“Basta Kapwa, Hayahay.”
A day before the actual running, Team Kapwa Davao posted a good luck message in facebook to all participants saying the aforecited words of encouragement.
Hayahay is a Visayan word which means relaxed, restful, convenient, comfortable, easy, fresh, breezy, affluent, cozy, and careless in life. Sounds like fun. But as we traversed via a rented Toyota Innova the long straight highway connecting Davao City to Digos City on the Saturday afternoon of September 6, my running buddy Ernie could not help but blurt out the impacting words of “Ang haba nito. Kaya ba natin.” This coming from a BDM 160Km finisher, it sure felt like it for me and I was beginning to wonder --- are kilometers here in Mindanao longer than in Luzon?
|Route map – only 2 cities and 1 town but these LGUs are big and vast|
For one moment in time, the eternal optimist in the Bicolano Penguin could not counter the pessimistic punch saying --- where is the fun in this?
But such doubts quickly evaporated when we alighted in the city proper of Digos and went straight to the starting area in front of the City Hall where it was populated by red-garbed Team Kapwa members, all of them ready with a smile and an offer to be of help. There were Gary and Pam and Paul making sure we got to check in and got our pre-race food giveaways. Likewise, Race Director Jay was a big help in explaining to our support vehicle driver Roland the route. And in every turn and move we did at the start area, there seemed to be several cameras (all by volunteers) readily clicking on to capture the moment of the ultra runners. To be candid about it, I never felt so treated special in any fun run or ultra than what we got in the DC2DC. And I am sure fellow 83nean Ernie would have the same feeling, too.
|Need to use a clean comfort room, best bet in the provincial cities is go look for a massage spa.|
|Digos is a sports-mad city. Mad for hoops...|
|....and dama and chess.|
|The start area in front of Digos City Hall, an hour before the 8pm start.|
|Race Director Jay giving instructions to our support vehicle driver.|
|Coach Ed joining us in a group photo with the race director.|
|With Paul of Team Kapwa|
|Ernie loving the sights and sound in Digos|
This is why for me, this no ordinary fun run. It is something special. DC2DC is an ultra I wish more of my running buddies in Bicol and Manila would have joined.
Of course, the fact that this is a 60-km endurance race has something to do with redefining the fun in the run. And it is my intent to give an extensive account worthy of an ultra in length and in drama.
Hopefully not every kilometer of it but more on focusing on the kindred spirits I got to commune with on that long straight road from Digos City to Davao City.
First off is a veteran runner from Digos City by the name of Estelito Alvarado. I sidled up to him in the city hall porch when it started to rain prior to the gun start. Starting a conversation, I queried about his team to which he replied -- Digos City Joggers Club. It immediately occurred to me that this running club must be an old one as the word “joggers” was prominent in the psychedelic decade of the 70s. I asked about his age to which he answered -- 65. The devil in me could not help but jab a joke about perhaps he should have asked a senior citizen discount on the Php 1,200 (early bird) registration fee from the organizers. This got the crowd of onlookers around us in a laughing trip. He smiled, too, but I had the feeling that he would find a way to do an “old school my ass” moment ala John Malkovich of "Red" movie fame. It could come anytime during the race or much worse, at the finish line. This will be fun.
|Lito of Digos City Joggers Club|
The rain stopped and the runners came out into the open and we had a few more chances for some photo ops with newfound friends which we did when we glimpsed the pair of Doc Millan and wife Vangie. It would have been ideal for me to run with them during the ultra, but I remembered having exchanged communications with Hydz of Panabo Racing Club on my request if I could tag along with her during the race. I had seen her in action at the Independence Day Ultra last June and I felt her pace was just the ayahay I needed. But first, I must locate her and finding Hydz in a crowd was not easy as she seemed be always being grabbed to join a group picture here, a group picture there.
