The year that was 2013 had been very fruitful for me as a blogger and a runner. And why so? Well it was the year when I got invited to cover most running events’ media and bloggers launch. This was also the year when I got to cover and join a bike race of international magnitude graced by no less than Tour de France green jersey owner and Australia’s pride, Robbie McEwen. For my group, The Fabulous Running Divas, this has likewise been a very productive and fruitful year with many avenues to shine and be acknowledged as a running group despite our frivolious nature.
If a couple of local sports websites like SBR’s Annual Awards and some individual blogger’s own top running shoes, gears and races, I have my own personal choices of the best, the regretable and the fabulous of the year. All are subjective, of course, and for fun only so take everything with a grain of salt.
MOST FAB RUNNERS
Vicente “Blue” Zapanta, Jr. and Cleodelia Armendez
Vicente “Blue” Zapanta, Jr. and Bhe2 Cleodelia Armendez are both FRD members so my loyalty and bias are evident as the sun is hot and bright. However, I believe nobody can contest how these two ultra-runners brought their own brand of being diva runners even in the most daunting of local long distance races.
Ultra racing is hard as it is so finishing it in tutus, wig, and other accessories adding weight and discomfort is incomprehensible and sheer madness to most. However, this hardcore fab diva attitude that Blue possesses is what precisely merited him my award. In fact in one of the ultra-races he joined, he would not give in to the doctor’s suggestion of removing his platinum white curly wig he is most associated with. This was when he checked in to one of the race ambulances feeling faint due to heat and exhaustion. He finished the entirety of this 60k race with flying colors and with the wig unmoved.
Bhe2 Cleo (as she is fondly called by most runners) would finish most of her races near the top, if not the top, even the most challenging of trail routes and ultra-distances, or both, in her age category. Clad in some colorful sportswear and some kikay accessories, she would blaze through the distance in all her fabulous splendor and still manage to look fresh and made up right after. Effort talaga ang lola nyo to powder up and retouch her lipstick after the race. Me change outfit pang kasama yan!
MOST COMBATIVE RUNNING COUPLE
Ron and Emily Nils
Nothing can beat this running couple in their aggressiveness in all fronts of everything running- from race kits raffle contest, number of likes contest, barefoot running, including podium finishing (well, for Emily most of the time that is). Almost all running afficionados who frequent the major blog sites and Facebook fan and group pages know of this tandem. They are also group mates at WGR. But this most of you might not know, they are as kind and generous with friends as they are fierce in competition. Each podium finish for Ems means some pancit for everybody!
BEAUTY AND SPEED AWARD
Rhina Vince Sison and Vanj Endaya
How many times can you see a female runner speed towards the last half of the course while you are still on your way, almost nauseous and faint, to the half-way turn around mark? Many times maybe. But how about an angelic faced beauty with a body of a goddess (kakainis sila ano?) chick you out and let you eat their fabulous multicolored dust? Not much I believe. As a gay person, I am on my knees in bowing admiration to these chicks who are not only glamourous apparitions in the grueling and unforgiving roads but speedsters as well!
HUNK OF THE YEAR
Okey I give in. I have been debating upon myself if I really need to include this one in my awards. Equality dictates that if there is a distaff specific category, then the male counterpart should likewise have theirs. So here it is.
Naturally, I would like to go for someone less popular, more buff and dark (a personal taste) and relatively newer in the running scene, ika nga for freshness factor. But then, I cannot deny the clamor from all fronts of the estrogen-infused sector of our running community. Crush ng Bayan for the longest time he is and I have to agree, deserves the title look-wise and running ability wise. Di ba Becky Runner?
Navigating on barefoot the paved and unpaved routes of local races and under the heat of a tropical sun, he passes like a breath of fresh air without a hint of torture from the sun down to the very soles of his seemingly well spa maintained feet. Daig pa ang paa ng mga naka sapatos! Sige na nga Becky, give ko na sa kanya ang award na to!
BEST FUN RUNS
Color Manila Run and St. Peter’s Midnight Run
I would give this award to Color Manila Run, which accidentally was again held just this weekend, and Midnight Run of Greentennial Run.
I had a blast together with some of my running friends when we started the New Year as volunteers in this most colorful and fun of local races. I was then assigned in the pink station, the very first one of the five color splashing stations, where all runners must pass and be pummeled and rubbed with colored powders. Some runners would dump themselves with the powders not contented with our splashes while some would even roll in the powdered pavement! Kalowka di ba? The after race activities are even more fun and wild!
St. Peter Midnight Run is another fun run worth joining. Everyone is expected to come and run in Halloween costume. So imagine a thousand runners in their most ghostly and unique Halloween inspired costumes running in some urban routes. Not only this, there are some stations added along the route like the cemetery area, horror room, male hunks and diva goddesses stations that added spice to this costume run festivities. Many special awards like best in costume, best in eklavoo churva and all were given too!
This year’s edition though failed in route marshaling and preparations as I had seen many runners lost as to the number of loops and the proper route direction to take. Well I myself am not comfortable with the race area itself being crowded and all. But still the concept is unbeatable as far as fun running is concerned. More of my diva experience here.
