Throwback: My Humble Beginnings as a Runner Athlete

Kalongkong Hiker’s first race kits

My very first official or registered run ever was when Microsoft launches Internet Explorer 8. Microsoft Philippines   used fun run as one way of their marketing strategy. April 2009, I remember registering at Fitness First Eastwood file of people are there to get registered for the event. I waited despite the long lines and finally I got my first ever race pack or others call it race kit.

What’s included on the race kit is a dry fit singlet, race bib, race instructions and race map. I invite some friends to run with me because I like that idea the more the happier but to my surprise on the race day nobody showed up. That didn’t stop me to run.

IE8 Run

The race category that I registered with was a 4 Miles distance and glad I finished it because it was hard for me the first time. One thing that I learned from this first run is never going to a race unprepared otherwise you’ll end up walking the entire race and cannot keep up with others. It almost took a year for me to register for my second race because finally found race buddies at work. I am thinking of including tips and tricks on how to prepare for a race and body conditioning to get fit on this blog but I will write a separate blog for that. I would like to blog first why I love and end up joining fun runs.

As I was saying, it took almost a year until my second registered run right? Yes it’s true because I am regularly running during my day offs and to get registered you have to pay. I started to run in a commercial run again when I wanted to be part in trying to break the Guinness World Record for the largest Eco-Foot race in the world themed A RUN for the Pasig River 10.10.10. There are 3 race categories on this event 3K, 5K and 10K with different race routes. 3K category starts at SM Mall of AsiaJose Diokno Blvd. cor. Bayshore Ave., 5K starts at Cultural Center of the Philippines and 10K starts at Ayala Ave. cor. Makati Ave. 10K category for me is a piece of cake on this race because we end up walking when 5K and 10K runners meet up at Roxas Boulevard and there is no more space to run to.

I remember going back home when I noticed that I forgot my race bib when I was about to ride MRT to get to the starting place. I woke up earlier but I wasn’t able to make it before the gun time and end up hurrying but the good thing about what happened is that the race route was clear and I was able to run continuously for almost 6 Kilometers without stopping until runners of different categories merge on a same route otherwise I ended up walking my entire race.


At the end of this race, I meet up with mountaineering friends Dingdong, Meck, Jason and Lilibeth of the same race category as mine and they were able to finish first before me and we eat lunch. We took pictures together and highlighted our finisher’s band. This finisher’s band is a handmade and is 90% recycled, meticulously made from wood, bamboo and used magazines by the men and women of Bayanijuan sa Southville 7, the official relocation site of Kapit Bisig Para sa Ilog Pasig in Calauan, Laguna.

More than 100 relocates in the Calauan community were actually given jobs to create more than 140, 000 bands and this band created hope and commitment for them. I am proud owner of this 10.10.10 Finishers’s Band because it symbolizes the run for the Pasig River, the run for our environment and run the country. We got the world record by the way. Click here to read the official announcement from the Guinness body.

Adobo Run after Dark is my third registered race. This race was different because the run didn’t start at dawn but rather after dark. Going to the race event was pretty rough for me because I had to walk almost 2 kilometers from MRT Ayala station to McKinley Hill because I don’t know where the designated jeepney transport and no cab are available along the way. The starting point was hard to locate as well as it was my first time to be in this place.

Finally, I found it but the gun started already and saw the Kenyan’s running like horses at the 16K race category followed by Coach Rio dela Cruz. A famous personality when it comes to running. The experience in joining this race was extra ordinary and not so good. Extra ordinary because it is literally dark in the entire race route as there are no appropriate lightings and the lights are coming from cars so it is hard to run full speed. The race direction is also confusing and it is not recognizable because I was lost and skipped some turns.

It was fun because some runners wear a Halloween costumes and we are not aware that there is a theme. Organizers also neglect to put up water stations because it was not enough from my counting I there’s only 2 or 3 water stations and I felt dehydrated the entire race. I am expecting that I will get a medal at the end of the race but they announced that only 100 finishers will get it.

We are about to claim our finisher’s bag and they also announced that they ran out of stock and that they will distribute it on designated stores. Luckily there is a Finisher’s Kit station still distributing bags we were able to get ours but one. Jao my man didn’t get his finishers bag and he needs to claim it on a store I wish he already got it. We enjoy the band playing and we get a glimpse of songs and performance of Parokya ni Edgar’s bassist Buwi’s new band named Franco.

Their performance was a thumbs up and we slam on it a little. After the announcement of the winners we separated from the crowd and celebrated the not so good but successful run at Pier One near the race event. We eat dinner first at the Fort Strip before drinking booze and the alcohol choice of the night is Manila beer. Manila Beer tastes good and it kicks like Red Horse and it was evident because our friend A didn’t know what he is doing until the next morning.

Thanks to his girlfriend she managed to take care of him until they got home. Before we separate I asked them to eat with me to a street vendor of “Lugaw” in Cubao and it was all good but for the others it’s their first time to eat in there. The next morning I forgot my dissatisfaction of the race but laughed at what happened during our drinking sessions and crazy things we talked to. Oppsy, it was a mountaineer’s secret haha I don’t want to share but I can’t wait to write a blog our mountain travels.

After a month, most Trenders registered for KaRUNungan Challenge organized by Knowledge Channel including me and this is my 4th registered race. My experience for this race was precious, awesome and unforgettable. Precious because I chosen this cause to help children of Knowledge Channel foundation for their education, awesome because during the race I saw Tessa Prieto Valdez in her funny race outfit people love it though, Dyan Castellejo, a famous sports host and reporter and the owner of Meralco Mr. Lopez and unforgettable indeed because I get to run together with them and keep up with their pace.

Indeed unforgettable because I lost my mobile phone after the race when I changed clothes. I am running for a 10K category ended up almost doing a 16K because I stayed on Dianne and Mr. Lopez’s group until the finish line.

The race route is quite hard because most of the courses are hills and you have to cross a bridge along the way. Running with a famous personality was a good experience and I get a chance to mingle with them for one day or for hours of running and you will get to know them better though I don’t have chance to talk to them but I heard them talking while running even though I am listening to my iPod.

You may also forget that you are tired when you know that camera is rolling and photographers are everywhere with their zoom lenses flashing like lightning. When we a nearing towards the finish line I had to run full swing and left them behind because I don’t want to get stuck in the middle with celebrities and I always finish strong.

At the finish line. Woooh!

Until now, I am still looking for the video of Sports Unlimited episode to see me in television running along with Dianne Castellejo and her friends. After finishing the race I got my finisher’s certificate and medicine kit. Other sponsors are distributing outdated Women and Men’s Health magazines, some booths were giving a free drink (Bit Water), vitamins, hand sanitary etc. I had photo opts with fellow Trenders and we eat out for lunch.

And so it begun, after this run I started conquering 21K or half marathons, until I run my first full MILO Marathon that covers a total of 42.1 kilometers where I was 30 minutes late to the 6 hour finishing cut off. Until I switch to trail running and now biking/cycling.

About Kalongkong Hiker

I am Paolo Mercado for 20 years I've been riding a bike, walking a lot and running a lot. I am Kalongkong Hiker, a trail runner, mountaineer and a biker that can also write a blog of my travels, adventures and places that I visited through walking, running and biking. I write to encourage others to stay healthy and fit. #KeepOnRunning #ShareTheRoad #KalongkongHiker
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