Sunday, July 17, 2011

Help! Milo Dilemma!

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!


Bee Yen Soberano said...

hi dennis,

based on my experience last year, by the time i turned the corner to the finish, the 5K lane was already closed and i had to stop and walk around the finish line area, not through it. don't know how strict rio will be, but we can always ask. why don't you pose it to him and get a firm answer?


bee ;-P

Running Fatboy said...

hi bee, good idea! I've posted this in their facebook page.

daytripper1021 said...

hi dennis. I have to say that the Milo medal from the ads looks splendid, and not having one for a medal collector as yourself (and for me too! hehe) would be sheer disappointment. With 2 weeks left before Milo, have you tried on putting more speed/tempo work in your training? Baka yun lang kelangan to improve on the 10-15min deficit that's preventing you to finish sub-2:30? :)

Baka naman RunRio won't be strict. I'd like to see what they will reply on your FB comment, but I think initially they will say they'll be strict (then be lenient on race day).

But don't you worry coz there's another Milo 1/2 marathon in Dec. By then I think sub-2:30 will be a synch for you. :)

As for me, I won't be racing on July31 since I'll be racing in July24 ( and a company run on Aug6 (10k). Takin' care of these old knees from getting too over-raced. ;-)

All the best.


Unknown said...

Good morning Dennis!

If RunRio treats Milo the same way that they treat their recent RunRio series races, then I don't think you have to worry. I finished my last 2 RunRio half marathons at just a bit under 3 hours, and the other at almost 3:25 and I still got the finisher's kit and medals from both, and my results were recorded.

Running Fatboy said...

Hi roelle, parang ang tagal pa ng December! I want my medal now! Hahaha. Not much speed or tempo in training as still building endurance for long distances

Hi unknown, but just to clarify that in all of the other Runrio half marathons, there were no cut off time imposed in their rules. It is only in Milo that they had this...

Ben W said...

Not sure but maybe with the MILO Marathon just recently earning IAAF/AIMS certification might have something to do with it. Maybe.

Running Fatboy said...

guys, this is the official response from RunRio Inc. with regards to this:

Every Runrio, Inc. Staff was given a copy of the Milo Marathon Race Rules and Regulations (Guidelines), we are supposed to know this by heart (not just memorize it but understand it) just in case we need to refer to it come race day. The said rules and regulations document is supposed to be our "Milo Marathon Bible" which were given to us as early as June. So by this information, I think you both can surmise how the rules will be implemented come race day. In addition to that Milo has been very strict now on safety standards - as in even how signages are suppoed to be propped (straight and sturdy, not leaning) are to be checked and has to be properly documented. personnel setting-up arches and banners and the stage are supposed to wear shoes not slippers and other safety standards. All in all, you can say that this race will aim to be 100% compliant to safety and order. Hopefully, runners can give their own share of help too in making it easier for us to implement properly.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sir!

I commend you for not joining the race. For me it'll only make it sweeter to get the medal fair and square - run the HM in 2:30 hours once you get your running groove back.


Anonymous said...

The only thing sadder is when a race is advertised "no cut-off" and upon reaching the finish line, you find out that the timer is already switched-off. It happened to me twice.

pjong said...

hi sir
Actually this is my first half marathon and Ive heard about the cut off time.. First I really don't mind about that since my only goal is to finish the race. But when I read the blog of Bald runner about the cut off time he said if there is a cut off time you need to finish it on said time.. Oooohh.. Big statement... Now when I read your blog I really scared not because, the marshall will told me to stop running but because after that If I will try to run a again because of SHAME.. hahaha.. Lalo na siguro sa kantiyaw ng tropa.. I think Im not fully prepared on July 31.. HAHAHA Now Im scared.. Woooot.... But why dont give a shot... hahaha Goodluck

Anonymous said...

Hello RF,

Why don't you use the cut-off rule as your motivation to finish within 2:30?

Try and find out...

Good luck!

Running Fatboy said...

hi guys,

I suggest for people interested in doing the 21km here but not sure whether they can make the cut off time (like me) to do the Rexona 21km run this Sunday. It's the exact same course and no cut off time. So at least you will know whether cut off time is achievable or not..

For 2:30 finish time, your pace per km should be at the most 7 mins, 6 seconds so you can use your watches as a tool too. For 6:00 finish time for 42.2km, pace per km is 8:31.

Good luck to everyone joining the Milo races!

Anonymous said...

Hi RF,
I understand your dilemma. Most international city races have cut off times and the reasons therefore are not to intimidate race practitioners. Mostly it is because of the city traffic, they just can’t afford blocking major roads and intersections for half day till the last ‘fatty’ (just joking!) crossed the finishing line. Just imagine Hong Kong (like you mentioned) or New York roads blocked all day for the Marathoners.
Since RunRio just won the contract to host all MILO races I believe there will be a lot of eyes on him and his crew from Nestle seeing if all points out of their contract and Milo Marathon Bible are followed.
There are lots of great races here (especially RunRio’s) without cut off time, I recommend you to sit this one out. The disappointment of not getting the recognition because you passed the cut off time may not be worth the effort at all, especially if you’re doing it for the medal. If you do it for yourself you can just trash the BIB after being told you’re disqualified and continue running… your family should still support you. Good luck & see you on the Rexona Run,

Daves said...

dennis, if i were in you sasali pa din ako. will still try to hit the cutoff time. kapag hindi umabot eh di hindi umabot. ang tanong naman eh, paano kung umabot? wala naman mawawala ... calories lang :)

Doc RP said...

Hi there, I joined the 21K category at Milo last year, and was fortunate enough to finish at 2:19. I had 3 friends who finished past 2:30 and they were still able to finish the race but medals were not sent to them. For last year, only 42K runners were given medals at the finishline. I believe for the 21K, the medals were all sent (for those finishing within cut-off) via mail 2 weeks after.

So i guess they were till able to implement that rule last year.

Will be running the 42K this year.. wish me luck! :-)

Running Fatboy said...

Banging his head after finding out that the cut-off time for 21km wasn't followed! 40% of runners exceeded 2:30 with some finishing at 4hours or close to that. This, after Runrio posted that they will follow the rules book and even had to memorize it by heart....same goes with 42k runners as a lot exceeded 6 hour cut off time.

Maybe in the next Milo race, they should just
Remove these rules altogether if it won't be followed anyway. Just my 2 cents. :)

Oh well, at least I was able to do 21k that same weekend