📅27 January 2015
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By Eddie Vega

I am pleased to have finally completed the Bataan Death March 160K (99.42 miles) after two years of planning and training this past weekend. It’s the first time I attempted this distance and I am just relieved that I succeeded in finishing. With this race under my belt, I have now completed all the Bataan Death March races:

After running 101 barefoot marathons in 2014, Eddie Vega runs his longest race ever, the Bataan Death March 160K in 29 hours, 32 minutes. (courtesy photo)

After running 101 barefoot marathons in 2014, Eddie Vega runs his longest race ever, the Bataan Death March 160K in 29 hours, 36 minutes, 17 seconds. (courtesy photo)

1) Bataan Death March 160K, Philippines (2015)

2) Bataan Death March 102K, Philippines (2014)

3) Bataan Memorial Death March, New Mexico (2012)

The BDM in New Mexico I ran in honor of all of the American and Filipino POW’s during the actual death march. I carried a 37-lb. backpack during the entire 42K race and finishing in about 9:28. It was the toughest race that I have ever participated in until I ran the BDM 102K in 2014.

Not only did the BDM 102K (63.4 miles) become my toughest and grueling race ever but it was also the longest distance I ever attempted. This race was dedicated to cousin-in-law’s grandfather, a POW survivor of the death march, Lt Col Francisco Abogado. After Tristan recited some of the horrific stories that his grandfather had told him made me appreciate even more the sacrifices that were made to defend our country.

The toughest and most grueling race of all is the BDM 160K. This race was dedicated to my friend’s (Dr. Mai Santos-Rostrata) paternal grandfather, Eusebio Santos, a POW survivor. She said that he used to tell her about his BDM experiences when she was in grade school. He stopped talking about it when she was in high school. According to her, maybe alzheimers took away his memories. I was deeply HONORED to help her honor him by running the BDM 160K in his memory.

Not only because of the distance but everything else that factored into the race. There was no doubt that I was physically prepared to run this race after conditioning my body to endure 102 marathons/ultras in one year for a total of 2709.6 miles. Not only was I physically conditioned but I also toughened my mental endurance by developing a high tolerance for pain by running 101 of those marathons completely barefoot.

But even after all that training and conditioning, both physically and mentally, some of the preparations that I took for granted when running the shorter distance marathons played a much bigger role in nearly derailing my goal of completing the 160K. For instance, I only had a full hour of good sleep (in the car) just prior to the start of the race at 5 am on Saturday, 1/24/15.  I did some shopping for race supplies plus I had a project that need to be completed on Friday then leave at midnight to drive three hours to pickup the race packets and get ready for the race.

The race started and together with my running buddies, JC Santa Teresa and Kenneth Tenebro, we decided to stay in the back of the pack and wait to speed up until the 2nd half of the race. Within two klilometers, Ken needed to do #2 so JC and I waited. In the meantime, there was nobody insight ahead of us. When Ken got out of the restroom two runners who started late passed us so we followed them. They took a wrong turn but we didn’t realize it until nearly 10 minutes later so we had to backtrack for a total loss of 20 minutes which put us further back in the pack.

By 2 pm, the jet lag hit me especially I was just in the Bahamas six days earlier and Guam just three days prior to race. I didn’t realize how much the time zone difference really made. It was only nine hours into the race and I was already falling asleep while running. I was like drunk or a sailor in rough seas. There were several occasions when I veered to the middle of the road before opening my eyes and realizing that Jeepney was coming my direction. I could not shake off sleepiness and grogginess until the last 10K of the race when I finally realized that I was closing in on the finish line.

I forgot to mention that the heat and humidity was almost too much to bear.  All of my training took place in cool weather in the states and the only marathon I ran in this kind of heat the past year was the Bahamas and the Bohol International Marathon. Dehydration and refueling became a major issue. I had to make  sure that I balanced my hydration and refueling but that is almost impossible. So I finished the race feeling dehydrated and bloated at the same time.

Check out everything barefoot bandito on GSPN!

Learn about the Bataan Death March in 1942.

160K - that's 99.42 miles non stop! Vega went off track for about 20 minutes, so he certainly surpassed 100 miles on the run. (courtesy photo)

160K – that’s 99.42 miles non stop! Vega went off track for about 20 minutes, so he certainly surpassed 100 miles on the run. (courtesy photo)

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