Race Report: The Guam Ko’Ko’ Road Race

Wednesday, 19 October 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Race: Guam Ko’Ko’ Road Race
Date: Sunday, October 16, 2011
Venue: Gov. Joseph Memorial Park (Ypao Beach), Tumon, Guam
Distance: 21k and Ekiden Relay (4-person relay)

The annual Guam Ko’Ko’ Road Race is one of Guam’s most anticipated running events in the country. Organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau, the race aims to raise awareness on the plight of the Ko’Ko’ bird which nears extinction.

The half marathon takes runners around the paved, wide, and mostly flat roads of Guam with a scenic view of its sea and beaches. It also offers the Ediken Relay for four runners teaming up to cover the same distance.


This year, 1,700 runners participated in the 6th Guam Ko’Ko’ Road Race. With majority of Guam’s tourists hailing from Japan, over 600 of participants were slim, fast, and nimble-looking Japanese runners. Gulp.

We arrived at the assembly area at YPao Beach at 4:00 AM for a 5:00 AM gunstart. The atmosphere was alive and filled with excitement. The weather was just right, dry but not humid.

– with wonderful new friends from the Guam Visitors Bureau –

Runners of all shapes, sizes, and attire were gearing up for the race. I spotted a group of giddy Japanese women looking forward to their Ediken relay, a caucasian couple who looked like hardcore triathletes in their trisuits with gels on hand, Japanese men who looked like they’d been running all their lives, and various groups in uniform chatting their nerves away. There was a lot of smiles and laughter, camera flashes, and rocking to the body attack warm up led by the fitness instructors on stage. Everyone was game!


A little before 5 AM, we all proceeded to the front of the Guam Visitors Bureau where the race was to start. Amidst the mix of Chamorros, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos (I heard there were a number of Guam-based Pinoys who ran) and other runners from abroad, I stood there alone in silence (except for the times Bernard from Sports Unlimited would pop up from nowhere with his camera).

– Start of Guam Ko’Ko’ Road Race 21k –

From out of nowhere, I heard my name called out. What a pleasant surprise! I spotted AJ, a 20-something triathlete, who I met last summer at The Next Step Tricamp. AJ is now based in Guam and this was his first race there. He was gunning for a sub-2. How I wished I could run with him because I was dying to run on those fast and flat roads of Guam. But, my run was to be an easy training run in preparation for New York City Marathon on November 4. Behave, Jaymie, behave! So, AJ and I wished each other luck and at exactly 5 AM, the gun was fired and we were off.

– Hafa Adai, let’s do this! –


The first 2k included a short climb. It was slightly steeper than our Buendia Flyover but, with fresh legs and a slow pace, this was just a great way to warm up. The runners almost ran in complete silence, and, in the darkness of the early morning, it felt very serene and calming. Just one light step in front of the other.

The course then took us through the wider and flatter roads of the city making its way through the residential village of Tamuning and onto the main road, Marine Corps. Drive, and the island capital of Hagatna and Anigua. Some portions offered gentle rolling hills which were just enough to keep boredom of the legs at bay. Every hydration station had energetic and friendly marshals handing out water and Gatorade, portalets, and a medical aid station. There were also young cheerers and supporters who kept all of us going.

– Flat and fast roads –

– Team of runners run side by side –

The great thing about running easy was that there was time to enjoy the scenery. I looked around me and particularly loved running by the sandy beaches of Guam. I practiced my Chi running form and, at one moment, felt like I was in a trance just floating all the way to the finish.

When we hit 10k, my only thought was: It’s 10k already?! I couldn’t believe 10k had gone by that quickly. There was absolutely no time for boredom.

The highlight of the race for me was the approach towards the turnaround point just inside the village of Asan. The clear view of the sun and sea was a sight to behold at dawn. If only for that, I would run this course again…and again…and again.


The day before the race, it had been raining in Guam. I had secretly hoped that it would rain on race day too. By 13k, I got my wish. It started to drizzle. I couldn’t help but smile as I ran. After a few kilometers, it poured! Woohoo! We were all completely drenched. Our feet would splash onto puddles of water at each step. At one point, we ran against the strong wind. It was a lot more challenging to run and I was getting chills from the wetness and cold, but boy was I loving every minute.

– Go Philippines! –

The race was a wonderful way to experience Guam for me. The course was awesome, the support from the people were outstanding, the weather was incredible. But, sadly, there was one major hitch. I was severely disappointed when hydration ran out at more than a couple of stations on our way back. For me (and I know a lot of you), hydration is simply a non-negotiable; the lack thereof could lead to severe dehydration, heatstroke, or worse death. It’s no joke and it should never be overlooked.

