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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..

March 25, 2018

1ST MT. ASOG 360 50km ULTRAMARATHON: Q & A with the Race Director

The 1st Mt. Asog 360 50km Ultramarathon (MATSU) is the very first official ultra marathon to happen in Rinconada, the 5th congressional district of the province of Camarines Sur. It happened on Feb 18, 2018 and it was part of the featured activities of the Tinagba Festival in our hometown of Iriga,  the only city in Rinconada. The 1st MATSU was organized by a local running club aptly named RUNconada.

By most, if not all, accounts, the 1st MATSU is a big success.  

For one, it was well-attended with 106 runners registered for the 50km running event. Many more wanted to pay the Php 1,800 registration fee (early bird reg fee was at Php 1,500) to join but the organizers had to decline them already.  Many of the participants came from Bicol-based running groups like Caceres Runners Club (CRC), Team Subo, Team Tour, Team Reformers BJMP, Island Runners Club of Catanduanes (IRCC), Mt. Isarog Runners and row5runnin but there were also several runners coming from  Metro Manila and far-away provinces like Samar, Northern Samar, Quezon and Pampanga.  There was even a registered runner from Singapore but due to cancelled flights in the Legazpi airport,  she was not able to arrive in Iriga. 
Caceres Runners Club, row5runnin and Island Runners Club Catanduanes were the top 3 running groups in terms of registered runners at the end of the early registration period for MATSU.

The runners and organizers at the MATSU starting line. 
Second, the 50km route was a delightful surprise for many.  The runners admired the great view of Mt. Asog (known also as Mt. Iriga)   as well as the neighboring Mt. Isarog and even that of Mayon Volcano.  Plus, many  were caught off guard by the ruggedness of the trail portions of MATSU.  And in true badass ultra runner spirit, the MATSU participants enjoyed it even more when the going got tougher and rougher.  Comments posted by the runners immediately after the race in the RUNconada facebook page would bare this out.   
Smart Tri's Julius  giving a 2 thumbs up of the beautiful view of Mt. Asog.

row5runnin's Bob tackling the verdant trail portion of MATSU.
Third, MATSU was well organized by RUNconada despite the fact that this is the first time for this local running club to organize a full-fledged ultra marathon.  It was a splendid mix of visionary leadership by Runconada officers,  passionate volunteerism on the part of RUNconada members, and  generous support from the local LGUs and local business enterprises.
Race briefing by the Race Director a day before the race.
Race marshals present at critical junctures of the MATSU route.  

To talk more about the MATSU experience, the Bicolano Penguin got to interview the MATSU Race Director - Cyrus Nacario:
MATSU race director - Cyrus.

BP:  What is the reason for organizing the Mt. Asog 360 ultra?

Cyrus:  Running enthusiasts from Rinconada area of Cam Sur especially in Iriga City have always dreamed of having a marathon or ultramarathon event around Mt. Asog because of its challenging yet scenic route. RUNconada initiated to organize the 1st Mt. Asog 360 50K Ultramarathon to introduce long distance running in the city and encourage runners from all over the Philippines and other countries to participate and witness the scenic view in Iriga City and Buhi while running around the majestic Mt. Asog.  And para pahirapan na din sila sa uphill road, trail and stairs (162 steps) ng route!
MATSU route map.
Donzkie and Suzette of  Team Reformers-BJMP cruising thru the mountain road at Km 20. 

Delon and running dog Baron at the trail portion with  roughly a kilometer to go before the finish line.

Renson of Sariaya gamely going up the stairs of Inorogan Chapel. 
BP:  Is there a beneficiary of the Mt. Asog 360? 

Cyrus:  The proceeds of the event have been donated to Saint Jude Thaddeus Parish, San Nicolas, Iriga City to aid in the construction of the church. Kailangan pa nila ng tulong to raise funds for the church kaya they're still accepting donations from kind hearted people. 

