Hi Guys! We are very much privileged to have an interview with Mr. Ton Conception himself, Founder and Overall Organizer for the Condura Skyway Marathon 2012 to give us some insights on how this awesome race was conceptualized and organized. Interviewed by own very own Ms_Mars, read on…
Hi there PF friends! Congrats to all Condura finishers. Still got the Skyway hangover? I do, and we were privileged to be given a rare post-event interview by Mr. Condura himself, Mr. Ton Concepcion, Founder and Chief Organizer, Condura Skyway Marathon.
Thank you very much Ms_Mars for the opportunity to give runners a glimpse of the behind the scenes of organizing the Condura Skyway marathon. I did go quite a bit into detail and I do hope that I do not bore your readers but I felt that this is the only way they can appreciate what it takes to make this what we hope to be the premier running event in the country.
It’s our pleasure to have you and welcome to pinoyfitness.com Sir Ton. To begin with,what has been the most challenging task or logistic in this year’s Condura race and why?
The single lane on and off ramp of the Skyway was the biggest challenge. This would have caused runner traffic congestion that could lead to safety issues and runners being very dissatisfied with the race experience if not planned properly.
As you are aware, all 13,000 runners in 6 categories went out the South bound lane and went back through the North bound lane. In both instances they would have to squeeze from 3 lanes into a 1 lane road with a steep uphill incline on the way out and a steep downhill on the way back.
I wanted all runners to start in that beautiful tunnel and for all runners including the 3k and 5k runners to experience running the Sky so I planned everything very meticulously so that runners would be safe and have a great unique experience.
So first thing I did was to separate the gunstart of the race categories far apart. In my time and motion study, I calculated that these far spaced gun starts would not lead to traffic congestion when eventually all race categories with runners of all abilities converge on the northbound lane on the way back to the finish. For instance most of the 42k runners would have finished already even before the big 5k group started at 6:30am.
This proved even to be a bigger challenge because we had the challenge of “loading” thousands of adrenaline high runners into a tunnel that had an incline and maneuver a U-turn in the process. Safety was paramount. But that one lane road got me really worried. The initial plan was to launch waves of 500 runners at a time. But for several nights I would run in our village simulating how 500 runners in a one-lane road would look like. I figured that that it would be 4 runners wide and 125 meters long (assuming 1 meter per runner so that’s 4 x 125 = 500 runners). This was still very congested.
So I decided to “slice” the wave into 250 runners. I ran again around my village at midnight not being able to sleep since my thoughts were filled with simulations of the wave. I computed that the head and tail of the wave would be 200 meters apart between a 5min/km runner and a 10min/km brisk walker. That this wave would have a chance to spread out over 400 meters, the distance from the starting line to the start of the off ramp, and it would further dissipate on the uphill. I had to run several times to see how 200 meters and 400 meters look like and imagine the wave through these distances.
In addition, I had to compute when the head of wave 2 would catch up with the tail of wave 1. I concluded that 2 minutes interval would be good enough.
Still worried about congestion, 2 days before the race after driving up and down the Skyway at least 10 times with my car and getting off the south station toll booth several times, I decided to get rid of the water stations and the portalets on the one lane road as this will create congestion. Another concern was that an ambulance would not be able to access the one lane road since it would be filled with runners. So I instructed our emergency crew to post 30 medics with wheel chairs so that they can extract runners that needed medical assistance and wheel them down the nearest ambulance.
Dateline race day, I had to go from Greenhills to celebrate my silver jubilee at La Salle just for an hour and rush back to Alabang to organize the race. I walked the coral and had to move the barricades myself at the U-turn before entering the tunnel because we needed a two-lane road and only 1 lane was barricaded. Occasionally I have to play traffic marshal and I had to stop the portalet truck from going into the start coral and crushing our timing mat and stop an ambulance from going inside the coral and driving against the flow of runners towards the finish line!
While we have thousands of people working on the race, there are still a million and one details to organize for a race of this magnitude. It is this attention to detail that makes a big difference.
Hosts Noel and Chiqui fired off the first wave and to my delight everything went like clockwork! I quickly got on my green Dahon foldable bike to go to the foot of the off ramp and lo and behold, there was no congestion!
Everything worked perfectly! I stayed on to cheer our runners Good Luck! I later got on the Yellow Vespa loaned to me by Boy Simsuangco to inspect the 42k race and cheer them on. I was the last “walker” at 3k closing the racecourse and assisting a medical emergency in the process. I walked to the finish line thanking the thousands of people who worked for the race, have not yet slept, and were hungry and tired but very proud to be of service to our runners. I must congratulate Neville our Race Director on a fantastic job in executing the wave plan along with our hosts Noel and Chiqui and Princess Galura and Event King.
All you details and hard work have paid off, sir. How many targeted runners were you expecting last Sunday? Were 13,000+ runners good enough or there could have been more?