As I was running, I was parched. What worried me more, despite the cool weather, was that I had stopped sweating and I was getting chills, which to me were signs that I lacked hydration. I continued on and managed to get water from a support vehicle (thank you to Sports Unlimited crew and Marton of Rogue!) and a station that finally had water (but no Gatorade which was what I needed badly). Thankfully, I was strong enough to proceed with the run with ease.


I continued to run easy and steady with a smile. Most of the runners around me had settled at a steady rhythm and I felt the same way. Boy, did I love running in that race despite the little hydration mishap.

I crossed the finish line back at YPao Beach at 2 hours 20 minutes. It wasn’t my best time, but hey, it was a great training run! I loved the scenery, the people of Guam, the landmarks along the way, and last but not the least, the rain! It was an awesome race that I felt fortunate to have been given the opportunity to run.

-Finished at 2:20 –

– No training! No injury! I was a happy camper –

– Showing off my Ko’Ko’ medal  –


With blistered feet, soaked socks and muddy shoes, AJ and I headed for the buffet for tons of rice, bacon, and fruits!

– AJ broke his PR at 1:52 –

– My babies got soaked, but they held up well –

– Team Bacon would’ve loved this! –

Thank you to Guam Visitors Bureau – Guam and Manila offices, especially Leana, Mike and Nina, MJ of United Airlines, and Pacific Island Hotel for a wonderful experience in Guam. Thank you as well to Jonas, Jasmine, and especially Bernard (for all the pics) of Sports Unlimited and Marton of Rogue Magazine.

– Until the next race, Guam! –

NEXT: Other adventures in Guam

Hafa Adai from Guam!

Friday, 14 October 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Hafa Adai! Pronounced “half a day” in english, that means “Hello!” in Chamorro, the native language here in Guam. See, we arrived here in the wee hours of this morning—4:45am to be exact—and I’ve nearly assimilated into the Chamorro culture! Hah!

– view of Guam from my hotel room –

I won’t go into the full details yet of everything we did today because wow we did quite a lot! (Thanks to the Guam Visitors Bureau.) But, I will tell you this: After seeing the roads of Guam, I’m so looking forward to running the Guam Ko’Ko’ Road Race this Sunday!


Amidst the flurry of activities today, we managed to claim my race kit. I like the quality of the shirt. I’m glad that they’re probably serving Gatorade on the course (I noticed it’s the sponsor). And, lastly, I love the 10% discount coupon at Macy’s!  Woohoo!


I also made a new friend this morning, the only other person I know who is running the Ko’Ko’ Race this Sunday. Meet Ronnie, an immigration officer at the Guam Airport who has roots in Iloilo but was born and raised in Guam. Ronnie almost scared me to death this morning by walking up to me in his black uniform by the immigration booths saying “Hayme?” I thought I was going to be questioned and directed to some Immigration office, so I nervously answered: “Yes. Jaymie.”  He introduced himself and said that he actually reads this blog! Don’t you just love bumping into runners all over the world?!  Ronnie is running his first 21k on Sunday so wish him luck!

– All the best on Sunday, Ronnie! You’ll do great! –

There’s a lot of stories and pictures to share, but I’ll have to get some rest now. I’ve only had 1.5 hours of sleep since yesterday and I’m getting up early tomorrow morning for a swim. My new running buddy (see below) and I will chat with you soon!


Running Around the World

Friday, 30 September 2011  |  Bullish Insights

Ever since I became a runner, all roads have become my playground.  From paved roads to treacherous trails, whether in my city or a thousand miles away from home, you name it, I have considered making my mark on it with my running shoes.  Needless to say, for a runner like me, my idea of adventure is to explore the world through running.

To say that I am excited about the coming months’ running adventures would be an understatement.  I cannot wait to pack up my running gear and run these races I’m signed up for:

• October 16: Guam Koko Race – 21km
• November 6: New York City Marathon – 42k (Thanks to Gatorade!)
• December 4: California International Marathon – 42k

It’s a lot of pounding for the recently recovered feet, so I’m practicing some restraint (and wisdom) and I’m planning to enjoy the runs at a good, easy pace.  Yes, yes, I’ll try my very best to do so even if CIM boasts of a negative elevation course which is one of the top 6 fastest running courses in the US that’s popular for allowing a lot of runners to qualify for Boston.  (Crap)  Yes, I will have to bite my lips, hold back, and remind myself to take it s-l-o-w if I want to preserve my delicate feet.

I wish I could take you all with me, but since I can’t do an Oprah and surprise you all with free plane tickets hidden underneath your seats (thank God you don’t have seats!), I’ll just lug around a camera and share the sights and sounds of my grand adventures.  Fine, maybe, I’ll eat some extra dessert for you, too.