Posts Tagged ‘San Fernando


Top Five Most Recommended Races in the Philippines

The Philippines, particularly Metro Manila, is just a haven for races as there’s always at least one practically every weekend.  But amongst all of these races, there are some that stood out, and here are five that I highly recommend.

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My BDM102 (2011) Perspective (in Photos)

Bataan Death March Ultramarathon is currently the longest road ultramarathon in the Philippines with 160 kilometers and “classic” 102 kilometers route.  The 102K event would always be special for me as it was my first road ultramarathon and the first one beyond 100K.  Unfortunately I’m not able to run either of the two events, but when the opportunity came to spectate the event (102K) first hand, I grabbed the chance and took the opportunity to relive my experiences.  Here’s part of my chronicles of the event, in photos:

(View the chronicles)


2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 (Part 4: Conclusion)

6:18AM I arrived at +Km 50 and Sam a few minutes later.  We were feeling excellent for the next half ahead, but first it was time to load up some carbs and change outfits.  Unfortunately there was no hot coffee there when we arrived but my ultra-support Ross got me one including a breakfast meal, and as much as I’d like to finish it all, my tummy wasn’t up to the task.

Arriving at +Km 50, courtesy Brando Losaria

My teammates were so excited to leave +Km 50 and after doing the necessities we started moving, except for Sam who had to stay for personal reasons.  Since the pace plan was scrapped and by that time we were already ahead of our “just to finish” target we just ran/walked our way as efficient as possible.  Due to impending battery drain of my GF405 I had to leave it with our support to charge so I had no idea how fast we were.  I was only reunited with it at around +Km 62.

Our team and support at +Km 50 (Ross behind camera)

I don’t remember where it started but I started feeling “something” on my right knee, particularly when I stay stationary for long.  When our support told me that my running idol Vener (run unltd.) was just ahead of us that time I told my teammates that I’ll go on ahead (to keep moving).  While our team was doing a decent pace I noticed that we were spending so much time with our support vehicle wasting our good time.  In my “devious” plan to encourage them to lessen the time “hanging-around” I did went ahead hoping they’d be pulled.  At that time it didn’t seem to work, but at least I was able to catch up with Vener.

At +Km 70 around 10AM, still feeling good

Doing ultras, putting it bluntly, can be very boring.  Those moments are the times you’d want company and I was glad that I was with Vener as he kept me “occupied” while we were moving under the scorching heat.  He had an excellent support crew and vehicle, and his stops were minimal, just as I wanted for our group (I knew that my teammates can catch us anytime but giving them perception that we were far away may help pull them I thought).  He was complaining of some foot problems at the time so we weren’t running but amazingly he handled our 10 minute walk pace well.  Idol ka talaga Vener! I was a little concerned with my right knee then so walking was just perfect.

Vener and I on our very long walk, courtesy Cristy Roldan

Around +Km 85 was where we had our lunch, at 1PM.  It was just after the doubly splitting roads.  As expected my teammates Tina and Glen was able to catch up with us and together we consumed our lunch and had a short break.  Sam was having a difficulty of his own since his deferred recommence from +Km 50 so he was farther away from us than we wanted.  Nonetheless our ultra-support crew handled the situation well and was able to service our group well despite being split into two locations.

Lunch break! Courtesy Cristy Roldan

With the staggering heat (which was always my kryptonite) Vener and I continued our walk as Tina and Glen resumed their easy run.  I admit at that point I wanted to try to “run” to test my right knee, but as Vener kept me company earlier on I don’t think its proper to leave him alone just to satisfy my “need for speed”—after all I came to this race with “just to finish” goal.  I don’t mean to sound conceited, I’m just being honest.

Bards (BananaRunning) found us en route in the middle of the day to give us some very nice encouragement (although it looked like an interview :)) and some spray of water (for me). Courtesy Mesh Villanueva.

Around +Km 87, 1:30PM, the heat was approaching its peak.  Vener and I had a break with his support as he looked like he was having heat exhaustion.  I honestly was afraid for him that moment when he stood up and looked like he’s going to collapse.  I was just glad that his support, particularly Christy, was there to attend to him.  It was good that he knows how to listen to his body so he was able to get support when it was available, not push so hard that you’d just be in more trouble.

Vener was kind enough to ask me if I wanted to go ahead (I probably looked like I wanted to hehe).  As much as I’d love to stay and keep him company I knew there was nothing more I can do and that he’s in the best care available, so I said yes.  It was hot and very discouraging to “run” alone but I knew that my teammates would just be up ahead so I just went on—easy and steady jog—I’ll get there, eventually.

