The Fabulous Route I Missed
It would have been superb had I ran the route myself but more pressing responsibilities await me as a volunteer marshal so I had to let pass this opportunity for now. Afterall I can always go back and run it myself anytime but this opportunity to help out may or may not happen again.
The Wall 2 Shotgun was actually a run to celebrate the birthday of Coach Roel, one of the more prolific and high profile running coaches around having coached several stars including Iza Calsado. It covers two of the most challenging highly inclined but readily accessible uphill routes, The Wall and Shotgun as the name suggests. I have heard somewhere that the name Shotgun came from the security guard manning the dumpsite outpost along this area carrying a pitolized shotgun. This area had been a source of dissent from various ecological groups due to this garbage disposal usage. The Wall on the other hand became the name of this Timberland area strip of road around 4K from Shotgun due to the very steep inclination that seemed to runners and bikers frequenting the area like climbing a wall!
Naiwan si Coach Mherlz at Coach Ryan‼!
My Team Fabulous Running Divas hired a jeepney going to Columbary of Divine Mercy, San Mateo, Rizal where the race began. Leaving slightly past 3:30 a.m. from Market Market for the 6 a.m. gunstart and after Spongebob, whom I thought will not make it due to a previous PM and whose latest message telling us to wait for him was luckily read by Jet, arrived riding a taxi. The driver, Edwin, was not familiar of the area. Alyna mentioned Rob whom we are going to fetch in LRT 2 Santolan Station must have an idea being from Marikina. So off we went to the Santolan Station. Nearing this, another text arrived. Coach Mherlz together with Coach Ryan was left at Market Market‼! I totally forgot Coach Mherlz since I thought she can make it with the marshals group leaving at 11 p.m.! My bad! So we had both of them take a taxi cab to where we fetched Rob at Petron near the LRT station. We reached the start/finish area with just some few minor hitches with the help of, what else, Google Map!
I was instantly approached and instructed by Jackie and Blue, leaders of the Program and Route, upon arrival to move my sorry ass and work! Akala ko makakalusot ako at pwedeng tumakbo na lang. Hehehe… So work I did first taking note of the lack of baggage personnel and noting that despite her gorgeous contact lenses, she was a bit clueless of the goings on and the persons beside her were simply relying on her. I looked for Malou, our jeepney and running companion, whom I will use and abuse as a baggage girl simply for being there. As runners, I believe we are all ready to help our fellow runners in all capacity that we can. Then off I assisted in the program giving the hosts, Coach and Race Director Edward Kho and Ultra Grand Slammer Peachy Tamayo, cues on the time for each segment. The crucial moment in this role was the gunstart which should precisely fall on 6 a.m. The funny thing was, it was Coach Mherlz who lead the stretching of the runners. So if we left her and had she not had pocket money for taxi cab, then all fingers will be pointing at me! Whew!
When the race began, I left the stage and went to my finish line assignment of taking note of the leaders of the race. After some 20 minutes, I heard the incessant blaring of the lead bikes horns signaling their arrival after some 5K of hellish uphills in the Shotgun. Mga mamaw nga! Mga halimaw talaga! I jot down the top 10 men and top 3 women as there were only 3 elite ones in the distaff side. For verification purposes, anyone who happened to enter the podium from outside of this list will be suspect. Not unless the 8 others were pushed down the slopes somewhere along the route! Then after the Top 3 were determined on both gender, I have to help in determining who are about to finish and lead them to the few meters of trail behind the Columbarium. Then I have to help Jackie with the listing of finishers for the top teams! But this proved a bit critical for manual system to handle. Then I have to help out with the giving off finisher shirts which unfortunately was depleted before the runners were due to another glitch! Then I have to dance‼! Responsibility overload!
The Last Minute Changes in the Route
The original route would just be the 10K going up and down the Shotgun and the 6.8K of the road leading to the Wall and back the finish line. It would have been great, but too much of a great thing might provide the opposite effect. So the organizers thought it much runner friendly to cut the Shotgun route by half and stop at the 2K mark up. To compensate an Amiya Raya Subdivision area was added and in return, some flyers will be given the runners as loop cord. The part of the route going up and down the Wall and the subdivision on the other side was made two loops instead of one with the last few meters going around some trail at the back of the Columbary before finally heading for the finish line.
How Fabulous this Race is!
Not because of the participation of the Fabulous Running Divas as a team and as volunteers (maybe partially, maihirit ko lang kaya pagbigyan na) but of the singular factor no runner working his or her butt for increased strength and speed can protest – the killer ROUTE! Or as the increasingly gaining in popularity hashtag aptly describes it – #rutangina. But this I have no right in professing as I had not this wonderful chance of experiencing it. Sigh.
Another factore that made this race a cut above the rest was the fact that everybody joined in for the love of one of the best, if not the best, running coaches in our country who is not only talented as a coach but humble and selfless as a person. On my part, I really cherish joining these kind of races as it feels like a reunion of a big family of runners which I am a part of. The camaraderie and the spirit of competition are all done in good spirit and in the great pride of being a part of this family. Racing with friends will supersede everything else and the fact that this occurred in one such great route, is more than anybody can ask for.
