After backing out from this year’s Milo Elimination Race due to their “strict” cut off time of 2:30 for 21km Runners (not so strict as I found out too late – 40% of runners exceeded said “cut-off” time with time ranging of up to 4 hours), I had no race for the weekend.
But I was able to find one race happening in UP and it has two things there that I liked:
1) A 21km Category, and
2) Finisher Medal for all 21km finishers.
That’s good enough for me!
Not much details on this race other than the poster above but I was able to get in touch with one of the organizers via email to confirm whether race would push through. With his go signal, I got excited at doing this race and running in UP Campus again.
To note, the last time I ran in UP (for an ordinary run or for a race) was way back in 2009 (June 28th to be exact). Since that time, Fort Bonifacio (and now MOA area) has become the place to be for weekend road races. Back then, I even used UP for my Sunday long runs (races then were held once a month only) and it was also the venue where Per and I ran the day after I proposed to her. But we liked joining road races and as they moved their venues, so did we.
It was a definite walk (or run in this case) on memory lane for this race. I wasn’t even sure whether I would push through for this run as had stomach pains the day before and the rain wouldn’t stop on that Sunday morning. But every time I think of backing out, I think about the Milo Full Marathon and all those people who still got up, got dressed and ran this race. If they can run for 42.2km in pouring rain, what rights do I have in backing out for a race that is just half that distance? None at all!
So I still went there and after wasting 20 minutes finding the right access road inside the campus (the gate I usually go through was still closed), I got to the venue a little before 5am. With the strong rains, the organizers decided to move the start time to 6am. As I registered myself for the 21km race, I saw there were only 5 of us for this event. Yes, 5! I thought twice about doing this distance. The other runners were all slim and looked fast. I didn’t want the marshals to just wait for this one fat dude to finish his race when all the elite runners have finished theirs in 2 hours or less. There were some serious self-doubts on whether I should proceed or not. Plus it was still raining hard.
But what the hell! I already skipped Milo. It would be worse if I skipped this one too (especially after waking up so early and driving far to get here) and besides, the emcee even dictated that they will wait for 4 hours until the last runner had crossed the finish line. As I know my approximate finish time, I’m giving marshals one hour less than what they expected. Haha!
The race consists of 9 loops around the Academic Oval with the final loop making two U turns in order to complete the 21.1km distance. Ordinarily I would get bored with it. But this was a place I used to go to often and I absorbed all the sights here, never mind if it was done for 9 times. Plus, I get to see the fast runners (fastest 21km runner overtook me THREE times), the 5km and10km runners and those casual runners who still went here even though it was raining. I also liked the course as not as rugged as other roads of UP and there’s a lot of downhill here. By running 9 loops of the same course, you tend to strategize your run as well. You won’t get lost either, which could happen if the course was different and no marshals were present to guide you. I also loved crossing the finish line 9 times (to get 8 black ribbons) as there were a lot of people there and they encouraged me to keep on going.
But I knew I was last in this race (blame it on that impromptu toilet break). Most 21km runners (it’s more than 4 now!), were one loop ahead of me. But that’s fine. Good thing here was that I felt strong and survived this race using one GU gel and lots of water (usually it’s two GU, a banana, lots of Gatorade/ Powerade, etc.) so I am getting stronger!
Being in a 21km race here was very exclusive and it even got the attention (and awe) from some students, who can’t imagine running this distance and in this rain. It was a little ego boost knowing I’m able to run this distance. And I kept going and going till I reached the final loop to make a small U turn near the finish line. I got a blue band this time around to signify that I’ve completed the entire distance and ran/ walked to cross the finish line!
Another big surprise was finding out that I got a P500 G.C. for placing 9th place in this race. The finisher medal became part of my awarding too. Found out that there were a total of 11 runners in the Half Marathon. I still finished last (the other two runners DNF-ed) but became a podium finisher too. What an irony!
To note, I had a great time! It’s nice to run in a different venue so not everything is the same. The last time I had this experience was with the Stallion Run. I also loved running in the rain more so than running in the summer heat!
My first UP run in more than two years and it had to be a Half Marathon (my premier 21km here as well)! Thanks to the organizer for handling a great event and for your quick responses here.