Tuesday, January 29

Support Crew for BDM160, Recon for BDM102 (2013)

BDM160 starts 4am, BDM102 is at 10pm.  Here are the notes along the way until KM102. (As recorded by Rica.)

0400  KM00  to KM02  - Flat city road. Pretty narrow for the first kilometer.
          KM02  to KM06  - Uphill with zigzags and passing buses and trucks.
          KM06                  - Landing/parking area
          KM14                  - Turn to the right upon reaching the road fork.
                                         Area's mostly residential.
0630  KM18                  - Merge with the highway. Terrain's rolling
0730  KM23                  - Turn to the right upon reaching the road fork.
                                        Sun was up & heat's on at this time.
         KM24  to KM27  - Flat road. Poblacion/market area.
0810  KM29                  - Zigzag uphill road with no shoulder/pit stop
         KM30                   - Rolling road and merging with the highway
0850  KM32                 - Turn to the right upon reaching the road fork.
        KM34        - Poblacion/market area again. Due to the road/bridge construction, the runners and vehicles had to turn right towards TESDA. Afterwhich, for the runners, turn left on the first corner.  For the vehicles, turn left on the succeeding corner or the next then turn left on the dead-end and turn right of the main road.
1000  KM38               - Ricefields/Residential
         KM42               - Residential
1100  KM44               - Merge with the highway. Rice fields
1200  KM49               - Lunch at an eatery. Area's got scarce eateries. 
         KM50               - Spacious, unshaded landing/parking area
1251  KM53               - Merge with the highway. Rice fields
         KM55               - Rest stop
1400  KM57               - Rest stop
1424  KM60               - Rest stop
1459  KM62               - Rest stop
1517  KM65               - Rest stop
         KM67               - Merge with the highway.
1607  KM68               - Dinalupihan. Keep left after the statue at the Rotonda.
                                     Rest stop at the Petron station across
1645  KM72               - Rest stop
1754  KM77               - Rest stop. Reflective vest on
1810  KM78               - Double Happiness/bus stop area with choices
                                      of eateries/pay rest room (P5)
         KM80                - Dusty road/under construction
1904  KM83               - Turn to the right upon reaching the road fork.
                                      Less-populated. Turn to the left upon reaching the road
         KM84+              - Merge with the highway. Poblacion/market area
1932  KM85+              - Rest stop
         KM89                 - Rest stop
2049  KM92 or 93       - Rest stop
2116  KM95               - Rest stop
2145  KM99               - Rest stop
2148  KM100             - Rest stop
2202  KM102             - Check-in for KM102 to KM160
2300  KM102             - After a meal and nap, off from KM102 to KM160

Profile map:

1. At all times run at the furthest left of the road facing the traffic but also be careful with cars overtaking other vehicles from the back.  If needed,  go down  the paved road and run on the shoulder of the road with gravel and stones.

2. Runners will share the road with all kinds of vehicles (trailer trucks, buses, cars, tricycles, motorbikes, bikes). Be extra careful and attentive at all times. In the evening it's a must to wear a reflective vest and headlamp. There are instances that tricycles and motorcycles do not have lights on while on the road, be very careful with this one as well.

3. Run in single line and take extra precaution when overtaking other runners.

4. Some parts of the road are dusty, be ready with it.

5. Bataan Death March (BDM) road kilometer markers are all at the right side of the road, this will serve as the only signage and markers of the race.

6. Support vehicle is only allowed to stop at the right side of the road. Be very careful when crossing the road to go to the support vehicle.

7. As of 10th of February, the weather in Metro Manila has gone up tremendously. Gone is the cool breeze and one can feel the start of the summer heat. I can imagine how much more come race day. So while on the race, take advantage of the coolness of the evening, cover as much kilometer as possible with extra care,  hydrate more often, have a ready ice cubes on the cooler and lots of cold drinks. An ice cream come day time will be a good treat probably.

