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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

January 30, 2012

2012 BDM 160 ULTRA : Extraordinary Adventure by A Select Few

In his book “Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of An All-Night Runner”, Dean Karnazes wrote about ultrarunners: Runners are real people. They don’t run for money or recognition, they do it out of passion.  Most have day jobs that pay the bills, and running is a labor of love.  Ultrarunners take it to the next level.  Training to run 100 miles while working nine-to-five requires a phenomenal level of commitment and determination.  It’s a select breed that can withstand the tremendous physical and emotional toll that performing on such level demands.  Without discipline to rise before dawn and pound out the miles, you’ll never make it.  If the fire in your heart isn’t strong, there’s no point trying.

Only a select few of runners will get to receive this trophy.

After witnessing first-hand the Bataan Death March 160 Ultra of my fellow 83nean runner, Bob Castilla, this weekend of January 28-29, 2012, I could not disagree more with Karno.  Only a select few of runners finished and survived an extraordinary ultra endurance event as the BDM 160.

Founded and organized by Ret. General Jovenal Narcise (aka the Bald Runner, the  big daddy of ultra running in the Philippines),  the 2012 Bataan Death March 160 ultramarathon (now on its second year of running),  commemorates the historic death march of Filipino, American and other Allied soldiers following their defeat in the hands of the Japanese imperial forces in April 1942.  Following their surrender, 75,000 Allied prisoner of wars  (many of them weakened by battle injuries and hunger) were ordered to “march” some 102 kilometers from Mariveles, Bataan to the raildroad station in San Fernando, Pampanga.  From there, the allied soldiers were packed like sardines in box carts and transported  by train 50 kilometers away to the Carpas, Tarlac railway station.  From this station, the POWs trekked another 6 kilometers to the Camp O’Donnell POW concentration camp.  It is estimated that only 54,000 survived the death  march, 72% survival rate.

The BDM 160 ultra retraces the original WW2 BDM and the runners  pass thru 3 provinces in the towns/cities of Mariveles,   Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga, Abucay, Hermosa, Dinalupihan, Lubao, Guagua, Bacolor, San Fernando, Angeles, Mabalacat, Bamban, and Capas.        

The  2012 BDM 160 ultra  started at 5am January 28, 2012 at the Km 00 Marker in Mariveles, Bataan.  The finish line is inside the Capas National Shrine . The BDM 160 runners are required to finish the 160-km route within 30 hours.  

Here’s an interesting fact about this year’s edition of the BDM 160.  In the first BDM 160 ultra which was last year of 2011, 34 runners finished out of 59 starters (58% survival rate).  For the 2012 edition, reports indicate that 54 runners finished out of 74 starters (Please visit http://baldrunner.com  for the results). This 73% survival rate is almost the same as the 72% of the original WW2 BDM.  Uncanny.  

Bob of Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 1983 crossing the finish line together with Bert of Fairview Running Club

Eating Jolibee at 8 Saturday evening

Bob with pacer Fards crossing the Mabalacat-Bamban Bridge at 1 Sunday morning

It was at past 6:40am of January 29, 2012 that Bob crossed the historic finish line.  He ran the entire 160 kms in roughly 25 hours and 40 minutes.  He was the 14th runner to cross the finish.  He now joins the select few  of runners who have successfully conquered the BDM 160 ultra.  There are presently less than 88 names in that list.   Not bad for somebody who just took up running less than 2 years ago.  Despite his running achievements, Bob remains low key and humble.

Getting the finisher’s medal from Bald Runner

Receiving the trophy and silver buckle from the Race Director

Congratulations and thank you very much, Bob! You have sacrificed a lot to achieve what you have desired --- an admirable and awe-inspiring achievement by one of the 1983 high school class of the Ateneo de Naga.  You have brought honor to our batch.

Now, it can be said that   there is an 83nean runner among the select few of runners who have finished the BDM 160 ultra, the most prestigious  of all ultrarunning events in the Philippines.   

The BDM 160 ultra adventure of Bob Castilla was  able to raise funds for the scholarship program of the Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 1983.  Several classmates pledged money for every kilometre that Bob finishes in the BDM 160.

Proud to represent Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 1983

Will he be  the only Batch 83 runners to accomplish this extraordinary feat of finishing the BDM 160?  I think Ruben “Fards” Fajardo and Ernie Badong will have something to say about it next year.

Congratulations to all the runners who have finished the BDM 160 Ultra. You are a select few.  May your tribe increase a few more.


  1. i SALUTE you, bob, for this phenomenal performance! your conquering the 2012 BDM 160 is a VICTORY not only for the 83neans but for all the bicolano/bicolana marathoners as well. you are an INSPIRATION to us all...KUDOS!

  2. Thank you Mau for the salute. I shall convey the message to Bob. Just as there were many Bicolano soldiers in the original Bataan Death March in WW2, so too should Bicolano runners be aiming to be part of the BDM 102 and BDM 160.