BEST LOCAL ROAD MARATHONS
Run United Pilipinas Marathon and Quezon Marathon
Nothing can beat Run United’s Pilipinas Marathon when it comes to runner support, hydration, route marshaling, medical support, etc. Not only these, Unilab Group and Run Rio make it a point to come up with “pasabog” each installment of this sought after race, a part of a series of Run United races.
They do not stand on their laurels. Instead, they exhaust all means and resources to outdo themselves each year. This makes Run United the barometer of how a local race should be handled. They provide the standard of excellence for local running races. It is in this aspect that I encourage first time marathoners to choose Pilipinas Marathon as their maiden race more than any other races for safety, security, and over-all support.
My limited experience of countryside marathons would make my choice without a glitter of objectivity but I just have to add Quezon Marathon to my list. The location, Tayabas City, is near enough to commute by bus from the Metro on the event day itself spending sleeping hours while in transit. The challenging route running through some undulating terrains of the countryside plus the fresh sceneries like Malagonlong Bridge, and unpolluted air are just unbeatable. Add to that is the all-out support of the local government itself with the mayor, himself a runner, even joining the race!
BEST RUNNER GADGET
Soleus Fit GPS 1.0
I was lucky enough to own this affordable gps watch, which comes in a flashy and fab blue color befitting my persona. I do not like to look like a gadget geek while running. I want to look exciting and juicy (ano daw?) while doing my “run way”!
Despite this eye candle exterior, the watch itself is a no nonsense gadgetry packed with features specially designed for serious runners like me (charaught). For one, the data gathered is readily uploadable to Strava, a website with probably the biggest community of runners and riders, where you can compare and scrutinize your work out. The interface itself is very intuitive making it user friendly even to me (he he he). This retails for around P6,000.
BEST RUNNING SHOES
Well not surprising after all the pundits this model has been receiving from major blog sites. I do not have the pocket depth to avail of every promising and/or top of the line shoes every turn of the glittery pavement so mine is but a limited personal experience. Neither am I a believer of the plastic midsole support thing for pronators.
My take on this heatedly debated aspect on shoe categorization is – let nature be. For this reason, I go for cushioned shoes having no foot strike altering midsole plastic but just rubber cushion. My feet strike the ground in whatever manner God intended them to with the sole cushion doing the protecting of the joints and muscles.
With a much stronger legs and feet than when I first started, a less thick cushioning and a more pliable construction of the Kinvaras compared to most shoes in its category, provide a perfect match for me at this point in my running “career” (kareer kung kareer!). The heel-toe drop of 4mm is likewise perfect for a midfoot striker like me but not too minimalist flat to still function each time I digress to heel strike. The fabulous color combination and look make this already perfect shoe unkaboogable!
BEST ITEMS FROM THE LOOT BAG
Enervon Activ and Enervon HP
I used to remember how I always seek out and make beeline in the Rogin E booth during the times they are present in races. I would join their pakontest and/or raffle just to win a sachet or, if lucky, a bottle. Considering the price of multivitamins such as this, I would not mind the effort at all. As runners, we need all the nutrients we can get from all sources aside from the food that we eat.
So when Unilab sponsored races began stuffing their loot bags with Enervon Activ and Enervon HP, it just pleased me like an ice cream after a hard run. And being good recovery supplements that they are, it simply is a perfect combination. Enervon HP for me is a cheaper alternative to Sustagen, which by the way I cannot afford. Kacheapan!
BEST NEW RUNNING PERSONALITY
Pink Runner Dennis Mendoza
After Greeneyes, I believe Pink Runner is the only one whom I can think of who can give Val Caro a run for his green wig, consistency and impact wise that is. Almost always he is running with his running and life partner and together they are an eye candy in those bright pink ensemble. What a fabulous pair they are indeed!
BEST RUNNING TEAMS
Ayala Triads and PAR
I know many would complain as to why these two and not their respective teams. As I have told you beforehand, I only have Facebook by which to “feel” my choice. Naturally, those who posted aggressively and came up with more kaguluhan got my attention. I believe both of these teams always came up with something each race event be it fun runs or ultra runs to keep their members always at the forefront each time.
For the PAR, being a relatively new team, it got a lot going on for its members. I give credit to its head, Andrew Gacayan, for addressing the eager beaver needs of its members to mingle and evolve ito a more solid team. The support they endeavor for their teammates during ultra-races is likewise impressive. A big kudos also for all their commulative efforts, the leaders and members all, in making their team one of the most evolved this year.
The Triads on the other hand is a relatively older team being the sole remnant of the Adination of Runners, if I am not mistaken. This gives them almost 3 years headway by which to evolve into a mature team they are today made up of not only veteran ultra-runners but fabulous newbies as well. And mind you, they even got the talent for dancing which they showed during Runfest 2013’s mob/field dancing performance! Akala ko pang Fab Divas lang ito!
REVOLUTIONARY NON RUNNING RACE OF THE YEAR
BGC Cycle Phils.
I have always been amused watching big international cycling races like the Tour de France. The crowd and the coverage are simply in a league of its own. Then I wonder why with the resurgence of triathlon can’t a certain degree of commercial and local support trickle down to cycling.
