IBTUR’s 3rd edition (3rd year) was organized by iRunner to promote tourism in La Union. I joined the 1st and 2nd edition (88km and 120km) and for the 3rd edition, iRunner attempted organizing La Union’s first 100-mile ultramarathon race. One thing that is special with IBTUR races is that all Local Government Units along the route are involved and provide hydration/aid support to runners during the race. They also act as time check-point and runners are required to log their bib number/name at the aid stations. Aside from the intense heat in towns close to the shoreline of the West Philippine Sea, the real challenge in IBTUR races is traversing the mountainous area connecting the town of San Gabriel and Santol. The 20+ kilometer-mountain traverse would need 8 hours of trek time due to its elevation and the steepness of the road and we traversed in the evening until the early morning.
I originally did not register in this event due to conflict in my schedule. The registration period had ended and I was still on social media hiatus. When I checked the page of the organizer, I saw that 3 free slots were opened for grab and IBTUR pioneers were the priority. That time, 2 slots were already taken. I applied for the 3rd and final free slot and fortunately I was able to get it. I only have 3 weeks left to prepare for this event and that resulted to just 2 sets of training runs that totaled 50 km. I knew that 50-kilometer mileage is not enough for a 100-mile race but I did not want to cram so I just prepared myself mentally by telling myself that this is just half of my prior ultramarathon last May from Laoag City to Cagayan.
I coordinated with one of my team mates in Team Pasyal (Boy Lipad) who was also a participant in this event. Together with two other runners from Team CARE, we travelled to San Juan, La Union where briefing was conducted by the race organizer at P&M Final Options Resort. We arrived early at the venue so we rested and waited at one of the sheds near the shore.
Briefing was conducted in the evening. A heavy meal was also prepared for the participants.
As we were not able to make any booking with the nearby hotels, the Race Director (Randy Abasolo) asked the owner of the venue if we will be allowed to stay at the area where briefing was held. Luck was on our side as the owner/manager offered to use their spare beach hut. As we were on self-support, the shuttle van picked us up by 2AM and then proceeded to the race starting line at the La Union Welcome Arch at Rosario, La Union.
The race started at 4AM of September 9, 2016. A total of 14 runners toed the line for the 100-mile challenge. I acted as pacer for 2 other runners and implemented a run-walk strategy in order for us to reserve our strength for the mountainous area of San Gabriel and Santol. We also stopped in major municipal landmarks (welcome arches and/or municipal halls) for a selfie shot for documentation and as a sort of reset or mini-finish lines.
Our first checkpoint was at the Poro Point Lighthouse in San Fernando, La Union which is Km 60 of IBTUR route. Meal was provided to the runners and the official photographer took each runner’s photo with the Light House in the background. The lighthouse serves as a navigational aid to maritime vessels plying the West Philippine Sea and the Lingayen Gulf.
We had our dinner at 711 Convenience Store in San Juan before continuing our journey to San Gabriel. It was Km. 77 of the race in our way to San Gabriel when I had my first acid reflux. I vommitted again at Km 88 while trekking the mountainous area of San Gabriel. Maybe my mind realized the series and forced me to vomit for the 3rd time in Km 99 in our way down to Santol, La Union. I tried to sleep when we arrived at Santol town center where food and place to rest/sleep was prepared for the runners. I was craving for a cup of noodles to counter the acid in my stomach but it was still break of dawn and sari-sari stores were still closed. We were fortunate that one store owner who was having his coffee in front of their store opened the store for us to have our cup of noodles.
On the last stretch (Bacnotan to San Juan), I tried to increase our run-walk ratio at a faster pace. Fortunately, my running buddy was able to synchronize with my fast pace during the last lap. We arrived at the Finish line with the official time of 38 hours and 29 minutes of running as the 5th and 6th 100-mile Finisher. Awarding ceremony was conducted by the Race Director and I noticed that the self-support runners who slept at the beach hut got the 2nd to 6th place.
As a sort of personal tradition, I have to shave my beard/moustache after a successful official race finish.
The race Director told us that this is already the last IBTUR. With the success of the 3rd edition of IBTUR, there maybe other endurance athletes who would be dreaming of taking another IBTUR Challenge.