Originally posted at jon-ultra.blogspot.com 11/12/2011
Confession and musing of a newbie RD
The decision to hold the CM50 race was not easy. For one, I have not organized a race on my own although we as a team (Team Clark) have directed some of the local races here in Clark. Fat Ass cannot be technically called a race but one will feel like it is :). In other words, there was just a modicum of experience. Secondly, the route is quite challenging based on my own personal experience while training in Miyamit for GNW100 and UTMB as well as the number of finishers of CM50. So the question here is whether there would be enough runners interested? Thirdly, the issue on safety of runners especially while crossing the unpredictable Pasig-Potrero (PP) River and while en route to the peak (no aid station) where the route was deformed by time and elements. Fourthly, the difficulty of setting up the aid stations and all other host of reasons.
Please note that outside the local people mainly the Aetas, nobody knew the course or has ever connected Clark to Miyamit. Legend says this is an "old" route which I'll not get into details right now. So you can imagine my satisfaction to have discovered this trail of yore. We are equally delighted to have shared these to our runners.
It was a huge relief to have Jerry Guiao as Asst RD. Being from Porac himself, he took care of the Miyamit area while I was in charge overall. During the race, he waited for all the 50-milers at the peak (u-turn) just to give each of them the ribbon before heading way back. I can still remember him saying before the race: "It is hard organizing this race but I love doing it". I agree 100%!
No, it was not easy to organize a trail race in this kind of setting. From the aid station, medals, food on every table at each aid station (4 all in all), shirt design to course marking were all thoroughly considered. Knowing myself, I spent countless hours day in and day out thinking over and over again of all the possible scenarios.
However one thing is for sure. I have incorporated what I have learned from joining races here and abroad (GNW100, UTMB, OXFAM, SC Marathon, etc.) to CM50. It would be a shame not to. One change that I effected was the improvement on food at aid stations. It is sad to note that some of the local ultra races here have yet to capitalize on this. One common denominator of all successful races is sufficiency and QUALITY of food offered to runners. It only makes sense in ultra races. Food is there to fuel the runners to go the distance. At 100-mile trail races (UTMB and GNW100) and 100k (Oxfam), we the runners were all treated like kings. Food was buffet-style and it was great. Psychologically, it helped a lot in terms of easing the physical discomfort or even pain. Food is comfort after all. So for CM50, I made sure I would up the ante on this aspect.
Honestly, I cannot quantify the amount of labor and hours we spent out on the trail. We checked out the course in the morning and even at night and dawn! In a way, I had inadvertently introduced or added runs to my schedule. Labor was a nightmare and ate a big chunk of our time and budget. Food (both prior, during and after the race) is next then the medals and shirts. Definitely, labor is on top of the pyramid. We hired no less than 12 crew to clean, mark the course and man the aid stations. Suffice it to say, they had to be paid and fed as well. What greatly reduced the costs was the support from my company CDC on non-monetary items. Otherwise, I had to shell out additional amount from my savings which I did in fact. Perhaps, I have done it wrong and should learn from my experience. The solution is more volunteers (read: "not paid" or hired) to help out prior, during and even after the race. This is another aspect in the growth of ultrarunning in the Philippines that is lagging behind unlike our counterparts in other countries. Perhaps, I will place incentives on runners who want to qualify for CM50 or CM100 by rendering hours of service during the race.
Overall, my goal was to give runners a challenging race with enough support they needed at aid stations. A race which is totally different from what they have joined before. CM50 stands out from other races not because I directed it but because it has some of the most varied terrains one can possibly imagine! From water crossing, lahar, hills, cool weather, falls (how often can you see one in a race?!), river, steep uphills and quad numbing descents, etc. and the pleasure of knowing that one has finally rediscovered and shared the "old" route with the locals. For the 50 milers, it was to offer them a glimpse of what it takes to conquer a tough 100-mile trail race. I can remember Simon and I discussing the distance and topography of UTMB which is like times four (4) of the area and elevation of Miyamit (4x42K excluding the area from Crow Creek to Clark) . Maybe more. UTMB has like 9,700m plus of elevation gain while Miyamit has only close to 2,000m. So I leave that to your imagination.
Elevation profile of UTMB. Miyamit is puny in comparison.
CM50 was not without its own share of birth pains. For one, the hardest was to estimate the amount of food and fluid runners would need. After all, it was ultra race where runners would be out there for hours. I could not in my conscience accept that water would run out. Mortal sin in my book. So there were a couple of times I had to dispatch the crew to augment the amount of fluid in some of the stations which was like 25-35 kilometers away from the base station through some of the most rough roads. Another worry was the common report that runners kept getting lost despite our earnest effort to mark the course painstakingly hours before the race. Next year, we will improve on course markings and remind the runners this is not a road race :). The adage is remember the topography and not the markings :)
Another unique experience directing a race like this is the incessant worry over the safety of runners. From the moment the race started, it felt like I was a father waiting anxiously for all his children to come home from the wilderness. I must have aged a bit while at it :) Could you imagine how difficult it was to wait for the last runner to come back 3 hours after the cut-off time? I imagined all sort of stuff like he must have fell off a ravine or cliff and became unconscious or worse. His phone was ringing but he was not answering. He finally came in around 9PM. So all of you now understand the value or importance of a fully-charged, working mobile phone during a race like this.
Runners who joined finally saw the Donggwang hills while they still could. It is now undergoing a major construction to become a world-class golf course or resort. I am afraid runners will not see it anymore as it was. As of this writing, I still run there regularly while I still can.
At the end of the day, I thoroughly enjoyed the event and was very happy to have organized this race with the support of our dear friends - Jerry, Rick Gaston, Simon, Don, Jonel, Andrew (PUR), the marshals and some members of Team Clark. Of course the runners most of all! I wish I was one of the runners but I could not have my cake and eat it too :)
Next edition of CM50 is on 01 December 2012. The date happens to be a long weekend. Again, the ultimate goal is to make it to 100-mile race to be recognized internationally as a qualifying event for some of the prestigious 100-mile trail races in the world. Wait, CM50 can already qualify at 2 points for UTMB per Simon's assessment! Not bad for a 50-miler. With the mountainous terrain Miyamit has and its surrounding areas, it is very possible to qualify. So that means I have to add another 40 kilometers after the peak to cover the Zambales, Subic or Bataan area. Folks, we have the entire world to discover and conquer on foot and mark my words. We will be seeing more trail running events in the years to come!
So I understand now what I read and Rick Gaston said to me before CM50: "RDing is thankless job". Amen.
Next are two events - 2011 Clark Distance Classic, a race of 21K, 10K and 5K on 18 December 2011 and of course, Fat Ass on 7-8 January 2012 both in Clark Parade Ground. Details of the events are on the right side bar of this blog or you can email me.
Jon (crossing his fingers now for good luck on Western States 100 lottery this Saturday :) - 2016 Update: Jon succesfully got a slot and became the first local Filipino to finish the WS100.
OFFICIAL RACE SONG
We bet you get LSS on this song that makes your heart beat faster at the starting line. ItEARTH (Immediate Music - Believe) was nominated by Jerome Lagumbay as a song fit for the race. Jerome is a finisher of 2011-2013 editions.
At the outset, what is a race without a logo? So a huge huge shout out and thanks to our dear friend and Pinoy ultra extraordinaire RICK GASTON (http://365ultra.blogspot.com/) for his generosity, time and effort. Again, thank you!
Some of the runners who helped connect the trails.
Some of our first edition finishers. If you have 2011 photos, please send them to us.
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