Thursday, March 10, 2011

What makes a run fun?

There are fun runs and there are fun runs. The former is your regular running event, the latter, an eventful run. Certain things make your regular running event an eventful one. Following are the ones which made my RunClub Davao Asics Run last February 20 something worth reminiscing. Yes, even this late.

1. Seeing friends and running with them again.

Running in Davao always made me look forward to seeing the now so familiar faces of running acquaintances. We see each other at the starting line, ask which event the other one is doing, and wish each other good luck. These running acquaintances that I've had over the years were not that many and most were in my age group. Until the Davao Runners.

Davao Runners, living and running by the tenet: Train or Stay the Same

Born out of a common love for running and Facebook, Davao Runners started as an FB group. I got acquainted with the group after I had the opportunity to run side by side with two of its main men, Jette Roy Sanchez and Jay Salvaña at the St. Peter Life Run 10k last December. I traded paces with Jay shortly after the start until the climb up the Buhangin flyover at Dacudao. Jette and I ran shoulder to shoulder later at the Diversion Road. We got in touch through Facebook after.

Davao Runners is now more than just an FB group. They have organized a series of group training runs tackling routes as challenging as the ascent from Toril to Eden Nature Park. They celebrate members' birthdays with runs as well.

With Davao Runners out there, running in Davao has become definitely better and more fun. There's nothing like a vibrant running community to keep the sport going strong.

2. Something new.

I was focused on maintaining a steady pace going up the winding ascent of the Buhangin flyover, passing a couple of runners as I did. I knew I would see the turning point marker for the 4k runners at the end of the ascent with the usual volunteers handing out water to the race participants.

What I wasn't expecting was a group of pretty young ladies in yellow shirts waving motivational signs. It was something I haven't yet seen in my years of racing in Davao. They cheered runners on, and they were all throughout the race route in groups of two or three, with their world-famous radiant Filipina smiles. If that doesn't make you feel good on a run, I don't know what else would.

The pretty RunClub Davao cheering ladies. Wouldn't you love seeing those smiles while you're running?

3. A challenging route.

The Diversion Road is one of Davao's most daunting running routes. Its hills just seem to come endlessly at you, with each climb seemingly higher than the one that just burn your lungs and legs. Except for the pre-2011 Davao Sunday Runners Finishers' Marathons, not too many races pass through this route.

Last year, Vantage Sports Promotions' Kenneth Sai decided to veer away from the traditional and had the St. Peter Life Run 10k tackle a part of this challenging route. Directing this year's RunClub Davao Asics Run, Ken again upped the challenge for runners by mapping a route that again featured the daunting Diversion Road hills.

After the winding climb to Buhangin via the flyover, the 21k runners went through a relatively flat road towards the Buhangin Milan exchange where they were greeted at the turn by a welcoming downhill, prompting a faster pace. A couple of guys I caught up with did just that, picked up the pace and tried not to be outrun. But a couple of climbs come just after the descent, and the pace at the downhill before could burn you out, just as it did them.

The road flattens out again going into the turnaround at the Davao Crocodile Park and once more runners find a little bit of comfort. Until going out of the park area, the climbs back to Buhangin, coming one after the other, greet your heaving lungs and churning legs yet again.

This route is not for the faint-hearted.

4. Doing better than you hoped to.

I finished my run in 1 hour 10 minutes 14 seconds. It's the best I've done for a 15k. Given a route with four (or was there one more?) freaking' climbs, I can't be happier with that time... for now.

                                                                                                               (Thanks to RunClub Davao for the photos.)

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