Trails and Thrills: My BDM 102 Journey
by Carmen Cabiles
Photos by Carmen Cabiles
|The group’s second meeting at Seattle’s Best, Bonifacio High Street|
|Raff and Arnel (our vehicle driver) handing out Pocari drink|
The support crews around us were just as energized as the runners themselves. Cheering broke the silence of the cold night when the first runner arrived. The thrill of waiting for your runner pass by was equally exciting as we watched the others breeze through. One after the other the parked vehicles started to move again after meeting up with their runners.
This started between 7am-8am. The weather was the opposite of the day before. It was bright and sunny which translates to h-o-t, which is not so good. We were hoping to have some drizzle and rain showers but the sky was too clear and far from cloudy.
We did not wait anymore for her to approach the van. As soon as we saw her, Raff and I took turns in running towards her, either with the cold drink or spray bottle. It was also necessary that many times both of us had to run to her aid. It was becoming more and more tedious to feed her, she was resisting even her GU. At this point, we had several food trays with different variations of food which we kept switching. It was only Jelly Ace she feasted on and never turned it down. Sometimes she would not even want to sip her drink.
|Roselle’s walk-jog-walk strategy … almost there|
And finally, after more than 17 hours, we made our last turn. Raff and I got down from the van, and walked on the left side of the road as we waited for
Anyway, I wanted to share with you about ultra marathon. It’s from a friend of mine who finished his first ultra marathon during the recently staged BDM102.
It really fascinated me to know runners who reached, crossed the finish line, and finished a 102-kilometer run. Daunting distance. Amazing feat.
Here is his story …
In memoriam: Brave Daring Men
(Very Deep Memories of a Newbie)
by FR Hortelano, BDM 102 Finisher, Runner, Mountaineer
Last Saturday, our run started just before midnight in Mariveles [also known as] KM 0 where the infamous death march started. We were running uphill for the first seven kilometers. Afterwards, the moonlight complemented our headlamps to show the path. I took the walk-run strategy (walk uphill and run downhill). After sometime, I found myself running alone in the dark. By 2AM, I met some drank men who just came from some roadside karaoke bars. Some dogs. Some creepy feelings. But I didn’t allow them bother me.
By 4:30 AM, some more people are on the road in Pilar, Bataan. Masses must be starting early on Sundays. I would slow down in every church of different denominations to also remember God so my run is safe and secure. The buses just don’t give way to runners in this country. I even saw vehicular accident along the road.
As I was running slowly, I inquired a fellow runner, “Am I still on time?,” he replied, “Yes, but in ultra marathon, you should not even be thinking.” I pondered on what he said. Later, I realized that self doubt and worries will lead a runner to nowhere. When one is set on the road, the runner must simply enjoy every stride. Focus. Concentration. These two are very important. Anything enters the mind when it thinks that it has not yet gotten sleep. It’s hot… it’s tired… It will only convince the runner just to stop and what the heck.
I continued on my run happily after that remark. I merely focused on running and enjoying every stride. It worked. Once you enjoy what you’re doing, anything hard becomes easy. I was supported by lots of runners and support crew who are all strangers to me. I was “adopted” by many along the route. They provided water, banana, gatorade, and many more. My heart was overwhelmed with the sincere support of each one. There was no feeling of competition. The aim was just to assist each one reach the finish line. I felt a community of mutually supporting runners.
After my 50K in Abucay, Bataan, I took breakfast. Then rested. Changed clothes and thought, I can rest on my laurels. This is it. But after munching my veggie diet, I experienced a sudden wave of energy. Wow! Where did it all come from? My mind suddenly became very alert, as if I had a sound sleep the whole night. Given such a fresh feeling, I started running anew. My goal is just to reach 60KM. Later, I found out, I was already reaching more and more kilometers, from 70 to 80.
When we entered Pampanga province, Lubao town particularly, road construction is ongoing. So with the furious sun, the blinding dusts, the lahar sand that creeps into our socks, the gravels, how can one possibly run? I managed to brisk walk either on the far right or far left side of the road. After sometime, I didn’t feel the heat anymore. It may have helped that I had white pants and long sleeve shirt. But my entire body just miraculously adjusted to the sizzling heat (41 degrees Celsius). I just kept on and on.
Around KM95, with 7 more KMs to go, I was already thinking of my work. I didn’t want to use all my energy. I can’t afford to be absent. My mind wanted to quit. It had the justifications not to continue. I sat down, removed my socks and all the “sandy-intruders”. My mind was battling to continue or not. Then, a fellow runner told me, “come on, you are already there, just a few kilometers more then rest.” I got up slowly and since then, I didn’t entertain any other thought again. I just went on and on and on. Walked anything elevated and run as fast afterwards. Upon reaching the last 4KM, I took it slowly already. I was confident that I am in. I took it as my cool down exercise. Gently ran and walked to the finish line at 17:33 hours. Cut-off is 18:00 hours.
Looking back, how did I manage to finish? What made me do it? Why am I even doing it in the first place? Nothing mind-boggling actually, I just enjoyed what I was doing.
I enjoyed learning. And for as long as I still can learn from my activities, I will continue. The lessons are life-changing even from running, more so in ultra marathons. I admire others who are naturally patient, enduring, persevering and disciplined. I am not. Running provided me the portal to learn what endurance coupled with wisdom is all about. I am innately courageous and it was my capital, with God at my side.
