Race Review: RotaRun 09

We were all back to the dreaded and treacherous McKinley Hill route as the Rota Run 2009 was held there yesterday morning. This is one of my favorite race routes, no matter how daunting it can be. It also marked the first race that Takbo.ph managed and facilitated. Let’s now see how the race went.

THE HIGHS

Race started on time. As mentioned in my previous race review (eco dash), I always prefer that races start on time. This way, runners can calculate the time they need to warm-up and go to the starting line.

Adequate aid stations with abundant supply. I like the part where there are people handing out water and Vitwater to runners. This way, one does not have to completely walk or stop to get fluids. This also lessens the queuing at the aid stations. (Although, after reading Baldrunner’s blog about hydration stations, I have to recommend to organizers that they should have longer tables)

Safety and the presence of marshals. What more can you say if you see military people stationed at different sections of the route? I felt as if I had a bodyguard.

Presence of directional markers. One would not get lost due to the presence and visibility of directional markers telling runners whether to go straight, turn right or turn left. Plus, you have marshals ensuring that you go to the right direction.

McKinley Hill. The hills…those barbaric McKinley hills! One year of running and I still don’t have an answer to these hills. But I do enjoy running at McKinley and I make it a point to join races if it passes through McKinley.

Nice singlets. It may not be as good as the Kenny’s Urbanite singlets but it still has a great and comfortable feel.

Value for money. Nowadays, seldom do we see registration fees below Php 300. This is value for money at its best. For Php 200, you get a nice singlet, medals for 21K finishers, some freebies from sponsors and get to run in a safe, scenic and enjoyable race.

THE LOWS

No KM markers. I hope that KM markers become a standard during races. Runners without the aid of Garmins or Polars rely on the KM markers.

Not a 21K. Runners with Garmin watches have it at 18K. The 3K difference is really big, especially for those aiming for a PR or for those training for a full marathon. At the moment, I also don’t know the reason behind the distance disparity. We can only hope that there is an explanation for this.

Robbery at McKinley Parking. This is really a very unfortunate incident. We can only hope that the McKinley administration improve their surveillance and security procedures. And dare I say that the Php 50 parking fee is too much for – what – a short 2-3 hour stay? Yeah, Php 50 seems small but you don’t get value from their end. Put CCTV cameras there and beef up security and then we can agree that the Php 50 fee is reasonable (For example, SM megamall and MOA have those sensors to direct you where to park – red means a car is parked and green means you can park there. Plus, you see 2-3 security guards who tirelessly roam around using their motorbikes. Now, that’s a “sulit” Php 50 parking!)

MY 15K RUN

No doubt, this was a better 15K run than at Kenny’s in terms of time and overall experience. In fact, my only goal for the race was to eclipse the 1h 38m (chip time) I had set at Kenny’s.

For the first time in a long while, we arrived early. Got a good parking (2nd floor) and walked leisurely to the race grounds. I’ve had so many close calls where I thought I’d be late for a race. But not on this Rota Run morning (partly because I knew that parking would be difficult).

So, for a change, I had the chance to do some warm-ups and stretching. I did around 3 sets of sprints after a comfortable jog. I lined up at the start-finish area with around 5 minutes to spare.

My plan for this race is to take it easy while in McKinley and take advantage of the flat roads along Lawton Ave. I knew that I lacked hill training and pushing hard in the beginning would be stubborn on my part.

The race started on time and, immediately, we were greeted by a mild uphill run. I followed my plan and navigated the uphills slowly but easily. I let the momentum from the downhills carry over and use the added speed to run faster on the few flat roads of McKinley. Approaching Blue Leaf I slowed down again for the final long uphill leading to Lawton Ave.

It was like heaven at Lawton Ave. Finally, no more uphills! This is where I picked up the pace and made up for lost time. It was the first time for me to run almost the entire length of Lawton Ave, with the u-turn at gate 3. In previous races, the direction is usually to turn left at Bayani Road. It was pretty straightforward (some uphills, some downhills, some flats) along Bayani Road leading to the U-turn outside Heritage Park.

After the final ascend at Bayani Rd.-Lawton Ave. intersection, I felt that I still had some energy left. With 1 final sip of Gatorade from my hydration bottle, I ran faster towards McKinley. And as I used the momentum for the final downhill run, I sprinted to the finish line.

And as I was sprinting to the finish, I was carefully looking at my time at above the finish line. I really wanted to know if I eclipsed my Kenny’s time. Lo and behold, I was surprised and very happy to see that my official time was 1h 22m 30s, a new PR for me for the 15K distance. Wow! This is a great bonus for me…something to boost my confidence that I’m progressing with my training, that I’m on the right track for my first 21K at QCIM and that I am on the way to making a full recovery from injuries.

OVERALL RATING

I’ll be using a scale of 1 to 5 defined as: 1-Poor, 2-Fair, 3-Good, 4-Very Good, 5-Excellent.

I would rate this run event as a 3.5/5 – Almost Very Good.

On a somehow short notice, Takbo.ph and Ian Alacar did a good job on getting this event together. Congratulations to the race organizers for a good job. With all your hard work and dedication to the running community, I am inspired and motivated to contribute on my own and, if possible, try to volunteer for the next Takbo.ph-organized run event.

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