Sprint to Bataan: 20 Days to Go!

Like the old saying goes, “When one race ends, another race is coming up on the horizon.” That is how that goes, right? Stacking races so close together is not my usual M.O., but when I heard about Bataan (and let the craziness of it set in for a while), I knew it was a race I could not pass up.


  • It’s a noble cause: The race honors soldiers who were marched across the Philippines during World War Two. Many of them were from nearby Dona Ana County and the NM National Guard. Sadly, many of them died in the march and in the POW camp afterward.
  • The setting is one-of-a-kind: Not only is White Sands Missile Range a unique race location, it’s also really pretty.
  • It’s hard as hell: When I was working at the gym, I saw some soldiers exercising in Bataan race shirts. They told me it took them 9 hours to finish. That’s a shirt you can wear with pride. I find the challenge appealing.
  • The price: The half distance (14.2 miles for this race) costs the same as the full. I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on the half knowing that I could spend the same amount of money to participate in the full.
  • The timing: I debated doing Bataan next year so I wouldn’t have two full marathons so close together, but this year is the 25th anniversary of the race. Besides, I’ve already got my eye on a race for next March. (This one!)

Bataan is not your typical race. I don’t even know if it should be called a race. A great many military personnel participate, and many of them opt to do the “heavy category” carrying 35+ pound ruck sacks. It’s lots of walkers/hikers/run-walkers, but from what I can tell, not a lot of “traditional” runners like you’d see in a road race. That makes sense since it’s not even entirely on road. Much of the course goes through straight up sand. And I do mean straight up.

bataan elevation

Now you can see why I don’t have a time goal. The plan will be to go, pay homage to those who were at Bataan (in previous years, survivors were present to shake your hand at the finish!), and earn a badass shirt.

In terms of training, I’m loosely following a 4 week marathon-to-marathon training plan from Hal Higdon.

4 week m to m

An old running buddy once used Higdon’s plan for 6-weeks between races with great success. Since my aim is to maintain my endurance and not much more. I’m confident this plan will do the trick.

How did this week measure up in terms of running? I ran 4 times.

  • 1.25 miles the day after the El Paso Marathon
  • A slightly sore 4 miler
  • 5 miles (shaved off 1 mile because my knee felt wonky)
  • 95 minutes of running yesterday (8.25 miles in hilly McKelligon Canyon)

Plus yoga and walking Geronimo.

I’m kind of liking that my big races are so close together this time around. It’s like 2-for-1 marathon training! The weather is already heating up here in El Paso, so I don’t foresee much long distance running after this. I guess that’s good timing since my body will be overdue for a break after Bataan anyway.

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18 thoughts on “Sprint to Bataan: 20 Days to Go!

  1. I think it’s smart to have two marathons so close together because you already have a great base. Working on endurance is probably the best way to approach this because you’re going to moving for a very long time. I think this event sounds awesome and I would do it in a heartbeat; there is something very satisfying about completing something so physically challenging. I can’t wait to hear all about it!

    • The fact that you would do this is so why I love you! Challenges (although crazy) are what make running fun! Although, I’m not too keen on doing any more mud runs/obstacle races/night runs/color runs/etc. I’m over those. I, would, however consider doing something like Goofy.

      • I’m all over Goofy. In fact, Craig and I were going to do Goofy last year, but we ended up moving to Hawaii and well, cha ching! There is a mom at Caroline’s school who has done Goofy and did Dopey this year. It’s $500 to do the race, plus air fare and hotels and food. Yeesh. They must be rolling in the dough, or something. Ha! I’m not really into the gimmicky races; I did Spartan and it was fun, but nothing I’d do over and over. The older I get (or maybe it’s the older my body feels) I like the idea of doing something HARD but without the need to be fast or beat a certain time and I think that’s what Bataan is all about. It’s much more about the experience.

  2. Are you gonna wear your running sneakers or something like hiking boots? Pack extra socks? Are there a bazillion water/med stations? Does Stephen wish he could do this “with” you? How are you mentally preparing?

    k I think that’s enough questions for one comment :)

    • I’m probably going to wear sneakers since I plan on running at least some of it. (I don’t like running in my hiking boots.) Extra socks are a must. Right now I’m considering pinning them to my spibelt if I don’t wear a backpack. I’m definitely mulling over the attire options a lot. Even though running is just fast walking, what I wear will greatly vary depending on if I approach this as a runner or a walker.

      As for water stations, they better have a million of them! I’m going to carry water with me, too, but you can never have too much water for something like this.

      I’m not sure how Stephen feels about Bataan. He’s always really cautious about participating in things where he could end up hurt since injuries interfere with his work. Maybe after I do it, he’ll be more into it.

      • If you could potentially be out there for 7-9+ hours, conditions could change. Layers! Your spibelt is either gonna come in handy or be overloaded. I know you’ll figure everything out before the day. So exciting! You might need twice the amount of text/facebook cheering that day, eh? You’re so hard core. Can’t even believe it. Go you!

  3. That ‘race’ looks terrifying. Good luck with it!

  4. Oh…I love that you are doing these races with historical value! Makes me want to become a runner!

    And…Gonzales is my hometown! If you need a place to stay and/or good, down home southern cooking and good company, my parents, brother and sister-in-law, cousins and many great friends still live there! I can hook you up for next year’s run!

    • Doesn’t that race look so cool?! I’m really hoping we can make it happen. There are lots of logistics to figure out (pulling together a team, the soldiers getting time off, renting a van), but I think it would be so worth it. And thanks for offering up your local resources! That’s so sweet!

  5. I wish I could do this! Bummed my surgery is the thursday before. :(

  6. Now that’s a hill. My sister is deploying to NM next year. Maybe I can fly out and do this race next year.
    I can’t wait to read your race report.

    • I think the hill scares me more than the sand and heat. I did hill work this week, but I definitely need to keep doing it regularly so that I’m at least somewhat prepared on race day.

      You should really try to do the race. It’s one-of-a-kind. And best wishes to your sister!

  7. I of course appreciate all the history behind this race :) It looks totally intense! You’re such a beast! I absolutely hated running in sand during my obstacle race in 2012! Good luck!

    • Have you read about Bataan? I just read a book by a former POW. It was just okay, but it lead me to find a podcast by the authors of the book “Tears in the Darkness.” I really want to read that one now. Not just the march, but everything that followed was so much more intense and awful than I imagined.

  8. The 2 for 1 training really is a sweet deal! Although, I am terrified just looking at the incline profile of the Bataan course. And to hear that it took some folks 9 hours!?!?!? It looks and sounds so much more like an ultramarathon where the focus is truly just to finish and nobody really cares about time. Those aid stations better have some quality FOOD, too, in addition to plenty of hydration!

    • I’m terrified looking at the incline, too! Haha! I guess that’s my pay back for the easy downhill/flat course on my last race.

      I just looked at last year’s results, and the in the civilian female light category (which is what I’ll be – not carrying a ruck sack) the fastest finisher completed the 26.2 in 3:45. The slowest took 12:36. The median finisher clocked 8:01. I’m expecting/hoping that I’ll finish around that middle time. I walked a half marathon in 3:45. I’m planning to run as much as possible, but add in the difficulty of the race, and it’s safe to say it will take me more than twice as long as the half I walked.

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