2nd Women’s Ultramarathon

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On March 9, 2013, Cebu’s running community marks women’s month with the 2nd edition of the All-Women Ultramarathon (AWUM).

This unique ultramarathon race, conceptualized and organized by the Cebu Ultrarunners Club (CUC) and the Ungo (Think Tankers), is the only one of its kind in the country, perhaps even the world. There will be a Malaysia Women Marathon (MWM) on April 7, but the longest distance at the MWM is 42K and this is only their first edition making Cebu’s AWUM the pioneer in the all-women long-distance event.

This year, 150 women will heed the starting gun at 10 p.m. of Saturday, March 9, and try to beat the sunrise as they race 50 kilometers starting at the well-known Cebu landmark Plaza Independencia, passing through the streets of Cebu City, onto Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City. This year’s finishline is at the beachfront of White Sands Beach Resort in Barangay Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City.

In early January, organizers were inundated with applications and requests for race entry, but slots were limited to 150. Each finisher will get a much-coveted personalized crystal trophy, with the finisher’s name printed/etched on it, immediately after crossing the finishline.

Roads will not be closed for the event but runners will be guided by race marshals on foot and on road bikes and motorbikes. There will be medics on standby to ensure runners’ safety while hydration and real food (Korean noodles, congee, lechon, root crops, bread) will be served at the aid stations.

This race is made possible by the collective generosity of Cebu’s running community with Cebu’s running clubs sponsoring the 22 food/hydration and aid stations spread throughout the race route. The running clubs and individuals who have generously provided race logistics in this year’s AWUM include SMS/Smart Runners, PH Adiks, TG Lasang Luba Runners, Zen Runners, Indie Runners, YY Kredit Runners, MAC Runners, Atty. Ramsey Quijano, G6 Runners, Danao City Milers & Team Laspag, North Road Runners Club, Team Guardo, TAD Runners, Mandaue Runners Club, Parklane/ Bai Runners, Team Cebu Striders, Runroo Runners, Bohol Runners Club, Igat Runners, TCRC Talisay Runners, FRC (Fit Runners Club) and Team Safari Runners.

Women are built for running long distances

While women may never outpace and outrun male runners in distances between 100 meters and 42K, women have a greater advantage in distances beyond 42K.

In the article “Are women designed to go the distance?” author Melissa Davey cites a study that explains why women are built to run the ultra distances —

“In 1997, the Medical Research Council in South Africa decided to see if women could outrun men in ultramarathon races. They compared the performances of men and women in a 90-kilometre race, and found men ran faster than the women up to the marathon distance of 42.2 kilometres. Beyond that distance though, they found women ultramarathon runners had greater fatigue resistance than equally trained men.

One theory is that because women generally tend to carry more fat than men, they also have a metabolic advantage because fat metabolism increases as distance increases.” (http://www.stockandland.com.au/news/metro/national/general/are-women-designed-to-go-the-distance)

Because women have more fat reserves than men, ultra races 50K and beyond is really the woman runner’s domain. This knowledge alone should encourage more women to go long and strive not only to finish an ultramarathon, but also out-perform the male runners. All that women runners need to do is get out there, train and make it happen.

Still, even a cursory glance at the list of participants in any ultra distance event in the country would show that women participants comprise only 10%, sometimes even less, making AWUM not only groundbreaking but also a true watershed event for women runners everywhere.

Speaking of women runners – Lyra Valles and Janet Legaspi, both of the Cebu Ultrarunners Club, placed 4th and 5th respectively at the Bataan Death March 102 held last Saturday. Lyra ran 102 KM from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando Pampanga in 15 hours, 1 minute, 56 seconds. Janet finished the race in 15 hours, 31 minutes, 44 seconds. The cut-off time at the BDM is 18 hours.

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