Now for the more interesting part of this race review: the dark side.
1 – Lack of hydration.
In my previous post I mentioned about struggling to reach the finish line though I was about to get completely dried up. Thanks to a little push I was able to finish the course in one piece. There was no water on the approach to the finish line! I can accept that water stations at this point will be dry since it is a common passing point for 3K, 5K, and 10K runners. But the point here is, water will be VERY essential for those who did the longer distance categories and for those who endured the sun’s heat to the point that their skins are burned to a near crisp. These people, like myself, need the hydration at the approach to the finish line! Thank goodness there were support stations like those provided by Adination Alabang and takbo.ph – they did a real good job in providing the necessary aid to long-distance road warriors. Organizers can’t just dismiss the hydration issue even though there are people to support the half-marathoners and marathoners along the way. It’s still the organizer’s responsibility to make sure the runner’s needs are met.
As an example, one of takbo.ph’s regulars, Edwin, had to go back to the takbo.ph support station just to get a bottle of Pocari as he was making his way to finish his maiden 42K. Imagine, he had to run all the way to CCP just for this one. (Partida na yan, umabot pa siya sa 6-hour cut-off.)
Ever heard of the saying “Mas maganda na ang sobra kesa kulang”? This doesn’t apply to running events, particularly in hydration. Better to have more than ample stock of sports drinks/water/whatever hydration is necessary for runners to be at their best.
2 – Chaos at the baggage counters.
Nope, this isn’t an auction. These are runners who are shoving in and out to retrieve their baggage and head home. After completing the race I immediately went to the baggage counter, and this was what I got – a barrage of frustrated, furious runners raising their bibs in the air. What’s wrong with this picture?
First of all, where’s the line? Kids, don’t you know how to form a line? This was taught in grade school (even in kindergarten, for crying out loud)! I don’t see any reason why you should push other race participants out of the way to get your things. Looking at on this picture, it is almost as similar to a mosh pit at a rock concert.
Second, those responsible for handling the baggage counter don’t know how to handle the crowd. What they did was they were holding the first bag that they see up in the air and they scream out the number in the hopes that the actual owner would be present. That’s totally wrong! Wouldn’t it be better if the runner just mentioned the bib number to baggage personnel and look for it? That’s the usual procedure in road races. It may take some time finding where the bag us, but at least it’s a surefire way of giving the bag back to its rightful owner, rather than just shouting it out to the crowd!
Third – probably the biggest baggage handling issue of all – many bags were placed A FEW METERS OUTSIDE the baggage counter with no personnel to guard it. They were simply there, waiting to be grabbed by anyone. My backpack was so unfortunate to be part of this. Upon seeing my bag I immediately got it and checked the contents, hoping that my valuables would still be intact. Thank goodness nothing was lost. The good part was that no one stole my bag and I was able to leave the race site right away, but the bad part was that no one was keeping an eye over my belongings, including that of other bags. So much for security.
3 – CHEATERS.
Yes, you read it right. Some blogs have posted about 42K runners cheating on the race course by (1) not registering splits at KM26 and KM37 or (2) having a “support vehicle” carry you to some place near the finish line or (3) physically switching runners, just like in a relay! And yet these culprits manage to finish with really fast times, comparable to that of elite maratonhers, and get away with the finisher’s medal? There are many more people deserving of that medal – those who suffered from cramps during the run, those who were unfortunately injured during the run, those who busted their knees during the run, those who endured the heat of the sun and the humidity of the race course during the run, and those who have undergone 3 or 4 months of training before their participation in the race! Only those who have crossed the finish line without deliberately cutting the course can be called true marathoners, no matter how slow or fast they might get.
Have these runners no shame? And to think that some of them are part of a running club??? What kind of ethics does your club impart on you? I’m very sure that cheating is not part of it!
This post proudly bares it all, without fear or favor. Even the bib numbers are included. (Now I know who the “fatso” Jonel was referring to.) To the criminals involved in this sham: you should be ashamed of yourselves. You call yourselves runners? Heck, you’re not even worthy of running. The fact that you cheated in this race disbars you from being called as such. You’ve ruined the sanctity of the sport – completely. Have you no respect for those who really prepared for this event?
To those who did their respective exposes, well done. The running community deserves to know about this farce. Thanks to the beauty of the timing chip and Photovendo, now we’ll be able to see you really are. Now there’s justification why MILO decided to increase its registration fees – to increase the quality of a running event and to sift out wrongdoers like these.
To the MILO race organizers, find a way to chase after these people and forcibly take away their medals and certificates from them. They should be given to more noteworthy people. To other race organizers, you better take note of these individuals. Should they have the guts to join running events in the future, rip their registration forms, and throw them back their cash.
Tough luck, you cheaters, but you couldn’t get away with it. You just got NAILED.
(image source: http://degreedirectory.org/cimages/multimages/2/cheater.jpg)
Would you still have the balls to come out in public?
Naku, mga ser, kapag nakita kayo ng mga hardcore at elite runners sa kalye sa mga susunod na araw, siguradong bugbog-sarado kayo sa kanila.
A final note…
In the last few days, there have been reports of casualties along the race course. One of them was a senior battling the full marathon. The other was a youngster trying to beat his 21K personal record, a kilometer short of the finish line. The latter is one of my officemate’s friends. Both fell under a heat stroke and met the Creator not long after. My heart goes out to you and may your souls rest in pace.