The start of BDM102 is at KM00 near Mariveles Municipality Hall. There is a Jollibee fast food chain before reaching this office which I guess will serve as a final pit stop for the runners before the start of the race. For BDM160 since the race start 4:00am Jollibee is not open to serve food to the public yet.

Coming from Manila KM00 is at the right side of the road before reaching Jollibee and Mariveles Municipality Hall. A starting line banner will be placed on a small paved area near this signage.After the gun start, support vehicle can wait the runner either at the next 2nd kilometer distance before going up to the zigzag road or support vehicle and crew can wait at 6km mark at the landing/parking area at the top. No vehicle can wait and stop at the zigzag road for that part of the road is just too narrow.

KM19 is another rolling highway. At BDM102, this is still going to be dark and hopefully less vehicle.

After the KM23 mark as one can see at the right side of the picture above and the road after the car that is park on the left side of this picture is a right turn. For BDM102, this part will still be dark, a runner can most definitely notice this part as many support vehicles will be waiting before the right turn. But still a runner should also be mindful of this turn,  as one runner missed this turn at BDM160 even on a broad day light and even with support vehicles parked. Right after the right turn is a slow minor ascend.

Another stretch of the highway, runners will be sharing with all this vehicles on the race.

Dinalupihan area, KM68 mark of the race, one of the busiest part of the race route (based on my observation) and most of the runners that joined this race in the past said the heat of the sun starts on this area. Before reaching this part is a wide busy street until the road reach a bridge then into this busy intersection. As seen in the picture above, runners will be coming from the street behind the traffic lights. Just stay on the left side of the road, then cross on the road towards the first center island as one can see on the picture below then cross to the second center island with the green signage and the Death March 68KM marker.

Three road intersections on the left side, two center islands. After the second center island is the third  road that turns left, cross this street and run towards the Petron gasoline station. Be very careful with all kinds of vehicle that is crossing on this part of the road.

Right after the busy confusing intersections with two center islands will be this Petron gasoline station. This part can be a pit stop and support vehicle can wait on the left side (I hope it will be allowed) of this road as crossing to the right side to replenish supply is too dangerous, all kinds of cars really run fast. Be it the runner from the left crosses to the right side or  the crew from the right side of the road crosses to the left side of the road (either side) one should be very careful crossing the street.

One may see this street sign NO OVERTAKING  but promise drivers do not follow this. I see it right before my own eyes how all kinds of vehicles overtake each other if there is an opportunity. So runners should be very careful not just to in coming vehicles but also vehicles coming from behind. So  always follow the 'run to the furthest left' rule of the race director.

Double Happiness Restaurant on the left marks the 78km of the route. This is a bus stop terminal area with eateries and toilets inside. Crew can get food here but part of the race rule,  runners cannot get inside. At the right side of the road is a Shell Gasoline station.

Towards the last 10 kilometer stretch of the race route Death March markers are more frequent as compare to the earlier stretch of the race. This is just a flat straight road with some intersections but runners should just follow the straight road.
As the cut off finish of 18 hours is 4:00pm, this part is expected to be hot and sunny, this is an open area with tall bushes and grass on the side without any shade at all. Be prepared with it.

Last 3 kilometers of the race, the route is towards  the Municipality Hall of San Fernando, Pampanga, then a turn to the left to the old train station which is the finish line.

From the highway, a runner running on the left side of the road can see the Municipality building on the right side of the road, a big one with tall steel bar fence. Upon reaching a small street on the left with an arch turn left, enter this small road, that is few meters towards the finish line. A runner should not miss this part for all the support vehicles are only allowed to park on the main highway before entering this small street.

And this is the finish line of BDM102. A finisher's banner will be placed on the road near the old train station.

Writing this makes me feel so excited for all the runners doing this race.  (Ako ang na-excite para sa yo Rica Mendoza.)  I hope I was able to give a clearer picture of the race route and how important safety is at all times. I wish  a safe run to everyone on the race. This goes not just to the  runners but also to the support crew and the marshals. Good luck every one and happy running.

