Monday, July 18, 2016

Mactan Speed 50 Ultramarathon 2016

The Mactan Speed 50km Ultramarathon in Cebu was my 2nd race in 2016.  It was about 4 weeks after the Pistol Ultramarathon in end Jan and organised by Blue, a friend that I met through another good friend, Cheryl, in Philippines.  Traveling to most part of Philippines was never easy with the exception of Cebu.  I managed to book for 2 nights accommodation with Blue's recommendation.  The hotel was about 1.5km away from the start/finish line and less than 5km from the Cebu International Airport.  I arrived in the morning and was given an early check-in.  After laying out my race kit, I went to nap.

Starting Line Of Mactan Speed 50 Ultramarathon in 2016!

The Mactan Speed 50km would start at Lapu Lapu City Hall and was an out-and-back race with an official cut-off time of 8 hours!  The race commenced at 10pm at night so I had the whole day to laze around in the hotel room.  At about 6pm, I had a quick dinner at a nearby restaurant before heading back to the hotel to get ready.  It was a warm day so I was glad it was a night race.  In fact, the Mactan Speed 50km would be the second time that I would be running in Cebu during the night (with the first being the first edition of the Cebu All Women 50km in Mar 2012 - another road race)!  :)

Dinner Was Beef With Rice & Egg!

At 09:00pm, I took a cab from the hotel to Lapu Lapu City Hall even though I could walk there in less than 20mins.  :p  Blue and his group of volunteers were already there, setting up the place.  I said hi to Blue and asked him for some details of the race.  He showed me the map with the distances between the various aid stations indicated.  There were a total of 5 aid stations with the one towards AS2 also an out-and-back section.  The distances between the aid stations were not exactly 5km apart.  Instead, they were placed where they were due to the locations.  There was also a cut-off time of 4 hours at 02:00am at the turn-around at AS5 which was about 25.19km from the City Hall.

With The Race Director, Blue (Right); Route, Distance and Cut-Off Time (Left)!

I left Blue to settle his stuff as he was very busy as the Race Director.  After I collected my bib, I waited with other runners for the conduct of the brief.  The brief was held on time and we had our group photo taken prior to being flagged off at 10:00pm sharp.

Race HQ And Race Start @ Lapu Lapu City Hall, Cebu!

Start To AS5 25.19km
As usual, I started off quite slowly.  We turned into the main road after leaving the Lapu Lapu City Hall.  Traffic was heavy with many vehicles.  I shouldn't be surprised as it was a Saturday night!  But what bothered me was not the traffic and the vehicles but rather the smoke coming out from them.  Uuuurrrrgggghhhh.  I guessed that's what road runners would face when signing up for road races with no road closure.  Along the junction, there were traffic police to direct the traffic to allow the runners a clear path to run which was something you would not find in Singapore.  For that, I was grateful for their presence.  After running past the junction leading to the airport, the traffic became less heavy.  Still, we had to be very careful as we were running with the traffic rather than against it.  Soon I reached AS1 the first aid station at around the 5km mark.  I refilled my water bottle, took a watermelon, thanked the volunteers before I continued my run.  On my right, I could see the airport.  Once in a while, there would be planes taking off and landing.  That's probably the most interesting sight of the run unlike in the day, you could see more things in a foreign country.

 AS1 - The First Aid Station!

Soon, I met the front runners who had turnaround at the AS2 out-and-back section.  Boy, they were fast.  This stretch of road was small and mostly dark with few street lamps lighted up.  Even at this hour, there were still people awake playing pools or chit-chatting by the road side.  Stray dogs were abundant as well.  Luckily, I was not afraid of them.  I continued plodding along and counted around 8-10 ladies ahead of me.  The turnaround AS2 aid station was next to the Barangay Hall.  Again, they had water, Coke and watermelon.  I took some Coke and left.  On my way out, I saw some runners going for their AS2 out-and-back section and was glad I was not the last runner.  The completion of the shorter out-and-back section saw me joining back to the main road.  Just before the bus interchange was AS3!  As I didn't need anything, I continued running.  There were karaoke shops along these stretch of roads, where people were belting out songs at the top of their voices!  It was really refreshing and took my mind off the running.  By then, I found my rhythm and picked up my pace.  There weren't many runners around me though I could see a few lights in front of me.

