Rexona Run 2014: The Race I Almost Never Had

Rexona Run is one of the races that I always look forward to every year and as far as I can remember, I’ve never missed one since it started.  I can’t describe how I felt when I thought I may not be able to complete one this year.

Rexona Run 2014 Run to Your Beat Finisher’s Medal

My day started ridiculously early.  My race starts at 3AM so I didn’t really have much choice but to get the most sleep I can.  I guess I was lucky that I still managed around two hours, but it was a struggle to leave my bed.

Travelling very early in the morning has its pros and cons—there’s very little traffic, but getting a ride is not that easy.  Today, it didn’t take long for me to get a ride, and travelling was quite fast—until we reached Magallanes interchange in Makati.

I certainly did not expect to meet heavy traffic so early in the morning.  The southbound flyover was being rehabilitated so only a single lane was passable.  Imagine six lanes of EDSA being squeezed onto a single lane.  Even if it was still early, heavy traffic was inevitable—and this added a lot of time to my commute.  By the time I reached SM Mall of Asia, it was already gun start.

It had been a very long time since I arrived at a race late.  Of course I was very much dismayed of the unexpected traffic, but there’s nothing I can do about it but just go on with my pre-race routines: get that cheeseburger from that fast food chain, find the baggage counter to deposit my bag, and relieve myself in one of the portalets.  To my surprise, the last two became another challenge.

I don’t usually look at the routes of my races.  Sure I look at where the start and finish lines are, but I don’t bother with the details because I don’t see much value—even if I did memorize the route it won’t make me run any faster!  This race was no exception, but I was very, very much surprised when I saw the 21K runners, already starting with their race, blocking the path to pretty much the entire activity area including the starting line!  It was just so frustrating!  It was actually so much easier to get to the first music tunnel than to get anywhere near the starting line.  For sure, it was not just me who got blocked out of the race.

“Electric Avenue:” the first music tunnel which is easier to get to than the starting line

Eventually I was able to cut through that thick crowd of 21K runners and get to the activity area to do what I needed to do.  Not only did that took additional time from me to start my race, it was also very dangerous both for me and the other runners.  Thankfully, I didn’t have any mishaps—until I reached the starting line.

All that delay cost me around half an hour.  And when I get to the starting line, a race marshal barred me from starting.  He told me I was late and is not allowed to run anymore.  I didn’t quite understand if he meant not allowed to run at the time because the 10K race was about to start or totally disqualified from the race, but I, together with other latecomers, were asked to leave the starting line.  Is this really happening?

The second music tunnel: the “Rave Cave”

I left the starting line and took some pictures while still assessing the situation.  And then I saw a glimmer of hope—some 21K runners were being allowed to start!  Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded if I wasn’t allowed to race because I was late—if that was the rule and was communicated well, but I was not aware of such rule that’s why I didn’t immediately left.  And in my mind I was thinking, “I may start 30 minutes after the gun start, but I can guarantee you I will not be the last 21K runner to cross that finish line.”

And so I did start my race half an hour after the 21K gun start, together with the 10K runners.  Quite a lot had happened, and my race had only begun!  Stressful, but it was quite a relief that I won’t be missing this year’s race after all.

As I mentioned earlier, the first music tunnel was pretty early into the race.  As expected, many runners took their time to stop and take selfies in this area so the race was pretty slow paced at this phase.  There were dancers in rollerblades along this tunnel which made me think, “Are they going to dance for the entirety of the race?”

Eventually, I was out of this tunnel and back to business of running.  And eventually caught up with the bulk of the 21K runners.  I have not raced in a very long time, but I was very disappointed with what I saw—running etiquettes seem to be extinct with this batch.  Were most of this year’s 21K runners, newbies?  Did they just start running and thought of doing it with a 21K?

The last music tunnel: the “Beat Street”

The most common annoying behavior I’ve seen are those “four-person-wide-human-walls.”  It is difficult enough to run with two people, side by side, blocking your path—what more if it’s twice wider?  It wouldn’t matter if this “wall” was running, but most of the time they are just walking.  Walking.  In a running event.  In a race.  Don’t do this!  Give way!  You’re not obliged to run 100% of the race, but don’t obstruct those who want to.

Another behavior I’ve seen a lot is the missing concept of “slow” and “fast” lanes.  I know most Filipinos don’t drive that’s why many are ignorant of this concept, but for the sake of being explicit, if you don’t intend to run fast, avoid being in the middle and stick to the outer (right) side of the road.  On the good side though is that I didn’t have to deal with runners stopping abruptly to take selfies.  If you need to stop, slow down first and look for runners that you may obstruct while you slowly go to the “slow” lane.  For everybody’s sake, don’t stop or change lanes abruptly.

Overtaking is another thing.  Common sense dictates that when you overtake someone, you should be running faster than the one you’re overtaking.  Reality bites.  I had to deal with runners overtaking or changing lanes, cutting in front of me, with a ridiculously much slower pace than me.  Seems like everybody should learn “defensive running” during races.  Races are becoming a microcosm of how our drivers on the road are—no courtesy for other people they’re sharing the road with.

One of the best post-race food: taho

Rexona Run 2014 Run to Your Beat is quite a fun race but it’s not the best one to set a new personal best.  There were so many distractions, first being the music tunnels.  Each tunnel has something to draw your attention off the race (which is not exactly a bad thing 😀 ), and it would kind of make you a kill joy if you just passed through.  And even if you can’t be bothered by the music and the lights and all the fancy gimmicks, other runners will definitely slow you down because they’re busy taking selfies, dancing, and doing other sort of stuff.

The post-race mini-concert

Second, there were so many hydration stations!  This is not as distracting as the music tunnels, but unless you brought along your own hydration for the entirety of the race, you may be tempted to stop at each one as I did!  It may sound that I’m complaining, but trust me, I’m not as I really, really like that there’s no lacking of hydration and both Gatorade and water are present in all stations.  There were even bananas in one of the stations for the 21K.  (I just noticed that the runners of this race don’t exert some conscious effort to throw their used cups in the trash at the end of hydration stations to at least alleviate litter.  Most of them don’t run fast so I don’t see the point.)

Do you recognize this guy? 🙂

Finally, the distance.  The 21K route was just a tad too long—around 500 meters over based on my GPS readings.  I’m using Soleus Fit 1.0 on my wrist and Endomondo and Nike+ on my iPhone during this race and all of them came to pretty much the same figure.  Not much of a big deal that it was a 21.5K race and I guess it’s better to be over than under, but it’s one of the few times I’ve encountered a Runrio race with this much distance off.  Since I didn’t read the map, I can’t tell if the route was faithful with the originally published routes, but I assume there was since it was originally mentioned that only 21K runners get to pass through all three music tunnels, whereas in actuality, even 10K runners got to enjoy all three as well.

Scene-stealing chihuahua that actually ran in the race

Overall, this year’s Rexona Run is still fun and remains a great event.  I find the 3AM gun start for the 21K a bit too early, but that is just me.  The volume of runners remain impressive, and so is the mini-concert.  The freebies are always nice to have, along with the finisher’s medal, but their finisher’s shirt is, in my opinion, their best so far.  Still a race worth joining every year!

The 21K Route

To Rexona, Runrio, and all the people that made Rexona Run 2014 Run to Your Beat possible, Congratulations and thank you for making a great race possible!

To all the finishers, Congratulations! 😀

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