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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..

February 8, 2013

2013 BATAAN DEATH MARCH 160k ULTRA: A Brief Look at 6 Finishers

The Bataan Death March 160K Ultra takes roughly 30 hours to finish. In that long span of time, it is inevitable that a runner and his/her attendant support crew get to commune with other participants. An eye contact here, a slight smile there.  If one has the luxury of time, one can even strike a conversation. 

The support crews have an unwritten code that they will not deny a request for water or hydration fluids or food from any of the runners. All these bits of pieces of generosity and camaraderie help to form a bond that is quite special  in the local ultra running community. 

Shared misery and shared triumphs all help to form a comradeship among the BDM 160Km ultra runners that in its own small way remain true to the Bataan Death March spirit.

For the 2013 edition of the BDM 160Km Ultra, Ernie and our support crew got to share smiles and small talk with several of his co-participants. Small things that made the experience more bearable and meaningful than otherwise. I would like to feature them in this yet another blog entry   on the BDM 160Km.  Except for two, all the runners shown in this entry I did not know prior to the BDM 160Km.  I got to know their names either thru brief conversations I had with them during the ultra race or by checking their Bib number with the official results (as posted in Bald Runner’s blog http://baldrunner.com/2013/01/28/official-result-20133rd-bataan-death-march-160k-ultra-marathon-race/). 

Here are the  half dozen of 2013 Bataan Death March for Ernie and his crew:

Alain Llaguno: No support vehicle, he carried two hydration bottles.

Alain Cuchas Llaguno (Bib No. 21) is the runner from Albay who Ernie and I caught and overtook a kilometre away from Km 102.  He was slowly walking alone, without a pacer and a support crew.  He joined the 2013 BDM 160Km with a running buddy from the same province but this runner had to DNF prior to  Km 102 because of severe dehydration.  When we left him in downtown San Fernando, I did not expect him to be able to continue the ultra race, what with him limping already and no support vehicle to boot.  But 11 hours later, we saw this runner in red strongly working his way to the finish, overtaking us 4 kilometers from the Capas National Shrine.  He finished 32nd with a time of 29 hours & 19 mins.  Truly, this Bicolano runner showed the rugged  resoluteness characteristic of his province mates who endure calamities ranging from volcanic eruptions to tropical cyclones. 

Val Caro Jr. aka “Greeneyes"
Val Caro  (Bib No. 69) is another Bicolano runner, hailing from Daraga, Albay but working in the National Capital Region.  He is a regular and colorful fixture in the weekly fun runs and races in the metropolis. During the 2013 BDM, I first saw him at the Km 102 marker, a bit lost, looking for his support vehicle with Wag Wag running mates.  He ran strong in the later part of the race and finished 38th with a time of 29 hours & 25 mins. As always, he was a popular target for picture taking what with his flashy green afro wig and warm smiling persona.

Bobby and his pacer
Sweet pair
Birthday boy Bobby Go (Bib No. 48), to my mind, is the ultra runner with the most number of support vehicles (at least 4 in my count) and the best  organized support crew, complete with clipboards and portable chairs. He also has the good fortune of having his wife as one of his pacers.  I dare say that Bobby and his wife Gina (formerly an executive in a Lopez group company) were the sweetest runner-pacer duo in the whole BDM field.  This abundance of  care and love around him propelled Bobby   to a strong finish, landing him a time of 28 hours & 57 mins, good for  26th place.  To read about his personal account of the BDM 160K, you can visit   http://www.spin.ph/sports/active-lifestyle/sidelines-to-start-lines/the-bataan-death-march-160-km-ultra-marathon-a-personal-journey-v02

Irene Ong with 3kms more to go

Lady runner Irene Ong (Bib No. 161) too had  an abundance of support crew, many of them her running buddies.  Her support crew were  ingenuous in keeping her on the go in the late evening hours despite her apparent sleepiness, from wet towels draped on her head to vigorous cheering as she nears her several support vehicles. Great teamwork between ultra runner and crew. Irene finished with a time of   29 hours & 21 mins (36th overall).  She landed 2nd runner up in the female category.

Lando checking on Ernie in the home stretch

Army officer  Rolando Nerona (Bib No. 90) was a classmate of Fards at the Philippine Military Academy (Class of 1990 “Bigkis Lahi”).  He was a practice mate of Ernie and Fards in their preparation for the BDM 160.  But clearly, his speed was superior than that of our duo.  He is even faster than our 83nean top runner Bob.  Nonetheless, he remained a constant running buddy for us.  This solidarity was specially evident  in his gesture of waiting for Ernie to finish despite the fact that he finished the race 5 hours earlier.  This true gentleman and officer finished 5th overall with a fast time of 24 hours & 5 mins. 

BDM stragglers

He ain’t heavy coz he’s my brother
Nino Navarro (Bib No.  30) is a Team Uno runner with a brother as a pacer.  I first saw this runner and his pacer in route from Bamban to Capas.  In the early morning dawn, just about the time that the sun was about to break out, I behold the  inspiring silhouette of one human being supporting another human being.  This brought a tear to my face. To me, it was so close to a scene of the original death march.  The runner Nino was able to recover from his injury and fatigue and crossed the finish line strong with a time of 29 hours & 21 mins.  This put him in 33rd place overall but in my book, Nino and his pacer are top gun in terms of impact in the BDM 160 for me.

Congratulations to all 6 and all the other BDM 160Km Ultra survivors and their support crews. 

To close, I can’t resist but quote  lines again from a Bataan Death March – inspired poem.  This time, the poet is Jesse Knowles, a Bataan Death March survivor who was an American prisoner of war in Manchuria.

April 7th was a fatal day
When the word went around that we couldn’t stay
That the front line was due to fall
So the troops moved back one and all
The very next day the surrender came
Then we were men without a name
You may think here’s Where the story ends
But actually here’s where it begins
Tho’ we fought and didn’t see victory
The story of that march will go down in history
We marched along in columns of four
Living and seeing the horrors of war
And when a man fell along the way
A cold bayonet would make him pay
For those four months he fought on bataan
Then they’d kill him ’cause he couldn’t stand
The tropic sun would sweat us dry
For the pumps were few that we passed by
But on we marched to a place unknown
A place to rest and a place to call home
Home not that you might know
But home to man that suffered a blow
Then to O’Donnell Camp en masse
Some never back thru’ those gates to pass
In Nipa huts we lived like beast
Bad rice and camotes were called a feast

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