The Punta Engano Barangay Hall!

Then, I came to a major cross junction where there were policemen directing me to make a right turn.  I knew I should be near to the AS5 turnaround.  I was getting sleepy and was thinking if I should stop by the 7-11 convenient store to get a can of ice coffee.  I decided against it and pressed on to see what would be available to the runners at the turnaround AS5 aid station.  Unfortunately, they didn't have much.  I said thanks to the volunteers and retraced my steps back.  A check on my watch showed I took about 3 hours 30 minutes to complete the half way distance.  This meant I had 4 hours 30 minutes for the remaining 25km.

U-Turn Point to Finishing
On my way back, I stopped at the 7-11 convenient store to buy a can of ice coffee.  After drinking, I felt refreshed and kept running.  Although it was night time, the humidity was rather high.  I guessed that was the reason why I felt lethargic.  But thankfully, the can of ice coffee really did wonders.  In a short time, the caffeine kicked in and I started to find my rhythm.  Soon, I was able to run at a more consistent pace with more running than walking.  Once in a while, I even managed to catch up with other runners, who were mostly walking.  I reminded myself of my target, and that was to complete the race before the sun rise.  I should be able to make it since I had additional 30 minutes as buffer time.  The remaining journey was largely uneventful since it was early morning.  There was also less traffic on the road.

AS2 - The Second Aid Station Next To Barangay Hall!

Soon, I reached the intersection where runners had to do the small out-and-back small loop towards AS2 for the second time.  I met a couple of runners on their way back to AS1. There were no people playing pools or chatting by the road side by then and the road looked more eerie.  Luckily, I wasn't afraid to run alone and besides, I was running in a city!  After leaving AS2, I knew I was another 10km before the finishing and my morale was getting high.  Unfortunately, I was hit by the second bout of z monsters and it slowed me down although I was still running (more like jogging).  I cursed at myself for buying only one can of ice coffee earlier.  :(  I whipped out my iPhone and calculated the distance to the Lapu Lapu City Hall - about 7.5km more.  This meant that I should be reaching the last aid station soon!  By then, the airport runway was on my left but there were few planes taking and landing at that hour.  I took a longer time to reach the AS1 checkpoint as I was walking more than I ran.  After a quick refill of water, I press on.

As the z monsters were winning the war, I decided to walk the remaining way since I had plenty of time.  Besides, I didn't look like I was going to over take any runners nor were there runners overtaking me.  I kept going though my mind was switching off.  Soon, I noticed more vehicles on the road and the day was getting brighter. I walked past some shophouses which were still closed and I was grateful to the volunteer who directed me to cross the road safely though there were no vehicles nearby.  He also told me that I was very near to the City Hall.  The next familiar building I saw was the hotel where I was staying!  I knew I was very near - just another two streets and I would be turning left into the finishing line!  I finally completed the Mactan Speed 50km in a respectable time of 7 hours 30 minutes 10 seconds, which was good enough for winning the 1st place 40-49 women's age group, 6th women and 22nd overall!  :)  Disclaimer: Champion lady was aged 48 with a timing of 6:13:00.  Since I was not in the top 3 but the next finisher in the 40-49 age group, I was deemed to achieve a 1st place in the 40-49 age group.  :p

Left: My Favorite Breakfast from Jollibee!  Right: Completion of the Mactan Speed 50km!

Blue presented my hard earned medal and trophy!  It was a very pleasant surprise even though I knew my timing wasn't fantastic.  All finishers were also given a finisher tee and a packet of breakfast from Jollibee - my favourite!  I thanked Blue who directed a great race before taking a lift from a volunteer back to the hotel.  I wish there are more of such age group awards being given to runners for the races in Singapore.  It could spur more runners to do their best or to inspire more to take up the hobby of running to keep fit.  And to Cebu, I hope to be back soon!

 My Finisher Tee, Medal and Age-Group Trophy!

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