Women. One of man’s greatest mysteries of all time. As we celebrated the International Women Day last Sunday, it was pretty apparent that the mystery gets even deeper. In Cebu City, they have this unique way of celebrating womanhood: an All Women Ultra-Marathon. AWUM, as if 42k in Cebu City Marathon is not enough. Girls nowadays really have come along way in terms of imagination and picking fun activities. Man, 50k? Deymmm, and they even called it the longest fashion show on Earth!
We the TOES group of Tacloban City and Leyte were invited by the organizer to be one of the running clubs who will man a hydration station. We really don’t know how to chew that offer, even I didn’t know what to expect of the event (not even sure if I could make it to Cebu for the weekend). But for our 10 strong and lovely Amazons in our group we accepted the challenge. This is no 2013 where we sent one representative, this is 2014 and we got ten ladies to support and show our love . We’ve come a long long way in between, and Yolanda sure made us understand how precious these lady teammates are. They are everything, they are family. We, the boys, can’t leave them there to run without any support crew or the least, cheerers. So literally, TOES goes to AWUM for the first time !
Only we had no idea whats ahead. All of the boys never really had any prior experience as a support crew, let alone how to freaking man a water station! Ftw, we’re runners and its all our first time to be on the other side of the race. And we don’t even have a budget so the finances were also critical, just P1k from the organizers. We ended up contributing whatever we can give (money, blood, sanity, time, sleep) to make sure we’re going to make 251 Ultra Dreamers happy!
It turns out the formula for AWUM is simple Girls = Kickass + Sexy + Runners + Super Models. The boys? Simple, Men = Tig.syagit + tig.masahe + tig.kawos + tig.bantay + tig.pagkaon. Out there at the Kilometer 22 near the Total Gas Station in Mandaue, we memorize those formulas by heart, as if our lives depends on it. But it was so much fun!
The race started at 10:00 PM, and just 90 minutes later, the front runners placer already arrived! Man these girls are fast! I knew the sub-5 will be broken for the first time in AWUM history. For us, it marked the longest and busiest stretch of the race. Soon 250 incredibly gorgeous runners passed by our station. It was also the craziest experience we had!
Yeah some of us did lose something from Yolanda, I think it includes our sanity and gender orientation. Take for sample these two (still) traumatized TOES:
We wanted our station to be memorable even though we cant afford any lechon and sea foods and pastries or whatever KM20 and KM24 fed to the girls haha. So what we lacked in the food & budget department, our playful nature more than makes up for it. It was a festival out there as we greeted and cheered the runners, offering them water refills, grapes, bananas and chocolates and whatever we can provide in our sari-sari store booth. Sometimes we have to chase the runners just to smile and be annoyed of oru presence. These two bekes were our flagbearers (they used to be decent loving gentlemen). AWUM what you done?
But on a serious note, I was freaking out the whole time. As one of the pseudo-leaders/may-pakana of what the group do which is 99% crazy fun, there still a portion of unrest and worry on how the ladies are doing out there on the road. I think most of the guys felt the same as they always kept watch for some Pink uniformed ladies coming. It was massive relief when eventually all of them turned up in KM22. What a relief seeing them like the rest of the runners, happy and having the time of their lives! It was nothing but party atmosphere out there.
And oh man, we just cant help and admire AWUM ladies. You don’t call it the longest fashion show on Earth for nothing, because out there the women really shine. Their beauty, their grace, their curves and their passion for running is simply overwhelming. And of course their outfits mattered, super! Really enjoyed watching and admiring those sexy apparels! By the way, Sen. Pia Cayetano participated in this event too!
The last wave of runners that passed our station clocked in at 2:00 AM. What’s funny is that those we’re my dear friends from RunRoo, Armie Gardie (who borrowed my visor and headlamp) and ate Rose Buenconsejo! Abi nakog nangasaag ning mga veterunners. 🙂 After that our group packed up and left no trace behind, as if nothing crazy and unforgettable happened. Suddenly, the ‘duka’ crept in. We’re now fighting for our won survival against the cruel temptation for bed. It’s so unfair for us to be out there just watching (#suyamuch) while the ladies having a good time getting drench in sweat, screaming muscles and getting high on endorphins. We truly are just mortal men, the women however are the goddesses of the night.
I got into a car and leaped frog ahead to lookout for the welfare of the TOES ladies. Fortunately they were all fine, aside from one who fell to the ground from a ditch, a few cramp incidents, and one forced to run barefoot. No major incident. Some of the boy went directly to the KM 48 to support the other running club there and cheer for the ladies as they take their last chance for.. a retouch. Lol.
We went to the finish line by 4AM as we learned that there are already TOES who finished already. I was curious if ate Menchie broke into the Top 10. She placed 8th last year. I learned she placed 11th, injuries forced her to slow down in the last 2k. She was on the 6th spot all throughout. But hey, that still a tremendous achievement for the group! And perhaps the greatest gift we receive is that all ten our lady members finished strong and in one piece under the cut-off time! Yey! And the rest of the ladies crossed the line too. Just so many strong women in this part of the world.
AWUM. What an experience! First time to volunteer in a race and we sure did lost our voices by the day from shouting and cheeering. We beat the duka too haha. But what really amazes me about this race is that AWUM unites all of the running clubs in Cebu for just one goal: to celebrate a Woman’s worth in the world. We celebrated not of victory and eternal glory, but AWUM was made to showcase the incredible strength of women physically, mentally, and socially. And there’s no better way to do it but through an ultra marathon! Along with it is an epic gathering of runners, it was a festival out there! Lots of food and lechon were served. Registration fees, well spent. Kudos to the organizers and all of the support crew who made this event ultra-fun and ultra-successful. To my super idol Doc Willie Estepa, thank you very much for bringing the TOES to Cebu and thank you for giving us the chance to be part of this year’s AWUM. All rice!
At the end of the race, when every medal was given, when every shots taken, and when every mouths were filled: two words came out as I surrendered to the duka. Incredibly AWUM.
All photos: Stolen from Facebook. Hahaha