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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..

September 15, 2016


"Thank you BP for encouraging and inspiring me to run an ultramarathon again, my comeback run after 2 years and coinciding with our 50th. . . We are now certified Golden Age Runners (GOLARS)."

This was the message I got from my good friend and high school classmate Fards after we finished the 50kms race of Cardimax-Clark Ultramarathon 2016 last September 3 - 4.  A true officer and a gentleman, Fards was both gracious and generous with his words as he thanked me for helping him conquer his first ultramarathon after a couple of years absence in the sports.  The truth of the matter though is that the two of us both needed each other to survive the grueling long distance. We are mere mortals after all and this was compounded by the lack of training mileage on our part.  Perhaps if we are a decade younger, we would have managed with less training but we are now bonafide Golden Boys, Fards having had his 50th  birthday  last Sep 2 and the BP, a week later, on 9-11.

Grueling or not, the Cardimax-Clark Ultramarathon proved to be a gratifying adventure  for us pair of GOLARS. We have been looking for a 50km long distance running event to celebrate our golden birthday and the Cardimax-Clark proved to be just what  the proverbial doctor ordered for us.  It had all the ingredients of an outstanding ultra marathon:  powerhouse race organizer(s); bountiful corporate support; mucho participation from running clubs; a festive start/finish atmosphere; and safe yet challenging race route.   Hyperbole, these words are not.

The brains and brawn behind the Cardimax-Clark ultra franchise are a pair of accomplished long distance runners - Tin Ferrera and  Jon Lacanlale.  They are veterans of  noteworthy ultra races in the country and even outside the country.  Together with their Race Yaya team, they are offering more and more races that are becoming bucket list events for the more determined runners in these parts. The success of Race Yaya is perhaps a testament to the  truism that running events are better organized  by people with running in their hearts.
Race Organizer Tin Ferrera at the pre-race briefing. 

The Race Director Atty Jon Lacanlale at the pre-race briefing in Royce Hotel. 

Fards and me with Atty Jon  after the pre-race briefing.
With Tess Leano at the pre-race briefing. She is the first local runner to finish the Badass Ultra.  
Speaking of bountiful, there is a long list corporate sponsors.  I counted 30 corporate sponsors.  They ranged from Simple Hydration Bottle and Eyecatcher that offer practical racing must-haves to Soleus and Brooks which are internationally well-known brands.  Included among the sponsors is Royce Hotel which offered special rates (roughly 30% discount)  for the participants which I took.  There was ample support from media like Spin.ph, Manila Bulletin and Philippine Daily Inquirer.  Honestly, I do not know much about the main sponsor Cardimax and its products but they are to be commended for sponsoring the ultra marathon two years running.
Corporate logos of the sponsors adorn the start/finish line.  Front and center is the timing device brand  Soleus.

Fards trying on the Eyecatcher products at the pre-race briefing area.  

The Cardimax booth at the pre-race briefing. 

As long, or perhaps even longer, as the list of sponsors is the list of running clubs joining in the Cardimax-Clark Ultra. This include major groups in Metro Manila like Ayala Triads, Pinoy Aspiring Runners, Team Soleus, Team Marupok and Monumentum Milers.   Provincial groups like Laguna de Bay Running Team, Team CDC, Sariaya runners, Team Sinarapan  and Joggers Unlimited were also in attendance.  Even our very small running tribe - row5runnin was part of the list.  Much of the attraction for the running clubs was the team relay format for both the 50km and 100km races. Nothing like the spirit of competition to perk up the creative and participative juices of the running tribes out there.
Some of the running clubs represented... 

...in the 2016 Cardimax-Clark Ultramarathon.
Team spirit at the start. Monumentum runners getting ready. 
Team Spirit at the finish. Ayala Triads showing their finisher medals.  
The preponderance of running clubs in the Cardimax-Clark contributed significantly to the festive atmosphere of the start/finish line.  A welcome scene are the many group photos that the running clubs and running buddies have at the starting area. In addition, it helped that the Cardimax Clark Ultra had an engaging emcee at the microphone. Iron Iris is not only effervescent but is a runner herself with some stock knowledge of the local running scene.  During the start, she did a masterful job having the runners pumped up to tackle the long distance.  In the finish, she did a good job juggling the task of announcing the approaching runners to doing the awarding of raffle prizes.
Start of the 100km race of Cardimax-Clark Ultramarathon

Iron Iris at the stage with podium finisher and corporate sponsor. 
Before the start, Fards having a group photo with Sariaya runners.  

