Have you ever heard of a “registered bandit?” I guess that’s the closest words I could use to describe how my weekend went.
It all started with waking up later than planned—a race really wasn’t in my radar until two days before the race day so naturally my body was expecting a tranquil weekend. I’m not really complaining as it was another opportunity to test the terrain of McKinley Hill, but as many may relate, there are those days that you just don’t feel like moving a lot.
Fast forward to about less than half an hour before the 5K gun start, EDSA corner Senator Gil Puyat Ave. (formerly Buendia)—I found myself struggling to hail a cab. There was just too few of them that early, and the few ones that passes by were already hired—a recipe for a possible missed gun start! Minutes passed by—one at a time—until it was just about 10 minutes before gun start. Oh no! (Panic mode?!) I had to decide quickly—there was very little chance I’d get a cab, much less arrive at Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill and deposit my bag to the baggage counter and join the race before gun start! And so a crazy idea was formulated…
Since it’s practically impossible for me to join the race in time and I’d arrive in the area late plus I may not be motivated enough to run at race pace, why not just start running NOW towards the starting area?! Crazy but that’s the best plan I can think of at the moment—and so I started my run alongside EDSA towards McKinley Road.
Eventually I did realize that I’d be running part of my race route in Lawton Ave. I had no other practical route to the starting area but though the race route—OMG I’ll be running as a bandit! NOOO!!!
(For those new to the term, a bandit runner is someone who runs in a race, unregistered, on the same road space as with “legitimate” runners. This is of course discouraged as part of the registration fee paid for the now very expensive permit for the route to be used during the race. DO NOT DO THIS!)
In my defense I was a legit runner, but of course if I put on my bib to run part of the route (and not starting where I should) that would be cheating (as I may be included in the official race results). To avoid such complicated issues along the race route I simply opted to use the other side of the road (sans race bib)—the one not closed to traffic using the sidewalk accordingly.
I was originally signed up for a 5K run, so a 5K run was a must. I knew I’d be short on distance if I immediately entered Upper McKinley Road so despite my reluctance I had to shadow the race route on the other side of the road until Bayani Road. As much as possible I did my best to be “invisible” to other runners by using the sidewalk, but apparently my efforts were somehow futile—I got caught! Caught red handed (or shirted?) by race photographers sneakily running in the background looking so much like a bandit! Ooops, my bad! (For what it’s worth I really avoided the cameras; I’m sorry to the runner whose running picture I intruded, not my intention!)
As I entered the last stretch towards the finish I simply ended my run by walking and entering the parking area as I didn’t want to trivialize my approach with the race marshals. What was important for me was I was able to fulfill a target 5K run for the day, and still express my support for the race.
Based on my observations, it was a very well organized race set on the typical McKinley race routes. There were so many product giveaways, more than enough hydration stations (Pocari Sweat was the sports drink of choice), and a very festive activity area. I can even say that it’s one of the most “international” races I’ve seen as runners from all walks of life of different ethnicities and nationalities were present—a great run for a greater cause was indeed a unifying factor!
Despite feeling a little sorry for not being “officially” part of the race I was still glad to know that there still are people who join events like this to support a cause and make a statement—not merely to show off or have running pictures taken or for bragging rights, etc.—pure and honest desire to help. It’s one of those races that you can really be proud of, and I’m glad in my small little way I was a part of it, and gladly I could say it was an astounding success!
To all the participants, Congratulations and thank you for helping make this event a success! Thank you as well to all those who made Zonta’s RAT Race possible. I hope to see more runners into races that support relevant advocacies, for reasons they could be proud of. Until the next race!