There is an old saying that “Lightning never strikes the same place twice.” This saying was on my mind on the night of August 16 as I texted Race Director Rodell Mendoza informing him that the Bicolano Penguin would again be unable to run the QUMAR 70Km ultra. It happened in 2013 (due to an injury) and it is happening in 2014 (due to a sick family member). Bullshit that old saying. It is a myth. I felt bad doing a DNR (did not run) on an ultra marathon close to a history afficionado’s heart as it celebrates the greatness of one of our country’s beloved presidents.Good thing my fellow 83neans Bob Castilla and Ernie Badong, together with newfound running friend Mark Hernandez, decided to push thru, intent on representing Row5Runnin (when you put on the shirt, you become the shirt). In this adventure, they were ably supported by Naomi and Orly. Here is a brief yet sweet account by Mark.
I am honored to write on behalf of the Bicolano Penguin, so I will try not to dismay the readers.
First of all, some backgrounders. I met BP and his group during my first ultra-run directed by RunMania, Rizal to Laguna (R2L) in 2013. We weren’t able to introduce ourselves along the route but we managed to exchange pleasantries along whenever we caught each other. Introductions and photo ops were made after the race. Then, we became FB friends, started reading BP’s blogs and following each other thru our different postings.
|Bicolano Penguin with Naomi and me at the R2L ultra last year|
Fast-forward. It was not my intention to run Qumar70k because I wanted to finish the trilogy of Prince’s 2014 run calendar. Together with my girlfriend, Naomi, we managed to finish the 63K Luneta to Tagaytay in February 2014. I told myself that I would do a decent finish with UP to UP, scheduled the same with QUMAR. Weeks before race day, BP asked me to check out QUMAR by Rodell Mendoza. I decided to join because I would be able to join BP’s group and total cash flow would be less.
August 16, 9PM was the agreed time at Mercury drug in Sucat, Paranaque. We, with Naomi, arrived early as I just came from my class at Taft. When BP arrived, he gave me a running shirt with their team’s name on it. I said to myself that I had to do a better pace with them or else. hehehe.
Unfortunately, BP told us that he could not come because his son was confined that morning for fever due to possible dengue. But he generously informed us that Orly, his reliable driver, would provide support for us - Ernie, Bob and myself and asked one of us to write a report after.
We drove thru SLEX and stopped at Shell to grab something to eat and bought ice. When we reached Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, Tayabas, Quezon, it was past 12 midnight. We decided to get more sleep before changing clothes. It was 2AM when we approached the registration table for our race bibs. Race Director (RD) Rodell Mendoza provided the runners brief overview of the route, the objective of the race, which was to commemorate the birth anniversary of Manuel L. Quezon, and cut-off time to finish the race. Bob was already in his race mode prior to start while I and Ernie took the opportunity to pose for photos at the Start/Finish banner where Row5Runnin’s logo was available.
|Ernie and I, pointing at the row5runnin logo in the start banner|
|Race Director Rodell Mendoza, giving a briefing prior to start|
If my recollection was correct, we started after 15 minutes after 3AM. It was drizzling when we started running, and the first and last time I saw Bob and Ernie throughout the race was during the first kilometer and then they were gone. I told myself, "Where the hell did the 2 go?" Hahaha. As agreed with our support team, they would stop every 5km. I grabbed that opportunity. At Kilometer 10, I already started feeling pain in my right knee, so I took medicines and proceeded. It was pitched-dark and rolling hills started. I took that opportunity to gain time as I was sure that it would help me during the latter stage of the race. I consider myself competitive but I know when to control and I know the limitations of my body. The RD and his team provided us hydration aids every 10K. Food was also available and when I saw “lugaw” I sat down with it and ate bread with peanut butter. Yeah, it felt good! After here, I met Harry, a veteran of ultra-marathons.
When I do ultramarathons, especially outside Metro Manila, I am humbled not just by the people who have simple lifestyle but also with the beauty of nature. The people I encounter were generously warm and encouraging. I admire the serene surroundings of this route. I also grab the opportunity to commune with our Creator during this ultra-run.
Uphill and zigzag route started in between the towns of Sampaloc and Mauban. It was a grueling 8km run for me. I felt blisters on my toes and stiffness of my calves. Heat from the sun was starting also that added difficulty to all the runners. During breaks of this stretch, Naomi soaked me with cold water while Orly massaged my calves. Both provided great relief not just to me, Bob and Ernie, but to all runners who passed thru them. There were instances that aid stations were already empty so they provided food, water, and Gatorade to others. I believed some of them were lucky because I brought "chicharon". Sarap! Here I met Frederick, a UN Peacekeeper and another guy from Team EkEk. On my last 13 kilometers, I was told by Orly and Naomi that Bob and Ernie already made it to the finish line. That gave me extra pressure to push myself more.
|Running on the uphill portion in Sampaloc|
At Lucban, Quezon, some people cheered us to push more as we inched our way to the finish line. It was 12 noon already, sun was really up but I did not feel the scorching heat, and maybe my prayers provided me shelter from exhaustion. Last 3KM to the finish line, I thanked again Orly and Naomi for their support throughout the race.
At the early stages of the run, I psyched myself to have a decent finish. I said maybe I could finish between 8 and 9 hours. I am humbled for not preparing hard for this and just managed to finish after 10 hours and 15 minutes (unofficial) at #33 out of 84 registered participants. (For the official results, please visit https://rodellmen.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/qumar-70k-quezon-day-ultra-marathon-2014-official-results/)
|Bob placed 4th.|
|Ernie finished 12th.|
|I was in 33rd place.|
It was my pleasure to run with Bob and Ernie who finished 4th and 12th overall and somehow represented BP in this run. Kudos to RD Rodell Mendoza for a great route. Thank you also to the Bicolano Penguin for welcoming and adopting us as part of the Row5Runnin. Lastly, thanks to Orly and Naomi for the undying support. I am hoping I can run QUMAR70 next year with BP.
Thank you to AV Photography, Runaholic, ICloud Running Group, Vincent Valdepena, and Ernie Badong for the photos. Without the photographers, the ultra running gets a little less exciting.