Most of my Timex Multisport Team mates would not be aware that hidden away in the Philippines is another Timex triathlon team with 25 members, training hard and racing diligently at every opportunity.
The wonderful thing about racing in the Philippines is that travelers from the Timex “International” Team, as we are sometimes called, are welcomed like long-lost brothers and extended every friendship and hospitality. So if by chance you find yourself heading over to the Philippines you will find another Timex community of athletes that you never knew you had, smiling, introducing, sharing common experiences and welcoming you to their local Team.
It is indeed a small world, and thanks to Timex it is getting even smaller.
And so it was that I found myself a week ago in Manila, at 5:30am on Sunday morning, lining up with my Philippines Team mates, and thousands of other eager athletes, to run a 10km foot race around the Mall of Asia (MOA), one of the largest shopping centers in the world.
The weather was perfect, having come from brutal heat and humidity in Darwin Australia, Manila was cooler, with beautiful misting rain to keep you yet cooler.
The plot was simple in this “Battle of the Sexes” race in the male-centric Philippino society – the girls took off, and in true cave-man type style the men were let loose 7 minutes later, the goal being to catch the fleeing girls.
So the girls head off, and 7 minutes later so are the guys, with the pace doing justice to Usain Bolt. And just like Bolt, at around 200 metres these macho-greyhounds are spent, with only 9.8 kilometres left to run they slow, with some falling by the way-side walking. Such was the frenetic start to this race.
I cannot really say much more about the race. It wound around the reclaimed land area around the MOA, drink stops strategically placed, traffic-control well in place. Impressive at the sheer numbers of people up so early and racing. and lots of cheering from lots of spectators.
With about 3k to go a young guy probably in his early 20’s strides up confidently beside me and shares a few hundred metres. Being a typically friendly Aussie I say “G’day, how’s it goin?” He tells me he is with the Philippines Defence Academy, that I am running strongly, then abruptly stops! A passing friendship that I made on this run.
With just 2k to go, Oli, one of my Philippines Timex Team mates, runs past with a friendly greeting, and heads off into the distance. After a brief flirtation with fatigue I decide not to be discouraged, lift my pace and claw back the distance that I have lost, plus a bit. In the dying meters of the race we cross the line almost together. I am grateful for the boost he gave me when I most needed it.
Lots of good drink, food and Timex buddies at the finish, with a group of maybe 20 of us all talking about our race, and cheering in others.
In due course the presentation gets underway. One of our Timex “Family” wins her age group, and we are all happy.
It comes to my age, and a runner with a time some 9 minutes slower than me is awarded my win. I protest, but a failure in the timing system seals my fate. There seem to be others protesting the same outcome. After such good organisation elsewhere in the race, the timing and awards are a joke. A race organizer to certainly avoid in future races.
And to highlight the wonderful Timex global family that I belong to, one of my Philippines Team mates summed it up wonderfully with a few consoling words
“Stu – it doesn’t really matter what RunRio’s system says – in our hearts we know you are the winner.”
With such good friendships around the world we are all winners, enriched by warmth and goodwill amongst our fellow athletes.