2015.41 BATAAN FREEDOM RUN

I was hit by a speeding motorcycle while running the BATAAN Freedom Run 2015 edition. The irony of it all is that I was wearing reflectorized gear from head to toe plus I was sporting a very powerful headlamp that could cover a distance of up to 300 meters. In addition, I was accompanied by a fellow ultra runner who also happened to have a powerful headlamp and was also sporting neon sportsware that’s easy to see at night and we were running along the sidewalk and not on the main highway at all. The sidewalk is HUGE, could fit in a regular sedan vehicle which probably explains why this vehicle decided to drive along the sidewalk instead of the main highway.

 

At the KM0 historical marker of the Bataan Death March in Mariveles, Bataan

 

 

I managed to see the moving vehicle about a split second so I managed to veer my body a bit but it wasn’t enough as I still got banged up with most of my torso and upper body slamming against the front of the motorcycle which sent me flying off about five meters from the point of collision and also sent the driver flying along with his vehicle sustaining physical injuries as well. My body went into shock. My entire body especially my hands and arms were shaking. The pain was intense. We called for help and in less than five minutes the paramedics were there to help me out and check up on me. At that point I was only concerned on two things. One, did I sustain any fractures? Any bones broken? Two, were there signs of internal bleeding? After some assessment and some time at the crash site, I was told that there are no signs of such things and so with whatever willpower I had left, I told them that I wanted to finish the race. I know it will be tough, but I know I just had to finish the race.

 

They slowly helped me get on my feet as I was still being treated while laying on the ground at the side of the road. There were a lot of things going through my mind at the time. One of them was the story of Scott Jurek last year while running with him around Bonifacio Global City last year when he came to visit the Philippines. He experienced sustaining an injury once, a sprain if I recall. He said that the race event turned out to be among the best and memorable and even topped the event as one of the strongest ultra runners. Scott’s story inspired me and challenged me. I’m in pain, but this is not yet life threatening yet according to the paramedics. I can do this. Live with the pain. Pain is temporary. Regret is forever. I do not wish this to be another one of those runs that I will regret and will haunt me until I do it again and finish it. Initially, I was targeting finishing the race in ten hours or less. Now I will have to make do with just managing to reach the finish line.

 

Are we there yet? This photo taken about 45 kilometers from KM0 of the race. You could see Mount Samat and the huge cross just up ahead in the photo.

 

 

Truth is, I only decided to join this race event because Ian Alacar, the race organizer, informed me about the event two weeks ago. I had no intention of adding this to my race calendar for the year. One, I knew the race route to be challenging because it is a commemorative run of the Bataan Death March. It’s not the entire route of the Bataan Death March as it covers nearly 70 kilometers. Yet the route provides elements of the historic event. Two, the race route has elements of the Epic Relay organized by Chris Sports which navigates its way all up to the peak of Mount Samat. Hence, half of the route is all uphill and climbing up a mountain while the remaining half is open highway with the classic summer heat of the Philippines kissing the asphalt road and turning it into an open oven for runners like me. This is the kind of challenge that runners would have to face. The added feature of a cloudless sky added to the charm of the challenging race course too. Why do I call it charming? Because one of the things I miss most in running across the route of the Bataan Death March is when I am in the isolated roads covered in pitch black darkness. With only the moon and my headlamp to illuminate my way, I would take a break to turn off my headlamp and admire the night sky. Knowing a little bit of astronomy I would try to identify the different constellations which sailors and mountaineers and desert folks still use as a way to navigate their way. Some things are just priceless and there are moments that can never be captured by photos and videos. Sometimes they are best etched in memories forever engraved and reinforced by the power of the written word. These are the memories that I cherish in ultra running because BATAAN was my first place were I did my first Ultramarathon, nearly seven years ago. Time goes by so fast indeed when one is kept busy. Yet that first Ultramarathon was a life changing event for me. For more on that, read it up on my Archives section. In summary, I missed doing the BDM race events and I miss doing the Epic Relay. These race events changed my life.

So there I was at KM19 of the Bataan Freedom Run and I was in pain. Yet I kept reminding myself that the pain is only temporary. I can do this. I was accompanied by She Quimosing, a fellow BDM ultra runner and she accompanied me basically throughout the remaining part of the race. Thank you, She. It was an amazing experience to be running with you. Your stories literally kept me running! Nothing beats a good conversation to do away with the distance and to distract myself with the pain. We talked about running shoes and gear. We talked about upcoming race events that we were joining. We even talked about love life. Isn’t that something?

 

So as we moved along with the race, it was good to see that this race event took place. One, it’s rare that I see race events that are supported by a local government. So to see this event being sponsored by the government of BATAAN is just amazing. In fact, they were there at the starting line. The entire race event was supported by different local government units that reminded me of the Cebu Ironman event. Ample security and police were involved and stationed along the entire race route. There were paramedics stationed strategically along the route and I can speak for this having been a victim of an accident during the race route. Kudos to the provincial disaster preparedness team of BATAAN for a job well done! Coming from a disaster preparedness professional, I salute you!  Moving forward, the aid stations had enough water. I wish they were ice cold all the time though, but hey… At least they were cold. Food were stationed strategically too at KM30 and KM50. This race is not for a newbie ultra runner. This is hardcore for newbies. It’s for those who have enjoyed easy 50k and 70k distances and would like something a little more challenging. So here’s one for your bucket list that would also remind you of the freedom we currently enjoy as citizens.

One of the highlights of this race event for me is that I literally got two hugs on the road! Thanks Rodel Montejo for the power hugs! It really helped encourage me to finish the race as well. Another highlight is that I managed to make it to the Top 30!  The first 30 gets a special trophy. The third highlight is that the organizers didn’t spare a cent in personalization! I had fish for my race meal at the finish line!

 

I don’t know if it was obvious but I still felt teary eyed when I reached the finish line. I had thought that the climb up Mount Samat would be the most difficult part of the run. I did not anticipate that it would be the downhill running as the pain become more pronounced on my lower abdomen and I was experiencing pain in my oblique muscles as well. Special shoutout to Jimmy Ong and Enrico Caramay who were my supper crew for this trip. We weren’t planning on a support crew but Enrico decided to drop out of the race to help support me instead. Also thanks to KB Runner and Tong Pascua. You guys are amazing!  Overall, I finished the race in 11 hours and 13 minutes. I was brought then brought to the Bataan General Hospital for a check up and status. That check up and status is another story though.

 

I feel great finishing the run. But I felt sad and nostalgic knowing that it he actual BDM took place 73 years ago. Whatever freedom we are enjoying is nothing to the plight for freedom that our unsung heroes and world war veterans have experienced. It is to their memory that I dedicate this run and reminds me to never forget that their sacrifices were made because they believed that freedom is important. Freedom isn’t as free as it looks. For us, it was paid for by the blood of our heroes. So we ought to live it well and with purpose, even in the simplest act of running on the road and obeying common laws and courtesy is enough. For me, it means that I will continue to let my running prove the sunshine.

 

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