Trek the TEC 2010

Vertical Limits
THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco (The Philippine Star)
Updated May 03, 2010 12:00 AM

The running boom is spreading to more and more urban centers and creating more challenges for serious runners. Every month, event organizers try to outdo one another in presenting appealing events in distances varying from 2 kilometers to full marathons. But yesterday, The Enterprise Center (TEC) took the sport in a different direction.


Yesterday’s “Trek the TEC” was the first major attempt at a vertical run in the Philippines. The center’s two towers on the corner of Ayala Avenue and Paseo de Roxas provided a controlled setting for the run, which spanned a daunting 90 floors or about 2,065 steps. Runners went up one tower, then down to the third floor common lobby, where they crossed to climb the stairs to the rooftop of the second tower. It was a new challenge for the runners, adding a new thrill to an old staple.

“It was a different feeling for the runners because it was vertical,” says race director Donn Rabanes. “Building run-ups provide a different technical challenge for racers. Deep concentration and excellent physical conditioning are required to navigate the stairways of the building. At the same time, it was short, but intense.”

The most famous vertical run is the Empire State Building Run-Up in New York, which many Hollywood celebrities like Oprah Winfrey have tried. In Asia, the Taipei 101 Tower Run also draws international runners. There are also rare run-ups here in the Philippines, but this is the first competitive race of its type pioneered by a private entity. Despite the short preparation and lack of publicity, over 120 runners entered this new kind of race, a big departure from running on a stair-climber in a gym.

“With the rainy season coming, runners will be looking for a venue to train and compete,” adds veteran race organizer Adi de los Reyes, a consultant for Trek the TEC. “This building was perfect for the race. And it is challenging. When we tried the course, it took three days for my leg muscles to recover.”

Runners massed at the driveway of the building, then raced up one stairwell. Since they were being individually timed and released by batches of 50, there was no need to jostle and nudge each other at the start. Cameras were set up along the stairs, and images of the runners were projected onto a big screen in the ground-floor lobby, so the families and friends of participants could cheer.

TEC’s advantage is that it has scissor-type stairs, meaning that the flights going up are not the same stairwells going down. This eliminated the probability of runners heading in opposite directions from bumping into each other. On the other hand, it added a mental challenge to the competition, since runners could not see their place, and would have to guess how well they were doing.

Gerald Sabal conquered the field in 13 minutes and eight seconds to rule the men’s division and win the P10,000 top prize. Regie Lumag was second, just 11 seconds behind, and received P5,000. Joel edged Elmer Sabal for third place by one second, clocking 13:49. Salvador Loreto finished fifth.

In the women’s event, veteran runner Maricel Manguilan clocked 17:12 for first place (beating most of the men), almost four and a half minutes ahead of second-placer, TV personality Noelle de Guzman. Grace Jakosalem was third, followed by Anna Calvo and Ana Liza Pellicer. But nobody went home empty-handed, as organizers provided raffle prizes for everyone present.

“This is a great event, and we want to do more of these types of races among the Shangri-La Properties,” explained TEC Center manager Francis Fuellas. “It’s part of our vision to provide tenants and guests with a holistic, balanced lifestyle. This race was just a showcase of The Enterprise Center as a friendly environment for these kinds of events.”

The Enterprise Center is also one of the most technologically advanced buildings in the country. It prides itself on saving power by recycling its air, and having a rooftop garden to save on cooling costs, among other features. It will also be the site of more vertical runs in the future.