RUNconada officers and members June Paul, Rogelio Fahd, James Bernard,  Orly, Cyrus and Monica turning over their donation to Saint Jude Thaddeus Parish Church thru its parish priest   Fr. Misael Quindo.    

BP:  What are the lessons learned from the experience of organizing an ultra?

Cyrus:  Organizing an ultramarathon is not a walk in the park.  Umulan, uminit at nag ash fall na pero nasa labas pa para mag asikaso ng permits at solicitations.  The passion for the sport and the vision to provide a great experience for the participants are what keep us motivated. Sabi nga "por da lab of running." Another take away from organizing an ultra is that it's vital to have a strong and supportive team to make the event possible. The team is actually composed of the LGUs of Iriga and Buhi, radio groups, rescue team, medical team, RUNconada tean, volunteer photographers, sponsors and the friendly residents from the 10 barangays of Buhi and 14 barangays of Iriga City. 
RUNconada officers visiting Buhi Mayor Margarita Aquinillo to thank her for the support. 
Safety first.  Iriga City LGU provided an ambulance for the MATSU. 
Philip Trinidad of Bigg's Diner with RUNconada officers.  Bigg's is one of many local business enterprises that  supported MATSU. 
Another local business that supported MATSU is the Blue Skyline Enterprise.    

One of the many volunteer photographers in action at MATSU.

BP:  How many members does RUNconada have?  How many RUNconada members participated in organizing Matsu?  Who are the officers of RUNconada?

Cyrus:  RUNconada has 40 active members and everyone did their part to make the event a success.  Special mention to the set of officers of RUNconada who devoted their time and effort in making sure that everything is in order before, during and after the event. The officers are Cyrus Nacario (President), June Paul de Leon (Vice President), Michael Aquiler (Secretary), Monica Balbuena (Treasurer), James Bernard Sayson (Auditor)  and Bryan Ballega (PIO). 
RUNconada members releasing the bib numbers to the registered runners.  

RUNconada volunteers clearing up the MATSU finish line area in the shadow of Mt. Asog. 

Preparing the supplies for the water stations.

RUNconada members Jonas and Yoye doing a good job as roving marshals. 

Sarah Jane and Monica of RUNconada making sure the MATSU runners have a special finish.   
BP:  Aside from the MATSU, are there other running events RUNconada is thinking of organizing in the future?

Cyrus:  We are planning to organize a 5K/10K event on June for the City Pintakasi and a 21K/42K event on September for the City Chartered Anniversary. 

BP:  Would there be a 2nd Mt. Asog 360?

Cyrus: We're overwhelmed with the positive feedbacks from the participants and we want to share those experiences to the rest of the runners who weren't able to join the 1st Matsu. So, watch out for the 2nd MATSU on Feb 2019. Siyempre pwede pang umulit and mga pioneers, baka na miss niyo ang stairs sa Inorogan Chapel.  See you guys on the next edition of MATSU!
A participant of the 1st MATSU showing how much he enjoyed the 162 steps of the stairs of Inorogan Chapel.
With a blissful finish at the 1st MATSU, the Bicolano Penguin will sure be returning for the 2nd MATSU.  I am sure, many will too.


So there you go.  Straight from the architect of the MATSU.  There will be a 2nd edition of this beautiful and badass ultra marathon.  No doubt in 2019, more runners will be coming to partake of this hard yet delightful long distance running event.  With the organizing acumen of RUNconada in full display at the 1st MATSU, it is a good bet that this ultramarathon will have more editions to come.

More importantly, RUNconada is targeting to come up with other  running events this June and September.  This should help make our Iriga City one of the hot spots for running in our beloved Bicol.

Thank you Cyrus, Jonas, Orly, Fahd, Apol, Bon, James, Bryan, Yoye and the rest of the RUNconada members for making our running lives in Rinconada more alive.

Photo credits:  RUNconada, Beny Baino, Bing Bagafords , Guia Flores and Ryan Nieva.     




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