finals is everything! In their world one should qualify no matter what it takes! Was it the free race? Was it the free singlet and shorts? Or was it the free food at the Carbo-Loading party? Could this be “poverty” in the runner’s world?
Had some of these creatures viewed out their window while taking that van, or that other one not made a relay out of the marathon, or that other one not skip those loops, perhaps they would’ve seen and be humbled by the efforts made by those “real” runners. As a mere participant, I’ll always admire these “real” runners (and hope to join their ranks in the future).
The series had begun long before many of us were even born (myself included) and I could say we grew up with awareness of it. Who would’ve known that I too would be part of it?
For my third time joining MILO® Marathon I’d say this is the best one yet.
- Reasonable registration fee
- Better registration process
- Donate A Shoe program
- Good quality singlet
- Relatively challenging route
- Earlier gun start
- Bananas, energy gel (Hammer), sports drinks (Gatorade), and water throughout the route
- Timing chip
- Numerous portable toilets at various locations along the route
- Sponge (limited)
- Finisher’s shirt! 🙂
- Insufficient hydration during the critical times of the race (last loop to the end)
- Three loops in the route
- Crowd control, particularly near the Finish
- Baggage counter (for 5K)
The overall system may have improved but some old problem still remains: people! Some staff still don’t know where their baggage counter is (or if they have one), many still don’t know how to properly man runners and spectators (a few runners thought the Start line is the Finish line and people kept crossing the road while the race was in progress), some don’t know how to handle, store, and distribute bags in their baggage counters (that ruckus with the 5K baggage counter), and overall the organizers are still not ready for major emergency situations (resulting in reported deaths during the Manila Eliminations). Hopefully in all future races all people involved with the race are properly informed and trained of their part so as to avoid the horrors of the past. Accidents happen but it doesn’t mean it can’t be minimized.
For its 34th year there were a lot of sweeping changes, some made it better while some made it worse, depending on where your vantage point is. For my marathon perspective it was one of the best races I’ve had so far despite having one of my worst finish in terms of time, and health (10 times of flyovers would take its toll). I realized with this race that we don’t need another “International” marathon, MILO® is ready to take that place as far as the marathon is concerned. It has shown it’s got that potential, there are just some more kinks that need to be ironed. God is in the details. Personally I’d give the 34th National MILO® Marathon Manila Eliminations a Very Good (4½/5) rating with all its improvements and the great overall experience (not necessarily all pleasant) I’ve had.