Tallinna 10K and Maraton 2018

 

img_1678

In front of the 14th-century Viru Gate, part of the Estonian capital’s old defense system and presently serves as the entrance to the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Republic of Estonia is a former Soviet republic and one of three Baltic states of northern Europe. The country is celebrating 100 years of independence this year with a series of events for everyone’s appreciation.

The Tallinna 10K and Maraton 2018 was one of the centenary’s official events and the largest sporting event organized in Estonia with 23,940 runners in four race categories.

The marathon category itself had 2,539 runners while the 10K probably had many more.

I already pre-registered online and paid 50 euros for the marathon. When I was able to confirm our flights for Friday evening, I also pre-registered at the last minute and paid 25 euros for the 10K.

We flew out of Brussels International Airport in Zaventem on the LOT Airlines flight after work on Friday, September 7, 2018 at 20:35 PM. The flight took two and a half hours, and we were landing by 23:55.

The airport tram 4 to Tondi was 2 euros per person and took 17 minutes and nine stops before we got off at Paberi. We crossed the street and walked a couple of blocks to reach the Radisson Blu Olumpia Hotel. We were asleep very quickly after a long day!

We slept in the following morning, and woke up to a very expansive view of the city.

img_4883

We took our time having breakfast at the Senso Restaurant.

We walked about 10 minutes to get to the Freedom Square where the expo was open from 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM to pick up my bib. Here’s a view of one of the city streets.

IMG_4777

Richard found a guy he could identify with.

IMG_4779

The marathon expo was in full swing when we got there. There were product exhibitors and race promoters, as well as an Olympic torch exhibit.

We posed for the pre-race photo.

img_1623

It was a short jaunt to the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Our first stop was the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This was not really an old cathedral since it was build in 1900, but it was the typical Russian Revival design.

We walked a bit further to reach another part of the Old Town.

The edge of this part of town looked out to the city skyline.

We also visited the Danish King’s Garden where the sculptures of three featureless monks were installed.

This must be a popular attraction since there were lots of tourists in the area. One street vendor was cooking and selling spicy nuts.

We were back in the hotel by 13:00 PM to rest and be ready for the 10K at 17:00.

img_4901

The start line was also at Freedom Square.

There were many runners in this category. I didn’t feel pressured and just ran with the crowd.  The cool thing about this race route was going into a building!

I finished the 10K in 1:10:45.

img_1665

Richard met me at the finish line and we slowly made our way back to the hotel. An early dinner at a restaurant in one of the malls we passed by was in order for the longer race the next day.

It was still light outside so we continued our walking tour to see what we did not see in the morning.

I got permission to take photos of these locals.

We made sure to stop by St. Catherine’s Passage, a narrow medieval passageway to the St. Catherine’s Guild, an arts and crafts section of the city.

The marathon on Sunday started at 9:00 AM with a seven hour time limit.

There were lots to see along the way.

Nourishment was also available at the aid stations, including energy drinks.

I crossed the finish line in 5:52:30

We went back to the hotel to take a shower and get ready for the flight back at 18:05, landing at 19:40 in Brussels. We had lounge access but we were also served dinner on business class on the way back. Sweet!

Posted in Marathons, Places to See, Race Reports | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Le Marathon de la Liberté 2018

ED03DEDB-2865-4D2E-82AD-FCC673860B5D

Les Braves war memorial sculpture on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

The Normandy region will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the Allied countries. It was in Normandy on the northern coast of France where the Western Allies of World War II staged the biggest sea-based invasion in history.

Omaha Beach was one of the landing sites. Almost half a million Allied and German military members were killed, wounded, or went missing in this battle. Today, the Les Braves war memorial sculpture honors the war dead and is a poignant reminder of our shared past.

The locals memorialize this momentous event in history through various celebrations. The Normandy Running Festival 2018 was one of those celebrations held to coincide with the anniversary of the D-day and offered various racing distances

Richard and I woke up early on Saturday, June 9, 2018 for the five-hour drive to Normandy. I pre-registered for the Le Marathon de la Liberte 2018 online and paid 42 euros for the marathon distance.

We drove straight to the bib pickup at the Village Expo des Courants de la Liberte. The expo was open that Saturday  from 9:00 AM until 8:00 PM.

It was still too early for check-in at 2:00 PM at our hotel so we decided to go to Omaha Beach to see the memorial.

We stopped at Au Siecle d’Or for an early Chinese buffet dinner before heading back to our hotel.

Ivan Vauier in Caen was our accommodation for the evening.

Richard had breakfast at the hotel the following morning.