We are very happy with the 13,000 turn out considering that the venue was Alabang and we had our skeptics because of the distance.This is the same number as our race last year that kicked off in Ayala Avenue and Bonifacio Global City. Clearly there could have been more had we marketed the event earlier. Towards the last few days we were experiencing an unprecedented surge of registrations close to 1,000 a day! Next year we expect 20,000 runners to join.
Wow, we will be expecting that then. Can you update us of the status of the Dolphin’s welfare in Baclayon, Bohol as back-to-back beneficiaries during the 2010 and 2011 Skyway runs?
In the first year we tied up with the municipality of Baclayon to build a Dolphin floating wharf to promote responsible and eco-friendly Dolphin watching in Pamilacan Island. In the second year we tied up with Siliman University and they will use the proceeds to rebuild their Cetacean museum and embark on a Dolphin tagging project. These projects will serve to protect the dolphins by knowing more about their habitat along the Bohol marine triangle and educating people on the importance of protecting them in addition to providing livelihood opportunities through eco-tourism.
This year we are very excited about planting 39,000 mangroves in behalf of our runners. We are building a mangrove forest! This will not only protect the marine
environment but will also create livelihood opportunities not only for this generation but future generations as well.
“Don’t give man fish but teach him how to fish” – this is something I strongly believe in with our advocacies.
Very well said! And how is it working side by side with a famous runner/brother in Patrick “RunningShield” Concepcion? Did you have brother-like issues while planning for this year’s event?
I am very proud of my brother Pat for inspiring me and countless others to make running a way of life. He has inspired me to run 11 marathons so far which has led me to have a crazy goal of running 50 marathons by 50 years old! I love to organize the Condura Skyway marathon and I work extremely hard at it in order to ensure that runners like Patrick are not stressed and achieve their personal best on race day.
The Finisher Medals were so cool and awesome, altho some complained about lack of bananas, GU Gels and hardly any sports drink especially along the 42K and 21K routes. Did it occur that these will be concerns after the run?
I wanted a “Kick ass” 4-inch medal and I am glad that our marathoners loved it! I am very particular about design and am glad to work with Team Manila. Did you notice that each category has a different necklace? This cost more and took more time to execute but each medal is special and runners work hard for it so they deserve a good looking medal to display proudly.
All the comments are fair and these are all duly noted. We shall ensure that it does not happen again in the future. We feel your pain and sincerely apologize to our runners for having to experience this. We welcome all comments whether positive or negative, after all this is a run by runners for runners. We are here to serve and to delight our runners. We seek to learn and continuously improve the race experience year after year.
You haven’t rested and re-charged yet after last Sunday’s huge success Sir Ton. We thank you so much for sharing us your valuable time and providing our runners a clear background in organizing an arduous but world-class marathon event. May we request for your message please to all our Pinoyfitness.com runners and supporters? Can you also give us a clue as to who’s going to be Condura Skyway’s beneficiary for Feb. 3, 2013?
Running is not a fad. Running is a way of life. Our mission is to bring more people into the sport of running, to make our existing runners, runners for life, and to mint more marathoners so that one day we will have 20,000 runners just running the full marathon event alone.
Our vision is to not only be the Premier Running Event in the Philippines but also of the Asia Pacific Region. We will put the Philippines on the map as an eco-sports tourism destination. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and other great countries! In 5 years, we shall have 30,000 runners joining our event.
We will all be proud to say that “Yes the Filipino Can”! We must never forget however that the main driving force behind this vision is our desire to make the Philippines a better place through our marine environment advocacies. This is the reason why the Condura Skyway marathon was created in the first place. It started with a dive trip I made to Tubbataha Reefs 5 years ago where I was so inspired by the beauty of our seas that is rampantly being raped and the gallant efforts of our marine rangers to protect them.
By simply running, we are making a huge difference in the lives of others and that is what it is all about! Changing lives for the better. Making the Philippines the great country it deserves to be…one step at a time!
Thank you to my Condura and Contel team especially Vic Pielago and Pam Dacanay. Neville Manois our race director and race mechanics. Princess Galura and Events King for the Condura Skyway Village. Our host Noel and Chiqui.
Thanks to you, Ms_Mars and to Pinoy Fitness for supporting us and for equally inspiring everyone to live an active and healthy lifestyle!
Thank you to my wife Karen and my 5 children for being patient with me during Condura when you hardly ever see me with the late nights and early morning meetings organizing the event. Thank you for your support!
Thank you runners for supporting us through the years. We would not be here today without you. Please join us in making our collective vision a reality!
Out of curiosity, do you have any regrets about the Condura Skyway Marathon?
I must be the only runner that has not run Condura because I am busy organizing but seeing the smiles in the runners faces as they cross the finish line is most rewarding experience of all. At the end of the day, I am responsible for everything that happens whether good or bad, so it is impossible and irresponsible for me to run.
My only regret is I am not able to personally shake everyone’s hands as they cross the finish line as I am always in the race course but hopefully they can all feel my personal gratitude with the medal that they wear that reminds that that they are champions at heart.