I will just let some of the pictures of my friends show what you (for those who did not register and are currently hating themselves for it) and I had missed. All photos courtesy of no less than The Running Photographers, of course.
The Dance Number
Last year The Fabulous Running Divas performed the cool down dance to the tune and steps of Riza Mae’s Cha Cha Cha The Barkads. This year, we cannot afford to be left out! We added some Team Soleus members to the group as we rehearsed our first and last rehearsal during the Running Clinic for this race sponsored by Soleus and Madam Judith Staples. The rest simply just joined in with the dance impromptu!
1. Vicente “Blue” Zapanta – Choreographer
2. Anne Cefre – Side Leader
3. Kerwin Ng – Side Leader
4. Rikki Suarez – 1 rehearsal pero mahina kukute sa dance steps
5. Inja Fajatin – 1 rehearsal na magulo at di pa kumpleto ang steps
6. Pamela Gatuz – 1 rehearsal din like Inja na magulo din
7. Rochell Romero – impromptu dancer
8. Wendy Valdez – celebrity impromptu dancer
9. Jhun Polintan Ligtas – kembot king impromptu dancer
10. Coach Mherlz Lumagbas – kembot queen impromptu dancer
11. Jackie Gutierrez – salimpusa impromptu dancer
Here take a look of how fun this performance turned out and how we had a blast doing it. Thanks FRD Vicente “Blue” Zapanta for the choreography and for the patience! Thanks Monzki Cuenca for the video!
Lessons Learned from My Assignment and Errors Observed
Then again, as customary, I always like to write about things I learned through the mistakes of commission and omission I did doing this finish line marshaling for the first time and from observations I made out of the entire activity. These are meant to be positive criticisms as they may or may not be true coming from the hindsight of a non-expert like me. As I have stated before, this race was superb as it is.
The route calls for 2 loops around The Wall to the Shotgun area. Before they reach the finish line, both the 16K and the 6K runners will have to enter the trail at the back of the Columbarium before heading for the tape. The problem was determining who are finishing and who are heading for the 2nd loop most specially when both fast runners and slow runners overlap at this junction. Some even did the trail going for their second loop. Another one, a bra topped lady runner, even finished before going for the second loop. But she was honest enough to call out why she finished at just her 12K mark! Thank God she was wearing a gps watch so she went off before we even checked her loop cords!
The 6K runners will enter the trail from the Shotgun side. Some of them use the other side of the road mingling with the 16K runners heading for the Wall and unfortunately, marshals cannot point them out using the bib since from afar, they are the same! Then those 6K runners who just did the trail enter the finishline from the side with the other 6K runners who are just about to do the trail. So which is which?‼ Fortunately, there were but a handful of participants in this distance so the critical part was just with the podium placers making sure that they did the trail before finishing.
The bibs are usually color coded to match a particular distance and such served a purpose I will come to realize the importance of most specially in this kind of route! And it were the last few meters of trail and the looping of runners in front of the finish line which compounded this problem. Next time make sure the color of the bibs are different and that they are discernible from afar!
The Team Colors
Jackie and I were instructed to do the manual counting of top finishers for the Team Category. The problem came when runners finished en masse. We have to take note of each runners team classification, if they belong to a team, and their finishing rank within the team. Then we have to submit at least the top 5 for time verification with the team handling the individual time for faster submission of results before the end of the event. The problem is, not all teams are using team uniforms! So we have to approach even those not belonging to a team just to ask them if they do! What a waste of time and energy!
I think what is the best thing to do if team competitions are involved is:
1. To require each of them to come in team uniforms.
2. Or if that cannot be enforced, a bib number system wherein each team is assigned a unique number or letter. Whichever is more cost and resources efficient and implementable given the circumstances of the two should be applied in races such as this.
The Distribution of Finisher Shirts
As I was about to retrieve something from the baggage area which served also as finisher shirt booth due to lack of man power (this is a race for a cause remember so everybody here was a volunteer and logistics call for a limited number), there were clamor that they ran out of them!
Then I inspected why. Since I was not there at the onset of the distribution of shirts, here are some probable causes:
1. Even those who registered late onsite (not entitled to one as their registration fee was discounted correspondingly) were given by those who did not request for the finisher shirt stub nor inspected their bibs carefully;
2. Shirts were grouped by team, but when I inspected my team’s shirts, some of those who were already given had still their shirts (they were named) in the bunch. So I instantly released these to be given to those who were not able to claim theirs. I believe they were given those assigned for individual runners and that they were not asked for their team classification (another problem brought by non-uniformed team members and no bib numbering system to indicate a team).
The problem with assigning shirts by team is when they are not dressed uniformly as one nor bib number classified as such. The distributors of the shirts, being harassed as they usually are, had no time to ask each one for team classification so they gave them those assigned for individual runners.
Great race by the great people that helped out, sacrificed their time and energy, all for the love of Coach Roel and for the love of the running community in general. Great runners composed mostly running friends coming from different running groups all sharing a part of themselves to help out in the advocacy of Coach Roel, the development of kids who love to run in Davao where he came from. Simply the best!