Macau Marathon: An Unfinished Business

Fast Forward … KM 35

I knew I didn’t have much time after glancing at my Garmin FR 305. So when the Chinese speaking race official raised both his hands signaling me to stop, I was not surprised at all. There was no way I could beat the cut off time even if I attempted to sprint the remaining seven kilometers.  Continuing the run would be futile.  In my mind I silently said, “Oh my this is my first time not to finish a race.” Had I continued to run, at the rate I was going, I would have finished it in approximately 5:10 hours or 5:12 hours.  But still a way, way past the cut off time.

Minutes have gone by before I saw runners approaching to where I was stopped.   Just like me they were also asked to stop.   I only had a few minutes for some pleasantries with these two runners, one an American and the other one a Chinese lady, just before our ride arrived.  Inside the van are race marshals as well as participants who dropped from the race. Glancing around, I noticed that we are one international community in the van.  The marshals then gave each runner a bottle of water, a banana, and a bar of chocolate.

As our ride traversed the bridge, I could see some runners trudging their way, still a few kilometers, to the finish line.  Our van even stopped to let two tired runners to hop in but these runners refused the ride and stubbornly continued to run.   Farther down the bridge, I could still see some of the remaining fast runners who, to my estimate, have greater chances of finishing within the cut off time.  

I arrived at the stadium looking for my bag that I deposited earlier.   It took some time before I get to see my Takbo.ph friends.  Thanks to Ellen aka Kelcy, a half marathon finisher, who was outside the stadium looking for me.   True to her word, she did come back to supposedly meet me along the route and planned to pace with me up to the finish line had I made it within the cut off time.  Too bad we didn’t get to meet as agreed.  That was really nice of Ellen.   

What Happened Before Signing Up for this Race?

To run a marathon at the end of the year was never part of my plan.  I just wanted to really rest from racing after finishing the Bataan Death March 102KM Ultramarathon.  Ellen who asked me to join them in this trip sometime in February was really convincing that I should run Macau International Marathon.  It was difficult at first to decide what distance I should participate. But the idea of seeing Macau on foot while running was kind of tempting.  I saw the marathon as my R & R, a relaxation, and racing was only secondary.  When the online registration opened in September, I registered for the full marathon.  

I was half-hearted about the whole thing.   I was preoccupied with things including the death anniversary of my mother.  Yes, it has been only a year since my mother passed away.  The month of December reminds me of our loss as well as not being able to do my half marathon pacer duty last year at the 2nd Quezon City International Marathon. 

With the inclement weather during the last quarter of the year, it also impeded my training days.  I didn’t get to train as hard as before.  I was a slacker.  I only did serious training runs two months before this race.   

I also didn’t get enough sleep or couldn’t get a good night sleep, especially, prior to the race.  Exhausted yet couldn’t sleep.

Race Day

Group Photo of Runners Before the Race at the Hotel Lobby 

Reality hit me right smack on my face when I saw the kind of runners they had at the starting line.  I never was nervous like this than in the previous big races I participated in.  Watching the participants doing their warm up exercises, to me, these are not just regular runners.  These are runners who are really ready to RACE.  

The minimum weather temperature dropped by 1 degree Celsius making it as low as 13 degrees Celsius as we were doing our warmup exercises at the stadium.  And it gradually improved to temperature that I’m comfortable with at between 17-18 degrees Celsius later that day. 

KM 28-29

The Sai Van Bridge (Portuguese: Ponte de Sai Van) is a cable-stayed bridge which features a double-deck design and measures 2.2 kilometers.  Since the marathon takes on two loops, it means one has to cross the sloping bridge four times.  During the second loop and on my second ascent to the bridge, I felt heaviness in my legs.  As I reached the lower part of the second slope (1440m high) of the bridge, I could no longer move my legs.  I had a major spasm in my quadriceps muscle.  The fist-like muscle on both my thighs hindered any movement and it was painful.  I also noticed stiffness in my arms and shoulders because of the cold weather.  Since there was no one to help me, I stopped and massage it myself.  I only started to run again during the descent maintaining a slower pace.    Eventually went back to my race pace up to KM 35.  

Picturesque Sai Van Bridge at Night


KM 1-10 

I attempted a kidney break but I didn’t get to do it.  There was a long line when I reached one of the portable toilets along the route.  I had no recourse but to run so as not to waste time.  It was an uncomfortable run for me the whole time.   It was only during the second loop that I was able to do my kidney break.  What a relief!  

More portalets be added along the route is highly recommended. 

Of Sportsmanship, Friendship, and Lessons Learned

There you go.  You’ve read my noble excuses explaining why I didn’t get to finish.  

I have run the race by its rules.  That’s part of sportsmanship.  Win or lose (or not being able to finish), it is all part of sportsmanship.  Sportsmanship or  the “golden rule” in sports and competition means handling both victory and defeat graciously and taking it all in stride by playing fair, following the rules of the game, respecting the officials, and treating fellow participants with respect.  Although it’s great to be a winner, to me, it’s better to have enjoyed the process of trying to reach the goal while having fun.

I was happy with my first marathon outside the country and quite satisfied with my performance.  I congratulated myself for reaching up to KM 35 with no injury other than the cramps that happened during the initial stage of the race.  It’s not easy to admit I lose this time, but in competition or race—as in life—one may not always win (or get to the finish line) but one can learn something from losing, too. 

This is just a race.  This is just a game.  There are still so many marathon races out there.  In fact, I’m looking forward to running the Macau International Marathon next year, God willing, as I still have an unfinished business with that Sai Van Bridge.  

I will work hard again to bring my groove back in running so that I could finish this marathon next time.  


I congratulate my companions and fellow runners for finishing their half marathon (2:30) and full marathon (5:00) races within the prescribed time. 
If you really want to have a PR or a good competition for your full marathon, I recommend you to try running Macau Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon instead.   

Was the trip worth it?  

Of course! I couldn’t ask for more.  I had a great time touring Macau.  So many things to explore, so little time.

Ruins of St. Paul’s, a World Heritage Site

At the Macau Tower Convention & Entertainment Centre

One of the Streets at the Senado Square, a World Heritage Site

Was it expensive?  

Very reasonable expenses as long as you travel within your budget.  Airfare is more expensive if I travel to my home city than to travel outside the country.  

Travel tips: Be on the lookout for seat sale and promos.  Register early to avail of the early bird registration fees.  Book your accommodations at a reputable backpacker’s hotel. Prepare your own itinerary.  Do your own readings about Macau’s history and research must see places in Macau to make your stay worthwhile.  

From the Bottom of My Heart

Many thanks to Charina Puno, Deputy Marketing Manager, Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO)-Philippines for inviting us at the Finisher’s Party hosted by MGTO-Japan, MGTO-Taiwan, and MGTO-Philippines held at the Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Centre.

As Guests of MGTO-Philippines at the Finisher’s Party


A Group Photo with MGTO-Japan During the Finisher’s Party 
Thanks also to Run Rio, Inc. in partnership with MGTO-Philippines for inviting me during the Bloggers Night held last October 20 in Makati City.  The brochures, maps, and guidebook the MGTO Team Philippines gave us were of great help during our visit in Macau.  

A big thank you to Carlo S. aka Drum and Run, Carina aka Flying Boar, and Dhenz aka Running Pinoy for the photos and great shots.  I say the same to my companions—Tere aka El Capitana, Rico aka By Sheer Will, Carina, Marga aka Margalicious, Raff, Ellen, Tracy aka Digital Dash, Carlo, and Dhenz —for having me in this trip.  

I thank Coach John Lozada for providing me training assignments and for supporting me all the time—win or lose.


Until next time!