+Km 62 – 101 route (GF405 ran out of batteries just before reaching the finish)

Knowing your body is vital in ultras.  While I had accumulated energy from our steady walk pace earlier, my right knee wasn’t getting any better.  It was correct after all that I walked with Vener as staying in place to rest and jogging later to catch time would not work with my right knee.  I had to do several experiments to make myself as comfortable as possible and apparently landing on my heel was the most comfortable solution (I had to learn heel striking, but the catch was heel striking only on the right foot).  I eventually caught up with Tina and Glen which was now joined by Ric.

Ric likewise knew of Tina’s prowess so like my “devious” plan earlier we set up the pace hoping that Tina and Glen would be “pulled.”  You can just imagine how horrible my knee felt whenever we jog (but of course I did not make it obvious so as not to ruin our pace).  Unfortunately the plan didn’t work, but it was worth a try though.

At +Km 90 my hydration supplies were running out.  You can’t make me run until I get hydration assurance.  As our support vehicle was now servicing three locations (Sam at the back, Tina and Glen middle, and me up front) it would take some time before they reach me.  As such I had to learn a technique wherein I won’t increase my heart rate (and “thirst”) but still keep a decent pace.  My solution—power walk!  Well, sort of.  I don’t really know how power walk is really executed but mimicking that of what I saw done much earlier by another BDM participant worked.  From my fast walk of 8:00-8:30 pace I was able to walk consistently at a pace of 7:28!  And yes, without increasing my heart rate.

Somewhere around +Km 93 was where our support caught up with me and really gave me a boost.  All my hydration bottles were practically dry and seeing them and refilling my stock gave me an outburst of motivation!  It was like SIM all over again wherein I got my energy back just by having enough hydration!  After completing my refill I told Ric “tara” (let’s go) and with so much energy I actually didn’t notice that he’s no longer behind me (my bad).

My ultra-support “pakner” Ross

Since jogging was really a pain I only resorted to it during downhills.  For everything else it was my “power walk” that saved the day, cruising at 7:30-8:00 pace.  Apparently this pace was good enough to overtake a lot of participants who at this time were mostly walking.  At the same time I was keeping my strength allowing me to jog at around 6:30-6:45 pace occasionally.  If my knee wasn’t an issue perhaps I could even run.

During the last two kilometers of the race I had my “power trip.”  As I had worked hard (make that “walked hard”) to overtake runners and gain my position I won’t allow anyone in front of me to get their place by effortlessly walking.  I spotted two targets, and so with my power walk I eventually overtook them.  This eventually motivated them to run (and they really did run to pull way ahead of me, but I was still able to cut their lead) and finish strong, as should be.  They ended up less than a minute ahead of me, more than a minute than the one they followed (had my knees weren’t an issue I would’ve loved to put on a real challenge, hehe), while the next finisher after me arrived more than 11 minutes later.

I jogged as fast as I could the last few hundred meters to the finish (as I was hoping to make a really close gap with those ahead of me) and of course I always wanted to finish strong as much as I could.  Seeing my support personnel, friends, co-participants, and the lively and supportive crowd was just overwhelming—the journey of a hundred and two kilometers is about to conclude—my dream is being realized!

102 kilometers complete!

I honestly don’t know what to feel that time; perhaps I was numb with too many emotions.  All I know was that I was happy, proud, and hungry! And I’m glad that I was never dehydrated thanks to our excellent support crew Ross, RJ, Ellen, Cel, and Kuya Gener, as I was never inimical during the race.  I was even crankier before the race when I had a headache (which was cured mysteriously by the magic of running).

Receiving my finisher’s trophy from Sir Jovie “Baldrunner” Narcise at the finish, courtesy Brando Losaria

In the end I was able to finish 102 kilometers in 16 hours, 2 minutes, and 19 seconds, 40th overall as stated in my medal (but the official race results says 41st).  With all that I had experienced it was definitely a surprise finish time, about an hour ahead of “plan.”  (The veterans were right, our plans were “ideal” but it doesn’t necessarily get followed.)  Tina, Glen, and Vener respectively arrived about an hour later (to my teammates: just as “planned?”) and I could’ve been more proud of Sam as he finished the race despite his injuries 40 minutes later.  Way to go team!

