“The last kilometer distance in all my adventure runs is simply the hardest but the sweetest of them all. This is where you remember to recite and shout your favorite running mantra; this where the “demons and angels” of running will argue with each other; this is where “mind over body” would work; this is where you determine what you are made of; this where you remember your loved ones who are rooting for you to finish this race; this is where you think of your inspiration; this is where you curse yourself why you are doing this run/race; and lastly this is where you think that you are a brave “warrior” and nobody would defeat you in order to win your battle!” – Gen. Jovenal “The Bald Runner” Narcise, The King of Guimaras Island
21st of April, Year of the Dragon, 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The craziest day of my life. Eleven hours after the Skyathon Beach Run which I did not participated but dearly regretted for doing so. The TV actors already finished their most-awaited beach volleyball game which was horrible yet fun. People were gearing to see the finals match for the Men’s and Women’s collision course for the bragging rights of being the Kings and Queens of Beach Volleyball. There was no need to see the final round, I knew exactly who’ll win and the lovely Lady Spiker was already eliminated. And have my own final game to play.
It’s my D-day, the time to conquer the island paradise of Boracay. This is it – the final test where a year of running (and stealing time) and three weeks of intense training all boils down to this. If I pass, I go home; if I lost I stay on the island.
This is the challenge – my race, my rules – The goal is to finish running the whole course spanning the entirety of the 7 kilometre length of the island – coast to coast and back and fort. No time limit. No speed limit. No water station. No cheating. Stay on the Main Road except for a brief beach run and absolutely NO EXPENSIVE equipment and apparels; no iPod, no GPS watch, no original running shoes, custom singlets etc. I wore ukay-ukay soccer shorts and running shoes, promotional visor and singlet and ballers.
The course started at exactly 4pm in the afternoon at the 24/7 Quickmart Convenience Store at the Crown Regency Prince Resort located at Station 1. I choose this location to be the Start and Finish line because of its strategic position being geographically a center point of the island. It is also has supplies for nourishment and replenishments. There’s also a clinic nearby should the unthinkable happen. By the way it was scorching like hell that summer afternoon.
The first phase of the race is to get to the Jetty Port down south. It is where all the people pass through to get to the mainland (unless you have a private yacht). There’s a crossroad down the middle point where vehicles are required pass through one-way lanes – for leaving and entering the island paths. The traffic law doesn’t particularly involved runners. I chose the ‘entering the island lane’ so I can go on against incoming vehicles, that’s the runner’s traffic law. Stiff uphill roads greeted me immediately. Upon reaching the Jetty Port I used my first pit stop to sip fluids and replenish. By the time I reach the crossroads again via the other one-way lane. I can already feel pain in my right ankle.
The ankle has been a discomfort to me and I think I got it from a previous 5k beach run where I run barefooted on sprint mode as if I was chased by azkals (stray dogs). My ankle was not able to cope with such outburst. I swear I broke my PR there, but too bad I did not clock it. Instead I almost broke my feet.
After the crossroad is a descending part of the Main Road. I turned left when I reached Angol at Station 3 for a running on the beach. It was an cross stations run, from Station 3 to Station 1 – on a really hot hot summer afternoon. Just imagine the sexy people and the bikinis lining up; it’s the most eye candy part of the run. When I reached station 1 I went back to the Main Road and I found my self back in 24/7 Quickmart. I’m now half-way, hey that was easy than expected and I’m still kicking! And uh oh, that was the easy part. The other half of the course is the hard part.
In running I make use of the techniques I read from The Bald Runner when he conquered the 117km navigation of Guimaras Island – 3 minutes run and 45 seconds walk, or something like that. I don’t have a watch. I don’t have yet the stamina to run the entire course non-stop, doing that is like committing suicide by inviting severe fatigue, a few cramp and fatal heat stroke. I just want to finish this course. My race, my rules.
Running northwards all the way to Puka Beach has always been the most challenging and daunting exercise I have to accomplished. Even on my peak days, I still struggle running its pavements. The road is eternally winding, sometimes zigzagging. It’s not flat but rather a tough combination of uphill climbs – the slowly and sudden elevation hill after hill under the sun. It is for this particular part of the course that I have to wear a visor aside from my reliable sunglass since my eyes most of the time is facing the sun directly. That afternoon run was especially tough because of the punishing heat, the exhaustion, the pain in the ankle, the sweat on my fabrics weighing me down etc etc. I reached Puka Beach in a bad shape, as expected. I used my third pit stop to grab that much needed replenishment; a bottle of coke, half a bottle of water and some carbs from the bakery nearby.
But no amount of training can prepare anyone from the emotional and psychological tests in this game of endurance. By the time I reach Puka Beach I am already hearing voices whispering me to stop, grab a cab, raise the white flag and head home. This is the part when the human is tested and the going gets tough, the mind is usually the first one going. My body is so tired, the body pains so uncomfortable and the adrenaline aren’t helping anymore. But I knew I have to finish, I am so near, only a quarter of the course to go. And this is where the real game begins, the real test of will and faith.
Some battles are win by determination and courage, and that’s when reality sets in. The true power lies within. I just have to believe in myself that I can finish this one, once and for all. I started running towards the finish line. The suddenly I find myself half running for one final push. Indeed the last kilometre is the toughest when temptations are out of control, the pain, the numbness, the exhaustion. “What the hell am I doing this? This is madness, quit man. Just quit.” But one more card to play – I prayed. Lord I just wanna finish this madness, after all this is all about for you. This is my way of glorifying You and for everything that you’ve given. And this Lord, oh man this is so beautiful I want to conquer it.
I was just a hundred meters away from the finish line when sudden wave of pain came crushing down inside. It’s a rush of mixed emotions. It’s so overwhelming I have to let out some tears from eyes. Tears of joy that against all odds I’m going to finish a daunting task, tears of relief that I can finally go home, tears of sorrow from the realization that I’m finally going to leave this beautiful island, tears of gratitude to all the people who influenced and supported me, and tears of praise to know that once again God bailed me out.
It was already dark when I finally saw the Finish Line at around 6:45 pm, I’ve been running for 2 hrs and 45 mins. And with tears and sweat running down on my face I dashed like a mad man towards it. At the finish line I can’t help but let out a loud cry “I’m the King of Boracay!”