|With Doc Millan and wife Vangie|
|With Hydz of Panabo Runners Club and Team Titans Davao|
The race started at roughly 8pm and I still had not sidled up to Hydz as it was customary for 83nean runners to start an ultra at the sweeper position. Ernie and myself were the ones last out of the gate. But it was only for a brief moment that the two 83neans were together during the race. We agreed that Ernie would run his usual pace so that we could ensure that at least one 83nean would be finishing at the upper half of the race results while the penguin would take care of bottom half. 83NEANS is a well-balanced running group after all.
|A festive start|
Pretty soon, I could not see Ernie any more. No doubt, he was focused on delivering his end of the bargain. I now felt alone on that dark and drizzling night. Got to locate the Red Butterfly (Hydz’ nom de guerre) so that the penguin could have some company. By the time we hit the Km 7 mark, I finaly got to run side by side with Hydz. She is a study of efficiency of movement. Plus, she employs the Galloway as well. Problem is that while her running is not fast enough to overtake me, she has this power walking down pat to an art form so much so that she would be ahead of me by 25 meters in that 1-minute walk interval. Running with her was clearly not sustainable for me and it would just be a matter of time before I would be lagging behind.
And this came about as we reached the town proper of Sta. Cruz. There was a food station and I joined the other runners going after the banana and hard boiled egg being offered. The ever-present Race Director Jay was there looking after the participants. He even got a hold of me and asked, “Kaya mo pa?” I gallantly answered in the affirmative. By this time, Hydz was already off into the dark road. Good thing I spotted a pair of runners who I could follow as their pace seemed more to the liking of the penguin inside me. These 2 runners had identical blue shirts which signalled them to be part of the Butuan Runners Club. I then proceeded to follow them in their run. True to form, I was indeed comfortable with their pace and another advantage of running behind them is that they had blinking lights at their backs which made us less likely to get hit by vehicles from behind.
|RD Jay at the thick of the action at the Sta. Cruz food station|
|The BP (in yellow) getting close to the Butuan runners (in blue)|
A couple of kilometers out of Sta. Cruz’s poblacion, the ultra runners hit a bit of a snag as a portion of the road was flooded ankle deep from waters cascading down from the hills. We had to do a bit of detour on the left side of the road but even our best efforts still had our running shoes getting wet including our socks inside. It is not an easy feeling to be running in wet socks. Thoughts of getting blisters on my feet given the soggy socks had me impatient to reach my support vehicle which was leapfrogging every 4 kilometers. I had to quicken my pace which had me overtaking the Butuan pair who I later found out were named Ace and Abby. As soon as I reached the Innova where the driver Roland and Coach Ed Balcueva were waiting, I sat down inside and changed to a dry pair of socks. While inside the vehicle, I saw the pair of Butuan runners passed by. I also ditched my green Altra Instinct for the fresh pair of blue Altra Olympus.
|DC2DC ultra runner being resourceful against the rain|
Alighting from the Innova, I felt the ground differently as the Olympus had more cushioning. Also, each step with the Olympus had me feeling more confident that I would not be slipping on the wet road. I then proceeded to run after Ace and Abby. From afar, I could see their blinking lights roughly more than a couple of hundred meters by my estimates. How do I reel them beacons of light especially that judging by the rocking motion of the blinkers, they seem not to be slowing down? From behind me, the answer seemed to arrive in the form of a quartet of runners. Their identical shirts marked them as members of Panabo Runners Club. They looked young and their motion was spry with energy. That had me thanking the high heavens for my good fortune. I positioned myself in the rear of the 4th runner in the hope of taking advantage of their slipstream. From this vantage, I could see that the four were running smoothly as one unit with each member taking turns to be at the point. In no time, we had caught up with the Butuan runners and several more hundred meters we were at the Km 30 station.