Runners congregated at Parc Expo for the bus pick-up between 7:00 – 8:00 AM to bring us to the start line at Courseulles-sur-Mer.

The race started at 9:10 AM on Sunday, June 10, 2018 with a time limit of five hours and 30 minutes.

The race was generally flat. We ran past several of the other beaches where the Allied forces landed.

There was entertainment on the course. This supporter motivated us with her cheers and followed us at certain points on the course.

The aid stations were fully stocked and the weather was perfect for running.

We all finished the race at the Parc Expo of Caen, with my official time of 5:30:34. I received a round of applause from the refreshment volunteers as soon as they found out my nationality.

The goodies I hauled at the finish line was great!

6622381B-D6E6-48F7-8242-5C3A19E34812

Richard and I walked back to the hotel where the car was parked and immediately drove back to Brussels that same evening.

Posted in Marathons, Places, Places to See, Race Reports | Leave a comment

1st Carigara Fiesta Marathon and Color Fun Run 2018

75834705-1C9D-4C25-B573-5DA4D64CBD96

One of Leyte’s most famous delicacies is the pastillas de leche from Carigara. I grew up eating this sweet treat on special occasions. What makes Carigara’s pastillas is the use of pure carabao’s milk. This ingredient makes the product creamier but not too sweet, the kind that tastes like heaven as it melts in your mouth. Yummy!

We visited Carigara this year for the 1st Carigara Fiesta Marathon and Color Fun Run 2018. I took a short nap after spending the day working at my parents’ school. By 11:00 PM, we headed out for the hour-long drive to Carigara from Tacloban City. The start time was 1:00 AM of July 8, 2018.

An event was winding down at the Local Government Unit (LGU) grounds. We proceeded to a small building to pick up my bib and check in for the race. I pre-registered online and paid the race fee of P1,400.00. My husband Richard stayed behind in Manila but I had my brother Don and our family driver as my support crew.

The marathon was a fundraising event for the 2019 HCC Grand Alumni Homecoming that will be hosted by Class 1994 and was part of the official town fiesta events. The registration fee included the T-shirt and the bib.

4C0F9E96-32B5-47EC-B63F-CF9EC959E26B

I met up with a fellow Taclobanon runner and his wife who was the president of the alumni group. Many members of Class 1994 were at the alumni office busy preparing for the races. I took the chance to have my picture taken with them.

22 runners signed up for the marathon. We warmed up by dancing the zumba, and took off at exactly 1:00 AM.

Starting line was at Carigara LGU- going to Capoocan via Sta. Cruz chapel/ Slaughter house – turning point at Atipolo bridge going back to Carigara, then straight to Tunga – turning point at Naliwatan bridge going back to Baruguhay Carigara- turn right straight to Carigara District Hospital- turn right going to Barugo- turning point at Barugo Central School- going back to Carigara- straight to Cassidy Elementary School turn right going to Boulevard- turn left- going to the finish line at Carigara LGU.

carigara

Don was a very caring support crew; he ensured that I had all the water, energy drink, and food I needed. He also took photos of me running by my lonesome. He talked to the organizers prior to the race to ensure that he knew the route, and trailed me to light the road ahead.

I was thinking I had the hometown advantage in this race. Boy was I wrong! The race was tough and was longer than the marathon distance by about three kilometers. I shuffled to the finish line with another runner who was doing the half marathon.

3BCBE213-3274-4D0A-9B8D-EC7E43F5F2ED

I crossed the finish line in 6:21:16 and was very surprised to emerge as the second runner-up in the women’s division. I received the cash prize of P3,000 in cash from the president. I was so happy that even though I was super slow, I still managed to get a prize!

The finisher’s goodie bag included sample pain medicines and a promotional cup.

06F404A1-BC65-4D27-B98C-9B7BECEAC082

The race was definitely well worth it! The hometown feel and no pressure in running was just perfect. We stopped by one of the houses to buy the famous pastillas de leche and ate them all before we had a chance to take a photo of our purchase!

Posted in Marathons, Places to See, Race Reports | Leave a comment

40th Gold Coast Marathon 2018

E7B3F283-3354-43CB-B135-5AFAE8E29F44

Our first look at the Sydney Opera House.

Living in Europe makes it a challenge to run marathons in Australia. But – if there’s a will, there’s a way! We spend our summers in the Philippines and this year I carefully planned our schedule to include the 40th Gold Coast Marathon 2018.

We took the 10:30 PM  seven-hour Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Sydney on June 28, 2018. We arrived at Centennial Terminal early and found out at the check-in counter that we had to apply for Australian visas prior to departure! What?! I thought our passports did not require visas! Fortunately, the visa application was easy online and immediately issued after payment of 21AUD by credit card. With the visa approval number in hand, the rest of the check-in process was smooth. Whew! I cannot take visas for granted and should check the country’s requirements before traveling.

