I Have A Dream

Friday, June 26, 2009

In my dream I was running a marathon – all 42.195 meters of it. I was at the 21km turnaround, momentarily pausing for a banana and gulps of sports drink. Minutes later I was running ecstatic and focused. My mind dwells on nothing but the exhilaration of running and keeping within my goal pace. At km 32 where the old notion of The Wall was supposed to be, I stopped again to take another packet of energy gel provided for by the race organizer. I downed the gel with liberal sips of sports drink. I then resumed my run. Ten kilometers more and my dream to be a marathoner will come true.

I woke up 2kms before the dream finish line. In the real world I was just off the phone with the Milo race organizer. About a week ago I was told the community of runners in takbo.ph will be allowed to have a few support vehicles alongside the official water stations. I was happy with the reasonable compromise between a group of ordinary runners wanting to have peace of mind in the form of support vehicles and the race organizer espousing fairness among runners and race orderliness. A few hours ago I was told that the private support vehicles would no longer be allowed. They would no longer be necessary; the race organization would provide for all the runners needs. That was the premise and promise.

The race organizer said the 33rd Milo Marathon is envisioned by the sponsoring company and the race organization to be a model for all marathons in the country. With its long history and tradition, indeed the Milo Marathon is the premiere marathon event in the country. The founder of the Milo marathon will be an observer of how his idea has grown into what it is now. The Milo executives will run the 21K course. Like the Boston Marathon after which it was patterned, the Milo Marathon continues to attract the cream of the country’s runners. Has it also approached the Boston Marathon in terms of runners’ support provision? I can only hope so for I will soon be part of this race too. One welcome development is the planned provision of bananas at mid-point for all 21k and 42K runners.

I do not know what to make of these pieces of information. Fiercely independent, I have usually believed in providing for my own needs in pursuit of my personal dreams. What I cannot provide myself, I am willing to pay for. When I pay a marathon fee, I pay on the assumption that the fee covers not only the race certificate and singlet, but also intangibles like road security and basic needs like water and nutrition for very long distances. When I read accounts of marathon done abroad, I only sigh with longing at the energy gels, drinks and liniments given as part of the marathon package.

I find it ironic - perhaps actually auspicious - that the independent me ends up part of race support groups. First in the Condura Run; now in the Milo Marathon. I realize people do need support. Despite our varying levels of independence, we are social beings thriving on social interaction. Running is both a pursuit of one and a pursuit of all. In Condura I have personally witnessed the power of positive thought and collective support in allowing new runners to achieve what they otherwise thought was impossible. Morale support from family, friends and the crowd continue to permeate even the most historic and hallowed of all marathons.

But is private provision of hydration and nutrition the solution? The takbo.ph experience during the Condura Run has shown that the private provision of public race support can have real challenges. The main challenge is appropriate access. Despite provisioning for all 21k runners, the support vehicles run out of supplies for a few of the slower runners because the general public (i.e. non-runners) could not be effectively and peacefully denied access to private hydration stations. Other small private support groups were able to solve this access and availability problem by knowing personally whom they were supporting and discreetly limiting access to these known members. For a larger group, it can be a logistics nightmare.

In my heart I dream that private race support groups will be a thing of the past. That all that will remain are pockets of cheering families and friends. That in its place will rise a marathon-loving and supportive public crowd. I dream that runners need not fret about adequate hydration and nutrition along the way for these have already been considered by the race organization. In my case, it is tremendous pressure enough to finish my first marathon within 5hrs. I personally hope that I would not have to worry about having water towards the finish line. I am hoping Milo the energy drink will power me all the way to the finish. I have seen how race organization in the Philippines has progressed through the years. For my maiden marathon, I hope we are getting real close to the level of support runners have come to expect. After all the preparation and training, all I can really do is hope and pray. This is what we Filipinos are really good at: preparing for the worst, but always hoping for the best.

I am trusting my childhold drink of choice will not fail me. As the singlet I will be wearing says, “Kaya natin ‘yan”

Only then will the dream become a reality.


Rod June 26, 2009 at 4:47 PM  

Although it's nice that we get support other than that of the organizers. I think it will be better for us individually if rely on ourselves+organizer for the hydration/food during the race. =)

See you sa races! Ingats!

Jet Paiso June 26, 2009 at 8:57 PM  

hi rico, i honor you bro for being one of the leaders for the takbo.ph support group for milo. and i do hope to be part of the support group in one of the events soon.

though i'm a newbie runner, i've learned that our local running events do have some areas for improvement. i'm coming from the insights shared by fellow runner-bloggers sir jovie and bongpagong.

your dream is our dream as well. and i do hope my 1st milo event (and 1st 21k) will never fail me as i pursue my marathon dream.

Sam the Running Ninja June 27, 2009 at 11:42 AM  

From the words of wisdom of Dean Karnazes:

Run when you can,
walk if you have to,
crawl if you must,
just never give up!

Good luck sten!

Gingerbreadman June 27, 2009 at 12:41 PM  

Agreed with Jet boss. Your dream is our dream as well. I hope Milo can deliver on their promise, and as what Boss Jinoe said, I hope better support doesn't equate into bigger Nawasa trucks. I am really hoping the country's oldest running marathon could pull it off. And rest assured, when the times comes that you need that support, I'll be there. :)

The Collective June 27, 2009 at 10:16 PM  

Greetings Mr. Rico Villanueva!

A well-written web log you have here. WE admire your enthusiasm to the sport of running and your dedication to your congregation of runners.

Run Strong and Prosper!

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