For runners such as myself, there’s no better way to celebrate our big day but with a fun run, and this year it fell on a Sunday—a Sunday with a great event, the Men’s Health Urbanathlon.
I’ve always loved Urbanathlon ever since I first joined it in 2008, and after missing it last year I’m glad to be part of it again and celebrate my special day with it. I loved it because it’s not your ordinary race—it has obstacles! It is practically one long obstacle course! I don’t know how this year’s edition fared with last year’s, but it’s definitely way better than the first! In fact this is by far one of the most organized races I’ve ever had, and here’s how my birthday race transpired.
It was around 5:45AM then, and as I was leaving Bonifacio High Street’s parking area I suddenly heard a gun start. “What? I’m late?!” Those were the first thoughts I’ve had as I’ve never been late for a race ever since I broke 60 minutes for 10K (which was a long time ago). I double checked the time with my Garmin—yes it still isn’t 6AM yet, the time I was informed to be the actual race start for 10K. “Oh well,” I thought, there’s no use crying over spilled milk.
Then I went over to takbo.ph’s booth where I was told that the race starts in “waves.” Apparently there were enough participants to have a need for a deferred start—the obstacles does its job well of delaying runners that it causes significant pauses leading to queues.
There I was waiting for the start of the second wave, looking for familiar faces, in vain. I had already warmed up enough but was practically back to my normal heart rate when the second wave started. And of course it’s quite difficult to start from that stage as you feel heavy. Then after the ruckus of the gun start and raising my pulse rate gradually, I was halted abruptly by the first obstacle—the tire dump, with the queue leading to it. No biggie as I was just starting to warm up. Then as I ran to make up for the lost time, another queue was upon me—the balance beam. The queue wasn’t that long but it was long enough to revert my pulse rate practically back to normal. Downer.
Amazingly I crossed that balancing beam without slipping, and it was an “all-out revenge” with the road afterwards. I felt I had lost too much time with those queues. Then as I was cruising, 10K race pace, another queue was before me—the scaffolding maze! The queue was longer as it takes longer to cross. Frustrating! Imagine yourself doing sub-4:30/km pace only to stop to queue—and while your heart was still pounding lower your head to cross that maze—you can really feel your blood rushing to your head!
After crossing that maze I decided to just maintain a relaxed pace—sudden stops while having a high pulse rate is very dangerous. I don’t know how far the next obstacle was, but just in case it’s just around the corner it’s easier to stop with a lower pulse rate.
The next obstacles were the hurdles—it was low enough to jump over but there were too many runners (from the first wave) that were not exactly doing such, so you can’t really overtake. Also, the last hurdle was particularly high that you really have to climb over it.
It was quite some distance until the next obstacle was spotted, the low crawl. It was so long that I honestly actually forgot about until I saw it, about a kilometer from the finish. It was on some grassy area (and thankfully away from the mud) but it was really low that I hit my butt a few times, and as I lowered myself got some bruises on my right knee which I didn’t notice until the race was over.
Looking again at my GF405 I saw that a sub-60 minute finish was very feasible so I hurried to the final queue, I mean obstacle, the dreaded 8-foot wall! But first the tire dump was there again to slow you down before doing such.
To be accurate, I hate it that wall more than I fear it—I hate that you have to once again queue before you finish, and I hate that you’d queue while your heart is still pounding from the excitement of seeing the finish line practically a stone throw away! Add that to the fact that I don’t know how to jump off safely from 8 feet, but as compared with my first encounter with it I did much better this time, time-wise. I think I spent more than a minute trying to figure out how to get down during my first encounter with “the wall.”
As I do that last sprint to the finish I saw that I was still safely within 60 minutes—57:57 on my GF405—whew! What a relief! And as I slow down a good-looking medal was bequeathed around my neck—my birthday present courtesy of Men’s Health Urbanathlon!
Right after the race there’s an option to take a “shower,” a bottle of Gatorade, and food from sponsors. Isn’t it nice to be fed right after your race? There were also booths from co-presentors to make the activity area livelier.
As I mentioned earlier, this was one of the most organized races I’ve ever joined. There was no shortage of water and Gatorade, the distance between hydration stations were the closest I’ve ever seen, there were a lot of competent marshals (many of which were my friends volunteering so I know they know what they’re doing), an excellent event shirt, a “fitting” post-race giveaways, and an enviable finisher’s medal (exclusive for 10K). I don’t think I can say anything bad about this race, say except for the queues on the obstacles (naturally, due of the number of participants) but it was anticipated by the organizers beforehand leading to a deferred race start (for both 10K and 5K). With practically no “bad blood” I’m giving it a rating of 5/5—a “perfect” race for my special day! It just goes to show that Men’s Health and its race organizer had actually perfected the art of producing races. Thank you Men’s Health and Summit Media for making this day special for me, and Congratulations for a job well done! (Special thanks for my complimentary kit!)
To my fellow Urbanathletes, Congratulations!
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