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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..

October 19, 2015

L2M 50KM ULTRA: Intrepidity on a Stormy Day

A description of an ultra runner goes like this -  one of those intrepid souls who positively savour the thought of running beyond and farther than  the marathon distance.  

Key words for me are "intrepid" and "soul." The Webster dictionary provides a full definition of intrepid - characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude and endurance. And as for soul, this has to do with a deeply felt emotion. It makes sense.  A runner cannot possibly endure thru countless number of kilometers without a deep passion for it. 

This description of the ultra runner was very evident in the running of the L2M 50 km ultra marathon this October 17 , 2015 along the coastal road that connects the city of Legazpi to the municipality of Manito in the province of Albay.  Despite   Category 4 typhoon Lando bearing down on Luzon Island and a Typhoon Warning Signal No. 1 in the Bicol region,  48 intrepid runners lined up at the starting area on the foot of the Battle of Legazpi Rotonda in  downtown Legazpi City in the early morning hour. Some may call them  crazy or in the Bicol language "nabubuang" but these runners were just running true to form to being an ultra runner. Weather is not an excuse.  They were all determined to cross the finish line some 50+ kms away in Barangay Hologan in  Manito regardless of the stormy weather. 
Route map of L2M
L2M participants at the pre-race briefing organized by Team SUBO. 
L2M participants at the starting line.
Isarog runners and row5runners at the Battle of Legazpi rotunda. 
 Start of the L2M...
...with many runners wearing rain protective gear. Improvised or otherwise. 
 Darkness and ...
...rain are not a hindrance to the L2M participants.  
Among these 48 participants were 7 row5runners and  I got to interview some of them. Here are there impressions on L2M:

Brian Oronan Banaria:  "From start to kms 40 lakas po ng ulan pati hangin.  Pero nag enjoy kami sa route. Daming uphills."  

Doc Gilbert Balid: "Mahirap sir yung run, mas mahirap sa Mayon 360 yung rota..Puro uphill.  Mabuti na lang umuulan, kong mainit yun, naku baka madami hindi tatagal."

Garry Castillo: "Matindi ang L2M.  Grabe ang ahon/tukad. hanep ang route.  Walang sinabi yung sa 80Km sa Mayon 360.  Ang kagandahan lang maulan mula simula hanggang matapos.  Salamat na lang at may bottleg tayo sir ng Lake Bato Ultra.  Lampas ng 50k ang route.  Sabi sa akin ni Marino Lagyap sa tingin niya 55kms daw yun.  Maraming hanga doon sa mga runners.  Paa at tuhod ang nagsasalita hindi bibig.",  

Jonas Nacario:  "Grabeng ulan. Tsaka pamatay yung rota. Walang katapusang uphill.  Lahat po kami sa row5runners nakapasok sa top 20.  Yung aid station po nasa 10Km, 20km, tapos every 5km na yung aid station.  Oo uulitin ko po pagsali sa L2M.  Nag enjoy ako sa route nila." 
 Jonas and Brian maintaining  their stride despite the wet conditions. 
 Doc Gilbert going uphill with  Poliqui Bay as background.
Garry going downhill in the winding road.
Joji with the finisher medal, finisher trophy and finisher broom.
 All 7 row5runners finished the L2M Ultra:  Brian (8th), Jonas (7th), Toni (2nd), Garry (18th), Marino (1st), Doc Gilbert (14th), and Joji (15th).

In addition to my fellow  row5runners, I also got to exchange notes with the other participants and here is what they have to say:

Paul Vincent Sta. Cruz (Pvbsc Runner):  "It was an unforgettable experience to run an ultramarathon while there's a typhoon coming.  It was an unexpected route.  At first it's hard.  Uphill is my weakness."

Cha RunnerMom Viola: "It was really difficult. The uphill on the first few kms.  Grabe tapos madilim pa (buti may caplight at blinker kami) at bumabagyo pa talaga.  Grabe yung rota. Kahit mga kasama ko na mga dati na nag uultra, sabi nila mas mahirap yung L2M kesa sa Luneta 2 Tagaytay ultra. Grabeng uphill, downhill and winding road pa.  Yes, it was well organized, as in wala kang masabi. Mababait ang mga tao dun.  At ramdam mo na happy sila na may event dun na ganun. Every few kms may aid station.  S
a bawat dadaanan mo kahit yung Team Subo ok lang talaga sila aasikasuhin ka,  Every barangay may tanod na nakabantay.  They have enough food and drinks sa station. Kahit ano-ano na lang, and they would offer spray for legs. They have roving marshalls, yung isa naka motor na may dalang mga sandwich."  

Crispin Banares:   "For the first time in my ultra marathons, noong Sabado (Oct 17) lang ako hindi nasikatan ng araw.  I run against the wind of Typhoon Lando.  Have to walk most of the time. Tinutulak ako pabalik."   
 Pvbsc Runner persevered to finish the L2M ultra.  With his running shoes wet, he semper fied and made do with his slippers.  Tsinelas power indeed. 
 Cha RunnerMom Viola of Team Caceres having a photo as she enters the town of Manito. 
 Tatay Crispin resting in the Km 45 station manned by hard working members of Team SUBO.
The intrepidity of Tatay Crispin cannot be questioned. By his count, the L2M is his 5th ultra marathon.  

As can be seen from their comments, the L2M participants exhibited true ultra running bravado by not complaining about the rain and even looked at it as a blessing.  True ultra runners are resourceful and capable which is what we can say also for the race organizer.

L2M is organized by the Albay-based running club called Team SUBO.  The L2M ultra marathon is seen as part of the Nito-Talahib Festival  which showcases the tourism and entrepreneurial potential of the town of Manito. Top spots to visit in this municipality are Parong Hot Spring, Camanitohan River, Nag-Aso Boiling Lake, Inangmaharang Mud Pool, Malobago White Beach, Manumbalay White Beach, Mulakbugak Waterfalls, Buhatan White Beach, Bagong Sirang Falls, Balasbas Falls, Nagotogot Falls, Danao Lake, Muladbucad Beach, Kinarabasahan Falls, Mangrove Plantation and EDC Eco-tourism parks. 
Manito Mayor Caesar Daep and Team SUBO president Jayuen Balleras leading the awarding to the runners. 
 L2M runners entering the town of Manito with its top local product (the samod or walis) in full display. 
Caceres Runners Club members at the Nag-Aso Boiling Lake. 

Camanitohan River with the majestic Mayon Volcano in the background

To close, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Team SUBO for organizing the L2M and for the municipality of Manito for hosting this ultra marathon.  As expressed in an earlier article , ultra marathons and full marathons are rare in Bicol.  They happen almost like once in a blue moon. Perhaps the reason for this rarity is that organizing long distance running events is complicated plus the fact that there are not so many Bicol-based ultra marathoners.  It is hoped that the L2M and the Bombon Marathon get to be added to the list of annual long distance running events in Bicol, just like the  Mayon 360.   With more long distance races in the region, the number of marathoners and ultra marathoners in Bicol have no way to go but up.

As for runners wanting to level up to ultra running, leave your trepidations behind when you go out the door. The ultra marathon is for intrepid souls. 

P.S.  Photos are taken from the facebook pages of  Gilbert BalidPvbsc RunnerCha RunnerMom ViolaAbner Corpus, and Team SUBO.   




  1. Congratulations to all the Finishers & Organizer!

  2. Thank you Bob. Sayang dai kita naka-iba padi. Sa sunod na taon, mag-dalagan kita diyan sa Legazpi to Manito.