Some of the pictures are taken from the photo album of Rica Mendoza and Roger Villareal. Thank you to Rica Mendoza for the notes too.

Wednesday, January 23

Vibram HK100 2013 - The Second Time Around

20th of  February last year, few minutes after  crossing the finish line on the same race, Vibram HK100 2012, I was with my Singaporean friend PS, we finished almost the same time missing almost an hour to grab the bronze trophy. I remember vividly what Alber asked us, "So are you two ladies coming back to do this race  next year and grab at least the bronze trophy?" Without second thought we both answered in unison, 'no way'.

But really funny how the mind easily forgets what the body went through,  few months after, when the registration for this year's race opened, I thought of joining again but surprisingly two days later, the registration closed, and I had to wait for further announcement. I cannot think how that happened, I tried writing the organizer and  settled to sign up as wait listed and finally got in. 

I know this is not going to be an easy race, thinking all the hills that I went through the year before, I know nothing will change to the terrain, all I can do is train for it. Indeed several months before the race, I trained like hell, did some intervals, tempo runs, several long runs and even went up north to experience the actual uphill terrain and did a simulation of stair climbing training on the evening. 

Hoping that I had enough training, I come to the race this year with an ambitious goal, aim for the silver trophy. It's free to dream big anyway so I thought I might as well make it really big.

With the number of runners almost double as against the participants last year, it was already a long queue to the drop bag area and at the starting line. I stayed at the middle part, in between the front and the back portion of the thousand of runners, upon gun start, I just did my usual steady pace. Despite the human traffic at the first uphill trail, I managed to enjoy it. Having in mind my target time for each check point, I was just doing pretty ok. I did not take much picture anymore, I was just too focused with my target time per station that I did not put so much attention on the great view ahead. I've seen it anyway last year. Volunteers and marshals at each check point still are very efficient despite the increase number of runners this time. 

On the first 4 check points I was doing well, always few minutes ahead of my target time. After hydrating and grabbing few food to bite I did not waste much time but rather proceed to the next station. It was on my way to Check Point 5 that I can feel something is just really wrong with my stomach. As I do not eat small bites of whatever food I have with me before reaching the checkpoint, I can feel I am already hungry. I tried eating some chocolates, but I feel like nauseous. I was hoping my condition will feel better if I will have something hot or something sweet at the next CP.

I was already 50 minute behind target time upon reaching CP5. But despite that  I was hoping I will be able to recover after having food, but I was hoping for a different kind of food, probably watermelon or porridge, not noodles and banana anymore, but of course that was not possible.  What made the situation worst  I had my full blown period again on this very day. But the show must go on. Two of my Filipino friends were still at the check point and they decided to wait for me. Ten minutes before 6pm we left with all my cold gears on my hydration pack and head lamp ready on  my head. The next  stretch to Gilwell Camp took me forever, it was already dark and I was already feeling nauseous more often than the previous hour. I tried to stop several times to eat bread and have some power gel but I vomit most of it few seconds after swallowing it. And I already begin to feel the pee stops even before reaching the station. I had no choice but to go off trail and do it. 

Feeling the worst physical condition ever, I had to tackle the several hills to Tate's Cairn, to Beacon Hill and up to Needle Hill with struggle. It's just too difficult to push myself on all the uphills for I really feel so weak, I thank God for all the downhill trails and stairs, without reservations I just run and jump two to three steps apart. It was almost midnight, at some point I feel sleepy and wanted to sleep on the side of the trail but that is not possible, I still go off trail several times to pee.

With my condition getting worst, even the thought of getting a bronze trophy was never in my mind anymore. I just want to get through this race whatever my time maybe. But pulling out was not an option either.  I reached Beacon Hill 1:00am, with how I perform on the past few hours I know it will take me another 3 hours to Shing Mun Dam and another 3 hours to Lead Mine Pass. Oh well, I'll just do my best and with the math that I am doing, I know I don't have enough time to finish on sub 24. Despite my auto pilot mode in some of the uphill road, yes I am walking with my eyes closed,  lot's of things going through my mind again, 'F007's mission will be an epic fail if I cannot get the bronze this year'.

