Third Running Anniversary Run at Run United 2

Run United 2 was of dire importance to me because it would serve as my third anniversary race!  I can’t believe it’s already been three years since my debut race, and from that race of less than a thousand participants, my most recent race swelled to a staggering 14,000 attendees!

Lotsa medals, none of them mine 😦

Running in the Philippines indeed had an exponential increase in terms of participants and quality as we’ve equaled, if not exceeded, the bests in the region.  This was proven with RunRio’s biggest race thus far—Run United 2.  With almost 14,000 actual attendees it’s one of the largest races in the country, and it may not be as huge as the most popular races in the region, it indeed prove that we are ready for the big time.  Here’s my story.

Third anniversary race complete 🙂

I arrived at Bonifacio Global City minutes before gun start—a first in quite a while.  Claiming my kit, depositing my bag, and getting to the starting line seem to be easy feats, but if you’re in a crowd of 14,000 runners, it’s quite daunting!  In fact, it took me several minutes to get to the starting line from the baggage counter which was just a few meters away, and in the end was able to start more than 8 minutes into the race.

The baggage counters

One of my first things I noticed was the really long hydration stations.  I think RU2 may hold the record for the longest hydration station in the country, and the longest one was the longest I’ve seen both here and abroad.  And as expected, sports drinks were also served along with bananas in some stations.

Starting deferred from the crowd was pleasant since you felt like you own the road—that was until I stumbled upon the tail end of the huge 21K crowd!  I’m used to seeing huge crowds for 5K and 10K, but never have I seen a 21K crowd that huge (in the country at least).  I had to take the longest and outermost lanes just to be able to maintain my pace which was gradually reduced, naturally.  Don’t get me wrong though, I was enjoying it!  RU2 was again another “long-run-race” for me so having a new Personal Best wasn’t a priority but rather finishing strong with a “decent” time (personal definition of decent time, not that of elites :)).  It does add to my distance and effort though.

This spot used to be known as “the parking lot behind ROX”

Just to give you an idea how long the 21K crowd was, I was with the trailing crowd at around kilometer and a half of the race, and it only started easing up at the ramp of Kalayaan flyover.  It was still pretty much packed until the turnaround in Buendia which was already more than halfway through the half marathon route.

Bonifacio Global City: still fast rising, literally!

I realized that not running for a week straight does have its toll as I struggled on my way back at Kalayaan flyover.  And I also struggled on the uphills afterwards.  I can really feel my feet were so heavy.  Later on I realized that my feet were really heavier than the usual—my shoes had absorbed a lot of the water that I doused myself with, so looking back it was quite funny.  But even if that wasn’t the case, short runs does have more benefits that we give it credit for—and 21K is still long!

Photographers waiting for their prey 😀

What I loved about RunRio’s 21K routes is that most of the turns inside BGC are in the first parts of the race leaving only a few turns toward the finish.  I used to really hate it when you’re exhausted and counting down the last few kilometers and you’re presented with lots of turns.  The more recent ones have separate start and finish lines, and you’re given that straight clear view of the finish line which for me really fuels me to pull myself and finish the race strong.  It’s really nice to see that clock and try to beat it by crossing before the next minute turns.

The RU2 finish line

After crossing the finish line I had forgotten that I’m a bearer of a pink bib—meaning I don’t have a finisher’s medal, yet.  It was no biggie since it was already announced beforehand, but still a bit disappointing.  Good thing that a long run with a decent time was my goal, and not the medal!

Mizuno Wave Prophecy with my pink bib
Pretty medals

Post-race activity area was just great!  It was huge and there were so many interesting booths with games and fun activities, but my favorite would be those with food!  Seeing all the things you could do post-race, I realized why running had become a social activity.  You’re able to do a healthy activity, you get goodie bags after, and you get to bond with friends or family after—all while still having enough time to go about your regular weekend routines.

Reverse bungee at one of the sponsors’ booth
Beats doing this at the mall: it’s free!
Play area for the kids
My post-race food: Shawarma 🙂
Free shake from one of the sponsors
Post-race food, part 2 😀
Favorite post-race footwear: flip-flops! (Can you spot my huge blister? :D)
Unofficial finish time

Overall, Run United 2 was not only one of the biggest races in the country, it was also one of the best!  The roads were flooded with runners, but the hydration stations were never dry.  There were kilometer markers just about every kilometer, and there were bananas for 21K which was really nice.  Silly, but I even love the goodie bag!  It’s no wonder “Run United” as a brand is very popular—great quality, fun race!  If I absolutely had to rate this race, it’s all practically “perfect” on my sheet.

Just a tip: next time Run United comes around, register as soon as possible!  There won’t always be additional slots, and even if there’d be, you may not enjoy receiving your finisher’s medal when you cross the finish line. 🙂

To all the finishers, Congratulations!

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