The Bataan Death March (Japanese:Batān Shi no Kōshin (バターン死の行進)) was the forcible transfer, by the Imperial Japanese Army, of 76,000 American and Filipino prisoners of war after the three-month Battle of Bataan in the Philippines during World War II, which resulted in the deaths of thousands of prisoners.Source: Wikipedia
To give importance to this significant event and to honor the fallen soldiers, an Ultramarathon event was formed some years back and used the actual route that the American and Filipino soldiers walked on some 50+ years ago. This race would start in Mariveles, Bataan and end at the old railway station (km 102) in San Fernando, Pampanga.
A second Ultramarathon event was created soon after with a longer route - 160 kilometers but in order to qualify for this race, interested runners MUST do the 102km distance first.
I did not partake in the actual race but I had the next best thing for this moment of history: as a support crew made up of one member for one Ultramarathon runner, that of Alvin Adriano, who has been my running mate and coach/good friend for the past few months now.
First tip here is to download the route map of the race as there are a few turns that a fellow runner/ support crew could miss if they had not consulted the route map. Below is a copy of route map of the race and of the actual route of the Bataan Death March.
Alvin's race started on a Saturday evening at kilometer 0, which had a marker on it and a statue of soldier's rifle with soldier's hat on it. It was next to fast food chain Jollibee in Mariveles, Bataan (and the only branch in this city) so if you want to look for it, just ask for this restaurant's location from the local people.
We got to Bataan on a Friday (March 2, 2012) so that both of us could have ample rest before the race starts. Even though I won't be running this race, it will also be taxing on me as I had to be awake for the same number of hours that my runner is and be ready to help him in whatever way that he may need to get through the night and finish the race.
Come Saturday night (March 3, 2012), we arrived at the starting line around 9:30pm and awaited the start of the race.
Alvin preparing his gear for the first 10 kilometers (water bottle, head lamp, etc).
Tip #2: Don't forget to reset car's odometer to zero so can monitor distance in the car. It would be easier on runner too as Alvin would tell me to wait on the next 3km, 5km or 10km and all I had to do was follow the car's odometer to get there.
Tip #3: For the runner, don't forget to charge your Garmin. Better yet, borrow a second Garmin and charge that too as one Garmin won't be enough for this race!
Tip #4: As a support crew, make sure car you are using is ready for the race too. That means full tank, spare tire, enough water and oil, etc.
Tip #5: For support crew, make sure you have stuffs inside the car to keep you occupied. This is a long race and boredom can easily hit you as you await your runner. I had books, videos and some games in my phone with me. I also had some chips and candies to keep myself awake.
Tarpaulin to put on car to let people know that there is an ongoing race. Makes for a nice souvenir too!
Sir Jovie N. aka Baldrunner, giving last minute details to both runners and support crews. There were also prayers made and anthems (USA, Japan, Philippines) sang.
Race started approximately 10:15pm to 10:25pm. I left early for fear that I would be caught in traffic with other support vehicles.
The first 6 kilometers would be the hardest part of the route given its very steep climb to the top and lack of street lights, making it dangerous to runners as cars, trucks and buses go down here often. A lot of support crew's cars were parked here awaiting their runners.
A nice midnight snack for me. There were two more of these around the route. Best thing is that it's open 24 hours!
This was a really weird statue in the middle of a plaza. I had to stop and park my car to get a picture of it. Wonder what it means?
Course was hard given the lack of shade for most of the 102km. At night, that was fine but come day break, it adds to the challenge of finishing this race within the cut-off time of 18 hours.
Tip #6: Pack excess food and drinks not just for your runner but also for those runners who need it too. In this race, I was able to offer water on three different instances. Alvin said later on that he was able to get some water from other support vehicles too. PAY IT FORWARD!
Tip #7: Bring enough cash and spare change. At various points, Alvin wanted me to look and buy more water and ice for him. And I had to look for these things while he was running. Since it was early morning, don't expect them to have change for your Php 1,000 bill!
The original Razon's at a gas station
Less than one kilometer to go..
Two-time 102km finisher!
Better time and ranking second time around :)
Job done! Time to rest!
Actual notes taken during the 102km event:
10:40PM - Just parked at the 10km marker along with 5-7 cars behind me. Took a brief stop at 6km marker to see other support vehicles and take a picture of the 6km marker.
11:08PM - First two runners just passed the 10km mark... less than an hour from when the race started!!
11:12PM - More runners coming by as seen by blinking of their single white headlamps. BR's van just passed by me. More support vehicles are coming up and parking few meters behind me. The race is on !
11:25PM - Alvin came by and left quickly again. On to next marker point.
11:48PM - Parked at 20km mark Odometer.
12:34AM - Alvin came by, drank water and Gatorade and ate pizza. Seemed tired. Have to go on to the next pit stop - 30km.
1:00AM - Burger Machine stop over at 28km.
1:10AM - 30km marker with runner few meters behind me. Lead runner gone. A minute later, a runner went by me. Lead pack I did not see anymore.
2:00AM - Alvin came to refill bottle and drink and eat pizza again. Tired looking! Too fast? Stayed 5- 10 minutes here at car. Spotted him quickly.
2:26AM - 35km mark. Bought 2 liters water and 2 liter Gatorade at local bakery.
2:31AM - 35.4km mark. Stopped by church to take pictures of it. BDM 35km marker across it. Three support cars parked here. Leaving again.
2:40AM - 38.8km mark. Stop over. Four runners just passed my car by. Drove with hand break up but thank goodness just for 3km and at slow speed. Will try to nap a bit or I will just be useless here.
3:25AM - woke up when Alvin came over. Looked better now. Second wind. Onwards to 50km.
3:37AM - 41.6km. Saw huge hand with blood tipped sword in the middle of a plaza. So weird that I had to stop and take a picture of the statue. Sign nearby says "Welcome to Pilar" but not on BDM map so will just write it down... unverified town!
4:10AM - 49km. Guess this is the 50km mark as lots of cars parked in this open field and I even asked one guy and he confirmed it. Hope it's right!
4:55AM - Alvin found car. Apparently it is the RIGHT PLACE! I heard Alvin say park but what he really said was PARKING. Glad I did a U Turn! From now, Stop-overs are every 5km (from 10km up to 50km distance).
5:01AM - Parked at 54km. Alvin arrived at 5:30AM.... moved on after he left
5:43AM - 59.1km mark.
6:17AM - Sun is coming out and Alvin got here.
6:24AM - 64km mark right by a gas station. Runner some 300m ahead of me.
6:56AM - Alvin got here. Time to go again. Turned off emergency lights and head lights as day was breaking out. Alvin put on his makeshift cap with towel.
7:07AM - 69.1km mark. Main Highway I think.
8:45AM - At 78.8km mark. Just parked waiting for Alvin. Got his ice and water and able to withdraw cash at nearby ATM machine. Getting sleepy too. Getting hot too.
9:20AM - 84km marker at the bridge. Nearly missed the right turn to Guagua if not for the blinking car! Thank God for guiding my path. Only 20km to g.
11:54AM - 97.1km based on odometer but 99km on BDM marker. Alvin now run-walking with 3 other guys as he closes in to the finish line.
12:18PM - 99.6km (odometer reading) parked near the finish line.
12:20PM - Alvin crosses finish line at 14:05++ and got 26th place. Railway station and 102km marker were both here too.