I wasn’t originally supposed to run any distance at the Milo Marathon finals this year; I would have been content with just sitting on the sidelines following everyone’s races on Facebook and seeing news about the Marathon King and Queen being crowned. When I received a 5K race kit from Milo’s PR agency Strategic Edge, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose by running — especially since there were separate cash prizes for the media runners. Hmm!
The race was postponed due to Typhoon Hagupit/Ruby and since I was scheduled to participate in the Gran Fondo Bicolandia on the weekend the race was rescheduled to, I thought it was just not meant to be. Then the Gran Fondo was postponed to January 11, 2015 due to the damage from the typhoon. The opportunity had opened up again, and I was determined to take it.
I haven’t run a 5K in a while, but knowing the kind of elite runners who turn up at the starting line, I knew I was going to have my butt handed to me by some youngsters. I wasn’t sure I could hit any PR’s either; I’m currently 10 pounds over my race weight, and according to Runners’ World, that translates to a minute of time lost. My main goal was to run my hardest and fastest on the day and hopefully beat any other runners from the media to the finish line. It was also the first time I would use my Wave Hitogami shoes and my Garmin Forerunner 920XT at a race.
I got my pre-race warm-up by walking around to: get my race kit at the media tent, attempt to deposit my bag at the baggage counter, realize that the 5K and 3K categories don’t get bag check (weird!), put my bag in my car instead, then enter the 5K chute.
Waiting in the chute was a crowded and sweaty exercise with many people jostling for position at the front. The marshals gave pretty clear directions that as we moved up the chute toward the starting line, there was to be no running. But people started running anyway, sigh… I had to remind myself that most of these runners were newbies and occasional runners who had no inkling about etiquette (or wouldn’t care).
Finally the gun went off, and I sprinted ahead to get some clear ground in front of me. I looked down at my new Garmin and wondered why it was showing I was running a pace of 5:15 even if I was sprinting.
Too late into those first 500 meters, I realized my watch was displaying in miles, so that was 5:15 minutes per mile, or 3:15 minutes per kilometer (!!!). I had to pull myself back into the realm of 7:14 min/mile, which was roughly 4:30 min/km, but that initial effort cost me dearly.
Every kilometer made my lungs burn and by the last few hundred meters to the finish line, my legs were dead as well. It was good enough to land me 6th overall female, and so I was immediately ushered into the verification tent.
Big mistake to have gone along with it. I should have gone back to my car, changed clothes, grabbed something to eat, then go to the verification tent — because once we were in there, we weren’t allowed to leave! After a taxing half-hour of running I was starving (breakfast had been a mug of hot Nesvita), but the only thing they had on hand was bottled water and Gatorade. I wonder what the 21K and 42K podium finishers were feeling, since they were also sequestered almost immediately.
After 2 hours, the verification process was complete, and we were ushered into another holding area beside the stage for awarding. By then I had gone through so many emotions: grumpy (from lack of food), stoic (acceptance of fate), ecstatic (that we were about to be set free), disappointed (false alarm). I was probably half-delirious by the time I got onstage to receive my runner-up medal. In that situation there’s nothing to do but smile and realize not everyone gets to go through this. #podiumerproblems :P
I’d been reading complaints throughout the week leading up to the rescheduled Milo Marathon, and these were from runners who had spent money and taken time out of their lives to travel to Manila to run the finals on the assigned date, December 7. They were frustrated and angry that due to the postponement, they couldn’t finish what they’d been preparing for all year (many couldn’t stay for another six days). Some pointed out the near-perfect running weather that weekend as a reason the race shouldn’t have been postponed. Some railed at Milo and Runrio for not taking consideration of the inconvenience caused.
My opinion is that race organizers can only do so much. I’m not privy to the inner workings, but the race routes would pass through a number of cities. For any race but more importantly long-distance ones, local government support is important in securing the roads for the runners. If a race were to lose support because the LGU’s resources are needed elsewhere to batten down the hatches and prepare for the typhoon, then conducting the race would no longer be safe.
It is actually above and beyond Milo Marathon’s responsibility to the runners even to hold a rescheduled race. There’s a part in the registration waiver that all runners sign that the organizers shall not be held liable for cancellation due to acts of God. As Coach Rio said in the post-race press conference, the New York City Marathon in 2012 was completely cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy — and that is a marathon with thousands of runners who had come from all over the world!
According to Coach Rio, they held the rescheduled Milo Marathon at the earliest possible opportunity, which was a Saturday six days after the former date. Otherwise it would have been postponed to 2015, which defeats the purpose of holding a race to crown champions for 2014.
Despite how important and life-changing running may be for us personally, it is still just a sport and conducting a race takes secondary importance to matters of life and death. Looking at the larger view, I don’t want the people of this country to resent the running community and think we are arrogant and insensitive. I mean, we already tangle up weekend traffic with our races… Food for thought from the last major race of the year.