“If you want to run, run a mile. If you want to experience a different life, run a marathon.” These are words attributed to the great Czech runner, Emil Zatopek, gold medalist in the 5,000 meters, 10,000 meters and marathon at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
I wonder if the “Immortal Czech” ever ran an ultra event. I have no way of knowing, even after I read his story in the book “Running with the Legends” by Michael Sandrock. But I guess if he ever did experience ultrarunning, he would have jovially declared “Run an ultramarthon and experience a different life and then some.”
|At the T2N start in the early foggy morning hours of Tagaytay|
These words are certainly what I have in mind as I lined up for the start of the 3rd Tagaytay-Nasugbu 50K Ultra Marathon Run on a foggy early morning last Sunday, May 20. My Ateneo de Naga HS Batch 1983 classmates Ernie Badong, Noel “Ghibz” Guevara and myself were positioned at the tail-end, ala sweeper, of the big group of excited runners awaiting the start of this PAU-organized event.
|Ernie, Ghibz and the Bicolano Penguin|
The Baldrunner-led Philippine Association of Ultrarunners has been at the forefront of fostering the growth of extreme long distance running in the country and certainly, the number of Pinoy ultrarunners has steadily been growing thru the years.
Take the case of the T2N. In 2010, when I first joined the T2N, which is my first ultra, there were 159 finishers. In 2011, T2N had 202 finishers. For the May 2012 edition, my second T2N, it was reported that 300 runners were joining. Easily, these make T2N one of the most attended ultra events in the Philippines.
Why is the T2N gaining popularity, particularly among newbie ultra runners? A number of factors are in play:
1. The distance of 50 Kilometers is a relatively easy stepping stone for those newly minted marathoners craving to upscale their running odyssey to the ultra level.
2. The mostly downhill route of the T2N makes this ultra less daunting for the newbies. Tagaytay has an average elevation of 610 meters above sea level versus Nasugbu’s 26 MASL.
3. Tagaytay is near Metro Manila where most of the ultra runners are from.
4. Tagaytay has a cooler climate than NCR with its humidity at 78% versus the latter’s 81%.
Given all these, my fellow 83nean runners and I were excited to run this ultra. Especially Ghibz as the T2N was his first-ever ultra event. Plus, his kids Arlan and 3Cia were on hand to cheer him on.
|Running in the fog|
|Low visibility running|
So, when the starting gun sounded at 4:34 am, our adrenaline kicked in and we were off.
The first 7 kilometers of the T2N was a combination of downhill and uphill, particularly the approach to the Taal Vista Hotel. But after this iconic hotel, it was mostly downhill, especially after the road marker (Km 20 onwards) entering the province of Batangas. Watching the world famous Taal Lake motivated us runners to strive for more.
But even with the downhill route, the T2N would take its toll among runners who did not prepare for it. And for newbie ultra runners, even if they trained for the T2N, they would still feel some strain as they try to finish the ultra event within the nine-hour cut off time. Good thing, there were many running clubs to help out.
|Running under the heat of the sun at the later stages of the T2N|
|Feeling the heat|
|Walking up to the right turn for the Nasugbu town proper|
In the T2N we saw a lot of running clubs, with their support vehicles, helping out their members fulfill their dreams to finish an ultra. I counted Fairview Running Club, Team Kamote, Team Boring, Ok Ok Runners, Team Uno, Ayala Triads, IBM Running Club, Grupong Pagong Runners, and Greenhills Running Club among the clubs active at the T2N.
I think this is what makes running the ultra in the country an enjoyable and priceless experience. The sense of bayanihan is made very much alive by the running clubs in PAU events like the T2N.
And this bayanihan spirit is what we also try to foster in our Ateneo de Naga HS Class of 1983. We 83nean runners will continue to inspire and support our fellow classmates to pursue our passion for running. It was thus a special joy when Ghibz crossed the T2N finish line in front of the municipal hall of Nasugbu at past 11 in the morning. Ghibz makes the number of ultra runners 7 among the Ateneo de Naga HS Class of 1983, the runningest batch of Ateneo.
|Ernie jubilant with his finish|
|Smiling to the finish|
|Another one conquered|
|Gimme five fellow ultrarunner!|
|Cold bottles of beer to celebrate the 7th 83nean ultrarunner|
|Ghibz with his kids|
|With Greenhills runner Anson|
|Tayabas-based Rodel showing youthful exuberance at the finish|
|Lyra finishing with the cutest of smiles|
|Proud of our finisher’s trophies|
For the record, 275 runners finished the 3rd T2N and hereunder are the finish time of the three 83neans:
Ernie Badong 6:17:47 (81st place)
Vicboy de Lima 7:32:05 (196th place)
Noel Guevara 7:32:24 (198th place)
In closing, allow me to say thanks to the following:
1.Sir Jovie Narcise aka The Bald Runner and his staff for braving the cold and heat to manage the T2N. Also for Bald Runner for acknowledging me as a “usual suspect” in the ultra event(s). And for his assistant for posting the results within a day at http://baldrunner.com/;
2. Ernie and Ghibz for joining me in this ultra event;
3. First Balfour for providing a support vehicle and a driver;
4. Orly Jacob for driving the support vehicle and providing
effective massage during the run;
5. Raul Acuna of A Runner’s Circle Manila for giving us cold
beer for the celebration at the finish;
6. Jeffrey Avellanosa for taking photos of all the T2N
participants and uploading immediately to his facebook
7. Fellow “Row 4” runners (as opposed to Row 1 who are
the podium finishers and Row 5 who are the last placers)
for keeping Ghibz and me company in the last 12 kms with
smiles, stories and cold drinks. In particular, we remember
the indefatigable Greenhills runner Anson Go Tian, GPR
ultra pioneer Armand Paolo Ben, cool blue runner Mark
Sidamon, the brave and focused Ayala runner Luzel Franco,
Tayabas-based ultra newbie Rodel Mendoza, and the
ever-improving and ever-pretty Lyra Rosario.
To quote the prolific Zatopek again, “Great is the victory, but the friendship of all is greater.”