With the race about to start, BP taking a groupie with Martin, Chek, Greeneyes and Fards.  
The jewel of this ultra marathon is the route itself.  It is both safe and challenging.  Safe because almost all of the race route is inside the Clark Freeport Zone which is managed by the Clark Development Corporation.  CDC is envisioning to transform the 40,000 hectare property into a world class industrial estate/service logistics hub. As such, the roads inside the free port have more than a modicum amount of security personnel.  In this day and age of riding in tandem hit squads, safety is an important consideration in picking a running event that involves gun start in the middle of the night.  We felt very safe running inside the Clark Freeport Zone.
Clark Freeport Zone
Route map and elevation profile.
It maybe in a safe zone but the 50-km route (the 100km race was 2 loops around the same route) offered some physical challenges to the runners, particularly to the weekend warrior types like me and my running buddy.  In particular, we are talking about two portions that offered some uphill endeavors for the runners.  The first one is after Km 35 where the Cardimax-Clark ultra participants crosses the long Sacobia River Bridge and goes thru a couple of uphill/downhill portions into Tarlac territory and back.  The second  challenging portion is what happens next after coming back from Bamban, Tarlac and crossing the bridge and turning right into Prince Balagtas Avenue inside the Clark Freeport Zone.  At this point, runners have already negotiated  more than 42 kms, the full marathon distance,  and are now looking eagerly to the finish line less than  8 kms away. But such euphoria will have to be postponed for a little bit longer as the runners have to tackle a slow ascent of roughly 4 to 5 kms.  "Survive" Prince Balagtas Avenue (post-SRB)  was more apt for me and Fards than the word "tackle" as our run in this stretch  evolved into a slow jog and then a waddling trudge to a shameless walk.  But even with our walkathon, both of us were overtaking other runners, several  of them sitting by the road side.    While laboring thru it, I could not help but think about the Race Director, the kind-hearted Atty Jon, having a fiendish-like smile as he contemplated the similarity of this portion to that of a notorious hill in the world's greatest marathon.  If Boston has Heartbreak Hill, Clark has Prince Balagtas.
Putting the Energizer headlamp and the Eyecatcher vest to good use in the night portion of the ultra. 

Exuberant still with more than 30 kms tackled in the 50km ultra. 
Confident with the "3-4-2 " strategy: 3 hours for the first 20 kms; 4 hours for the second 20 kms; and 2 hours for the last 10kms.  

Getting some much-needed food at Km 35. No energy gel for me in this ultra. 
 Jonalyn  of Running Buddies crossing the long Sacobia River Bridge.  Cardimax-Clark is her first 100km ultra. 

The slight yet long incline of the Prince Balagtas Avenue was arduous for the  runners, reducing many to a walk. 

Some resorted to holding hands to keep the faith as they tackled the steady ascent. 
At the end of the uphill of Prince Balagtas Ave. is the downhill which had many runners smiling. 

Fards all smiles with the V sign as we cruise the last couple of kilometers.
After an excruciating hour of Prince Balagtas (yup 4 +  kms in close to 60 mins), the uphill gives way to a downhill thru a tree-lined road. And when gravity is on our side, the walk evolves back to a trudge then to a jog and then a fluid run.  In no time, we could hear the sound systems noise from the finish line and we now see ourselves rounding up the Clark parade ground into the welcome asylum of the finish area. Waiting  were a plethora of photographers and this did a reinvigorating effect on many, if not all,  of the runners to catwalk their way to the line.
The finish line had an array of photographers to greet the successful runners. 

The photographers included from Run Lipa...

...and Pinoy Fitness. 

Rampa time at the finish line for a fabulous running diva. 

Signature jump shot for Greeneyes. 

All the way support from a running buddy. 

Happy to see a fellow FPH group employee,  Martin of EDC, finishing the ultra. 

Team Sinarapan runner with a posse of big bikes. 
Dreamer JN Tbr, now a regular in ultras with his trusty Hoka.  

All smiles for an Ayala Triads runner.  First ultra for Jhay-Ann.

Pair of Golden Age runners nearing the finish line. 

Enjoying the finish with my ever reliable Altra Olympus 2.0.  Cardimax-Clark is the 5th ultra under its belt (more like sole). 

Fards happy with his first ultra marathon in a long long time (2 years). 
At 50 years old and after 23 ultra marathons, the taste of the finisher medal never gets old for the penguin. 

The row5runners with the running Balaba couple.  
Crossing the finish line, Fards and me  accomplished our mission of bagging a 50@50.  50 kms on our 50th birthday.   And when I looked at our finish time, it showed 9 hours and 11 mins.

Our finish time is off by 11 minutes from our "3-4-2" strategy but  appropriately  symbolic as my birthdate is 9-11.

Life is good.  50 years and counting.  100@100 anyone?

Photo credits:  Thankful to  Run Lipa, Candy BalabaEyecatcherCardimax Phils.Pinoy Fitness (http://www.pinoyfitness.com/),  and Active Pinas (http://www.activepinas.com/) for many of the pictures used in this article. 



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