What It Takes to Win an Ultramarathon | Mactan Speed50 2019 – Story by Jonas Perida
In Ultramarathon (that’s a race beyond the 42Km distance to my non-running friends), everyone is a winner. The moment you, the ultra-distance runner, appear at the Starting Line revving up for the Gun Start, you are already a winner. – Jonas Perida
The Mactan Speed50 2019 was my second ultramarathon appearance as a 1st year runner. With two marathons and the Dum50 I crammed up under my belt, I consider myself a bit more experience and wiser when it comes to grinding out the distance. Pain is inevitable in running. Suffering, however, is optional. You can either suffer foolishly or suffer smartly.
When the Gun Start went off at 10pm on Saturday, January 26, 2019 in Lapu-Lapu City, I told myself to be smart and suffer wisely. I let half of the runners go past me. I maintained a slower pace than my usual speed. I like running in front but I don’t like bonking at the near end of the race. I painfully discovered this during the Cebu City Marathon two weeks before this race. Maybe one day when your body is ready, I told myself.
Speed50 Race Director, Sir Blu, notified us in advance that there might be rain during the race. I don’t mind it. For some crazy reasons, I like running in the rain. But we didn’t expect the cold headwind which I didn’t like. The salty wind would really mess you up, especially when your legs are tired. When I wiped my face, I felt grainy particles (salt) all over my face. We were running in Mactan Island after all.
At the early stage of the race, everyone in front of the pack was like flying their way to Punta Engano, the first turning point. I committed to my slower pace. At around 16Km, the runners in front were slowing down, I found myself behind the UPHill 50Km Champion. He’s tall and with a slim body built for running. He kept turning his head to look at me. I was still on the same pace with Michael Jackson’s Beat It music blasting in my ears (I’m not a Michael Jackson fan but for some reason his music was in sync with my running rhythm).
On my way to Maribago to Marigondon, I found myself alone for the first time. I could no longer see any runners behind me. A bystander shouted at me that two runners were ahead of me. Another bystander said there’s only one. I started to ignore the noise and just run my own race. At the 25Km turning point in Tamiya, it became certain that there’s only one Spectrum runner in front, and that I should start the chase. But I got no chance. He’s too crazy fast. I would not see him until the final turning point back to Punta Engano. His running strides still looked fresh (Whatever he’s drinking I want it too). I was just biting the bullet around this stage. I held on to the pain with seven more kilometers left. I let physical suffering wash over me. I became one with suffering. When I reached the Finish Line, I became empty.
I heard a quote that said “Yoga is a battle you wage against your body.” If that’s true, then an Ultramarathon is a war you wage against yourself. Regardless of the cut-off time, when you reach the Finish Line, you become the conqueror. You win the war.