Though we have our own version in the Ronda Pilipinas, Tour of Matabungkay, etc. but coverage and commercial supportwise, they are very much wanting. Then came BGC Cycle Phils. which brought to our country an international franchise that provided an avenue for regular weekend warrior cyclist to experience how it is to ride in an organized race along the streets of the metro.
Then I realized that maybe this is what is lacking in our local cycling scene, a big international purely cycling event accessible to most who can churn out the registration fee much like in running. Hopefully this race, like Run United, will revolutionize cycling in our country despite congested and sira-sira roads.
MOST PROMISING RACE
Karera Lakas Pilipinas
I had the most fun running this race, which combined trail and obstacle running which is a first time for me. What is more special is the fact that it was held in the very sanctuary of the Phil. Marines, Ternate, Cavite. The start/finish line is the beach shore of this hidden cove where one can make a splash right after finishing. Take note that it is a white sand beach! The route will take you to the ravines and rivers and be caught unawares of the exciting obstacles, which will greet you both man-made and natural.
BEST RUNNING COACHES
Coach Roel Año and Mherlz Lumagbas
This tandem of very approachable and humble coaches used to be a coach and protegé tandem during their multisport countryside karera days. Fast forward to the present, they can be found heading various running clinics and teams.
Coach Roel handled the Tuesday sessions of Nike run clinic while Coach Rio did the Thursday ones. Talk about being the latter’s most trusted coach staff. Recently he had been conquering the ultra-distances while being the brand ambassador/coach of Soleus and New Balance.
Coach Mherlz uses her own charisma to attract a number of newbie and seasoned runners minions. A constant podium placer herself, she does all these winning moments with a lot of waving and smiling involved along the route. The running group she founded and headed is still as strong as ever, the Wednesday Group of Runners, with sessions every Wednesday (well kaya nga the name di ba?) at the back of Seda Hotel, Bonifacio High Street from 7:30 pm onwards.
BEST CHEAPANGGA DISCOUNT STORE FOR SHOES
Athlete’s Foot, Glorietta
I always go to this store for my shoe needs not only for its being near the place I work but because of the shoe sale table at the center where old models are sold at 40%. What is great is that this is a permanent fixture and not something that they just put whenever they are on sale. That means they are on sale every day of the year! This brings down the price of top of the line models like Nike Pegasus and Asics Nimbus to 4T and 5T plus values. Naturally, your choices of colors and sizes will be limited but with a tantamount buying capacity, you definitely have a limited choice! Kaya wag nang magmaganda!
MOST INSPIRATIONAL RUNNERS
Mark Joseph Casidsid and Allan Carual
Mark has been a constant presence in local as well as international races. He is always seen with a pacer and lead runner whom he is connected to with a cord and whom I likewise admire for his dedication in leading Mark. He is a blind runner and a fast one at that!
Allan is a more recent addition to this brand of “elite” runners giving none challenged runners like us less and less excuses for hitting the road. In fact, if not for running divas Marjee Pong Pagong and Redg Candido, I was not acquainted with him. I asked my group mates in the fab divas whom they think is an inspirational runner and both gave me his name. Marjee in fact just recently ran with him during the Soleus lsd.
This made me search the all-encompassing FB for at least some idea how he looks in order to find out why. And by a matter of fate, I encountered him live in person after he ran at Color Manila and even had a picture taken with him!
MOST CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC AND GROUP
Photography Groups and Sakay Kotse Gang
Hopefully all of these forgetful episodes be left in the year that was and lessons must have been learned. It is regretful that some personalities in two clashing photography groups composed mostly of runners were at jagger’s end the last quarter of the year due to some “pataasan ng pride at ihi”. It was all bullshit if I am to be asked. For me all groups can coexist harmoniously for as long as they serve the running community well. What actually makes this small running community that we have in our country volatile is the number of personalities with their own respective pride and megalomania. If we approach everything with the happiness that running has been bringing to all our lives, then maybe we can see each other in a better, much more amiable light. So chill out!
The riding in tandem issue in several ultra marathon races with matching proof of purchase, este, pictures to boot had been happening for quite sometime. The good thing in this instance, not only the proof coming from reliable sources, are their respective running groups who took it upon themselves to stand the ground of being a responsible and honest runner. They censured their individual runners and put more pressure on the rest to own honestly their respective medals and/or trophies. This is a true sign that in a way the local running community and groups had grown in maturity. I like it that way. So let’s move on!
BEST NEW COUNTRYSIDE ROUTE
To be honest with you, I was not able to run here despite the invitation. The race itself was held on a Saturday which is a working day for me. So with a heavy heart, I let this opportunity pass. So what were my basis for making this one get this very much coveted award (taray most coveted?)? The pictures! That’s how thorough my choosing process is! So let me leave you with some fantastic photos of the place and the route all captured in the lenses of some who are lucky enough to experience them first hand. Hu hu hu. Well, there will always be a next time, isn’t it?
To those whom I grabbed this photo from, I am so sorry for not asking permission before posting them here (JazzRunner, Running Diva, Aktiv.ph, Trails Cavinti, etc.).