Did I mention that CWC (where the starting line is) is several minutes away from Naga (where we were staying)? Well, because of this we had to wake up at 12 midnight and aim for the 2AM shuttle towards the venue. It’s the same old story of having that so-little sleep before that so-long run. Because of human factors though we were able to actually get on the 3AM shuttle, which was really jam-packed.
As expected, traffic near CWC was a bit heavy. Unfortunately our bus driver wasn’t properly informed of 42K runners starting time, and he dropped off the 21K runners first whose starting line was the farthest to be reached. CamSur Marathon has a common finish line but the events have different starting lines. The starting line for the 42K runners was actually the first to be reached but due to the heavy traffic our driver opted to drop the 21K runners first all the way to their starting line. The 21K wouldn’t start for at least another half an hour or so, whilst we were about to start in a few minutes. Talk about stress! We arrived in the area barely a few minutes before gun start (and we had to deposit our bags and all).
After shaking off all that bad vibes we were able to meet and greet running friends, enjoy the fireworks, and what do you know, the fireworks were distractions that we didn’t realize the gun was fired! Oh well it’s a good thing D-Tags were used.
The first few kilometers served as my much needed warmup. Originally I had pledged to pace a friend for a sub 6-hour finish (the reason for my impromptu marathon) but since he had to cancel I was “off the hook.” Nonetheless I was pacing another friend intending to do just that for the first 3.75K, until he found another “less stressful” pacer. 🙂 Again I’m off the hook, might as well test how far I can run continuously!
Since the route was flat I was really on a roll. I was able to catch up for lost time and finish the first 21K in 2:01:40 and 30K in 3:06:10-much better than I had anticipated since I didn’t have any training for any race. It’s a different story though after the 30th kilometer as I finished 40K in 4:11:57, hitting 7:30/km pace constantly due to the heat. I was only averaging 9km/hr on the final 2K but was able to snap out of it towards the last 500m at an unbelievably 14.7km/hr. Chip time: 4:33:45, about 8 minutes slower my PR. You may view the race results here.
CamSur Marathon personally is the best marathon I’ve done in the Philippines. Here are some points that led me to this conclusion:
Water, Hydration, and Nutrition: Water stations were about 1.5K apart, most of which also served sports drinks, but more importantly, never ran out of water. Midway into the route these water stations also had sponge that provided at least two per runner which also didn’t run out. At some point bananas, energy gel, and even energy bars were served although these came (especially the latter two) short to serve all. There were also “shower” areas along the route. The bad side though is that most runners can’t drink carbonated sports drinks when running. Even I who thought is used to drinking sodas (softdrinks ) even during races had a stomach ache on the last 2K of the race.
Route: Personally I think the route is even flatter than that of Roxas Blvd. because of the absence of flyovers. According to the organizers the net elevation gain/loss of the route is 0m, and even if you don’t believe it you’d definitely be impressed with its IAAF certification, the first time I’ve seen in the country. Being IAAF certified anyone who finishes within the IAAF cutoff of 2:17:00 (Men) will qualify for the IAAF Track & Field Championships. Aside from the distance and elevation, the route was nice to say the least (no loops) although there weren’t many vistas to be seen.
Marshals and Markers: There were more than enough marshals and sufficient markers along the course of the race, although if you want to calculate your pace per kilometer manually there are not enough markers for that.
CamSur: CamSur is an interesting place to stage a marathon. It’s the only place I know wherein spectators line up along a huge portion of the route to cheer on (and sometimes mock) the runners. The people are friendly, accessibility from Manila is good (via air and land), and accommodations are plenty. The only hardship you’d have to endure is the hot weather that’s as hot as their local chilies and spicy food.
Summary: CamSur Marathon is one of the best organized races in the country with one of the best value for money. Its route is one of the best places to stage a new personal record, just as long as you cope up with the heat, or pray that it rains. You have a flat course with IAAF certification, you have D-Tags for accurate timing, you have bananas, gels, and bars, and you have towns cheering for you. Did I mention that you’d finish the race in one of the world’s best wakeboarding facilities? I don’t think I could ask for more, except for a chance to run the race again. Come to think of it, there’s one thing I’d like to ask: a medal fitting for a world-class that is CamSur Marathon. With that I’d give the race a 9/10 rating (1 point deduction for the regular finisher’s medal :P)
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My CamSur Experience: