I consider myself lucky for being part of history. I personally witnessed the gruesome task of completing the very 1st 100-miler road race here in the Philippines last weekend by one of my good friend, Totoy Santos. It was a very-very memorable experience even if I only supported a runner.
We started our journey at around 3 pm when Totoy picked us up from our meeting place. I acknowledged that I was really late as I wasn't able to pack earlier. Nevertheless, we went straight to the lodge, some hours before the actual race to relax and remove some of the anxiety.
At around 330, we already started gearing up as we have long days ahead (take note, long days kasi 2!). We wore the team UNGAS shirt plus my regular running shorts as I was planning to pace totoy in his last few km. I loaded up my camera and helped in preparing the support items at the back of the van. I was surprised when I found out that Luis (GBM) with Abby, Idol Ronald(yeah, the guy who's the living model for VFF) and Sir Jonel stayed at the same lodge. I felt the anxiety and worry in the air as it was the longest and most difficult "fun" run that they will do in their lives.
At exactly 4 am, we left for the starting line. We passed by the darn hills which I will be conquering next week gave me a freaking anxiety attack. But that will still be next weekend; the 160 warriors faced them today.
At the starting line, we were greeted with our fellow runners. The street near km 00 was filled with support vehicles and cheering crews. There were laughter and prayers as everyone wished the runners luck during the race. We took some souvenir shots (oo, kinunan ko sila habang nakakangiti pa) before the gunstart. We decided to leave earlier and move to km 7 immediately before the actual gunstart so we will have a decent parking space.
The First 50 kms
At km 7, we parked and waited for the runners to pass already. It was really-really COLD which was made worst by the strong wind. I forgot to bring my jacket as I assumed that it will be hot in Bataan already. Thanks for the hot coffee that I got from the other support crew which made it a bearable!
The first batch of runners passed 30-45 minutes after gunstart. Simply_Wilnar was already pacing with Sir Jonnifer Lacanlale at a marathon pace!!! They were followed by Ka Totoy which asked for a bottle of water before running again towards km 14. We still waited for a few minutes before we left the post to take some more pictures. I took the famous picture of papa idol, GBM and OJ where they can still smile (yari kayo no!) then left to follow Totoy
We stopped at a nearby store to buy some more bananas and took again some more photos. What surprised us was Totoy was way ahead already and passed the km 14. It was a good 14 km rolling route and he was already able to conquer it immediately. We caught up with him a few meters after km 15 to give him a bottle of gatorade. The sun was already up but he was still fine (halimaw talaga!). We were still able to see Simply_Wilnar and Atty. Joni leading the pack while totoy was closely following them. He instructed us to meet him at km 23 already!
At km 23, we noticed that it was really far beyond the dictated distance from the markers. The 2 BR marshalls were there. They even set-up a small tent! We were ahead of schedule as the lead runners reached that point 20-25 minutes from the last time we saw them. Junrox and Gene already bypassed Totoy as they followed the lead pack. Totoy arrived already and asked for a bottle of water. From the point, we were to do support every 3 km. (did I mention that there was a small piece of wire which almost puncture my ankle while waiting?)
km 35, totoy complained that he was experiencing quad issues (the one he had in Samat). Bought him some alaxan and gave him some salt. We already felt the heat as noon closely approached. Totoy was already passed by the two Singaporeans.
km 38, felt the need to go to the CR and sagutin si Mayor! But a carabao had postponed his plans :))
km 41, we refreshed some supplies like ice and water. The singaporean guy was already asking for support so we have to give him some gatorade and water. Totoy was overtook by the Paulina as we pass by the busy town of Balanga. We're almost near the 50 km mark
km 44, totoy was icing his quads already but he remained strong. Man, he's good! Paulina was also tired and we were suprised as she was only holding a small bottle for her water. We can't imagine how she was able to survive this run with only a small bottle of water. We poured her some ice water and refilled her water bottle.
km 47, last support for totoy before we proceed to km 50. Gave him a bottle of gatorade as we saw the singaporeans has overtook him already.
km. 50, we got lunch from Jimmy c/o Mang Inasal! Also took the chance to take a few pictures with the halfway marker. Totoy was still strong and didn't stop to even change his clothes. The sun was already burning but still he's running in top form! One lesson I learned from him was the effect of the salt against cramps. It helped him recover from the aching quads and possible cramps during the first 50 km. Just 110 km to go!
