Organizer: New Balance/ ExTribe
Overall rating (10 highest): 7
- Challenging race course. I despised the almost 4km McKinley “trek”, but then again, it’s what made finishing the race all the more fulfilling.
- Very well organized race
- Accurate and sufficient number of kilometer markers
- Uniformed marshals along the route
- Hydration stations had long tables with cold water bottles or 100Plus
- Bananas provided at the finish
- More than enough portalets at the race start
- Excellent choice of host for post-race event with Tessa Prieto. (Can’t say the same for the male host who kept on reiterating he was not a runner. Why not choose a host who can relate with the audience?)
- Free NB socks after the race
- Different finish lines for 21k and other distances was unique and well-planned
- Booths (including gait analysis) and shopping after the race
BETTER JOB NEXT TIME:
- Messy race redemption. Race packets were not available for all runners at the advised redemption dates. (Best scenario: provide race packets upon registration)
- Race start lacked fanfare. I detest long shows and warm ups before a race, but a countdown with great music could’ve helped to drum up excitement. This race start was…yawn…dull.
- Water stations for 21k could’ve been more frequent, let’s say, at every 1.5 km
- Bottled water at stations. High wastage of water. (Best scenario: long tables with filled water cups as in Timex)
- Same medals provided for all distances. Half marathoners could’ve been given distinct medals
- Turnaround bands were too tight. Wearing the bands on one’s wrist could’ve impeded blood circulation. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but seriously it was too tight for comfort
- Some marshals chatting it up instead of doing their job. I told NB a few days before the race that if there was one minor item that would make a significant difference in the event it would be in the enthusiasm of marshals/race volunteers. Having energetic and happy marshals can boost a runner’s morale no matter how exhausted. During the race, at around Km 19/20, there were marshals who were chatting with each other in a circle rather than leading runners towards a certain direction or cheering them on.
The New Balance Power Run 2009 was a well-organized race as expected from most races staged by ExTribe. The highlight of the race was the challenging 21k course which toured runners around Bonifacio Global City, including the much dreaded McKinley Hill portion. It was this tough course that set the race apart from all other races. Other aspects of the race were average with flaws being very minor.
A couple of years ago, this New Balance race would’ve ranked high among other smaller running events. But, at this point in the game where race organizers continue to raise the bar in staging world-class races like the recently held Timex Run, New Balance must think of innovative ways to make the New Balance Power Run not just good but excellent if they want to stand out from the clutter.
Congratulations to New Balance and ExTribe for a well-organized race!
I was fortunate enough to receive apparel and running shoes from Anton Gonzales and Bing Buenaventura of New Balance for the race. The items I received were top-notch, but I still had some anxiety over wearing my barely-tested New Balance 801s for a half marathon. (I know, they’re racing flats, but I found the 1225s too heavy for me.) Prior to the race, I had only road tested it for a 5k tempo run in the rain (yes, I got my brand new shoes soaked!) and despite the fairly good test results, my paranoid self just worried over the fact that I was setting myself up for injury a mere week away from the Singapore Marathon.
After adjusting the tightness of my shoe and tying and retying my laces a hundred times over at the 21k assembly area, the race started and I was off. I ran alongside Atty. Raymund, my pace buddy at my accidental QCIM Marathon a few weeks back.
The night before the race, I chanced upon Raymund’s facebook status: “Chillax pace for New Balance” and so I wondered if we would be able to pace each other. My coach-friend Alvin had advised me to do a 6 min/km pace all the way.
“What’s our chillax pace?” I asked Raymund. I don’t recall getting a direct answer, but I do remember seeing a “5:30” on my Garmin as we ran past Market! Market! in the break of dawn. Gasp, so much for Chillax!
Steady till 10k
Raymund and I ran side by side averaging a pleasant 6 min/km for the first half of the race. As we neared Heritage, he started falling behind due to a bad knee. So, I found a new pace buddy in Chris Martin (sorry Gwyneth!) when I switched on my ipod and heard Cold Play motivating me to plod on further.
The Dreaded McKinley Hill
Shortly after 15k, the course took us inside McKinley Hill. As one enters the enclave by running briskly downhill, there’s much anxiety over the same hill which must be climbed up to exit. I dreaded that portion, but little did I know that there was much to be feared ahead.
The course inside McKinley was gut-wrenching and lung-busting. I studied the map the night before, but it didn’t seem as long and tough as it did on paper! The steep uphills completely took the energy out of me especially after running over 15km and striving to maintain 6 min/km.
With much suffering and a whole lot of sweat and determination, I managed to have my pace hover around 5:50 and only slowed down to 6:05 as I was trudging out of McKinley. Woah, I couldn’t believe I came out of that portion alive.
By Km 20, I wanted to increase the pace but for some reason, my legs would not cooperate. All things changed by the last kilometer. I channeled my inner bull and targeted a lady runner ahead of me. Heck, I even pretended she was in first place to motivate me even more! I went on full sprint and outpaced her making me first in my delusional TBR world. Then, I found myself with two male runners on each side, and together we ran full sprint ahead towards the finish. We shook hands at the finish, laughed off all the pain we endured, and parted ways.
According to my Garmin, I finished my last long run before Singapore Marathon at 2:06:35 with an average pace of 5:55 min/km for 21.4 km.
Curse you, McKinley! Had you not been there, I would’ve grabbed a new PR! But, then again, it was McKinley Hill that will keep this race forever etched in my running memory.
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