Race Recap: Hello Kitty Run Manila 2017

Hello Kitty Run Manila 2017 is perhaps the largest fun run I’ve seen for the year with more than 10,000 participants.  It’s also one of the more interesting ones as participants don their costumes and showing their love for Hello Kitty.  Here’s my story from the first Hello Kitty run in the Philippines.

Hello Kitty Run Manila 2017 finisher medals waiting for their owners!

The first Hello Kitty Run in the country was held on a Saturday morning.  Personally, I think it’s the worst day to set a race.  For most people who work from Monday to Friday, waking up early on a Saturday is a chore.  Early Saturday morning traffic is also as bad, if not worse, than the weekdays.  But since this is Hello Kitty we’re talking about, none of those mattered!

I got slated to start on the fourth (and last) wave which starts at 6:45AM.  It is probably one of the latest gun start I’ve ever had, at least in the Philippines, but I guess it’s a blessing as I need not wake up as early as if I were in the first wave.  As expected, the event area, SM by the Bay, was teeming with participants of all ages when I arrived, many of which had already completed their races.

At the starting area…

After depositing my bag at the baggage counter, I went to what I expected was the assembly area for the fourth wave.  It was really hard to tell at the time where exactly that was as all I can see are participants taking pictures and pretty much nobody was waiting or gathering around, minutes before the scheduled Wave 4 gun start.  And as I stayed before the starting line waiting for the official gun start time, we were told to just start.  No frills, no ceremonies, just go!  One of the participants commented (in vernacular), “so no more firing of the gun?”  For someone like me who have run races countless times, this was not a big deal but for many who don’t, I feel a bit sorry as I feel they were missing something… Anyway, moving on!

Around a kilometer into the race…

At around the second kilometer of the race, I saw a spot were a lot of participants were gathering.  I got curious and so I stopped to see what it was all about.  There were some containers there where you’d pick a rolled-up paper inside.  I really thought it was some sort of a surprise prize, but it turned out to be just some words of encouragement, kind of like a fortune cookie.

“Thank you and remember to exercise at least 30 minutes a day! :)”

By the third kilometer, another point of interest appeared: an arch made up of white and pink balloons.  This, as expected, got a lot of participants to hang out and take selfies.  I was contented with just taking a photo of the arch and ensuring to run through it just for fun!

The 3K mark…

As it seemed like every kilometer since the second had an attraction, I expected that there would be a last one on the fourth—and my hunch was right.  This time though, it was a set of huge letters forming the word, LOVE.  I guess the arch was the link, so together, the last two attractions form the motto of the race, “Link Love Together.”  Or maybe that’s just a coincidence.

The 4K mark: L-O-V-E!

And as I approach the finish line, it’s no surprise to find so many participants crowding the area and taking selfies.  It was so crowded that, for the first time, I finished my race without going through the finish line!  I had to complete my race through the side of the finish line, skipping it altogether, as it was practically impossible to even walk through it.  And what’s funny was that it was quite chaotic that those handing over the finishers’ medals have no means of knowing if you actually crossed the finish line or not.  Anyone could just go to them and ask for it.

At the finish line…

While the race was an utter mess from a race perspective, I didn’t mind at all as the overall ambiance was a true embodiment of a fun run!  Everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves despite cars and bikes occasionally disrupting the mood by entering the event’s designated routes and asking the participants to move, the gloomy weather that seemed ready to give a downpour anytime, and the overall chaos that made it feel like a free-for-all.  In a way, it actually looked like an organized chaos as the participants actually policed themselves and this was attested to by the lack of cups that did not get into the trash bin shortly after the hydration stations.  What a great bunch of participants Hello Kitty fans are!

The jam-packed activity area.

The activity area was simply a sight to behold.  It was a sea of people wearing pink!  There were so many people everywhere and the queues for everything was really long, especially the food.  I really wanted to get those donuts from the Hello Kitty food truck, but I didn’t have the attention span to wait that long in line so all I managed to get were pictures.  And despite having covered practically every square foot of the activity area, Hello Kitty was nowhere to be found.  And I was looking forward to having a picture taken with her.  I guess Hello Kitty left after the gun start of the first wave.  In this case, the early runner catches the early Hello Kitty!

Hello Kitty food truck offering a bunch of items…
Are the ribbons edible?  I may never know…

Overall, I really had fun with the first ever Hello Kitty Run in the Philippines despite not seeing Hello Kitty.  It was a great event for the family and even the weather cooperated to make it more pleasant.  I just hope that next time, the route would be closed for the exclusive use of the participants for their safety.

My finisher’s medal.  Congratulations to all finishers!

* * *

To those who completed this event, especially to those who did it for the first time, Congratulations! 😺

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