History of the Ultramarathon Events
My first ultramarathon trail run, Bulldog 50K, in California, USA in the summer of 2008 gave me an idea to conduct an ultramarathon race in the Philippines. It was my inspiration and guide to transform the historic event in history into an ultra running competition event.
I have always been fascinated with the Bataan Death March and the history that goes with it. Being a military man who gives an important value on the military history of the country, I organized a team sports competition that copied the concept of the Bataan Memorial Death March being conducted in White Sands, New Mexico, USA which is a yearly marathon event and team competition among the members of the Armed Forces Major Services of the United States. I did this kind of competition along the actual route of the Bataan Death March in April 2000. It was a successful event where US Army and US Marines who were on training exercise with the Armed Forces of the Philippines joined the said event.
After I retired from the military service, Bataan Death March kept on coming back to my mind. With the advent of ultra road races in other countries, I thought of an idea to transform the Bataan Death March as a competitive running event from Mariveles, Bataan to San Fernando, Pampanga dubbed as the “Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race” simply called then as “Bataan 102” and later popularly known as “BDM 102” among the members of the running community.
It took me 9 months to plan and coordinate with people to support the event. The finances of this event were taken from the retirement fund that I got from the government after I retired from the military service. Money was used to “front-load” expenses needed for orders made on the Finisher’s Medallion, Finisher’s Trophy and basic needs for the event. Travelling expenses from Manila to Bataan and back became too expensive as I had to coordinate with the local government units, military forces, as well as police for permits and security assistance on the routes to be taken by the runners. Aside from such arrangements, briefings had been done to targeted individuals and groups for assistance on the conduct of the event.
On April 4-5, 2009, the first BDM 102 was conducted with 82 starters where 64 runners finished within the cut-off time of 18 hours. I joined the event as one of the runner-participants. The event was a success but it was marred with my personal observations on cheating and from other reports from route marshals. These reports did not deter me from planning for the next year’s edition as I made some adjustments and innovations on the rules and regulations. Despite the logistical nightmare we had encountered, we have learned a lot of lessons on how this race would be conducted in the future.
On March 5-6 2010, the 2nd edition of BDM 102 was conducted with 128 starters where 104 runners finished within the cut-off time of 18 hours. The event was a success again and more international runners joined the event. From a total of 8 overseas runners during the 1st edition, it increased to 14 on the 2nd edition. The runners had increased but we have simplified our involvement on the logistical needs of each runner. It was imperative for each runner to have their support vehicle and crew that served as their dedicated mobile “Aid Station” as they progressed towards the Finish Line. The race marshals concentrated on monitoring each runner’s split time in selected checkpoints along the route. As a result, there were no reported incidents of misdemeanour from the runners.
For its 3rd edition, we have created a separate ultramarathon race which is the BDM 160, a solo race which has a distance of 160K or 100 Miles from Mariveles, Bataan to Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac. The historic route that the POWs in World War II had taken from their Assembly Area to their Prisoner’s Concentration Camp will become the race route for the participants in the 1st BDM 160. This race will be conducted on February 26-27, 2011. However, the original BDM 102 will remain as the “main event” of the ultramarathon race which be conducted on the 1st weekend of March 2011.
Major General Jovenal D Narcise AFP (Ret)
Founder & Race Director, BDM 102 & 160