Monday, February 4, 2013

Subic International Marathon 2013: A full marathon course that separates men from the boys

Many would say that a full marathon is a full marathon however and where ever you want to run it. Well, for me, with several full marathons on my back, what makes a full marathon different from others is the quality of the course. Not all marathon courses are created equal.

A runner who prepares for a full marathon prepares himself, both body and mind in all kinds of obstacle that may come in the way, may it be man-made or natural. A runner is set to the challenge and is prepared to face even the unexpected.

When I first ran in Subic International Marathon last year, my preparation period is 6 months. All of my running gigs, May it be on fun-run races or LSD, is geared towards SIM full marathon. As I trained my body for a long distance race, I made some beta-gathering about the course. I know that a big fraction of it is rolling hills inside the Subic Jungle; visibility would be poor on some areas in the half of the course and there is a 600 meter rough road on 10k mark. Even with all this information already stored in my head, in the actual run, it was a whole different picture.

Last week, I had the opportunity again to run a full marathon in the Subic International Marathon 2013 for the second time. Some minor changes were made from last year’s SIM where the start / finish line were at Remy Filed. This time it was at the new Harbor Point Ayala Mall, a few hundred meters from Remy. As usual, my arrival was a bit too early so I decided to get a massage in the nearest spa available where I can get a few hours of shot-eye afterwards.

When I got the assembly area, I was welcomed by one of Extribe’s staff, Ms, Reena Lebanan, just in time to hand me my race kit. After a while, as many runners proceeded at the starting line, I was able to meet some runner friends from manila all set to take on the 42k distance that stretches from Harbor Point to Ocean Park and back. Last year, even with all the trainings and preparation I set in the run, what I felt was more scared than excited. The 422 marathoners who ran by my side that time were the only elements that somehow boosted my confidence. But this year, I started the run with much less anxiety. The gun started was a bit late, 4:30am compared to last year which was 3:00am so I’m expecting a hot and sweaty finish this time.

The runners started at Manila Street then Dewey Street, passing by Remy field after that it was all the same from then on. In the first 10k I ran along with some of the runners I was acquainted with form last year’s SIM, it’s kind of a reunion for us seeing each other on the same run. A few minutes later, I caught up with a fellow barefoot runner Emman Revero running his first SIM.

When we got near to the Airport, I knew that the 600 meter rough road was not far, so when we got there, I noticed that the road condition didn’t improved at all. It was still rough and I think it got even worst. So before proceeding, I went to the side and put on my trusty “forefooter”from Mojo Sandals transition footwear just pass that 600 meter “barefoot destroyer” road. Shortly after, I proceeded barefoot again. The road was a steep ascend so for a runner who didn’t trained for it, will be challenged by a hard climb up-hill. After a few more climbs, finally, there came the u-turn slot going back.

Now normally, a downhill would be a relief for many runners, but 15 kilometers of it would be too much and a toe-nail killer for many because of the constant pressure the toes receive against the front walls of the shoes. It’s a good thing I’m not wearing any that day so I just sprinted away down the hill.

When we arrived at the Subic Auction area at 7:00am the sun slowly started drain the life out of the runners. Hydration stations became bathing station because runners practically drench themselves with water available just to cool down. The down side of drenching in too much water is the shoes being soaked by it, adding weight and added burden to the runner. That is why many runners take off their shoes near the end of the race. At the last 1 kilometer mark, the finish line was in sight. I took a deep breath and finish the last few meters of the run with a time of 4 hours and 58min. 


The SIM 2013 was a new full marathon record for me despite the road condition, the difficulty of the rout, rolling –hills, road visibility and heat exposure. All these elements were present last year and there were hardly any changes from this year. So when training for a long distance run, all these should be taken into consideration and factored into the training, because the road is an immovable object and the race course will not get easier and it will only get tougher. A marathon runner can only level up depending on his/her performance on the integrity and difficulty of the course he was exposed to, because not all marathons are set in a flat highway.

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