This I have to say, if you wanted to be inspired in the sport of running, better watch the runners who participate in the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) organized by the Bald Runner, Jovie Narcise.
I have the privilege to support one of the participants in the recently concluded PAU Tagaytay to Nasugbu (T2N) 50k. Thanks to Team CB (shout out to Maridol Yabut), I was included in their support group for their fellow Rayzies (what they call for their fellow team mates).
As early as 3:30am, fortunately my former officemates and I were in Tagaytay staying at Hotel Dominique, I left at 4:30am to rush to View Point Hotel (Km 0).
I met with Maridol, Gary and Marvin with the groceries I bought for the runners. I recalled my experience in Tanay and how I enjoyed the presence of a support group throughout the experience. I hitched with Gary and Marvin and was assigned to support Drew.
After the runners have started, we met with other Team CB support groups and talked about how to help the rest of the team and the other participants/runners. We went off and stopped at Km5 to check how the runners were doing. Since it was Tagaytay and the sun has not risen yet plus the inviting cold weather, the runners were doing fine and we cheered all the runners energized.
We saw Drew and asked where will we meet him because we were instructed to meet him again every 10k but he suggested to watch out for him on Km15. I was really amazed how Marvin and Gary really prepared for this: 2 coolers, Gatorade Pink as preferred by Drew, Pocari Sweat, mineral water, ice, sponge, sandwiches (egg and tuna), sweets/chocolates (Flat Top and ChocNut), banana and chips.
Km15 came and we greeted Drew and saw him still with fervor as he refilled his hydration bottles with Gatorade and Pocari Sweat. We released the first balloon to signify his first pass for the 10k.
We drove to the Km20 and waited for Drew. Other runners were greeting us as we cheered them on. We saw Drew once more and he changed his singlet. By Km30, we have noticed that some of the same faces we have seen were suddenly lagging from their usual pace and some runners with the same pace either have forwarded or were delayed due to the challenge of the distance.
By Km40, we met with Drew slowly pacing but still continuing trying to cheer himself up kidding around as he greeted us. He changed his last singlet (Team CB), refreshened and even joked, “DNF (Did not finish) na lang kaya ako? Ayoko na.” (“What if I DNF? I think I don’t want to anymore.”) And like what a true ultrarunner should be, he continued, pushed, huffed and puffed and turned right to the plaza in front of the municipal hall of Nasugbu and there it was, the ultimate finish line!
Congratulations Drew! You are now a certified ultrarunner!
Notes on being a support
These are the lessons I learned from hitching a ride with Gary and Marvin.
1. Bring the necessary equipment and food the runner wants and needs.
2. Prioritize the hydration of the runner. Make sure the drinks are cold and it is for the runner’s convenient when he is rushing for your help.
3. Make sure to have enough ice for everything: to soothe the runner, to cool the drinks.
4. Ask the runner what he wants and you have to know where the resources are when he asked for it.
5. Focus on the runner. No problem with accommodating other runners but concentrate on the runner that you are supporting.
6. Motivate the runner. Don’t let him stop running or walking or moving, time is of the essence. It will mean a lot in the last leg of the race.
7. Have a presence of mind because when the runner is demotivated, you should be the first to tell him to refocus.
8. Be there (and I say this is what I really admire with Gary and Marvin, kudos to you both!).
In the end, everyone’s happy, cheering for their runners, congratulating everyone for a great run. Maybe next time I can be part of PAU but in the meantime, I hope there will be other runners humble enough to pay it forward and help a fellow runner achieve his dream. Besides that is why running is not a lonely sport, we need each other and together we will face the finish line.