When you have two stories you can’t wait to share – one is happy and the other is, well, quite the opposite – which one do you tell first? A bit of a pickle, isn’t it? I guess if the intention is to end the storytelling bit on a high note, you serve up the bad stuff first, hoping the bit of good news would neutralize the jarring effect of the former.
So, on to the unpleasant side of things…
Like I said in my previous blog entry here, our trip to Zambales over the weekend was mainly for the 400th Anniversary Fun Run, of which Reebok – our very generous team owner – was one of the sponsors. Perhaps the one and only good thing that the race offered was the venue, specifically, the race route. For most of us who have gotten used to running the same old running routes in the Metro, the opportunity to take on a new race destination is incentive enough to go all the way to Zambales. Add ten points if you actually get to run on the beach for a third of a kilometer before you move on to the town proper before heading back down to the beach where the start/finish line is. Yes, that part was good.
We woke up at 3:30am knowing that there are seven of us in one room and we would have to queue to use the bathroom and gear up for the race, if we have to make it to the 5:30 gun start for the 21k. It was still dark when we filed out of the room and made our way to the starting line, where the rest of the runners lay in wait. But alas, it was already an hour past the gun start and we were still behind the line waiting for the real action to start. The runners were getting antsy and why not? We have participated in a lot of races and not a single one of those have made us wait for more than five to ten minutes past the published gun start.
Kassy made a brilliant call of going onstage and announcing the start of the race. It should have been the race director’s job to ensure that everything is well-organised even before making that call, but in this case, the race director himself needed some directing. After it was announced about 50 times that ‘the race is about to start’, we were finally doing what we set out to do in Zamba — running! Ohhh weee.
But, whatever disappointment we may have felt at the beginning was quickly overshadowed by the obvious charm of the place. I loved the beach run, although very short, as it reminded me of those times I would run on the powder-soft sandy shores of Boracay. I did 10k with Kassy, Trick, and RunningAtom, along with several other younglings – most of them half my age. Literally.
50 minutes and 40 seconds later, I crossed the finish line. Arguably, my best time yet. I remember back in the days when I would cover 10k in 1hr 2mins or something like that. But now that I am older, I am evidently faster. How cool is that?!? Very.
I placed 5th in the 10k female category and of course I felt exceedingly good about it. You would, too, if you’re running alongside 13 to 15-year olds. In my case, I was struggling to keep up with the young sprinters. The first place winner took only 34 minutes to cover the whole 10km stretch. Beat that, Vicky Ras! Uhrrrm, no, I don’t think so. But thank you for the offer. I will get back to you on that in my next life, ya?
After the last 21k runner has crossed the finish line, the organizers were ready to award the winners. And that’s when the drama ensued. THIS JUST IN: Jordan, one of the race event organizers wrote in response to the succeeding statements in my blog entry: Apparently, the runners-up were NOT supposed to get any cash prizes but they demanded for such claiming they traveled miles and hours to get to the race and therefore, deserving of some form of remuneration. Out of the goodness of the organizers’ hearts, they relented. But according to Jordan, instead of feeling grateful, they got greedy and asked for more. Some of them even went to the Mayor’s office to ask for more dole-outs. If this indeed were the case, then it certainly puts things in a slightly different perspective. Worse, it reflects very negatively on the state that running as an industry is starting to show signs as becoming. Whatever happened to running for fun and health and social reasons? So yes, money was given – and even more – according to Jordan.
Itago na lang natin ito sa pamagat na ‘Ang Nawawalang Mga Pa-premyo’ or ‘The Tale of the Missing Cash Prizes’. We did not stay long enough to investigate as it was not in our place to do so anyway, but there were runners – young aspiring athletes – who were robbed of their cash prizes. One girl who was supposed to receive P5,000 only got P500. Now I don’t know about you guys but that to me is more heartbreaking than my first breakup. Much worse even if you consider how these kids have commuted from several towns and kilometers away to take a shot at the prize money and actually nailing it on the head…only to find the envelope containing only 10 percent of the published amount. THAT. IS. CRUEL. AND. INHUMANE. How are we supposed to inspire our young and talented but underprivileged athletes when some of us have no compunction – AT ALL – about dousing their fire even before it has had time to burst into flames? What do you say to these kids in their inconsolable state? Pasensiya na iha, ganyan talaga sa totoong buhay. Parati kang maiisahan kaya masanay ka na. Is that our way of telling them to just deal with it?
