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Lessons from a Summit Challenge

/ 09:21 AM October 11, 2011

Lessons from a Summit Challenge

Challenge is a word not to be taken lightly. This, in one short sentence sums up the Summit 60K Ultra Challenge — the debut race organized by the Sugbu Ultra Running Enthusiasts (SURE). And what a debut race it was.

There are good races and there are very good races, but very few can claim to have set the bar high. The organizers of the Summit 60K Ultra Challenge composed of the hardworking triumvirate — Bro . Carlo Bacalla, SDB as Race Director, Joel Juarez as Technical Director and Rizalde Abapo Velano of Absolute Sales Corporation (who provided what seemed like an unlimited supply of Summit water and 100 Plus sports drink) did not only manage to put together a good race, they’ve also set the bar high for other ultra endurance races in Cebu as well. The following are the reasons why:


* The start and finish area at the Talisay City Hall had ample parking and security, clean restrooms, a real start and finish arc with digital clock.

* The race started on time (exactly 4 a.m.) thanks in part to Talisay City Councilor Bernard Odilao who came early to the starting area and not make the runners wait for the host city’s welcome address.

* Half of the SRP on the Talisay City side was closed to vehicular traffic even if there were only 81 of us.

* As promised, there were hydration and aid stations every five kilometers and roving marshals throughout the route.

* A full force of Talisay City Runners Club members went out of their way to guide participants showing us visitors that, despite what you read in the papers about Talisay City’s infamous son (a certain Joavan), Talisaynons are very nice, very welcoming people who were in fact very appreciative of special idiots called ultra runners.

* The race included a relay category, which allowed newbies a taste of an ultra distance event, without forcing them to take on a distance that their bodies are not ready for.

* As runners crossed the finish line, the race secretariat acknowledged through loudspeaker the runner’s name and ranking.

* Each finisher got a customized medal plus a customized trophy which showed the runner’s actual placing in the race. The certificate of completion had the finisher’s name printed on it and last but not least, the finisher’s shirt with reflective material good for night runs was worth keeping.


*Finishers were treated to a full meal of puso, lechon, ngo hiong, cold beer and cold water at the finishline.

However, the best part of the race was the route/course design which was challenging and beautiful at the same time. Even Rick Gaston, a veteran of two Western States 100s (the oldest 100 mile trail ultra) called it a “hard and impressive course.”

It took us through the flat roads of the SRP, Tabunoc and Lagtang in Talisay City, going up to the misty mountains in Manipis Road through Campo 4 to Campo 6 before passing through a portion of Cebu City’s Barangay Sinsin. Rough roads led us to (surprise, surprise) the Atlas mines in Lutopan, when minutes before I was just in Cebu City. I really did not know until then that these two seemingly far apart places are right beside connected by hidden mountain roads and trails. There in Loay we ran through 7 kilometers of sand, rocks and mud on one side with a view of lush mountains and the turquoise waters of a small lake inside what use to be the Biga Con pit. As we reached the summit, runners were treated to a view of the Tañon Strait and the island of Negros right across.

Just as we thought all the climbing was over as we descended towards Campo 7 passing through Minglanilla’s interior barangays, we had to climb once again through a reforested area in Campinsa. Who would have thought that Talisay City had a mini forest! I later learned that even lumads like Frances Seville-Ang who was born and bred in Talisay City did not even know of its existence even if it’s just five kilometers from the back of Camella Homes where we descended on our way back to the finishline.

I went home from last Sunday’s race with more than just mileage. The Biga Con pit in Loay, with its juxtaposed beauty and desolation, made me feel like I was the last person on the planet running towards the edge of the Earth. Then it hit me, really hard — how terrible it is to be doomed to wander the planet alone. Like being blindsided and caught with a punch coming from nowhere, I cried right there in the middle of what was once Southeast Asia’s largest copper mine and realized that despite my procrastinating and my million reasons not to have children, deep down I really do want one.

You don’t expect races to hit you on an emotional and personal level, but once in a while they do and when it hits home, it leaves you pondering even days after the last trace of muscle soreness is gone. The Summit 60K Challenge managed to do that for me.

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TAGS: Challenge, Lessons, race, Sugbu Ultra Running Enthusiasts, Summit 60K Ultra Challenge
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