Second chances | Inquirer News

Second chances

/ 11:19 AM November 08, 2011

It’s not official until you see your name in the list of runners invited to run the country’s longest road ultramarathon.

The Bataan Death March 160 organized by retired Army general Jovenal “Jovie” Narcise a.k.a. “Baldrunner” is by invitation only – almost elitist. It’s one of the many reasons why a BDM slot (with its promise of trophy, medal and the coveted finisher’s silver buckle) while not necessarily the best ultramarathon in the country, is on the Pinoy ultrarunner’s bucket list.

To qualify for the BDM 160, it’s not enough that you’re able to pay the steep registration fee of P5,000. You must first and foremost have street cred and street cred means you’ve run at least one 100k ultramarathon in under 18 hours. There’s another qualification, although unwritten — you must not have had the misfortune of crossing the race director or been caught violating the race rules in any of Baldrunner’s events.


While the first qualification is based solely on merit as a runner, the second unwritten qualification is more subjective. Still, veteran runners of Baldrunner events learn to keep their heads down and follow Balrdrunner’s race rules to the letter. The BDM 160 is after all, not just any run-of-the-mill ultramarathon. It is the longest individual road race crossing three provinces (Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac) and the only one with historical significance as it traces the path of the infamous Death March after the fall of Bataan in World War II.


In early October, I heaved a sigh of relief after seeing my name once again on Baldrunner’s list of invited runners for the 2012 edition of BDM 160. This after my heartbreaking finish of 31:08:45 in the inaugural BDM 160. The third spot in the women’s podium was mine for the taking after the fourth woman dropped out somewhere between KM 105 to 110. I missed my shot for greatness by one hour eight minutes and 45 seconds, and I have yet to forgive myself for letting that chance slip through my hands.

Despite my initial failure, I find myself doing back-to-back long runs and racking up weekly mileage reaching 80 to 100 kilometers per week and 145 kilometers by the time I peak in the last three weeks of December.

The 2012 edition of BDM 160 will happen on Jan. 28 and 29. The cut-off time is still 30 hours. While I’ve no great expectations of a podium finish, I will try my best to shave at least two hours from my record. But more than besting my personal record, this 100-miler would be my last ultra before finally starting a family and giving baby-making a serious shot.

This BDM 160 is a swan song of sorts before I retire from running impossible distances. The more I run ultra distances, the more I realize that it’s not the race distance that intimidates you, it’s the amount of time, hard work, sacrifice and dedication that scare you. The ultra distance is more than just a jealous mistress. It requires total submission. It takes over your life. This is how I know that despite the myth of empowered women having it all — career, family and a passion for running, raising babies and training for an ultramarathon do not mix.

This is why in my second shot at BDM 160, I am going for broke, literally and figuratively. I’ve taken three months off from the news anchor’s chair at TV Patrol Central Visayas to have more time for running, cross-training and active rest and recovery in three-week cycles.

I want to make it in the official list of runners who finished under 30 hours so that someday when my kids Google BDM 160, after hearing my stories from the road, they would see my name in the roster of road warriors, without need of footnote or explanation in the race director’s report.

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TAGS: Running, ultramarathon

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