Me being me (is that even grammatically sound?!?), I am very quick to see the merit in things especially when crucial details are being put forward. Like I told Jordan, a lot of things did not exactly unravel the way they should (have) during that race event such that there were very loose ends at the beginning, during and especially after the race that were not exactly tied to perfection. I, too, come from an events management background which greatly explains why I tend to be very thorough in looking into details. Add to that my propensity to be obsessive-compulsive by nature, then holy moly, you have a weirdo in your midst!
No, but seriously, I’d like to personally thank Jordan for coming forward with his side of the story. As event organizers, I’m sure they have the greatest intentions for the race and the runners and perhaps it was just unfortunate that the outcome was not exactly what they had envisioned. At the end of the day, I am blogger who calls it as I see it and if my being brutally honest with my thoughts has caused some people some measure of pain and discomfort, then I am sorry.
Now going back to runners who run purely for monetary reasons: can we blame them entirely for being too brutally honest in their intentions for doing what they do? This clearly runs deeper than what can be seen on the surface. A social illness, if you may. People do not have enough resources to tide them over for a day, a week, or maybe for months even that they resort to unconventional means to earn extra – such as emotionally blackmailing race organizers, for example to shell out more. It’s sad isn’t it? One day, when I am rich – and I mean filthy, disgustingly, inappropriately rich – three segments of the society will rank high on my priority list: the abandoned children, the elderly, and the underprivileged athletes.
But as promised, I will try not to leave you in that state of sadness and disbelief at other people’s beastly behavior. Because there, in fact, were one or two more good things that happened that day. Beep Beep, our Reebok teammate, placed 7th overall in the 21k race category. Titanium Runner, Alex, and Kassy all got good time for their respective race categories. Our guests RunningAtom and Trickoy also did very well at the race.
Now the other good, nay, great thing that happened that day was meeting the legendary and controversial Nancy Navalta. People my age and older would remember Nancy as the very promising heir-apparent to Lydia de Vega in the early 1990s. Nancy was fast, very fast, on the track and for a moment there, she seemed almost unstoppable. Until she was forced to undergo gender determination tests, which said that she was “genetically male.” The Philippine Sports Commission instructed Navalta to compete as a male or to undergo “corrective measures.” The ruling effectively ended Navalta’s competitive career. It was a sad say for the Philippine running community but it must have been a million times heartbreaking for Nancy herself. I was in my teens when Nancy was all the media could talk about and I never thought the day would come when I would actually see her in person. I mean I was awestruck when I saw Lydia de Vega three times at the PhilSports Arena track and I remember she even said ‘ang ganda mo naman’ when I smiled at her one time (Thank you, by the way Idol Lydia! You don’t know me from Eve but I will forever remember that compliment you paid me that forgotten morning at ULTRA) But this, this right here is Nancy Navalta, arguably one of the most controversial Filipino athletes in history and even at present time.
Nancy, today, serves as the Athletics Coach of the University of Luzon. Those teenage girls that beat the crap out of me in the 10k division – they were Nancy’s ward. Perhaps if I were coached by Nancy, I would be running waaaaay faster than I do now. Yes, even with my 32-year-old knees. From what I’ve heard, Nancy is actively involved in promoting inter-barangay track competitions where, she says, we can find runners of Olympics caliber – especially those in the out-of -school youth (OSY) segment.
So how about we help Nancy help the struggling young athletes out there? Think about it. And one day, when you have made the decision to help, do it unquestioningly.
Having said that, I still want to end this post in a crescendo of good vibrations so how about I post some more photos of myself (I love to talk about myself so better get used to it!) and Team Reebok as we bring our Zamba trip to a worthy end?
OKAY. This unabashed display of over-the-top self-love has got to stop. Vicky, you are out. TEAM REEBOK, paaaaaaasok!