Our team (runner and support): Glen, Ellen, RJ, Sam, Me, Ross, Cel, and Tina

To all my running family that helped me accomplish this dream I am very, very thankful, particularly to Ross, RJ, and Ellen.  Your hard work helped us a lot more than you can ever imagine.  Thanks as well to all that gave their encouragements, prayers, and moral support.  Thanks to Runnr for providing us with visors and socks; Jonel of FrontRunner Magazine and Team Hardcore for the overflowing water supplies; Support Group for helping everyone in the race not just forum members; and the friendly residents of the cities and municipalities of Bataan and Pampanga we met en route, many of which were quite supportive and cheered us on.  Thank you Sir Jovie Narcise (Baldrunner) for founding this wonderful event which I could say is one of the best experiences of my life, and most of all to the Almighty that kept us safe and allowed us this achievement.

The “survivors” of the 2nd Bataan Death March Ultramarathon 102:

Alvin Canada • Randy Bumahit • Jonnifer Lacanlale • July Oconer • Hermogines Olvis • Jusell Laya • John Frederick Abenina • Armand Fernando • Eric Bullena • Junrox Roque • Gregorio Ocampo • Albert Salazar • Muhammad Sallehan Zainuddin • Don Ubaldo • Audax Cantero • Bonifacio Dalisay • Albert Sama • Carlo Bacalla • Oscar Sañez • Constante Mendoza • Francis Jay Nacino • Charlie Chua • Mark Peralta • Enrico Tocol • Graciano Santos • Rhoderick Guieb • Wilnar Iglesia • Christopher Iblan • Ben Gaetos • Rayman Delos Angeles • Edilberto Yonzon • Felipe Nama • Albert Henson • Francisco Lapira • Patrick Winceth Alcomendas • Julius Oliver Giron • Romeo Erivera • Whreachelle Cordova • Red Samar • Cesar Abarientos • Dennis Ravanzo • Dionam Basco • Glenn Romualdo • Ricardo Cabusao, Jr • Raiza Tulan • Ralph Jerome Salvador • Jerry Guiao • Alvin Adriano • Joshua Suarez • Maria Myrna Emelyne Buenafe • Anecito Grimaldo • Paolo Osmeña • Jael Wenceslao • George Dolores • Ronald Rei Declarador • Fernando De Lara • Charles Fletcher • Armando Queza • Ellery Ho • Kelly Lim • Maria Cristina Narvaez • Glendel Tañag • Vener Roldan • John Nikko Nolasco • Lemuel Narcise • Carlo Nobleza • Ramon Gillego • Jose Maria Galauran • Dennis Enriquez • Abiegayle Jocson • Artemio Ladia • Francis Andrew Santiago • Rodel Cuaton • Caesar Callangan • Gregorio Torres • Jose Arturo Virata • Odessa Coral • Michelle Estuar • Francis Randy Hortelano • Jag Irasga • Blas Ople Tiangco • Jeremy Go • Frederick Chaneco Gabriel • Luis Arcangel • Ria Go Tian • Sherwin Tommy Botabara • Niño James Ramos • Mark Adrian Hernandez • Haide Acuña • Joseph Adrian Soriao • Joseph Cu Unjieng • Junar Layug • Ronaldo Sulapas • Sammy Deleña • Rosgar Apolinario • Marco Christopher Montaos • Mel Severino • Wilfredo Parcon, Jr • Ramoncito Carreon • Delmo Sullano • John Jeffrey Avellanosa • Marlin Marilag • Emerson Go Tian • Manuel Macrohon

The official results of the race can be found here: Official Result: 2010 BDM 102K International Race

My BDM race bib, finisher’s trophy, and medal

Special thanks to our support:

Ross Cristal • RJ Bumanglag • Ellen Encinares • Cel Alarcon • Carina Manansala • Gail and Noy Consolacion • Tin Sayson • Joyce Morrison • Cindy Sevilla • Lorie and Ayette Padua • Raffger Sese • Julie Perez • Earl Quero • Tito Caloy and company • Bea Hernandez • Cristy Roldan • Vic Viola • Leynard Gripal • Emil Ancheta • Marvin Pangan • Teresa Gangan • Irish Manandic • Pepsi Gutierrez • Cherry Bautista • Tracy Capena • Zinnia Villarin • Mark Fer Castillo • Allen Gaspar • Brando Losaria • Let Guieb • Alpha Montaos • Joni Lopez • The volunteers • The organizing committee and staff • Our family!