Here are some random thoughts from a newbie runner who merely intended to be a paying bandit in the Bataan Death March 102KM International Ultra Marathon on March 6-7, 2010 from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga. His ultra-mediocre aim could only be elevated by highly spirited, kind, and generous people who joined the BDM 2010 as runners, organizers, support crew, and plain onlookers.
1. Ultra running is about endurance with wisdom
· If one’s personality is addicted to speed and quick results, one is likely to fail in ultra running that mandatorily requires lots of patience and perseverance.
2. Complaining won’t work
· If one begins to curse the dark, it will only respond, “it’s because your headlamp or flashlight is not bright enough.”
· If one begins to scream at the stray dogs, they can only bark louder, “this is our territory, respect us.”
· If one begins to curse the sizzling sun, it will only shout, “my task is to shine, yours is to run.”
· If one begins to complain about the uphills and downhills, both will chorus, “we don’t have a choice, we were created this way.”
· If one complains on uncooperative muscles, they’ll scream, “come on, give us time, we are adjusting slowly, we are alien to this experience.”
· If one may complain about his body, it will revolt, “so do I.”
· If one complains about the sand that intrudes into his shoes, it will shout, “whoever told you to wear a highly ventilated shoes in a lahar area.”
· If one complains about the dust, all the more, the blinding dust will fly right into his face and taunt, “why didn’t you bring any mask anyway?”
· If one complains about the speeding vehicles, the drivers will only yell, “this is our work, yours is but a luxuriously hobby, give way.” The ultra marathon then ends with an ultra-complainathon.
3. Be realistic. Deal with what is in your hands.
· The sun, the sand, the road, the dark, etc. are beyond one’s control. But preparing well will definitely mitigate their adverse impact on one’s run. The body eventually adjusts.
4. You can only beat yourself
· You can only compete with yourself. If you set your eyes on others, that’s your end. You will not enjoy your run. Your ego will keep bothering you. Your pride will scream, will shout, will nag. Your muscles become stiff. You become cranky to all. You will frown all the way, aged, and then finish the race. What a race that was! Instead of victorious feelings, you are unhappy in the end.
5. Enjoy the run
· There’s no way to go but enjoy. Anything difficult becomes easier when it is enjoyable.
6. Focus and contrate
· Take each step at a time. Slow down in front of churches and pray to God for safety. Only think of uplifting thoughts.
· Running an ultra is initially impossible. With trust in the self, others, and God, you will be surprised how immense your physical and inner power is. You will be supported by fellow runners and their support crew. You will discover a lot of kind people. You will treasure every minute. You will value your body. You will be grateful with your life.
· Training need not be stressful. As the body adjusts to increasing kilometers, there’ll be pain. As they say, pain is mandatory but sorrow is optional. You may train with others but never rely on them. You are fully accountable to your own training.
9. Run for a good cause
· The BDM is one good, great, and ultimate running destination for the strong yet humble runners.
10. Thank and give back
· Offer a sincere prayer, thanks, to all the organizers, your supporters, the locals, and God for making you reach the finish line.
I salute the BDM finishers for your courage and perseverance!
It was almost springtime when I first set foot Japan in 2001. I was one of those fortunate enough to represent the Philippines for the Philippine ASEAN-Japan Friendship Association for the 21st Century Programme in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The most significant moment during my month-long visit was when we stayed in Hiroshima, visited museums, saw famous landmarks and World War II Memorial. A Japanese war veteran who shared his experience highlighted the event.
Upon my return to Manila, I took a trip to Bataan and visited another WWII Memorial known as Dambana ng Kagitingan or Altar of Valor. A fellow PAJAFA-21 member hosted that visit. Indeed, it was a great trip.
View from the top. The Memorial Cross, a 92-meter marble, steel and concrete, is a viewing place 555 feet above sea level. One can go to the top through an elevator in just a few seconds.
Then, in 2005, I accompanied and toured an American visitor to Corregidor, Bataan, and at Capas, Tarlac WWII Memorial. It was during this time that I was totally awed by the valor of POWs who were forced to march a distance of over a hundred kilometer that started from Mariveles, Bataan to Camp O’Donnell, thus, the famous Bataan Death March.
Capas National Shrine, Capas, Tarlac, Philippines
Then, in 2006, I met another war veteran, Hans Kasten IV, an American-German soldier. David Jones, a British friend, introduced him to me so I can encode his manuscripts, which, to my understanding, will be a part of his memoir. He was ninety years old when I met him. He was a gentleman with pretty sharp memory. He was a prominent figure in some WWII history books. I had a chance of working with him and edited the few chapters of his memoir. Unknown to us, we have in our country a holocaust survivor who stayed in the Philippines for six decades and married to a Filipina. I have lost touch with him in the latter part of 2006 and it was only last month that I knew of his death. He passed away in 2007 before reaching his 91st birthday.
And just last month, I visited Corregidor once again.
Different war stories and experiences but with one common role, valiant soldiers during WWII. Philippines had suffered great loss of life and tremendous physical destruction by the time the war was over.
On April 5, Sunday, to commemorate the Bataan Death March, the 1st Bataan Death March 102k Ultramarathon Race was held. 81 brave warriors ran under the scorching heat of the sun. 65 runners reached the finish line within the cut-off time of 18 hours. What a magnificent display of valor to run and finish 102 kilometers!
I salute you for your bravery to run, endure, and survive the Bataan Death March.
You may also visit Bald Runner’s blog for the recap of this great run.