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 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 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)