Welcome to Runaholic’s very first Guest blogger Bataan Death March Ultramarathoner Paul Pajo
I wasn’t even supposed to run again in McKinley Hill so soon. I had just run 102 kilometers for the 3rd Bataan Death March and 2 weeks before that I had run 22 loops of 2.4 kilometers (about 52.8K) around McKinley Hill for seven hours for my last heat/hill/ultramarathon training. I joked to my friends that I could run McKinley blindfolded just because of the sheer mileage I had put in “dreaded” hills. But something compelled me to run the 10K of Zonta’s RAT (Run Against Trafficking) Race and that was the opposition.
Yes. The Opposition.
You wouldn’t believe the opposition that came against this race. No one believed that sponsors would come in for this cause at such a short notice. There was the more publicized DZMM race that was happening during the same date and there was another Rotary race in the South at the same time. Some people even objected to the use of the word “RAT” for the race. The race date even almost slipped my mind and good thing super organizer Vicki Abraham reminded me through the blogger’s meetings that they were organizing. A run against human trafficking wasn’t as exactly as sexy as running for dolphins or the environment or even for cancer. As my friend Kassy Pajarillo would tweet later – reading about human trafficking was equally disturbing and depressing but I had to turn up for this race not only because I wanted to support Vicki but as I was tweeting, fb statusing, plurking and blogging about the race, the more it dawned to me how evil and pernicious and prevalent this crime was and I slowly remembered stories that were told to me when I was living in other countries. I’ve had stories told of vagrants in the street of Rangoon being snatched and re-appearing in the borders of Myanmar and Thailand. I’ve heard of stories of young teenagers disappearing in the streets of Kabul and re-appearing in Kandahar and being “escorts” of older Afghan men. And of course there was the movie “Taken” that if you knew the real story (try Google-ing it as an academic exercise) – it would break your heart and also encourage you to campaign against this heinous crime .
I had intended to run with my brother Jehu but he had injured his toes and I tried to find someone I could give the extra bib that I had. Jose “Quest” Villanueva (if he sounds familiar, his song “Back to Love” just recently won the 2011 Myx Music Awards 2011 Urban Video of the Year) was online and on Facebook and he could run on short notice. I was coming straight from DVD night with my friends Sharon and Dre but that had never stopped me from running a race as important as this and my expectations for the race wasn’t let down – the check-in area was swarming with ready runners well before the gun start time. You could sense the energy even before the race – the warm-up exercises was so intense that I was joking with Jose that it was the equivalent of a 5K run already. There were a lot of people trickling into the 10K chute but you could see that there were definitely more runners running the 5K, the 3K and even 1K. It was almost the same loop that we did during Last Man Running but instead of looping back into the Megaworld
assembly area it had us turning right towards Essensa and then U-Turning all the way to Bayani Road and then U-turning back at Heritage back to McKinely HIll. I saw a lot of usual Army runners in the lead pack but there was an unusual number of Caucasians in this race – I would find out later that the U.S. Embassy and USAID had thrown their full support for this race. There was ample hydration every 1.5 or so kilometers courtesy of Jay Em’s team and I finished the race almost under an hour – 1:00:52.
My GPS told me that it was 300 meters short but I’m sure it was me running the tangents too much – all that previous hill running in McKinley made me memorize already where to maximize the tangential running lines. Jose wasn’t far behind me and I could hear Pat Fernandez getting ready to announce the winners by the time I was lining up for Pocari Sweat which was being distributed generously together with the Magnolia water. MTV Exit accentuated their support and participation in this race when VJ Kat Alano shared the stage with Pat to announce the winners who were the usual podium finishers sans the Kenyans who were probably at the DZMM Race. You could see that the women from Zonta who were in attendance (about 11 out the 42 members from what I heard) were very happy with the turn-out and there were already rumors that the RAT Race would be brought to the other provinces like Cebu, Naga, Tacloban, Davao and Baguio. I was even able to chat with some of the members of International Organization for Migration (IOM) who were there to support the race beneficiary, the Visayan Forum Foundation. Amidst the sea of red and white because of the Harisson-designed singlet was the bright yellow of the Body Shop contingent who was on hand since human trafficking was also their advocacy. Too bad the Body Shop lootbags quickly ran out. I saw my fellow professor Chique Dacanay who told me that I need not line up since there were no more loot bags. I wasn’t really disappointed – I’m sure Body Shop will do better the next time and I don’t think they really expected that many runners would turn up in RAT Race that wasn’t publicized enough since the running forums were suffering down times when we were trying to promote the race. This comments by Snowshoes in Takbo.net says it all: “I’m surprised no one posted about this race yet, as it was well-attended. It was for a good cause, anti-trafficking in persons.” Kudos to all the people who ran the first ever RAT (Run Against Trafficking) by Zonta and all those who helped buzz and promote it. Zonta Makati Ayala President Vicki Abraham observed before that “It seems a lot of people don’t give a second thought about saving whales or saving rain forests, but few people are raising a fuss about saving people.”, it’s good to know that there were still runners who were willing to run for the anti-trafficking cause and raise a fuss.
Bataan Death March Ultramarathoner Paul Pajo is a Professor at College of St. Benilde and Instructor at U21 Global amongst others. You may follow him through twitter @pageman