We landed at 8:45 AM and was picked up from the airport by my brother and his wife. As first-timers to the Land Down Under, we excitedly made a beeline to the Sydney Opera House.

This trip was also a mini family reunion. I rarely see my brother now since he moved to Sydney and settled down almost 20 years ago.

It was just the beginning of winter in June for Sydney. The weather was bearably cool; my brother assured me that they have mild Aussie winters. We had a leisurely breakfast at one of the restaurants on the Sydney Cove, catching up with family developments and news.

Before we knew it, we had to make our way back to the airport for our TigerAir flight to Gold Coast at 4:10 PM.

We arrived in Gold Coast at 5:30 PM and took the SkyBus airport shuttle which stopped directly in front of our hotel. Bus fare was 38 AUD return per person which we booked online in advance.

Palazzo Versace Gold Coast was our decadent five-star hotel of choice for this trip.

Our room overlooked one of the many harbors of the city.

C47BD67B-CD71-4121-B77E-2F8294CF1F0A

We slept very well that night with Versace bedsheets and pillows.

The breakfast choices were extensive.

Properly rested and nourished, we set about picking up the race bib at the Gold Coast Convention Center. The tropical weather in the city was a pleasant contrast to the one in Sydney. Richard wore shorts and I wore a sleeveless top; it was that warm.

The bus that stopped in front of our hotel took us directly to the race expo.

Race expos are always exciting but can be confusing. So many exhibitors and products to see, too many people wandering about. Thankfully, the layout of the expo was easy. We picked up our bib and browsed at products while making our way out.

EADEF813-F878-4005-8E1E-BEA8897CB275

We spent the rest of the day walking around Broadbeach North. Richard took photos of these interesting flora and fauna.

Dinner was at one of the restaurants in the mini mall next to our hotel.

B9484369-243B-48D3-9321-D0FBC0BE99C3

Race day dawned bright and early. It took us 20 minutes to walk from our hotel to the start line on Marine Parade just a few feet away from the finish line at the Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

The race started at 7:20 AM with a 6:40 time limit (gun time). The route, as expected, was lovely. The course took us all over the city, past the swanky hotels to the posh condominiums, to the beach roads with the views of the gold sands. Richard took these photos while waiting for me.

We had plenty of fluids and gels at the aid stations. They had shower mists and helpful temperature readers.

There were a couple of entertainments spots along the way.

I was slow (again!) and crossed the finish line with a net time of 5:54:57 and an official time of 6:01:37. We walked through the final shower mist and got out finisher’s T-shirts.

Richard was patiently waiting for me.

We walked slowly back to our hotel where I took a shower and rested before going out for dinner.

We slept in, leisurely took our time at breakfast, and had one last look at this beautiful hotel before checking out.

Nope, we didn’t take the Rolls Royce to the airport. Just couldn’t resist posing beside it.

96011187-1F57-46C8-8416-7CEAB53E7350

We arrived in Sydney by 7:30 PM on Monday, July 2, 2018. I was glad to see my brother and his wife again. The evening was family time, their two grown children home for family dinner.

We were out and about the whole day the next day, visiting the Sydney Opera House again for better pictures.

DD8F846C-1541-4D44-AB88-0B9C115977FE

We also stopped by Bondi Beach and lunch at one of the malls.

We flew back to Manila on July 4, 2018 on the Philippine Airlines flight that left at 10:30 AM and landed at 4:40 PM. It was such a nice visit with my brother and his family, and a great race in Gold Coast!

Posted in Marathons, Places to See, Race Reports | Leave a comment

42. Monschau Marathon Walk 2018

CAB903C5-43E0-4EA3-A88E-FBE4511D14BF

Monschau, a very picturesque town in the western party of Germany.

The 42nd Monschau Marathon Walk 2018 was our first race a week after our summer vacation in Asia and Australia. Monschau is a very picturesque town in western Germany, just a little over two hours from where we live in Belgium. The running festival had several race categories: 52K ultra, marathon, relay marathon, marathon walk, and mini marathon. I signed up for the marathon walk as my recovery race from the four marathons and one ultra I did over the past five weeks. I also studied the altimetry of the race course and decided I did not want to run up those major hills!

Registration for the marathon run or walk varied from as low as 31€ if you registered before March 31st to 43€ until July 31st. The registration entitled you to a finisher’s certificate, medal, and T-shirt.

