Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
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)
Friday, April 16, 2010
This was the question that hounded me as I chose which races to run for the summer while recovering from the BDM. Even if you’re not in recovery, you just can’t race every weekend you know. It disrupts your training schedule and it’s expensive. Just seven months ago, you could race for only P150.00. Those days are gone, and they’re not coming back.
These days when a race can set you back by no less than P250.00 you have to choose well. It’s as crucial as making the right song choice in American Idol. You have to ponder which race will most likely deliver on the four basics of a good race – accurate race course measurement, well-stocked water and , safety, and accurate timekeeping.
(Run to the Clouds Finishline at Zipline)
(Forum members www.sugbutriathlon.com)
The summer race calendar featured three big runs all organized and managed by runners – Run to the Clouds by members of Sugbutriathlon.com; Citi Run by Joe Franz Canizares and Waterfront Hotel; and Pinay in Action by Kenneth Casquejo and Annie Neric with their newly formed company Run Check.
(Citi Run March 21, 2010)
All three races delivered, providing a calling card of sorts for these three budding race directors and managers. Annie Neric said it best – “Kasi naman palagi tayong nagrereklamo sa ibang races na nasalihan natin. Sa dami nang nasalihan natin both good and bad, we know first hand what a good race should be.”
(L-R Marathon Foodie, Sen. Pia Cayetano, Annie Neric, Jane-Jane Ong)
But running and organizing a race can have so many variables that even the best race director and manager cannot control – lack of corporate sponsorship, red tape at the local government and profit-taking orientation of some race organizers who are all-too willing to collect fees but are unwilling to spend money on sufficient hydration and proper race marshaling.
(Pinay In Action Visayas Leg)
Still, these variables are no excuse for shabby race management. That’s why one perfect race is not enough. Now that the boys and girls of Sugbutri as well as Joe Franz, Kenneth and Annie have shown that they can be very good race directors, the next challenge for them now would be consistency. They must show willingness to stand-up for the runners who pay good money to join races and not compromise on the basics.
As runners, we can help improve the quality of race management in Cebu by providing feedback. Visit blogs that do race reviews and leave a comment. If you have Facebook, interact with runners at Cebu Running, Cebu Runners or go to the Sugbu Triathlon website. And if feedback seem to fall on deaf ears, you can always skip the races run by those who consistently fall short of our basic expectations. As runners, we have the power to choose.PACERS
For the first time since the running boom hit Cebu , a local race will have pacers to help runners hit their target finish time. What are they?
Pacers are experienced runners and marathoners tasked with keeping other runners on pace and if possible do even splits, which means no racing out at the beginning only to fade away at the end. They will encourage, motivate, cajole and if necessary, threaten the runners in the group to keep up and cross the .
Pacers don’t get paid to run as pacers. It’s their way of giving back and paying it forward helping runners reach their target finish time.
At the Great Lapu-Lapu Run, the 21-K runners will have two pace groups – those with target finish time of 2:00 to 2:15 led by Kenneth Casquejo and 2:16 to 2:30 group led by James Michael Go. You won’t miss them. They will be running with balloons. I only wish they had narrowed the range to ten minutes instead of fifteen and with more pace options at the sub two-hour range.
Speaking of targets, I’m hoping to set a new personal record and finish in 2:15 or better. The last time I raced 21K was in July last year at the Cebu elimination of the Milo marathon making it in 2:25.
To all runners joining the Great Lapu-Lapu Run , especially the 21K virgins, good luck, race well and seize the road!
Saturday, April 10, 2010
The first staging of the Great Lapu-Lapu run in July last year took a beating from runners and critics alike because of poor race management, bad location of start and finish area and a chaotic traffic management along the race route.
Does Lapu-Lapu deserve a second chance? Of course! Everyone deserves one.
This year’s edition of the Great Lapu-Lapu run looks promising.
First, the use of timing chip provided by Coach Rio Dela Cruz’s Finishline ensures better, more efficient and accurate time keeping. The start/finish area has been relocated from the Lapu-Lapu Hoopsdome to the Liberty Shrine (where the Sutukil stalls are).
But most of all, organizers have promised to close off some roads during the duration of the race to keep the runners safe from Lapu-Lapu’s notorious tricycles and killer multicabs. As an added treat, the race route will include the beautiful Marcelo Fernan Bridge and the park underneath it.
I really really wish the Great Lapu-Lapu Run succeeds this time.
It is defined as any ultimate, but elusive, goal pursued as in a quest. In marathon running it is called the – the oldest and most prestigious of all marathons next only to the Olympics. A Boston qualifier is the holy grail of every seasoned marathoner, whether they care to admit it or not.
This is the reason why news of prominent Cebuano female executive runner Millette Chiongbian earning her Boston Qualifier at the LA Marathon last month earns space in the sports pages. It is a monumental achievement. It is a big deal.
To qualify for the Boston Marathon, runners must meet the designated time standard that corresponds to their age group, and boy it is tough. Example, if you’re male aged between 18-34, you must clock 3 hours 10 minutes in a marathon certified and recognized by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races or AIMS.
If you’re a 5-hour marathoner, you’re time is only good for the 80 and above age bracket. So, tough luck for us mere running mortals. But if you’ve been reading the Marathon Foodie, you must already know our mantra here – nothing is impossible and runners only get better with time, you just have to keep at it and train hard.
Running for Women
At first, the Pinay In Action (Visayas Leg) was open only to women, while the men could only register with a .
This stringent rule has been relaxed and made more egalitarian by allowing men to race (with or without a female companion). The men can now also win prices in their own separate category (just be sure to wear pink, dude!). Pinay In Action has male and female categories for 5K and 10K, but the 3K remains exclusively for females. Registration is on-going at the Ayala Active Zone.
Proceeds from the race will go to projects that aim to empower women by providing them tools geared towards leading a healthier and better life as well as information on how women can protect themselves from abuse.
The Marathon Foodie is racing in Pinay In Action I’m dedicating all 10 kilometers (and more) for my sister Arlene – a victim of domestic abuse and is currently fighting to survive. for far more personal reasons.
Finally, I’m appealing to all sports-loving Cebuanos to help send sportswriter and colleague Mike Limpag to the World Cup in South Africa .
Mike's article entitled CES Theater of Dreams has been included in the short list of articles by Asian writers vying for a spot to watch the World Cup in June. Please visit http://extratime.posterous.com/tag/top20/ and click the thumbs up sign beside Mike’s name and article for the vote to count. Let’s all help Mike live his football dreams.
Seize the road!