To all the participants, cutoff finishers or not, congratulations!  This feat was definitely a task of ultra-proportions that not many are able and willing to do.   Let us keep in mind that the ultramarathon that we did was so much easier than what our war veterans had to forcefully endure, in which many gave their own lives.   For them arriving in San Fernando, Pampanga was not the end of their suffering or any sign of relief—it was just the start of their nightmare.  Let us continue to pay homage and remember our history, and support advocacies that promote it.

2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 Index:

  1. Background
  2. Ultra-SPF
  3. First Half
  4. Conclusion

2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 (Part 2: Ultra-SPF)

Aside from being physically and mentally prepared you need one more thing if you were to survive Bataan Death March Ultramarathon—support—more than just the morale but actual support vehicle and crew!

Rule #2: Every runner MUST have a support vehicle

A year ago this would’ve been quite a challenge as being a newbie then I only had a handful of willing and able friends in the community.  This year the situation was much different—I now have the overwhelming love and support of my running family!  It was even so much more than my wildest imagination!


Our team was unofficially founded after the test run by Tina.  Having a dedicated support person and vehicle would be ideal but quite expensive (not to mention leaving a much heavier carbon footprint) but as stated in the rules a support vehicle can support a maximum of four runners (Rule #2:2).  Tina figured that Glen, Sam “The Running Ninja,” and I had practically close paces (which I highly doubt because of her training with “hardcores”) so we could form a team.  I knew she had so much potential to place and naturally we didn’t want to slow her down.  Humble as she was, she agreed with us “just to finish” runners and so the rest was history.  I won’t mention the name we suggested for our team as she might chase me with a chainsaw hehe. 🙂

Our team hours before the race


“Kung ganyan ba naman ang support mo kahit anong distance ata matatakbo mo.”

Busy as we were we didn’t realize that some members of our running family (not running BDM) had something up their sleeves—planning their support!  Aside from the normal well-wishes many gave cash and goods, and many even went all out by giving their time and effort!  All these without us asking and without asking for anything in return!  Don’t these acts bring back our faith in people, that there are more good people out there than we realize.  More than just volunteerism—it’s about caring for family.  If you get that level of support you’d feel like you can run any distance!


Mind and body, checked; medical clearance, checked; support vehicle and personnel, checked; all systems green and go!  Wait, where’s the plan?  The plan detailing our pace strategy and our support needs?  “Ideal” as our plan was but BDM “veterans” would say it rarely gets followed on race day.  It would serve as guide for our “just to finish” goals, and for our support crew to figure out what our “planned” needs were.  At least that was the plan.

With all systems good to go, there’s not left to do but wait for D-Day—we can only prepare for what we know, or what we think we know—as for everything else, that’s a different story altogether.

2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 Index:

  1. Background
  2. Ultra-SPF
  3. First Half
  4. Conclusion

2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 (Part 1: Background)

Like many Filipinos, I don’t know much about the real forced death march our forefathers went through during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II.  All I know was that it was one of the darkest chapters of human history, and it should be remembered so that we are not bound to repeat it.  Sadly as one by one our war veterans depart, so too are their memories—all that’s left are symbols and monuments which not many cares so much for.  Bataan is arguably more commemorated in the United States than here in the Philippines as in New Mexico an annual marathon event is staged in memoriam whereas in the Philippines where Bataan is, nothing remotely close is done!

The dilapidated and seemingly forgotten old railroad station of San Fernando (not in service)

Last year was the first time the Bataan Death March (BDM) Ultramarathon was staged—in line with the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan) which also served to help commemorate our history.  It was the first time I encountered the word “Ultramarathon” (even our favorite word processor’s dictionary is not versed with the word) and I was fascinated by such feat.  I thought then that the marathon was the apex of distance running!

Bataan Death March historical marker near the old railroad station of San Fernando, Pampanga: “At this railroad station of San Fernando, the Filipino and American prisoners of war who had been marched all the way from Bataan to Pampanga, in one of the ghastliest forced marches in history, were loaded like cattle on boxcars where, because every compartment was packed to the limit, many suffocated or were crushed to death during the trip to Capas.”

I really wanted to join then, not because of fame, fortune, or anything similar but for its historical significance.  Upon looking up how to prepare for such feat all I got was “months of training” is “required”—much more than all the time then that I was running so I said to myself “one day I’m going to run BDM”—thus a dream was conceived.  Little did I know then that a year hence I’d be able to, and my dream would be realized.