The marathon walk started at 6:00 AM in the morning of August 12, 2018. We decided to stay overnight at a hotel near the race start so I would not be so rushed so early in the morning. All the hotels in Monschau were already fully booked. Instead, we stayed in nearby Raeren at Hotel Restaurant Zum Onkel Jonathan, a three-star homely family-run accommodation. Free parking was available right in front of the hotel.

Dinner was at the hotel that night with vegetable soup and roasted chicken with frites. The restaurant was a local favorite. We had dinner at 6:00 PM and there were already people seated at two other tables, unusual in Europe where dinners start late at 8:00 PM.

I set the alarm for 4:00 AM on Sunday. We brought sandwiches with us that served as my breakfast the next morning. Richard ate the breakfast that came with the reservation later at 8:00 AM. We were on the road by 5:00 AM for the 20-minute drive to the bib pick-up and start line on Konrad Adenauer Straße.

People were already milling about. I picked up my bib and walked around the area. marathon walkers were scheduled to start at 6:00 AM with the ultra runners toeing off at 6:05 AM.

The program changed because the ultra runners started at 6:00 AM and we were released by twos after the organizers wrote down our numbers starting at 6:10 AM.

F9482928-D0CD-46BB-947B-A6716C344A63

The walker category allowed us to do nordic walking or even run all or parts of the course. The organizers made up for the tough course with a generous time limit eight hours and thirty minutes.

The route was beautiful, picturesque, and peaceful.

We had access to the full service provided for the ultra runners and marathoners but did not have the pressure to run the whole race. Sweet! I can get used to this!

I stepped on the finish line in 6:58:43. They immediately gave me a rose and my finisher’s medal and waited just a few minutes for my official finisher certificate.

I had time for a quick shower at the primary school in Konzen next door before we drove home.

Posted in Marathons, Race Reports, Things to Do, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pattaya Marathon 2018

The Pattaya Marathon on July 15th was one of the highlights of our 2018 summer break in the Pacific. I was excited to visit Bangkok again after the race, and Richard was looking forward to connecting with a former colleague and fellow retiree who chose to make the Thai capital his home.

We took the two and a half hour Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Bangkok on Friday, July 13, 2018 and paid 120 baht bus fare per person for the one hour trip to Pattaya. At the Pattaya Bus Terminal, a taxi driver wanted to charge us 300 baht to Hard Rock Hotel. A fellow passenger who was a seasoned visitor to Pattaya advised us against the taxi. Instead, we took a songtaew for 20 baht each, a local mini bus that resembled the Philippines’ jeepney. The driver dropped us a corner away from our hotel. We stopped at a 7-11 convenience store to get some drinks and continued the walk for about five minutes to reach Beach Road and the pool entrance to the hotel. We quickly checked in and was in for the night.

The breakfast buffet the next morning was sumptuous, just a tad too noisy.

We booked a car and a driver with the hotel to take us to sightseeing. Our first stop was the teak Sanctuary of Truth.

The next stop was a brief one to get our photo with the Pattaya sign in the background. It was so hot we couldn’t help squinting!

Next stop was the Wat Phrai Yai Temple with the Big Buddha.

We spent some time checking out the goods and enjoying the action at the Pattaya Floating Market.

With the major bulk of sightseeing musts done, we finally made our way to Central Festival Pattaya Mall to pick up my bib. I was already pre-registered when the online registration opened on June 19, 2018. Marathon registration is 1,000 baht. The race kit included the bib, singlet, and a drawstring bag.

The mall was located along the Beach Road, the major tourist hub in the city. There were many sidewalk vendors selling race-related merchandise.

We walked back to the hotel to cool off.

The sunset view from our hotel room was beautiful.

We were out again in the early evening to walk the famous Walking Street and get some dinner.

We settled for dinner at one of the restaurants. We were pleasantly surprised that the dining area opened out into the sea.

The Walking Street was hopping with action by the time we finished our dinner. It was a reluctant walk to the hotel for an early night.

I set the alarm for 1:30 AM to be ready for the 3:00 AM start time. The start line was thankfully just a few meters away from our hotel.

There were some product samples available at the starting area. We could also get some water, bananas, and power drinks already.

We were off at 3:00 AM. We ran through the Walking Street for the first few kilometers. I was surprised the clubs were already closed at 3:00 AM but there were still some straggling tourists walking back to their hotels. I was thinking they were open all night!

The aid stations had water, bananas, and the sports drinks. It was windy and overcast, and I took my time to finish the race.

I crossed the finish line in 5:50, slow but still in good shape. Richard and I immediately walked back to our hotel so that we could take a shower and get breakfast at the hotel.

We checked out at noon to take a cab to Pattaya Bus Terminal and ride the bus back to Bangkok.

