PAU Pow Pow
The idea and invitation came a month before the actual race. Dave and I were doing our first few runs within our village when he broached the idea of joining the PAU 50K. It was going to be somewhere in Tanay, Rizal and it will be our first run beyond the 42 km full marathon. If we survived 42 km, just add 8 km more and we get to finish 50 km and become Ultrarunners. We will be on the same of plane with the running gods.
Ultra marathon – there’s a term which you rarely hear. Basically, because it represents less than 10 percent of the running community, I think. These are runners who go beyond the usual 42 km and double or triple that distance. Yup, one could easily consider them crazy fanatics running under the cruel sun for hours [that’s beyond 6 hours people]. I still have to penetrate their ranks but they are quite a close-knit and very disciplined bunch. I guess the respect and acceptance would come once you’ve shown your running record. Will I make the cut?
The Philippine Association of Ultrarunners is headed by Sir Jovie Narcise, a.k.a. Baldrunner. He runs one of the more popular running blogs and the organizer of the Bataan Death March 102 and PAU 50 km. Of course, we start with 50 km first.
A month of short and long runs finally saw us on May 09, 2010 at a national highway along Tanay, Rizal where we took off at 5 am. None of the blinding lights and blaring music, PAU 50 KM was a refreshing departure from the very commercialized weekly runs at the Fort area. The roads were already quite visible as a little over a hundred runners navigated the double lane roadway ascending towards the hills in the distance. Even with the uphill climb, the mood was festive and upbeat until the sun gave us a blistering reminder that it was a Sun-day.
Our climb continued with some plateaus in between but with the breathtaking view of Laguna de Bay on one side, the effort was quenched and rewarded. By this time, we only have brief and minute views of other runners in front so we only had the 4 of us, lumbering and having a grand time. A minor downhill road would separate Ian & Eric from Dave and I as they started taking in the heat. It has been over 3 hours of running along the cogon bordered highway while stopping over every 5 kms. in our service vehicle laden with revitalizers to quench our hunger and thirst . We could only imagine how the mountain top appeared decades ago – an army of centuries-old trees surrounded by a verdant landscape. At that moment, nothing came between us and the rays of the sun.
The first official water station at 10 kms. felt like 15 kms. with the continued rise in altitiude so that by the time we reached the 20-km. pitstop at the Sierra Madre resort, it felt like we’ve climbed 30 kms already.
From there, we started our descent, some very sharp but mostly gradual. With no returning runner in sight for the next hour or so, we surmised that the route would be circling the mountain to return to the other side of the resort. Which was a relief considering the difficulty we had going down, so going back the same path would be twice the effort going up. This assumption would take us far psychologically, free of the possible difficult climbs back.
We were imagining most of runners finishing already and celebrating until we saw the leaders of the pack, one by one and later in bunches indicating the tail end of the race. But we were the last ones in this run. Then we caught up with 2 more tailenders (one guy would fail while the girl would finish last) aside from Ian & Eric. The 2 guys would reach the 35 km. turn, run 2 kms. more then give up to take our service vehicle back, 13 kms. short.