Old San Fernando railroad station (translated): “Erected in 1892 as part of the Manila-Dagupan line of Manila Railroad Company. José Rizal alighted here during his visit to San Fernando. Also in this railroad station, in April 1942, prisoned soldiers included in the Death March were loaded on trains bound for Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac, to be incarcerated.”

Several races, an ultramarathon, and six marathons later (yes, all that in just a year) just about everything was ready.  BDM would set the record for my longest distance race at 102 kilometers, fastest ultramarathon with 18 hours cutoff and most expensive ever!  (My Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon technically is still my most expensive in terms of total cost only because of airfare, cost of living, and side trips)

Death March Km 102 marker

During the holidays of 2009 I had a series of “runner’s low” spanning two months wherein I had absolutely no motivation whatsoever to run. Fortunately I had already signed up for BDM earlier before this lethargic episode.  When I got the invitation email from Baldrunner I really was in a pathetic state as far as running was concerned—I even considered skipping the race!  Yes, even runners that regularly join races get “those” moments as well.  What did I do to break this spell? I recalled my “dream.”  I called upon my “old self.”  I rejoined the company of my “running family.”  Somehow their energy is contagious (running fever?) and little by little I started getting back into running and eventually racing.  After snapping back to “reality” I admit I still wasn’t 100% of my old self but it’s a start—and I had a deadline!  You can’t come to BDM unprepared—and you can’t do it alone!

2nd BDM Ultramarathon 102 Index:

  1. Background
  2. Ultra-SPF
  3. First Half
  4. Conclusion

BDM Test Run 2: Recon

February 21, 2010 together with some fellow BDM participants we returned to Mariveles, Bataan to continue where we left off from our last test run.  Most of the group weren’t able to join the previous test run so we started at +Km00.

Single-file as stated in the rules 🙂

Bataan Economic Zone

On the way to the base of the mountain

The start of the steep ascent (with one of our support vehicles)

Right: Km 3 BDM marker

Common sign around this area

There’s also this one

Still climbing

To BR: Sir could we request that you ease the rule about staying on the left side of the road, particularly between Km 4 to 6?

It is much more dangerous to stay on the left side from Km 4 to Km 6 as these were the steepest part of the route, there are no areas for pedestrians, there’s a deep ditch, and it has a lot of blind curves.  It was very dangerous during daylight, what more during night time?

Close calls

For everyone

We initially planned to run just the first 7K of the route but due to good weather we extended it further until +Km10.  Cramming for mileage?

Downhill after +Km7

From +Km10 we headed off to +Km50 to take some pictures, and after a brief stay went on our way towards +Km87, the final 15K of the BDM route.  We decided to run this final leg to give us some idea and feel of the route.  But before we got there a lot of unexpected twists greeted us.

Group shot at +Km50, courtesy Jet Paiso

Under Construction

Unexpectedly a lot of road works greeted us on our way to +Km87.  What’s alarming was that typical of Philippine construction sites there’s not much room for pedestrians as half of the road was being constructed and the remaining half for vehicles.  This was in +Km68 and +Km82.

To BR: Would the “keep left” rule remain even if there’s no space on the left?

Road works; taken from the back seat of our vehicle

More road works, +Km84

+Km87, still under construction

To summarize road works are in +Km68 followed by one before +Km82 all the way to +Km90.

Expect roads to be like this

Beyond 90

After managing the confusing roads at +Km90 it’s pretty much “easy” on the way to +Km101, in fact if it weren’t for the blazing sun and the shade-less road it would’ve been nice.  Finding +Km102 (San Fernando, Pampanga) gave us some interesting challenge and arriving there gave us some idea of what to expect on race day.  Hopefully during D-Day itself we arrive in a good condition as we were during this test run.

Former San Fernando Rail Station: the finish line for BDM102, the beginning of the ordeal for Death March prisoners, the end of lives for many.

Death March historical marker

Brief history from the historical marker: At this railroad station of San Fernando, the Filipino and American prisoners of war who had been marched all the way from Bataan to Pampanga, in one of the ghastliest forced marches in history, were loaded like cattle on boxcars where, because every compartment was packed to the limit, many suffocated or were crushed to death during the trip to Capas.

San Fernando Railway Station historical marker

Why so serious?

After everyone arrived and got settled it’s time for some group picture with the BDM +Km102 marker.

Presenting the Bataan Superbods! 😀

Of course you probably know by now that right after that shot we all “scrammed” towards the nearest restaurant for lunch!   It was already about 3PM so you have some idea how famished we were!  Ahhh, the ultra-life!

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