Sa mga mandaraya, mahiya naman kayo sa mga namatayan. At least they tried their best, habang nagpapakapetix kayo.
MILO is famed for distributing green singlets with the power statement “Kaya mo ‘yan!” printed at the back. I suggest that this be modified in the future to something like this: “Kaya mo ‘yan… Pero huwag ka mandaya!“
I first participated in a MILO running event last year when I was assigned back in Cebu, far away from the glory of takbo.ph. But even though I was located outside of Manila I ran with my fellow road warriors in spirit. It was in this race where I have set a new personal record of 2:17 for a 21K route, only later on to be beaten at the Globe Run For Home event 2 weeks after by a full minute. The 33rd National MILO Marathon was a fun experience and I was looking forward to do it again.
Which is why I joined it once more this year, only that now, I’ll be running in Manila along with some of my running cohorts. =)
I signed up for the 21K race category, given that I didn’t have that much training. When the race organizers posted the final race route several weeks after, it was then that I had second thoughts about selling my race bib so as I could enter the full marathon category – it was relatively a flat course that will concentrate on Roxas Boulevard and Macapagal Avenue. In the end, it was a good decision for me to stick to completing half a marathon, as you will see later on.
Target time wasn’t really that important to me. As long as I’m able to reach the finish line in under 2 hours and 30 minutes (which is the cut-off time for 21K runners in order to receive the much-coveted MILO finisher’s medal) then I will be happy. As I said, the course is relatively flat, but there is the issue of running over 2 flyovers – one across the World Trade Center and the other across Heritage Hotel EDSA. Screw the PR, just finish the race. This was the agreement reached between Doc Marvs, Team Logan, Mark, and myself.
Our overall strategy was to implement a Galloway approach, with a 6:1 ratio and a pace of 6:30mpk. Thankfully, it did work – and our legs were strong enough to run the twin bridges of Roxas Boulevard. For the first half of the course, we seem to be having fun and we were in all smiles. We even got to heckle along the way.
While I was running along Macapagal Avenue, I met up with the Adination Alabang chapter support group, spearheaded by Nao. There I asked for a quick shot of water that should last me until I got past EDSA Extension. Thanks for the help, guys. =)
The hardship starts from KM12.5 onwards. By the time I got across Dampa Macapagal Avenue, the thirst was starting to kick in, for the sun was in full effect and it was drying me up gradually. The subsequent water stations in this location had no stock of hydration, so there was no choice but to continue running until Sofitel, in the hopes that there would be even just one full cup of water available. Finally, upon the approach to V. Sotto on the way to the Aliw Theater, I got myself a couple of water cups – one for the body and one to pour above my head. So refreshing.
And then – an unexpected surprise.
Caren was running along CCP along with her cousin, Adeline. She was training her for her first 5K event on July 18th. She called my attention and I was happy to see her! That provided the emotional fuel I needed to finish the race. I stopped for a few minutes and gave her a kiss, for I was that thankful that she’s there to support me. She told me to keep on going, and that I did. After waving goodbye I resumed the run, then passed by the takbo.ph support station, full of spirit and energy. I let out a “happy scream” here before reaching them. =)
(Thank you, Gail, for this picture!)
I made a quick stop then got myself a bottle of Pocari. My mistake here was that I consumed all of it in one sitting, giving me a bloated feeling later on.
I made the final cross at the World Trade Center flyover, with my energy reserves still intact.
But after passing CCP, I was nearing absolute exhaustion. The heat of the sun was slowly getting into me and my only hope was to reach a water station for me to splash all over myself. There was no more water available 2.5K to the finish line! And my thirst was kicking by the second! There came times in the final stretch of the race when I had to have a major walk break since I didn’t want to push myself. However, given the fact that there were only a few minutes left before the cut-off, I had no choice. Starting from the walls of the US Embassy until the finish line I pulled it all off, making sure to keep within a “somewhat comfortable pace” for a strong finish. (As an aside, I was witness to a small riot in front of the US Embassy while I was running, c/o some protesters wanting to eradicate the VFA. That was creepy.)
Finally, I crossed the finish line, with the GF 305 registering a total distance of 20.97KM, and a total elapsed time of 2:27:20. I’m so happy that I made it to the cut-off. However, the marshalls told me that there were no more medals for the 21K runners since they had ran out of it! Man, what a letdown. They better make sure to have that medal delivered to my residence within the next few days. =z
After chugging a bottle and a half of Gatorade and cooling down, I drove my way to the takbo.ph support station to pay them forward. It feels good to help other runners finish the race. The next time around I’ll try to be part of the running core’s support group and cheer fellow road warriors to the finish.
Thanks loads, guys, much appreciated.
There’s something in this race which made it hard – and that’s the humidity and the blistering heat. Apparently, Mother Nature didn’t want to rain on MILO’s parade – literally speaking – so she made the sun shine at its best. Darn it, where’s the rain when you need it the most? Moreover, isn’t it the rainy season right now? If you were to ask me, thank goodness I didn’t change my mind on running the 42K route. Yes, sticking to my original decision was right. But I take my hat off and I admirably salute all those who were to legitimately complete the full marathon despite the sun’s rage.
Wait, legitimately? Is there an issue here? Oh yes, there is.
This will be covered in part 2 of the review. Stay tuned.