|It's time for Africa!|
The day started with a deluge of torrential rain such as one common all year round here in Agusan. A search on online weather forecasts was not what I would like like to hear either. High chance of precipitation, thunderstorms from 5 am to 11am on Race Day.
Indeed it was. Rain splashed so hard on our roof a few hours before sunrise that I consigned myself we would be having one merry finisher's snacks in the hospital lobby mobbed by a hundred runners instead of a run.
I went to the hospital at around 4. Last minute preparations were under way. Kilometer markers and water stations were set up. Everything was under control. Except for the weather which was fine at one point then spattered with light drizzle.
Conscious of the time, I called up all runners to assemble in the hospital grounds. I was surprised. I counted only, maybe 50 participants all in all, including guest runners from the national high school, Regional Trial Court and Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Agusan del Sur chapter. Where were those hundred runners or so who registered?
Charmein, our OB consultant gave an inspiring Invocation and the rain seemed to lighten up a bit. She texted me the night before that God is good and that the rain will eventually stop and it seemed to.
By now, the sound coming from the booming Ramsa sound system which we rented a day before from the Provincial Capitol, to the tune of Shakira's Waka Waka may have helped call other runners into sleepy Barangay Patin-ay.
Our chief of hospital Dr Joel, a good friend of my dad, welcomed the participants. I could tell he was excited, too.
Inspired by the Zumba work out so popular on Youtube today, two of my fellow doctors, Lor the internist and Rhadz the surgeon-- in comic attire climbed on stage-- a makeshift Elf truck so popular during the campaign sorties when candidates went into mountainous barangays where a proper stage is hard to come by. The other doctors stayed on the ground and we danced the Waka Waka. I mean 'they' danced the Waka Waka, not once but twice to the enjoyment of the runners!
5:45 am: Assembling all 10k runners prepped by the sound of Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger', a motley group of around 14 men and 4 women readied at the starting line as we prepared the firing gun. I led the countdown from 10 to 1 and off they went! (At this point, the firing gun didn't go off to the amusement of the 5k runners). They were fast, led by the high school PE teacher, the smart alecky runner I was talking about in my previous post.
I handed the emcee duties to my fellow doctor and cut my way to the highway where I could meet the runners and get some photos. I was multitasking!
Again, my fellow doctors were leading the dance routine for the 5k runners this time. There were now close to 70 participants and they seemed to be hyped up for the race especially when I announced earlier of a new race category-- the 2 km fun walk. All the participant had to do was make a U-turn on the 1 km marker just near the second gate of the Governor's residence and make a walk back to the hospital. This after insistent public demand the previous days. During the late 90s when my dad was still the Provincial Administrator, running used to be an eagerly anticipated event but when he was appointed RTC Judge, sports did not become a priority of the following Administrator.
So you can just imagine the enthusiasm we received when we announced the event. Initially exclusive to hospital staff and employees, we had to give in to allow guest participants who wanted to join the event on the condition that the top 3 finishes in both 10k and 5k will remain with hospital staff and employees. It did not matter though. They were there to have fun!
6:00 am: The 5k runners toed the line and once again we counted down 10 to 1 behind the sound of Black Eyed Peas' 'I Got A Feeling'. Off they went with the sound of the firing gun which worked this time.
Right now, the drizzle started to get a little stronger and I was starting to get drenched. Not that I mind but I was holding with me my camera.
I rode my friend's motorcycle and guided runners to the right lane.
Miscue: I forgot to announce which lane to take. The cardinal rule of road running is to face traffic.
Using the megaphone I rented, I guided runners to the correct lane and they followed suit. The Maharlika highway is a 4-lane stretch of road with a sidewalk so I felt pretty confident of road safety on top of the presence of the Medical First Responders (MFR) and SARAS (Search and Rescue Agusan Del Sur), as well as, the Highway Patrol Group on motorbikes.
I alighted on the 2.5 km marker where Noel, another fellow doctor, was doing all the water distribution and handling of the race tie by himself. Another multitasker!
|Happy Yul at the 2.5 km mark|
|Runner Balintong and student|
|April of Laboratory|
|Nurse Cheche in OR scrubs|
|Champion runner Liza|
This is where I enjoyed taking pictures the most. The relief of runners reaching 2.5 km was evident. It was like a festive atmosphere in there! In Cebu, we just make a quick U-turn and run again. People here didn't mind the time save for a few who were after the prizes.
My dad and his group of RTC employees came (the first batch had already gone). They exchanged jokes with waterboy Noel and off they went again. Some of the runners from the 10k were already passing through particularly 11-year old Raymund Lopez, a guest runner. Diligently trained by his father, a 6-time Regional Milo Marathon Champion, this little kid breezed through the stations, his father getting two cups at a time handing one to his son to drink, the other to pour on his head. Amazing! He eventually finished in less than 47 minutes or popularly known in running circles as a "sub-Piolow" owing to matinee idol Piolo Pascual's time during the Globe Run for Home in Manila. For his feat, he received a special award from us.
I proceeded to check on the other markers and waited at the 4 km mark where Nurse Katrina and ENT doctor Marge were stationed. The last of the 10k runners had already passed so we packed up and left with 5k water boy Dr Elmore, our anesthesiologist.
Back at the 2.5 km mark, I saw Mabel, one of my friends who joined the 10k lagging behind, paced by an ambulance and a medic. I could tell she was ready to give up with just about 2 km to go. I remember my first 12k barely 3 months into running. I was ready to give up 1 km to the finish line when an extremely fit runner paced me back and forth and encouraged me to go on, just a few more. And I remember how I felt when I finished the race. Time to give back then.
So I climbed down the motorbike and gave the photographer duties to Elvin, my fellow runner in the Milo Marathon in Cebu, and proceeded to pace and encourage Mabel 'til home stretch. I gave her one of my unused water bottles. Nurse Cheche, who already finished her 10k earlier saw us 50 meters to the finish line and accompanied us as well.
|Final 10k runner gets through|
We were met by applause at the finish line with cameras snapping away.
Almost immediately I rushed to the stage where preparations for the awarding ceremonies were about to start. I have to stop this multitasking thing next time. The winners were announced to the delight of the adoring crowd. There were no surprises in the result. Still the best runners in the hospital won. I was kinda hoping Cheche, who accompanies me in my afternoon and weekend runs, would win but sleepless and excited the night before, she got tired on race day fighting butterflies in her stomach. 2nd place is not bad, I told her.
The special awards went to my dad-- the 'Oldest Runner' at 66 while the youngest was a 10-year old who joined the 5k. Cheche, who wore complete OR scrubs with cap, face mask and surgical gloves received honors in Best in Costume.
The runners were given already their finisher's snacks and we announced the distribution of the Certificates of Completion. I was glad they liked the design.
Overall, the race was met with enthusiasm by participants both hospital staff and guest runners alike. The chief took me aside and ask if we could do this again soon (challenged by my dad he finished his 5k, by the way) and replied in the affirmative.
The weather was great, foggy and cloudy with a little bit of rain. Just right for a triple 10.
|Father and son, champions for life!|
I ask myself and my fellow doctors if we could do this again. And I do not say "Never again" or a simple "Yes" but an emphatic "Definitely better!"