Monday, May 11, 2009

Botak Paa-Tibayan - Almost A System Failure

Given with my handicap that I need to depart Manila at 10am on 10May09, I wanted to participate in the BOTAK PAA-TIBAYANAN 42K, but it was just not possible due to time constraint. However, it opened for me an opportunity to take pictures on side and blog on the race event from a bystander’s point of view.

I arrived the venue at 4:20 rushing as I felt I was running late as the scheduled start for the 42K was at 4:30am. After parking my car, to my surprise the starting area was in total darkness and in silence giving you a false impression that there was not a road race to be held. However, I could hear a race attendant barking on his bullhorn that check-in was already open for the 42K. I was just wondering how the marshals and participants could see each other. I even took pictures on how the race officials were having problem in checking in participants in total darkness.

I knew then that there should be something wrong and after inquiring of the problem I found out that the GENERATOR system was either (a) have a problem or (b) late in its set-up. Given the my little know how on the matter, I think the problem was a combination of both, late set-up causing difficulty to start-up which the service provider could have done an early set-up and a function test could have been done and necessary corrective measures applied should there be problems encountered to ensure at least that the power is ready by 4am. As the generator is the main source of electrical power, all the other support functions such as public address, timing device and computer system, lightings etc. was greatly affected. In plain simple language the failure resulted for the race to be delayed. Race cannot start without the power system in which the timing mechanism is dependent of.

At about 4:40am finally the generator was on and running and the venue started to be alive. It was then at this point that I started to move around and getting pictures of friends and acquaintances. My observation for the 42K participants was that these where the hardcore runners and although it was a sizable number it was not huge by normal local standard. The female runners participating were but a handful. But, what can you expect these are the real dedicated and experienced runners. At about 5:00am or 30 minutes late of its schedule start, the starting gun was sounded and off the runners went.

After all the 42k participants were out of the vision, the place was again so quiet that I was hoping that the organizers do something about it to make the place festive as there were still the 21k-10k and 5k to start. Just when I was about to really feel disappointed, two guys went on the stage with their guitars and a sound check was done them signalling an entertainment number. I told myself maybe this will only be so-so performance seeing the guys were not really that good looking. Then they started singing and by the time they were on their second song people already started to get notice of them. The guys are called “Bay Connection” I do not remember both of their names, but, they were GOOD and their songs numbers were a very good filler while awaiting for the 21k-10k start.

At about 6:00am or thereabout the 21k-10k started and these time the runners in my observation were greater in number and comprised about 40 percent of the total runners for the event. I would still place the participants here as seasoned and those getting serious in their running. I was surprise to see Cris Sibal of the Bald Runner Elite Team a well season runner to be running in this group, a sure winner I could only think.

Again after the 21k-10k has vanished from the view the 5k runners were asked to enter the starting area. This time it is very evident that runners in this group where mostly beginners and that there are now children and more female runners in participation. I enjoyed looking and observing the different facial expression and body languages of the different participants while awaiting the starting gun. Then finally the starting gun was fired and on they when. Just when the field was about to vanish from view, there were a handful of late runners just arriving and I urged them to proceed and catch up with the group, they are late but I know they will finish which is the main point.

At this point in time I told myself that I have to leave to catch my plane. This is the first time I had the opportunity to watch and observe three mass starts of a race on a bystander point of view. Lastly, I felt bad for the Botak and the organizers that the GENERATOR FIASCO happened as it almost ruined the thorough and long preparation for the race. Anyways, this will be a great lesson to learn to avoid the same mistakes for the BOTAK 100K.

Finally, I think although the race started with some problem as viewed from a bystander’s vantage point, it was able to progress to live to the hype and pre-race media propaganda the race was billed. Again, I wish to remind readers that these observations are limited to the start of the race and the venue itself. As for the actual race critique, I leave that matter to those that participated the different race category as they will have a more comprehensive and realistic view with respect to mileage, water stations, race marshals, traffic control, time keeping and others.

I herewith present in slide show form pictures that I have taken of the event.

(Click image to enlarge view)

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