The never ending descend of stairs towards Lead Mine Pass (CP9) surprisingly were to my advantage, I just run going down,  upon reaching the check point, it was already 10 minutes before 6:00am. I did not stop to get anything not even water, I will throw it up anyway. I was just hoping I will have enough energy to go through the last stretch of this race up to the finish line. It was still dark and cold. My goal in mind is to divide what ever time left as against the distance left to be run. First 30 minutes I should be out of the uphill boulder area, which I did. The next 30 minutes, I should already be towards the peak of  Tai Mo Shan, but it took me longer to reach that part than I thought I can. It was foggy, dark, windy and very cold.  I cannot see anything down below, not even the zigzag road that I run last year.

With only 20 minutes left on the 4 kilometer downhill stretch towards the finish line, I decided to give it a try, to sprint with all my might. I haven't run such short time on such a distance before,  but  I wanted to give my best shot,  for whatever the result be at least I can say I give my very best.  Thanks to one runner who sprinted behind me, it motivated me to run even faster. At some point I wanted to leave my trekking pole, I think I can run even faster without it. Passing through the several downhill, curves, the flat area that has cars  parked and another curve, I feel I do not have enough time I just continue running  until I saw the flaglets, the banner and the finish arch. I can hear my fellow Filipino runners cheering for me, I can hear the sound system now clearly.  I crossed the finish line in 23 hours 59 minute. I was so tired, exhausted, wasted but I am still standing and alive. I thank God for all the strength, indeed it was worth the chase and worth the try. I was able to grab the bronze trophy this time. I shed off 45 minutes of my finish time this year than the race last year but I was far more better and stronger physically last year than this year. I guess I am more stronger and determined mentally this year.

There it goes my very first race for the year 2013, my 5th 100km trail run, my 20th ultra marathon.

What a humbling race for me, an experience I have so much to learn from. With such scary situation, I know if I have to go on doing ultra I have to learn to manage my nutrition and hydration during the race. I may have trained hard for it but running with proper intake of food is so much part of the race as well.

Adding to the trophy is the great joy of running on the same trail with the people I love, with the friends I cherish and the new found friends during the race. All the pain and the challenges are all worth the experience. 'Til the next trail on the next adventure.   

Official time 23:56:50. Ranked 89th on the Women's category, 691 is my overall rank of 854 finishers with 1,079 starters. Vibram HK100 2013 Race Result

Special thanks to the many people who made this race possible, to Jessie Luo Sulagui for the accommodation and to the unending support of the following products: Elete Electrolytes Asia SLS3 Asia

Tuesday, January 1

Here's to 2013

Go now, and live. Experience. Dream. Risk. Close your eyes and jump. Enjoy the free fall. Choose exhilaration over comfort. Choose magic over predictability. Choose potential over safety. Wake up to the magic of everyday life. Make friends with your intuition. Trust your gut. Discover the beauty of uncertainty. Know yourself fully before you make promises to another. Know when to hold on and when to let go. Seek knowledge. Open yourself to possibility. Keep your heart open, your head high and your spirit free. Embrace your darkness along with your light. Be wrong every once in a while, and don't be afraid to admit it. Awaken to the brilliance in ordinary moments. Be Bold. Be Fierce. Be Grateful. Be Wild, Crazy and Gloriously Free. Be YOU. Go now, and live!

- Jeanette Le Blanc

 May our year 2013 be a 12 months of happiness, 52 weeks of fun, 365 days of success, 8760 hours of good health, 52600 minutes of good luck and 3153600 seconds of joy. Happy New Year!

- repost by my Fb friend  Brigid Wefelnberg