The Mizuno-Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon

The biggest day of the biggest week of the biggest time of the year is near. On Jan. 20—next Sunday—Cebu will be swarmed with Sto. Niño devotees, foreigners, San Miguel beer, fireworks, Y101 helicopter rides, street-dancing, SM and Ayala midnight-shopping, face painting and, yes, running.

Running? Yes, no misprint there; amidst all the revelry arrives one of the biggest running events in 2008: the Mizuno-Shell Sinulog Half-Marathon. And you should join it! Why? Why join a run? Why the 21-K half-marathon? Why Cebu? And why during the Sinulog? Here’s why…

You should run because running is good for you. And after all the lechons we’ve devoured last Christmas—and more to come next week—then running is the perfect fit.

Thanks to the Cebu Executive Runners Club, on Jan. 19 (next Saturday), this major sporting event will fire off at the Asiatown I.T. Park. “We all love to run,” says Jesse Taborada, the club president, “and we’d want to see more people run… that’s why we organized the Sinulog run.”

Why a half-marathon? Because it’s a big event. While 10-K races happen almost-monthly in Cebu, a half-marathon doesn’t. Plus, the Sinulog event isn’t only about the 21-K. Also included is a 5-K event. So you’ve got a choice: If you’ve been running for months and have tackled the 10-K before, then the 21-K is a natural progression. You should try it.

The 5-K? Almost anyone can run 5,000 meters. And while this is called a 5-K RUN, don’t believe that last word. You’re not forced to run—you can walk, stop, sit on a curb for 30 seconds, drink water, stroll again, then jog. And there are no time limits—as long you don’t finish on Sunday!

And so here’s a message to all those wanting to join but are unsure of the 5-K distance: if you’ve gone past three kms. before (on a treadmill or around the track oval), you can finish. Believe me. Believe in yourself. And trust me, running and walking alongside hundreds of others will pump your heart as if you’ve entered a disco—it’s all adrenaline-rush.

Take Randy del Valle and Leric Sotelo of Shell, the petroleum giant who’s sponsoring the event. Shell’s slogan is “Run For Better Mileage.” Isn’t that line perfect for runners? It is. And so Randy (Shell’s big boss here), Leric and 20 of their Shell officemates aren’t just supporting the event by giving cash—they’re running. They’re having Shell uniforms printed and, if I’m not mistaken, will offer a prize to the first-place winner in their group.

Why Cebu? Well, obviously, we all live here. We’re Cebuanos. So where else to organize a major run? But more than that, Cebu has the potential to be “the country’s running capital.” Because if there is one place where the nation’s biggest marathon ought to be held—it ought to be on this Visayan island. That’s true because tourists love Cebu. Compared to Manila—think traffic jams and pollution—Cebu is a tourist haven.

Which brings me to answer the final question: Why the Sinulog? Again, that’s simple. No other weekend attracts more people than every third Sunday of January. And so holding a major sports event timed with the most major of festivals is another perfect fit. For tourists. For elite runners. For our neighbors from Cagayan de Oro, Bohol and Manila. They land in Cebu, dance with our festivities, savor the lechon, watch the mardi gras, soak in the Sinulog rain—and, yes, run the Sinulog Half-Marathon.

Want to join? Registration will start tomorrow at three locations: the Mizuno shop at the SM City-Cebu, the Sug-angan Restaurant along J. Llorente St., and at the Cebu City Sports Center.

So next week, as the Sinulog drum beat rolls and you’ll be doing plenty of things—praying, eating, smiling, partying, dancing—do include one more “-ing.”

Running.

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