The king of fruits was being served at Km 30. I could smell it and I could see the knowing smile on the connoisseurs among the participants. They eagerly partook of the delicacy noted for its heatiness and being an instant energiser. The penguin took a pass from the delight as I felt I needed no additional heat and energy given the adrenaline going on. So I left behind at Km 30 station the Panabo quartet. With their youth and excellent team work, no doubt in my mind that they would overtake me pretty soon.
Starting from Km 30 onwards, I got to run with an engineer from EEI. His name is Jhun Cruz and he has been recently assigned by the engineering and construction giant to a project in Davao. He is a steady runner. Not fast but what he lacks in flash he makes up for focus. Kind of reminded me of how steady and methodical engineering people are. The both of us were benefited by running behind Lito Mallari who, to my mind, is a model image of how to run an ultra in a relaxed stress-free manner. He has these short bounce-free strides with both arms fully engaged in a smooth swing. No surprise when I ran side by side with him, he was affably talkative. He seemed not to tire and he could have run all night and all day long. He told me that he was from the same place as my newfound relative Allan de Lima who could not join the DC2DC due to some prior commitments in their hometown.
|Lito M of Team Matutum|
Arriving at the Km 40 station, we helped ourselves to the boiled egg and Gatorade offered as I was getting pretty sleepy already. Running on the long road entering into Davao City, which is billed the largest city in all of Asia if not the World, is a pretty boring affair due to the length and monotony. One would think that after entering the city borders, a handful of kilometers and one would be at the city center already. But not for Davao City. One would have to travel more than 20 kms. By a motorized vehicle this is pretty taxing already. What more on foot. Also, the monotony I refer to is the sight of the same set of gasoline stations along the road: Phoenix, Petron, Shell, Caltex and then start all over again with Phoenix.
|Ernie with Team Kapwa members manning the water/food stations|
|Ernie helping himself with the goodies at the food station. Note the inviting bottle of beer|
|The Bicolano Penguin falling in love with the chair at Km 40|
It was in a gasoline station a kilometer away from the Km 50 station that my leg muscles found solace in the massaging hands of Marl Sales and another Team Titan Davao member who were manning a support vehicle. They offered a massage to my legs and I happily accepted it. I was thinking --- Man, runners here in Davao are really friendly and hospitable.
|With Marl Sales and friend.Thank you for the massage.|
The massage got me going and powered me to a steady run-walk at the uphill portion which was the Ulas-Bangkal-Diversion-Shrine Hills route. At the top of the Shrine Hills, Team Kapwa members offered us the promised buko juice and a little extra from the current craze – a loom band. This brought a smile on my face.
|The loom band given at the buko station at Shrine Hill. Photo courtesy of Tony Galon|
And that smile lingered in my face as I soon learned that from there onwards, it would now be mostly downhill. True to form, the Bicolano Penguin overtook more than a handful of runners, including the erstwhile galloping quartet from Panabo who I later learned to be named Frederick, Erick, Russell, and Bendel. Amusing for me that young runners tend to be stronger on the uphill than the downhill. On the latter, these 4 young runners where walking while the veteran in me rolled gleefully. One thing I could say though about this 4 Panabo runners they never left any one of their quartet member. Walang iwanan.
Speaking of walang iwanan, on the downhills I finally got to run after Estelito the 65-year old jogger from Digos. I greeted him “hello again” and I detected a hint of a smile on his face. The hint was good enough for me and I decided to run step by step with him the rest of the way up to the finish line which by now was roughly 2 kilometers away. I had to because I had no knowledge of the streets of the city center of Davao.
Before crossing the bridge straddling the Davao River, Lito and myself overtook Hydz who was doing her power walking bit. I was a bit surprised to caught up with her. There must be a reason given that she was running strong earlier in the night.
