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Tigerboy Junrox had earlier secured a spot as a Dream Chaser in the just concluded The Bull Runner Dream Marathon when I emailed Edward Kho and signed up myself responding to the pay-it–forward call.  I still fully remember what my first full marathon experience was like so I thought if there could only be a way for me to contribute in my own little way to at least help one runner’s quest for his or her first bite at the 42km challenge, I would say my work would be done.

Dream Chasers Pre-race Briefing

So there we were, listening to Edward’s words on how positive and cheerful a Dream Chaser has to be on marathon day and I was taking note of our duties–why, I didn’t want to mess up the first time I would be a volunteer in a race of any kind!  The instruction was actually simple:  Just look for and pace with a runner whom I think would need my help and ask for anything I could do to help him or her finish the race.

As excited as the marathoner

With the runners I was least worried about, Kitty and JB (who finished 24th and 20th overall, respectively)

Call time was 1 am but we were told that Dream Chasers would not be deployed until after 4 am or two hours after gun start, at which time some runners would definitely need some cheering up or whatever assistance from  us pacers.  With hardly any sleep, off I went from our house in Sta. Rosa almost as excited as the participants I would meet along the way.

Meeting the other Chasers and the Dreamers

With the other Chasers Vangie, Bobby and Junrox at the Dream Chasers station

Instead of waiting for 4 am, Junrox and I started to walk and jog to the Dream Chaser stations.  It was still very dark when two more Dream Chasers, Vangie and Bobby came to where we were stationed carrying “our” banner.

It was about 4 am when the first batch of runners went past us almost completing the first loop.  Up until that time, the four of us where sharing running stories in between cheering up and applauding the passing marathoners.  But then about an hour later, Junrox had to bring out his “magic”  spray much to the relief of some runners who needed it badly.

It was around this time too that I started seeing runners who were having some difficulties–injured knee and hips, hydration problem, some other issues or pain in some parts of their bodies or some who just needed someone to run with.

I asked any runner whom I thought needed help and tried to offer words of encouragement even to those who were still very strong even after the proverbial “wall.”  I only realized that I kept on doing this for about 4 hours (and running much more than the maximum prescribed 5k limit for each Dream Chaser) when I crossed the finish line with one runner several minutes after 9 am!  Vangie and the other Chasers agreed that it was a lot of fun and we couldn’t wait to do it again.  If we were able to help make their first full marathon experience a little more bearable, then we could rest assured that we did our job.

Three is to One

With The Bull Runner herself after the race (Thanks to PhotoJunrox)

I once read that a runner has to do some volunteer work–at the aid station, as a marshal, pacer, etc.–after every three races he or she runs.  Many thanks to Jaymie and the rest of her team for the opportunity of a lifetime to finally pay it forward.  I am looking forward to doing a lot more volunteer work at the races in the future!  🙂

It has been exactly one year since I ran my first full marathon and started this blog.  I can’t help but feel nostalgic when I look back at what happened in between, after 30 plus races and 3,000 plus kilometers.

Meeting the other runners

The most important thing this blog has ever given me has to be the opportunity to meet the other people who share the same interest/passion.  As my blogroll and the number of runners I have been fortunate enough to know grow day by day, I become more inspired and encouraged to train and race more.

Skipping races

When I had to drop out of the Cebu marathon and first thought of skipping Condura and the BDM ultra, it was very hard to accept at the beginning but knowing what I know now and undergoing everything I have been through, while it may seem trivial to some, in the end I realized that every little event seemed like little pieces of a puzzle that I had to figure out and solve by myself in order to be a better person and runner.  I now cherish this bit of experience as I feel this eventually has made me stronger and wiser.

Too much traffic

At the starting line of the 1st PAU 50k run

After coming back to racing at Globe and RUNew, I set out a goal to slowly but surely build my mileage and join more runs, while being conscious of not pushing it too hard.  My comeback of sorts may have been derailed by the traffic jam one afternoon in Sta. Rosa, but I knew it’s just a matter of time until I am back in the groove again.

Dreaming of an Ultra

Having missed the BDM 102km ultramarathon in March, I was still in search for my first ultramarathon.  Thinking that 50 kilometers is not that mathematically different from a 42 kilometer race, I signed up for the 1st PAU 50k run.  Little did I know then that the race would take me to the paved roads of Sierra Madre.  Which means a roller coaster ride, both literally and figuratively.

A friend in need

Big thanks to Tigerboy Junrox and his brother who gave the much needed support before, during and after the race, the guys from Takbo.ph and all the other support crews who offered food, hydration, ice and words of encouragement, and of course the other runners whom I met along the way and who were always ready with a smile.  I could not have done it without you guys.

In the end, it became clearer to me that no matter how lonely you may feel in your battles sometimes, friends will usually show up around the bend.  Or they could be there all along.  You just have to look harder.

Sometimes you just have to pray harder.

And above all, enjoy the journey to more milestones ahead.

Running the Sierra Madre (thanks Junrox for the photos)

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