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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 16, 2012

2012 BDM 50-K TEST RUN : A Band of Brothers’ Experience

One of the things I like about joining PAU ultra events is the pep talk that the Bald Runner gives to the participants.  Being the good general that he is, Sir Jovenal Narcise gives out instructions with clear precision and then exhorts the runners to enjoy the experience and to be helpful of each other during the run.  He points out that the special kind of camaraderie among ultra runners differentiates ultra running from the shorter distances.  It is as if the Bald Runner would like to instill a special kind of esprit de corps among those who join his PAU events.  A Band of Brothers in running if you may. 

With The Bald Runner at Km 0

It was no different at the 2012 BDM 50-K Test Run from Mariveles, Bataan to Abucay, Bataan last January 14-15.  At the 10:15 p.m. start at the Km 0 marker in Mariveles, he was again at it, extolling the benefits of helping one another in accomplishing the task at hand :  finish the 50-kms within 9 hours.

Kneeling before the Km 0 Marker
Ready to start the BDM experience
With the Balaba Family at the start.  Candy Balaba finished first among the lady runners.

I am happy to share that in running the 2012 BDM 50-K Test Run, the 83neans (members of Ateneo de Naga High School Class of 1983)   got to run like a Band of Brothers. The 4 runners (Bob Castilla, Ernie Badong  , Ruben “Fards” Fajardo and me) helped each other finish the gruelling 50-km route. And all 4 of us were blessed to have the able assistance of fellow  83nean Ed Balcueva who manned the support vehicle, together with driver Larry Escuro, himself a fellow native of Rinconada.

Bob, being the ultra running veteran among the 83neans, took under his wings the ultra neophyte Ernie from the very start of the 50-km test run.  He constantly pushed Ernie and the result was very much positive.  Ernie finished with a time of 6 hours and 28 mins, trailing Bob by 4 minutes at the finish line in the municipality of Abucay.     Based on the list of the 2012 BDM 50K “Test Run” posted at the Bald Runner blog (http://baldrunner.com/), Bob and Ernie ranked 8th and 9th among the 51 finishers.

Bob placed 8th
Ernie’s first ultra distance
In the slower pairing, Fards, being the true officer and gentleman of the Philippine Navy that he is, did not leave me even when it was quite obvious that I was like a tortoise to his rabbit.  Perhaps it was the ridiculous and perilous uphill start (from Km 3 to Km 7) in this 50-K test run that made my running  out of sync.  At the Km 21 marker, our running time was at 4 hours 05 mins and I was in danger of not finishing the 50 kms within the cut off time. My left foot was hurting bad.  At that point , I was in a discouraged state of mind.  But Fards did not give up on me.  He told me that we could  do it. So  meter by meter, kilometre by kilometre, Fards guided me to run at a steady pace despite the discouraging uphills, annoying dogs and occasional “ladies of the night” by the roadside (At one point, there were 2 ladies who jogged with us for half a kilometre)  .  And by the time we hit the Km 35 mark, the 2 of us had  been able to catch up on our target pace and there was now the big possibility that we would finish within 8 hours.  This realization buoyed my spirits and in the next 15 kms, we made steady progress   and we were able to catch up with several runners.

At the Km 35 marker

Clapping as we near the finish

Band of Brothers at Km 50

By the time we entered the town center of Abucay, I was already in a celebratory mood. Seeing Ed (with the camera at hand) by the Km 50 mark    was a  joyous moment for me, and I could not help but clap for Fards and myself.  And when Fards and I crossed the finish line of the “test run” to the sound of cowbells being worked on by Bald Runner, I thought to myself:  “Yes, we did it! And with God’s grace and with the help of my band of brothers, I will do this for the full 102 kms.”  

For the record, the  finish time of Fards and myself is 7 hours and 56 mins.  

Interesting but Fards was nursing a fever when we ran the 50K.  He is made of tougher stuff than many of us.  He is truly a soldier’s soldier.

Fever or no Fever, victory is ours!

Ed, a vital cog in our BDM experience

Meeting a new friend : Jojo and I enjoying the post run Jollibee

Iba ang may maboBOTENG pinagsamahan!


  1. the kind of brotherhood that you share is truly inspiring...may your tribe increase!

  2. Thank you YRN for your kind and generous words. We continue to be inspired.

  3. what an unforettable experience! thank you bob sa hatak and guidance.thank you din sa mga kasama ko vic fards ed kuya larry. see you on our next run.kampai!!!

  4. Hi Ernie, Congratulations on your strong ultra experience debut. May your experience inspire many more of your hs barkada to take up the cool art of running.