I got to admit joining the Milo Marathon or Half Marathon race is a value for money race given the cheap registration fees and the nice things that come with it at the finish line (medal, finisher certificate, loot bag, finisher shirts, etc.). And as the oldest road race in the country, it’s definitely a “must do” in every Pinoy runner’s list. I have done a few half marathons before and now contemplating of doing another one here.
But I have gotten a lot slower than a few years back. Whereas before, making the 2:30 cut off time wasn’t even an issue to me. Now, I can’t even reach it. My average time for a half marathon ranges from 2:40 – 2:55.
So the question is: how strict is Milo when it comes to imposing the curfew time? Based on previous Milo events, they were not strict AT ALL. Half marathoners who cross the finish line at 3 hours were given a finisher medal. So too were full marathoners who finished the race but exceeded the cut off time. But back then, it was a different race organizer. Now, the Milo races were handed over to RunRio Inc to facilitate and take care of. It’s a wait and see approach if they will follow the same flexible rules that the previous organizers had or not.
If you were in my shoes, would you do the Half Marathon race knowing that yes, you can finish it but no, you cannot finish it in the required time. If you were not given a finisher medal, will you make an issue out of it as you still wanted to acknowledge your time and efforts on the road? But then again, why put a cut off time in the first place if the runners knew that it won’t be strictly enforced anyway?
I think a lot of runners ignore the cut off time and just join these races on a whim. If a marshal stops them from continuing a race (due to exceeding the cut off time), they may even get furious and ignore the marshal. This has happened before in this country and these runners were cheered at the finish line by their friends and family who came to support them. In another country, it was cause for disqualifications. (That is not to say that Philippine road races are always lenient in their rules or that other countries are that strict in their rules).
But is this right? Who is at fault here – the runner who ignored the rules and persisted in completing his/her race or the marshals/ race organizers for not being strict here? Maybe it’s a combination of both?
In the case of Milo, in the past, they let runners who still want to continue their race to go on even though it was beyond the cut off time. The runner gets a medal and all the glory that comes with it. The organizer in supporting his rule does not put the runner’s name in the official results. Both sides come out happy... but is this the proper way? For me, it is like a half baked rule wherein the race organizers just wanted to please everybody. They want everybody to come out happy, to feel accomplished and to go home with a nice souvenir to show for their efforts.
But at the same time, people will also talk about this “rule” saying that this isn’t really enforced and just for show only. And this isn’t just for Milo races only. As recent as just 1-2 months ago, another race put in a cut off time for their trail run. In order for you to get a finisher medal, you must complete your half marathon within the allocated time frame. I did not join that race because of that reason but found out after that they didn’t really impose the rule. I regretted not joining that race because of what I could have experienced but at the same time, I was frightful that it would be pointless if I was stopped from finishing the run. Some ultra marathon races here also had cut off times but ended up being flexible and allowing all runners to finish their races. It was the organizer’s consideration for the runner seeing as they had been training for months and been on the road for hours.
But why is it in other countries, the curfew times were strictly imposed? If the half marathon, full marathon or even ultra marathon had a cut off time, they will follow it. Whether you cross 5 minutes or 50 minutes after the cut off time, it won’t make a difference – you still didn’t finish the race. Everybody knows about those cut off times (example of races are Hong Kong Marathons, Badwater Ultra Marathon) and should you be one of the unfortunate people to not reach it, then... tough! That’s life! You go home empty handed but have a stronger desire to do the same race the following year and to reach that goal. You will train harder, you will work harder and you will do everything to reach that goal. Isn’t this the better way? At least when you get your medal, you can be proud that you not only finished the race but you did so within the allocated time. The glory is that much bigger.
From my Milo dilemma, an answer is presented. I will not join this year’s Milo race as a nod to their rules. I will respect their rules and obey it. And if they themselves chose to “amend” said rules at the last minute, then that will be their decisions.
I just hope that I don’t end up banging my head on the door when I hear that a lot of half marathoners finish their races in 3-4 hours and got all the benefits that come with the 2:30 finishers (or full marathoners finishing beyond 6 hours)! But again, that’s life and I just have to stick to what I believe in. In this case, that the cut off times are really true and not just something placed there “for show only”.
Hopefully, I can get better and faster next year so that this dilemma will not happen again!
What do you think? Did I make the right decision or should I head immediately to a registration area and sign up for the Milo Half Marathon Race? But more importantly, what do you think about the cut off time (and how the organizer use it) in a road race?
All the goodies I'm missing this year! Dang!