The Hot Road Towards 102 Marker
And we began the road toward km 102. First stop at km 53 as we caught up with Jessie, Junrox Brother.. We learned that he was the only support of Junrox until the afternoon. He was the driver as well; imagine the stress that this race had brought him.
Junrox: Bili ka ng wine. Kahit ano basta Australian brand ha.
Jessie: Paano kung...
Junrox: Kailangan para makapagcelebrate!
km 56, Junrox took a CR break while Totoy was nowhere in sight! The Singaporean lady told us that he might be injured already and we decided to go back for him. Found him a couple of meters after still running. Tinawag lang pala ni Mayor. That was a relief as we thought we'll be throwing the towel sooner than expected.
km 64 we informed totoy that Luis was catching up. With that he went back to his very fast pace as if he didn't finish 50 km already!
km 68 We stopped to buy some ice from a local store while I bought a bottle of coke. When totoy stopped to get something to drink, he saw the coke.I gave him whatever was left as he was already bored with the water and gatorade hydration plan. I planned to buy him some more softdrinks when we passed by a store.
km 71 A pleasant surprise that we found a nearby halo-halo store! Nothing like a local halo-halo to cool us down. We bought some for Totoy as well. Maridol from team CB also passed us by and refreshed our stock of ice. She said that she prepared some arroz caldo for us when we reach km 102. Ayos, food trip! :D
km 76 Totoy was able to caught up with Junrox. I was also able to buy some rock salt (one big pack!) and a liter of softdrink. Junrox already stopped by the side of the road resting because of the heat. We gave him a cold splash of water to re-energize him. He swore that he'll make it up during the night, once the heat had already subsided.
km 79 Jessie and our crew agreed that we will be doing a convoy as he is not familiar with the route. Unfortunately at the detour we were separated as we were able to pass through the town. Since Jessie will be waiting at the bridge, we supported Junrox while we were in town. Good thing that we were able to met up with Sir Raul with Mich and Reylenne as they were looking for Junrox. Jessie can now rest from support duty!
At km 81, we were waiting for him at the Caltex intersection. He was able to overtake the singaporean lady and still have the strength to go thru the remaining stretch until the city of Guagua. We learned from Totoy that BR gave him a bottle of water as he thought that we lost him already. :))
Moving forward to km 90 towards the busy town of Guagua, We are still on-track as he is planning to finish the 102 km within 14 hours. Outstandingly, he seems that he is still strong without the sign of being tired. 12 kms to go!
At km 97 We were able to find the other singaporean. He was still strong but very near with totoy. We can't find Paulina anywhere so I guess he had a very big lead ahead of her. This is the last stop before he instructed us to go to km 102 already.
Setting ourselves in km 102, we finally made it to the 2/3 of the distance! Totoy was still running towards the km marker. He quickly changed his clothes while we took some pictures! He got a new PR as he crossed the km 102 marker earlier than the planned 14 hours. After some pictures, off Totoy went to chase the remaining 58 km.
Beyond km 102: Towards the Busy MacArthur Hi-way
Since there were no markers, we have no idea how far/close we are from the finish line. I'm also not familiar with the route since I didn't join the test run which covered the route from km 102 till km 160. So we relied on the direction that I got from Madam. First things first, dinner. Maridol gave us the stock of Arrozcaldo which we hungrily consumed while we are on our way to meet Totoy. It took us a while to figure out the way and we really have no idea where are we going to meet him so we decided to drive along the MacArthur Hi-way.