By this time, it was nearing already 6am and more people and vehicles were out in the streets. I continued to tail Lito and I was pondering the running etiquette of overtaking in this sort of situation. Should I overtake or not? It would turn out that the question was answered for me by my veteran colleague when he quietly quickened his pace and at the last 200 meters went on a full sprint worthy of Usain Bolt. All the Bicolano Penguin could do was speed waddle itself to a 71st finish behind the 70th of old- school-my-ass Estelito.
|Sharing the finish line with Estelito of Digos Joggers Club and Rory Italio of Team Titans Davao|
|Still had the strength to raise high the finish banner|
|Ernie had a strong finish at 13th place.|
Rambunctious finish to this most jovial of ultras Ernie (13th out of 131 runners) and myself had the pleasure of being a part of. It was made more special by the fact that in those long 60 kilometers (62 to be exact), we were able to meet and make new friends from the cool running community of Davao and its neighboring provinces. The more the merrier for us. We never felt alone.
|Ernie and the BP with fellow 83nean Coach ED|
83neans with Edgar Voca of Team Titans Davao
|Saying hello to the tastiest finisher meal ever|
|Having a post-race conversation with Engr Jhun of EEI and another finisher|
|Finishers getting free massage|
We have a lot to thank to Team Kapwa Davao who did a very good job in organizing its very first ultra marathon. This was a celebration of the 1st anniversary of the existence of the Davao running club borne out of hayahay. Team Kapwa conducted itself with a certain kind of cool.
|RD Jay being interviewed by ABS CBN Davao|
|The 83neans with the Race Director|
|The 83neans with Gary, one of the race organizers|
|BP with Pam, one of the race organizers|
|Ernie with Redda, Team Kapwa volunteer photographer|
|The BP with May and Garsu, Team Kapwa volunteers doing the distribution of finisher goodies|
And this chill demeanor emanated from the spirit of teamwork all members of Team Kapwa adhered to. To quote the Race Director: “As of now TK has 26 members . Aside from being the organizer kami na rin ang nag marshalls, kami din ang nag man ng every 10km water/aid station except lang dun sa KM16, KM20 at KM54 na ni-request namin doon sa isa sa mga teams na sumali which pumayag din sila in a spirit of camaraderie. Yung sa finish line time recording, distributing fin shirts and foods kami kami pa din yun sir except dun sa tiga hawak ng finishline tarp sash apat na girls kapamilya lang din ng isa sa member namin. Basta ginawa lang namin ang lahat na makakaya namin from start to finish. Yung ibang tulong natanngap namin they personally volunteered to help. So out of 26 plus yung mga tumulong cguro nasa mga 35-40 lang kami. Yung lahat na nakasuot ng red dc2dc tshirt.”
|Team Kapwa volunteers waiting for the last runners to cross the finish line|
|As promised by the Race Director, the last finishers were given full finisher honors, including the finisher medals, even beyond the 12-hour cut off|
|Led by Race Organizer Gary, Team Kapwa volunteers clean up the finisher area at People’s Park|
Nothing rookie-like or sophomoric about Team Kapwa’s handling of the DC2DC. The ultra was handled in a manner that was responsive of the needs of the participants. This was because Team Kapwa Davao members are ultra runners themselves. As the Race Director explained further: “Isa din nakatulong cguro is kaming members are all ultrarunners so alam namin ano yung need ng runner running in an ultramarathon. Base sa experience binigay at ginawa namin ang kaya namin na tugonan ang need ng runner..and of course to stand by our motto which usually ang ginagawa natin during an ultra race yung EatDrinkRUNrepeat.”
Teamwork + Genuine concern for the runners = Hayahay.
There you have it. The formula for success of Team Kapwa. DC2DC was truly a success in my mind. Nothing ordinary. The only regret is I should have exerted more effort in encouraging running buddies in Bicol and Manila to join. If there is a second DC2DC come next year, we target to come in bigger numbers.
A good thing is meant to be shared to as many as possible.
|The successful Team Kapwa Davao. Happy Ist Anniversary!|
Most of the photos used in this blog article were taken the facebook created by TK Davao using the photos by Geraldelid Photography. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pictures-Ultramarathon-60k-DC-to-DC/558651827597444).