The first Pryce Gas International Marathon was held last December 2, 2012 in Cagayan de Oro City. It has 3 distance categories: 42K, 21K and 5K. Instead of going for my third full marathon finish this year, I decided to run along with my wife Malou for her first 21K. It was also my first back-to-back 21K weekends having ran the half-mary in the 36th Milo Marathon CDO exactly a week before the Pryce Gas International Marathon.
The race start and finish area was in Pryce Gardens, a memorial garden about 8 kilometers from Grand City Hotel in Divisoria where we stayed the night before the race. Good thing the organizer provided shuttle vans with pick up point in Rodelsa Circle. Going up to Pryce Gardens, we already met the 42K runners on the road. 42K gun start was fired at 4 AM while 21K would kick off an hour later.
We arrived at the starting area with still plenty of time to spare. We were able to deposit our baggage and joined the stretching exercise. Since Pryce Gardens is located in a higher elevation, it was naturally cold and windy. The 21K run started at exactly 5 AM.
The first 6 to 7 kilometers of the route are mostly downhill. Malou and I ran in an easy pace knowing that we have a long way to go. After about 2 kilometers, we both felt the urged to pee (!). Good thing there was a Shell fuel station nearby where we are able to relieve ourselves. : )
We passed by several subdivisions, SM City, XU-Manresa and Pryce Hotel. As I observed, there are plenty of water stations in this portion of the route.
We started the Galloway run-walk strategy at the second station, or about 4 kilometers from the start, with a 3:1 ratio (3 minutes run and 1 minute walk). Malou haven't develop a taste for power gels so we brought some Goldilocks puto and brownies to fuel ourselves every 45 minutes. :)
We met the 21K lead pack just before we reach the road junction going to Brngy Balulang, about 7 kilometers from the starting line. At that point, six Kenyans were leading the race while fellow Bukidnon Runner Jong Languido was in seventh place. Languido eventually finished 5th overall, making him the best local runner in the 21K category.
A long flat route followed as we reached Brngy. Carmen. We passed along Vamenta Boulevard, Liceo de Cagayan University then turned right upon reaching the Kauswagan Highway. We crossed over Marcos Bridge then went all the way to Mindanano University of Science and Technology (MUST) where the 21K turning point is located. Half of the highway was closed so there was really no problem running on that route.
After the turning point, we went back route for a few hundred meters then turned left to Velez Street. There was a lone station in Divisoria which served bananas and it worked well to keep our hunger pangs at bay. We went straight to Rodelsa Circle then turned right back to the first (or this time, last) 6-7 kilometers of the route.
It is where the real challenge began as the last kilometers were mostly uphill. Many runners were already tired and walking in this part of the route. As what we had practiced, Malou and I reduced our run-walk ratio to 1:1 on the hilly portions then go back to 3:1 once we reached flatter grounds. We were glad that the hydration stations still served cold water. It felt great not only for soothing our throats but also for pouring over our heads to cool us off. The tree-shaded road also provided us some respite from the sun's heat.
Our run-walk strategy seemed to work fine as we overtook more and more runners along the way. Though I'd already sensed Malou getting tired, she still have enough gas left in her tank to continue our run-walk.
We crossed the finish line with an identical time of 2:36:09. Not bad for Malou's first 21K, considering how tough the route is, with the last 6 kilometers going mostly uphill. Our month-long practice which consisted mostly of LSD sessions eventually paid off making Malou's first 21K a success. : )
My wife is now a 21K finisher! Alright!
Pros and Cons of the Pryce Gas International Marathon 2012:
1. On-time gun start
2. Shuttle vans transported runners from the city proper to the start area in Pryce Gardens.
3. Plenty of hydration stations (at least for the 21K route) serving cold water (and sports drinks in some).
4. Kilometer markers helped us track our pace.
5. The last 6 kilometers of the route, though hilly, are mostly shaded by trees on the road side.
6. Finisher's medal and shirt for both 21K and 42K runners.
1. 42K runners complained of water and marshal shortage in their route.
2. Finisher's loot bag was wrapped only in cheap plastic/cellophane bag. It contained banana, biscuits, bottled water and sports drink.
3. Only one station served bananas in the 21K route.