Finally found him at around 5-6 km from the km 102. Gave him something to drink and asked him what he wanted for dinner. Since there were no markers, we relied on the odometer. I bought him some noodles and bread from a ministop store. When he was able to consume his food, we took a quick dinner as well in a nearby carinderia.
I also gave the crew with a pair of essentials which will at least help them stay awake at least during the last part of the race.
When we reached the Angeles checkpoint, we found out that we were very far from Simply_Wilnar and near one of the Singaporean guys. We informed totoy about it and he was instantly energized; he ran towards the nearest opponent. At this point, we learned a lot have DNF already :(. Too many warriors had fallen but that should not stop us from getting the goal.
And what luck: we found the Singaporean resting near our support van...
Bakbakan sa MacArthur Hi-way
People who saw the post in my fb and twitter account can recall the events where Totoy and the Singaporean guy were overtaking each other towards Capas. The Singaporean was already injured but if you can only imagine how fast he was walking; I think his pace was around 6-6:15 mpk! Everytime we did a stop-over for Totoy, we saw how determined he is in overtaking his opponent! There was a time that they were actually running head to head and pacing with each other. Totoy did took the lead soon until we reach the Bamban bridge.
We were able to find the other Singaporean as we cross the bridge. It was freaking cold on that part of the route! Totoy was still on the lead but he was already saying that he was really tired. The Singaporean was hot on track as we can see him very near Totoy. Unfortunately, the Singaporean did win this battle as finally he overtook Totoy on our way to Capas.
Tired and Sleepy, Totoy was already saying how much he want to rest already. I can imagine as he covered more than 120 km already. Maan and I were already exhausted as well and as a pacer, I need to rest for a while to accompany Totoy towards the last few km of the race.
At Capas, we stopped over at the nearby 7:11 station and bought some coffee. We gave Totoy some coffee already. We noticed that he's really tired as he is doing run-walk as he approached us. I've already geared up and ready to run with him for the last 15 km.
By the way, Totoy tripped over as he was crossing MacArthur highway! Man, that was scary! Thank God there were no passing vehicles during that time.
Pacer Duties and the Finish Line
I started my pacer duties once Totoy crossed the MacArthur Highway. The route was cold and dark with lot of dogs barking. I didn't have any headlamp with me so I have to stay close with him. Whenever he needed to walk, I walk and talked to him and asked him if he needs anything. I also watched over our pace as I know he needs to reserve some more strength towards the finish line.
Surprisingly, as we approach the Capas shrine, we reached one of the Singaporean limping and out of supplies. We asked him if he needs anything then instructed our support crew to give him some food and water. He said that he was lost as he didn't saw the marshall at the intersection! We want to ask for more info but we still have a race to finish so off we went.
At the Capas shrine, we found out that our vehicle was already low on fuel so they decided not to support us on the remaining distance. I asked for bottles of water as we need to rehydrate. Totoy already warned me that it was pure uphill and it is a gruesome final road to the finishline.
Another surprise as we were passed by sir lacanlale and gene battling as if it was a 5k race! Man, that's how far Wilnar was from his rivals! We were passed by the other runners who were ahead of us including the 2 Singaporeans. Run-walk-run-walk until we reached the turn-around point. Totoy was low in energy until he learned that Arman was just behind us! Knowing his competitive nature, he suddenly surges and requested to make haste as we ran the downhills. Occasionally we have to walk but we ran towards the finish.
At last, the shrine. Remember how runners became possessed on their way to the finish line? Totoy was still able to sprint towards the finish at an awesome pace!!! At around 3:30 am in the morning, Totoy was able to finish the race and clinched the 6th spot of the historic first 100-miler in the country!
It was an awesome experience. From start to the finish, we witnessed a runner conquered a very hard challenge in his career and executed it with excellence. A week after this, it will be my turn. If totoy can finish 160, I can surely do a 102.
Who knows I might do the 160 next year? I'm already inspired but undecided :D
(Photos to be uploaded soon...)
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