PASAY CITY – Over 3,000 runners gathered at the SM Mall of Asia last Sunday (April 7) for the fifth staging of the BDO Race For Life, the annual fundraising event of the BDO Foundation. All proceeds of the fun run will go to the foundation’s housing projects in Bulacan and the cities of Caloocan and Cagayan de Oro.
The crowd was a mix of the elite and recreational runners that one could see every week plus a good percentage of BDO employees in the shorter distance categories. The compact field where everyone knows almost everybody proved to be a welcome respite from overcrowded events.
I was entered in the main 21-kilometer category where only about 400 runners signed up. The route basically revolved around the MOA grounds with trips up and down the Buendia Flyover and a trot along Macapagal Boulevard before returning to MOA for the finish.
The race fired off at the announced time of 4:00 AM. Due to lack of training in the two weeks leading up to the run, I decided to take it easy and just enjoy and observe.
Except for the Buendia Flyover and some portions of Macapagal, the course is essentially flat. There were sufficient distance and directional markers to guide the pack.
Since the course mirrored recent fun runs in the same area, it was easy to move around and I hardly noticed how many marshals were deployed. Of course, the bulk of the marshals were stationed at the water stations which were well stocked with Pocari Sweat, water and cold sponges.
One thing missing though was bananas, a staple during long distance races. Good thing I always make a point to bring along candy bars in lieu of expensive energy gels.
Ambulances were seen parked at most water stations. One thing I am thankful for is that I never saw the need for medical assistance during the race.
Security was also tough and alert as a motorcycle cop chased an SUV that entered the closed portion of Roxas Boulevard and threatened to mow down the 21-kilometer runners. It was safer for the other runners since they were confined inside the MOA grounds, with the 10-kilometer group making a brief trek on Macapagal to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and back.
Speaking of security, a group of youths were spotted engaging in a sidewalk brawl outside a bar near CCP as the runners passed by. How we wish they would be spending this time of the day doing better things like joining fun runs.
Still, the biggest red mark of the race came towards the end. As I was preparing for my final push, my momentum got stalled by the horde of short distance walkers coming from the SMX Convention Center towards the Catholic Church that basically occupied all lanes of the road.
It seems that was one place and time where the marshals were really needed to make the walkers move to one side and clear a lane or two for the faster runners. Some walkers were even seen stopping in the middle of the road to pose for pictures.
Because of the traffic, there was no recourse but to run slalom until a clear path arose by the final straightaway. I cannot say how many minutes or seconds were lost but in the end, I am satisfied with my time of 2:17:15.
All 21-kilometer runners received medals. By the way, it was announced that only the first 500 runners in the 10-kilometer category will get medals but it seems almost everyone managed to score one, including a few who finished beyond 500th place.
For this year, the BDO Foundation enlisted Without Limits Philippines to manage the race for the first time. The Quezon City-based group acquitted themselves well, taking lessons from the previous races by reading comments posted on social media and online forums and thinking of solutions.
Except for the traffic towards the finish line, Without Limits gets high marks on all areas, including the sensitive aspects of hydration and marshals. They have more than atoned for the shortcomings of the previous years’ races.
Definitely, the sixth BDO Race For Life is already reserved a spot in my 2014 racing calendar. It has shown that it is a well-managed event with an equally worthy beneficiary.
Thank you to Coach Ian Alacar, Vayne Alacar and the staff of Without Limits Philippines for making our participation possible and for their assistance on race day.