Thursday, April 22, 2010

Almost, but not quite

The Great Lapu-Lapu Run was great in many ways.

The turn-out of 4,000++ registered participants was second only to the Cebu City Marathon; the race used timing chip technology; and the organizers’ biggest coup – having the east and west lanes of the beautiful Marcelo Fernan Bridge as the highlight of the 21K route. All in all, it was a great improvement from last year’s edition.

What’s disappointing is that the GLLR was a missed opportunity for perfection, or even just near perfection.

The race was definitely not lacking in corporate sponsorship. Proof of this were the gallons of Gatorade that were provided the runners and the buffet breakfast and raffle prizes that came after the race. GLLR also had the LGU’s resources and clout.

Thus, with all this corporate and local government backing, I was surprised to find chaos at the starting line; mismanaged hydration stations; and that the roads, especially during the latter part of the race were opened to vehicular traffic even as organizers promised that half the roads would be closed during the duration of the GLLR.

The chaos at the starting line could have been prevented 1) if holding areas were set up for the different categories; and 2) if huge and idiot—proof directionals were provided so that runners would know where to go while waiting for their gun start.

The hydration stations were plenty, but the cups were recycled, as in picked up from the ground to be used again by the next runner. (Think: hepatitis and salmonella). I think this had something to do with the fact that even as late as Saturday, organizers still accepted runners hence they were unable to prepare a sufficient number of cups.

The 21K route would have been perfect if not for the 2.5K trip to Barangay Mactan, instead of an extended jaunt along Barangay Pusok, which had bigger roads. That half the roads were not closed, especially the crowded turnaround in Barangay Mactan was such a letdown.

It is a fact that Mactan, with its small roads, really does not have the infrastructure to support a race with more than 4,000 participants. This makes road closure more important than ever. If the city is serious about making GLLR a destination sporting event, then the organizers must insist on road closure. It’s been done before during the ASEAN summit in 2006, they can do it again.

Veteran marathoner James Abilla wrote to me about his GLLR experience. While we both share the view that GLLR has great potential to be really great, there is still so much room for improvement.

”I had the sense that the organizers were so obsessed with the "chip" that they forgot everything else. I actually saw them running around at 5:30 am looking for an extension cord to power up the clock!

At the men's 10K race, I followed a participant who came literally an inch of being maimed by an overtaking jeepney that decided to pass the runner as he was just making the U-turn at the 5K mark. The marshals did nothing to prevent this from happening!

When I started running in Cebu with Peter Mancao and Yong Larrazabal, our hope was to have the sport be picked up by Cebuanos in a big way. Now, eight years later, I was very happy to see the numbers grow, especially at this latest run. The last thing I want to see is have these new joiners be disillusioned about running because of poorly organized runs. The organizers need to focus on the well being of the participants first and foremost, and worry about the peripheral items when those primary concerns are addressed properly.

A runner need not worry about getting hit by a truck, getting hydration and sustenance support during and after the race, and be rewarded for their efforts after the race. Marshals, accurate timing, on-time starting, water and hydration, and a commemorative pronouncement at the finish will help continue growing the sport and attract new runners.

We can do better, and there are so many resources available in Cebu now to make a good fun run happen. All the organizers have to do is ask.”

I know the GLLR will improve next year. Who knows? Maybe the third time's the charm. See you again next year!

Photo credit: Armand Manatad, Ronald B. Caracena, Tito M. Vildosola (all from FB)


F1 Runner said...

Safety should be a race organizer's primary concern over technology. Hope to catch next year's race.

katol said...

Hello MarathonFoodie.

ive shared some thoughts in the GPPLR FB page -- noting on the day when they distributed their race was chaos and there was NO system at all at the ayala active zone.

i was in the queue with several runners and me being soooo excited in my first 10K run, was just disappointed on how they distribute the race packs. i had to argue with this guy who just arrived and had to speak in English (as their staff were tagalog and cant kasabot bisaya ba - no offense meant) and i dint realize that the man i was arguing with was noy jopson himself. too bad i was in the brink of really fuming up. i waited for almost one hour jst to get my race pack.

anyway, just to share also, my former agent (running on 5k) was "pushed" by some runner during the start of their race. too bad for her she scratched both her knees and had some bruises in her right palm. root cause? too crowded runners in the starting line and the organizers cant even control the crowd.

i agree with you that the 1-10-10 is still by far the best run that i had. very organized!!!

i hope the next runs (being a newbie) will be safer and will have a runner-friendly experience.

kudos to you and your experience. and your blogs gives me chills and exciting moments... will be looking forward to your next one. :-)

Ling said...

