254 teams, 1016 road and trail runners, and 9 Asian Countries, one goal, that is to crush 500kilometers as a team in 14 days! Welcome to the Asia Trail Master 500-kilometers Virtual Run Race.
ATM 500 – “RUN ASIA, RUN VIRTUAL” aims to keep everyone in a good physical and mental shape, and adds an element of competition into the mix. It is a team format on purpose because in times of social distancing, it is important to keep fostering team spirit and interpersonal connections.
“The best teamwork comes from men who are working independently toward one goal in unison.” – James Cash Penney
Thus, team BisaKol was born! I wasn’t actually expecting to be a part of this team because joining the ATM500 Virtual Run was NEVER in my head! Like NOT AT ALL! But someone was crazy enough to think I can do it and added me to the group to complete the team. It was a pleasant surprise though honestly I was nervous as hell! It was like toeing the line for another 50-miler ultra trail race! But, since I am already in, I said to myself, let’s do this!
BisaKol, means Bisayang Bicolanos, us 4 being descent of Bisaya/ Bicolano, we decided to call ourselves BisaKol (thanks to Capt. Coy for the fun idea). We are all trail runners in the team who have missed running the trails as we haven’t been into the trails since the lockdown with Mt. Kalatungan Trail Ultra (50miles) as our last race together. Team BisaKol is composed of Capt. Coy Calleja, Jun Doble Santos, Tim Tuscano and yours truly. So, Why did we join the ATM500? What urged us to register? That I had to ask my teammates! And here’s what they have to say:
Why Did I Join the ATM500: At first I was undecided to join ATM 500 since I am a Trail Runner and here on my location there is no near accessible trails because of the Pandemic but I took it as a challenge, discover new strengths and weaknesses of road running. To add this up I only run on an average of 40km maximum per week as a daily maintenance. So to answer the question why? Simply because it’s a new challenge for me.
Mindset: Mindset? What was mindset? Oh believe me I have my mind but it was not set to the whole duration of my 128km contribution to the team, I just repeat my daily mantra “I’m tired but I’m gonna do this tired”
Why Did I Join the ATM500: I joined the ATM Virtual Run challenge to experience the NEW Normal race and for self-fulfillment. Due to quarantine I haven’t had any outdoor activities for 3 months.
Mindset: To contribute to my team and enjoy this new normal race.
Why Did I Join the ATM500: I joined the ATM500 because I have missed running especially in trails as I haven’t been running since the ECQ. It wasn’t easy not going outdoors to run since running to me is a lifestyle and I needed something to push me to run farther while having a specific goal. I thought this virtual race is perfect to get me back into my feet running and I was quite sure I’ll enjoy the race with great teammates.
Mindset: Simple! To enjoy the race, kill mileage on a daily basis and finish the race ahead of time. Not too fast, not too slow. I will just really have fun running again keeping the goal to finish strong in mind.
Why Did I Join the ATM500: It wasn’t part of my plan to join this virtual race. First because I am not a fan of long distance road running (I am your trail kind of girl), plus I know joining this would mean waking up extra early to do some mileage and I am NOT a morning person! In this time of the pandemic, I was just aiming to run at least 15km a week, 50km being the longest but I have never achieved that since March – running on a 260meters loop infront of my house. I got myself to agree to do this because a new challenge is not bad at all plus running outside is already allowed! I wanted to do something new and worthwhile in this time of the pandemic as well. Plus, it’s thrilling and exciting to be running along with some of Asia’s elite trail runners who are also registered to the race. And hey! I am teaming up with 3 fun and committed gentlemen! 😉
Mindset: Run first thing in the morning, don’t be an ass, work with your team, you’re a girl but it’s not a license to be weak! Do your best, hustle harder, prove the doubters wrong, overcome yourself while enjoying the race and finish strong!
So finally, Day 1 came and everyone being all set to smash the 500km, ran and booom! Team BisaKol registered a total of 100+km distance on the first day! Whoah! Fired up much? Chill guys! This is a 14-day virtual run race for fun right? And we are still on our first day! Hahahaha! It dawned to me that these guys I am with are in it to smash it, not in 14 days but definitely in a wayyy shorter time! Though there were teams grinding extra hard on day one that they finished the 500km or registered an amazing 400+km total distance on day 1! Crazy! But then again, most of the trail runners registered are ultra trail runners, so you know, crazy is in their genes!
No one said anything or set the deadline to finish in our team but by the looks of it, with the daily mileage these guys are clocking in, I was certain these guys are looking into finishing the race in less than 7 days! The daily grind was craaaazy! Seeing other teams also busting their butts off to finish increasing their daily mileage, there was this sense of friendly competition and a little pressure! Positive pressure as it definitely added extra push, challenge, and pumped up the adrenaline rush! It felt like we were in an actual race. Though we’ve constantly reminded each other to just chill, relax, and enjoy the race, we have this kind of silent agreement that by Day 6 we will reach the 500km mark.
The Daily Grind
Was that an easy task to do? Well maybe for some, but to me personally, it was not the easiest but also did not see it as tedious because it felt like a real race that I committed myself into, therefore I will finish it with no qualms. That was the first time that I ran 6 days straight. LSD running everyday! Well not too slow, but was on my decent pace throughout the duration of the race. I had to consistently wake up at 4:00AM to prepare and ran 20-25km – now that is something NEW!
Not the usual me but it’s part of the commitment. And I am quite sure the BisaKol boys had their own struggles to keep up with the daily mileage contribution considering their schedules and personal commitments and priorities.
Day 5, I decided to rest and the boys said, yes it’s okay, you go ahead and rest. Well I did, but the funny thing was, while I was just chilling at home, the three guys were rocking their Day 5 mileage that I felt the need to do my share at least? They encouraged me to just rest but dude! You guys are clocking in crazy mileage! I told them I will just be cheering for them, but goodness! Their commitment and energy is too contagious! Too contagious that in the afternoon I finally gave in and laced up and ran a quick 8km just to close my personal mileage to 90km on day 5 and do my little share for the day 😀 ! See what hardworking teammates can make you do? Hahaha! The BisaKol guys are nothing but motivating!
500KM Sealed and Completed
Day 6, just me, Jun, and Tim were grinding since Capt. Coy closed in already on Day 5 at 129km. Way beyond the 125km individual target. It felt like we were all giving out our all towards the finish line! I was seriously pushing and forcing myself to dig deeper because man! I am already feeling a sensation on my right iliotibial tract with every stride I was making after my 12th kilometer for that day. I was aiming for 25km but was just able to finish 21km. The 3 of us were simultaneously running while Capt. Coy was also cheering on us! The real time updates on our GC was fun! It was like running together, checking on each other, and cheering one another to keep going! And before the day ended, we completed the 500km challenge! See Asia Trail Master Day 6 Race Report – HERE.
That was truly one for the book! I ran a total of 112km for 6 days, supposedly 125 but the boys got my 13km covered. Yay! So proud to be a part of a team where everyone is level headed, humble, committed, supportive, and most of all, great team players! You can never go wrong with these guys! So thankful that they picked me to be their female team member. Gotta live up to the expectation and hustle as hard as they do! Thank you, gentlemen! That was quite an ultra-race experience again with you! Congratulations to us for finishing the race early and for winning against our self-doubts and limitations! Thank you Sportslicious Malaysia and Asia Trail Master for coming up with this fun Virtual Run Race!
So which one is our next? ?