Exclusive! Yes, Dr. Yong Larrazabal is running

All three local newspapers have advertised his name and proclaimed his running. Radio broadcasts have trumpeted and shouted his running. Businessmen, public officials, his fellow doctors—everyone has speculated and debated and asked the question: Is the young Ophthalmologist and heir to the Cebu Doctors Hospital throne running?

Is Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III running?

In a series of text messages, talks, and E-mails with him the past two weeks, I have the inside scoop: Yes, he’s running.

For Cebu City Councilor? This May 14? Against Mayor Tommy Osmena? And his 16-person slate? His first-ever foray into politics? At the young age of 33 years old?

“I’ve been asked to run for mayor and councilor by several individuals,” he confessed. “At the moment, the only running I will be doing is the marathon!”

So, there it is. Sorry to disappoint the gossip-mongers, but it’s a different form of running. You see, Dr. Yong Larrazabal is too busy a physician, too busy a father to his seven-year-old daughter Belle and four-year-old son Cian, too busy a husband attending to his beauteous wife Donna Cruz, who’ll give birth to their second son in two months; too busy to run, dribble and shoot for the ballgame named Politics.

But running? The sport where your heart pumps 168 times in 60 seconds and your sweat drips and bounces off the cement road? Yes, that running.

“My sport was always basketball since my elementary days,” he told me. “But I knew because of it’s intense physical demands, it would just be a matter of time when I’d be injured. Being an Eye Surgeon, injury to any of my fingers could spell disaster. So I was looking for an alternative sport that would not involve my arms and hands too much.

“A year and a half ago, Dr. Douglas Del Prado (a good friend and an anesthesiologist), during surgery, invited me to a 10K marathon. I decided to join out of curiosity. I was not worried about training because I had been on the Treadmill 30 minutes a day for the past seven years. I caught the ‘running bug’ since then and have been joining all the races in Cebu.”

Why this sport? “It’s when I’m running that I feel free from the outside world. While running, I reflect on a lot of things. Things I’ve done wrong. My loved ones. My profession. And God. I have never felt better physically since I started running. Ever. My stamina now is terrific. I can work the whole day and never get tired. Lastly, I can eat whatever I want and not gain weight.

“I run an hour a day on the Treadmill four times a week. I run along the running path around my home twice a week and run with the Sight First Running Club members once a week at the Cebu City Sports Center. Cebu Doctors University is building a mini-oval this year in its new campus in Mandaue. I plan to run there, too.”

Though the young doctor prefers long-distance running, he has sprinted his way to collect trophies: 1st place (Doctors Category), the 1st University Run, World Heart Day Run, and Run for Guimaras; 9th place (Men’s Executive), the 1st 10K Asean Summit Run at 47 minutes; and 10th place (Men’s Open), Gawad Kalinga 10K Run at 44 minutes.

A 10K run at 44 minutes? Wow. That’s blistering fast.

Exactly two weeks ago today, Dr. Larrazabal joined a race that would kill a man unprepared. It’s 42.125 kms.—the distance from the Capitol to Carcar. It’s battling a God-given enemy named the heat of the sun. It’s bridges to climb and asphalt roads to conquer and Honda Civics that zoom past you at 89 kph. It’s your legs saying no, lungs saying no, mind saying no… but that muscle underneath the shirt saying yes. It’s the final thesis for the student named Runner.

The Marathon.

After only a year-and-a-half of joining 5K and 10K races, Dr. Yong took his thesis examination last February 25 at the 3rd Philippine International Marathon.

“We took the Saturday 5 pm flight from Cebu,” he said. “Upon arrival we went to the Mall of Asia to look for an Italian Restaurant. We found Italianni’s after 30 minutes of walking and feasted on pizza and pasta. Our racing coordinator handed out laxatives to each of us. All of us had a hard time sleeping because of the excitement (max two hours of sleep).

“We had to get up at 3 a.m. to get ready for the starting time at 4:30 a.m. There were nearly 1,000 runners for the marathon. There were a lot of VIPs in the race—thus the presence of policemen, traffic enforcers and even the SWAT. There were water stations (two per kilometer). It was very well-organized. We were even given a map and a survival handbook prior to the race. There were bicycle escorts for a fee. The support team of some runners was unbelievable.

“Imagine, one VIP runner was tailed by two SUVs. When he was tired, the trunk of one SUV would open and you could see food, Gatorade, mineral water, energy drinks. Two men from the other SUV would come out and massage each of his legs…”

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