Hi, Atty. Haide! I am re-posting the race schedules on my multiply and facebook accounts. But I put your blog's url as my source.

Ling said...

that's the reason why i crush my empty cup of water of hydration so that it can't be use again.

Marathon Foodie said...

Hello Marc (F1 Runner)

Maybe next year will be better. They improved a lot this year compared to last year's edition which was really terrible. They were just lucky no one got hurt last Sunday.


Marathon Foodie said...

Hello Katol!

The CCM is really the gold standard for local racing that other races, whther they like it or not, must live up to or try to surpass.

I've noticed the lack of system at the race packet collection too. It appears that when the bibs and chips arrived, they were not processed individually. If you notice, your packet did not have your name on it. At the CCM, they put the packets inside envelopes with the runner's name in it so a mix-up was almost impossible and the releasing was a breeze.

The shrine is a bit small compared to IT Park, but corrals would have helped. I guess the rnners crowded at the starting area because they afraid of missing their gun start because hinay ang speakers and hey couldn't hear the announcers.

I feel bad for your friend. I hop dili mo tagam. =)

Marathon Foodie said...

Hello Ling!

Kunusta? OK ra bisan walay attrib. I got the info from kenneth Casquejo's FB and the Rundaue from the race tarp at the Abellana.


baktin said...

Hi Atty. The GLLR was my 'virgin run'. :) I only ran 5K. Too bad, I did not know my exact time because the clock was set solely for the 10k and 21k runners.

I agree in most, if not all, of the suggested improvements you have pointed out here. What particularly caught my attention was the plastic cups . It is bad enough to see these carelessly thrown around during the run (how about a more earth-friendly run next time?). To re-use (without sanitizing) them defies common sense.

Markin GOmez said...

Hello Atty Heidi.. Ü

Nice post.

Okay so i ran the GLLR last Sunday. It was my first run pud and i can't wait to run more races til i grow old. With the scheduled races, i hope Cebu's going to be the marathon capital in the philippines. With the growing population who are into running, i think it's possible.

Anyway, I ran for 5K race but was a little disppointed by how the way it was organized. Wala pud ko kabalo sa accurate nako nga PR kay wala mai timer. Gubot kaau pagstart pa lang gani sa run. Supposedly, we have to wait for like 30 minutes before we could start pero something happened sa may starting line that triggered those front runners to run before the time started. Mao dagan nalang pud tawn mi.

Ako lang pud nga nabantayan kay ang line para pagkuha sa breakfast nilapas sa finish line so nawala jud ang excitement kay dritso man dayon linya before ka pakahuman ug dangan. Wala jud nila na-estimate and gidaghanon sa tawo siguro. It's like your running 5K to line up for food. Disappointing jud. Siguro next time dako-dako unta nga lugar. I felt bad pero ge lang i hope sa next nako nga race mas okay xa.

I hope they realize that not because they're using timing chips they can easily compare the run sa Cebu Marathon. Wala ra jud katupong.

Thank you by the way for posting the schedule sa next races. Interested lang ko sa "other events" which is the 100,000 rockets in one minute. part na xa sa race? please enlighten. thanks.

abby said...

hey haids, i agree with you on all points, although i really didnt notice the cups and the brown water like most of the 21kr's did. basta uhaw, bahala na (",) the last 2 km was a torture! the water station was so far from the last one. a funny(?)disheartening thing happened to me though, while running towards the homestretch & the thirst was overwhelming, i chanced upon some runners (5ks) who finished their runs already and were bringing some free gatorade, so i begged for one. you know what they said? "linya lang didto ma'am!". WTF! there goes my belief of runners being the milk of human kindness and all. as i always, there are runs and there are runs. well just have to charge it to experience and let the organizers have it! see you on the roads!

vard said...

again nice article atty.,I agree with your observations about the race. maybe wala nka mikuha sa free meal after the race (coz if you do, mas maglagot ka) Your not as harsh this year compared to your comments to the GLLR last year, hehe (coz maybe your friends with the organizers this year)
@ katol, i feel sorry for your former agent, lesson learned: first line in road races is for elite runners, coz if your not you'll just get pushed, thats why i always stay at the back.
@abby, maybe they're newbies, they haven't experienced being that thirsty

zbsports said...

That lapu lapu run is history. I love the pictures participants are happy with their race.