We were booked at Movenpick Hotel in Sukhumvit Road.

Richard was scheduled for a medical check-up so we skipped the breakfast the first morning.

I got to meet Richard’s friend who is a long-time Bangkok resident.

F09DE51A-3A30-4B09-8ED5-511A0682A45C

Our Thailand trip was all too short. It was time to go back to Manila before we knew it.

 

Posted in Marathons, Places to See, Race Reports, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

55K TransCebu Challenge 2018

Cebu City, the Philippines’ Queen City of the South, is undergoing a construction boom. The trip from the airport to our hotel was longer than our one-hour flight due to the traffic, and there seemed to be more buildings lined along the streets since the last time we visited in 2016.

We took one of the Cebu Pacific morning flights from Manila to Cebu on Saturday, July 21, 2018 so that I can run the 55K TransCebu Challenge 2018. It was my second time to run this event after my initial participation in 2016.

I can still feel the deliciously steep altimetry of the infamous Transcentral Highway and my unexpected first runner-up finish in the women’s open division. Frankly, I wasn’t too keen in running this stretch of the race again.  Knowing what to feel and expect now at least prepared me for the ordeal ahead.

We stayed at the same hotel as the last time, Best Western Lex Plus Cebu, located at the corner of Escario and Osmena Extension a few blocks away from the Provincial Capitol. We were too early for check-in so we decided to go sightseeing. We took a cab to visit Magellan’s Cross, one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. The cross marked the exact spot Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan planted the Christian cross when he arrived in the Philippines in 1521.

We went to Robinson’s Fuente Osmena next, a shopping mall located at the city rotunda. We shopped for some race support supplies and visited our favorite restaurant Casa Ilongga for some crab meat, grilled squid and binignit.

The hotel was ready for our check-in when we got back. Took it easy the rest of the afternoon and had an early dinner.

The alarm woke us up at 2:00 AM. It was too early to eat so I just got dressed for the race. We took a cab to the pick-up point and finish line, the Barangay Busay Multi-Purpose Building. We were told to be there by 3:00 AM for the 4:00 AM departure and the 5:00 AM start time. Richard dropped me off. He was going to catch up to me at 9:00 AM and would serve as my mobile support station.

C8C6920C-3F6C-4186-9603-2910FAA7ADF7

The van was late in picking us up, delayed by fog and low visibility along the Transcentral Highway. We finally left at 5:00 AM, arriving a little after 6:00 AM at the starting line at Barangay Balamban Multi-Purpose Building. Each runner paid the P120 fare to the driver.

The 105K participants started at 9:00 PM the previous night; our start line served as their 40K checkpoint. We passed several runners on our way to our start line.

They provided us rice and ham breakfast with coffee and gave us our bibs when we arrived. We took a group picture before our  flag-off at 6:30 AM. I was actually surprised at the number of countries represented both at the 55K and the 105K. There were runners from Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, and France aside from the local runners. I represented the USA and the Philippines. There were some runners that did not get in the picture here.

11419EDC-BEA1-413F-A4B3-445C49945DC8

As I remembered, the incline started at around the 5K mark and continued all the way until the last 10 kilometers. The route was different this year. We had to go off the Transcentral Highway twice. The first one took us to Mount Manunggal, the site of Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay’s crash site. The race trophy and medal is modeled after the engine of Mount Pinatubo, President Magsaysay’s ill-fated plane.

The second trail off the highway was just 400 meters away from the first trail, a five kilometer out and back that was pure trail. We caught the tail end of the day’s fog along this trail.

We stayed on Transcentral Highway for the rest of the course.

There were marshalls at intersections and turning points. They took our pictures as proof we reached the checkpoints. I stopped at a couple of aid stations to rehydrate and eat boiled eggs. Richard and the driver leapfrogged me and provided everything I needed.

The day was thankfully overcast, even raining for a few minutes here and there. I reached the finish line in 10:40:23.95, more than an hour faster than my previous finish and good enough for a second runner-up finish in the women’s open division. Yay!

F9B44830-CC4A-4910-A35A-94A522084055

They were chopping up lechon to serve to finishers but we didn’t stick around for that. We stopped at Robinson’s Fuente Osmena again for some takeout food at Casa Ilongga before heading back to the hotel. Richard and I took a long shower and ate in bed that night.

We flew back to Manila the following morning on Cebu Pacific Air. Finishers received a finisher shirt, trophy, and a medal. I also received a plaque for my podium finish. This was a good trip!

5A4B63BF-8B8C-468E-B555-A1CC2031B377

 

Posted in Marathons, Places, Race Reports | Tagged | Leave a comment