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21K UrbanAthlete

For the 6th consecutive year, Men's Health Philippines has successfully staged its signature, much challenging Urban obstacled-adventure race, and making this year as the toughest one with the introduction of the 21K distance which gave the participants their most intense urban-setting obstacled half-marathon yet.

As for me, it was my 4th time sine 2008 of gracing the Urbanathlon adventure, and that was after a back-to-back race from an obstacled-trail run in Laguna a week before and from the previous day's Mt. Pinatubo trail run (no, I don't like trails, I love it *wink*).

Just took-off from the gun-start
A night before, still feeling the muscle ache from the just finished trail run, I was already on the verge of not showing up for the race, but the excitement of running a 21K obstacled-route just couldn't stop me from taking the challenge.

The first obstacle that greeted us was the 4-flights of vertical run at a nearby building in Mall of Asia (press release says it was at the South Parking area). Contrary to the 2009 MHUF's vertical run, this one was much easier though as the flights are more spacious, ventilated (open air), and there was only 4-flights to climb.

Flights of stairs, another one that I love
A few meters ahead after the vertical run was the monkey and parallel bars. The monkey bar was easier for me than the parallel bars. I have never done it before and I didn't know that my lower body would swing left and right as I transition my arms. Then it was a surprise seeing the towering container vans wherein if not for the tracks of the runners ahead, I would've thought that these container vans were buildings where I would go around instead of over it. One needs to jump and reach for the edge of the container and lift yourself up to the first stack. If my memory serves me right, I think there was another stack of two-layers high container van after the first before jumping down on the other side. Or maybe it was just the platform!

I passed all these obstacles with ease and without a bottle neck, so when the running comes, it was still somewhat dark. I was surprised that I could still run on a somewhat good pace ranging from 5'14" to 5'51" per kilometer even when my calves already went stiff just after the vertical run and my right knee would still sometimes knock on my awareness reminding me that it has not yet fully recovered (it's been more than 2-weeks already).

Almost throughout the route, I was interchangeably pacing with Kuya Nonoy Floresca and Allan Tauyan, both of them have been my source of motivational push for me to go on despite the aching calves, mid-tarsal, and knees.

Before reaching the last U-turn though at Roxas Blvd. between the 15th and 16th kilometer, I have to slowdown and hope for a medical team. The tape that I have strapped on my right foot around the mid-tarsal and achilles heel have been rubbing it for quite sometime already. My left foot was also strapped but the tape did not loosen and is still serving my foot well. I was stranded at the medical aid for more than 5 minutes since they can't find a scissor to cut the strapping tape. Since my body was already cooling down, I decided to just pull it off, and I committed another mistake! The skin on my inner ankle was already tender and it peeled-off together with the tape, ouch! That made me stranded for another 5 minutes as I have to let the medical aid put a bandage/gauze on the wound to prevent it from aggravating.

There were already a lot of runners who passed by, and when I went off again, my whole body was already stiff, my legs have already cooled enough giving me a harder time to lift my strides. From there on I began to take a lot of walk and hydration breaks.

At more than kilometer 19, the steeple chase was positioned, and although it was much lower than log hurdles, I began to sense a bit of fear. Maybe it was my brain telling me that my legs cannot be lifted up higher anymore. But it was not an obstacle worthy of skipping, so I took a momentum, aiming to jump from the hurdles, dashed towards it, and as soon as I get near... I stopped! Aarrrgg! The runner ahead of me was making big moves jumping at the hurdles that he could easily kick my face. Nevertheless, I was still able to lift and pass through this obstacle.

At the final beam (photo by RunningPhotographers)
The quantum leap - 5 sets of 3.5 feet high horizontal beams greeted me with a pile of line and bottle neck. I decided to just pass from this obstacle but the other participants told me that the penalty for each passed obstacle is an additional 10-minutes. Gladly, the marshals gave the 21K runners an express lane at the outer-most side. Whew, that was fast!

The metal scaffolding maze came next but without a bottle neck. Still this obstacle needs not be under-estimated as one wrong move could cause you to hit your head not on the ground, but on one of those metal bars.

It's mandatory to hoist over and under
Last one on the obstacle before finally dashing through the finish line were two-wall climbs of varying height. There were also a pile of lines already at this point but as I was already dying to put my legs into rest and a good stretch, I just made my way on the vacant aisle in between the lines, grabbed the rope, stepped on the metal bar supporting the wall, and lifted myself up hurriedly before the other runners could pull me down and put me back at the farthermost part of the line.

Reaching the finish line after more than 2 hours, I immediately proceeded with my stretching routines, focusing more on my legs which were already sore and very tired.

Final dash to the finish line

Race Profile:
Distance: 21km.
Official Time: 02:10:56
Official Rank: 94th

Race Info:
When: October 14, 2012.
Where: SM Mall of Asia
Event: Men's Health Philippines Urbanathlon and Festival 2012

You may already view your race result from or you may also download it here.

Thank you to Summit Media and Men's Health Philippines for this exciting and challenging Urban adventure race.

Enjoy some more of our post-race photos below:

with Abby, Angelo, and Mish
with the Hyper JP and June
with fellow Immuvit Fearless trail challenger Ryan Guiaman
Mak coming from a long hiatus, with her GF


  1. A 2:10 after doing all that monkey business. Congratulations!

  2. lol with the monkey business :) Thanks Sir Kenley. You'll enjoy this kind of race also :)

  3. What a great RUN sir, and very challenging story too. trail run. how about being a Triathlete?

  4. Hi Sir Don Rey, thanks for the visit.
    Being a TriAthlete has been a more than 3-years thought to me already. But the needed discipline, training, time and cost investments is still far from my reach. Someday, I hope I could join you guys. I'm actually aiming to become an Off-road Triathlete! :)


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