Among Cebu runners, Steve is Mr. Ferrari

He was stout, fleshy and portly. He was obese. Standing 5-foot-7, he weighed an overblown 228 pounds. Then. Today, eight years since his waistline exceeded 40 inches, he is slim, lean and slender. Best of all, he is snappy and fast. Among the hundreds of Cebu executives whose sport is running, he is one of the swiftest.

He is Steve Ferraren. His story began in 2002 when tragedy struck: his father died. The cause was diabetes and, when Steve spoke to his doctor, he was issued a hair-raising ultimatum: At 228 lbs., if he did not lose weight, he might face the same fate as his dad. Soon.

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Fearful, Steve took action. Only 35 years old then, he vowed to trim excess poundage. But it wasn’t easy. Losing weight never is. And when Steve first ran around the Cebu City Sports Center, he said, “My maximum distance was only half a round at the oval.”

But with doggedness and grit, Steve plodded on. “When I could no longer run, I walked,” he said. “After one round, the next time I’d do two. Then, three. It was a slow process.”

Finally, after a year of unflinching exercise, he joined his first race, a 10K. Steve didn’t win the contest. It didn’t matter. What mattered most was this: His weight, from sumo-wrestler-like, dropped to 200. Then, 175.

Today, he weighs 145 lbs. But keep in mind that losing 83 lbs. was never achieved after one month or one year. It took time; it was gradual and progressive. “Never lose weight overnight,” said the 43-year-old Steve. “That’s the most important advice I can share.”

True enough, last week when I watched the “Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho” GMA-7 program, with the DVD copy that Steve lent me of the show that aired last February, it was incredible. Steve was featured on TV, together with Dr. Yong and Donna Larrazabal, on the topic of running.

Staring at the photos of Steve during his pre-running days, I could not believe it was him. His face was round and his belly enlarged. “Then, I panted whenever I climbed stairs,” he said. “And when I’d ride at the backseat of a car, I’d easily fall asleep because I was forever tired.”

This week? When I saw Steve last Sunday during the highly-successful “Running MAD” event (organized by Lahug Brgy. Captain Mary Ann De Los Santos and Tinago Councilor Joel Garganera and which drew over 1,600 runners), he has transformed into a sports car of a human being: A Steve Ferrari.

Study these numbers. Steve, who works as the Vis-Min Marketing Manager of tire importer SG Express Mktg., has a 10K best of 43 minutes, 45 seconds. That’s quick. His 21K best: It’s one hour, 39 minutes. Again, among business executives, that’s one of the speediest.

Best of all, Steve has run the marathon. Not once or thrice—but four times. In 2006, he joined the Pasig Marathon and finished the 42-km. run in 4 hours, 49 minutes. The year after, it was the Milo Marathon. In March of last year, he ran the famous Los Angeles Marathon. His time: 4 hours, 28 seconds. And finally, last Dec. in Singapore, even though he succumbed to cramps, Steve finished in 4:19.

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Steve (standing, 5th from right, wearing no. 17019) with members of the Cebu Executive Runners Club during last December’s Singapore Marathon

A fifth marathon? Sure. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon of San Diego, California is one of the most festive with bands playing each mile and hundreds who wear costumes and Elvis Presley attire.

Steve will depart Cebu today alongside his wife Nanette and join that marathon this Sunday, May 31. “I’m excited,” he said. Originally planning to join the Canberra Intl. Marathon last April 19, injury derailed his plans. Now, he’s ready for San Diego.

“With the help of a coach, Sherwin Manangil, who also trains Cebu’s top female runner, Mary Grace de los Santos, I’ve been training the past months,” said Steve. “We were able to do a couple of 32Ks and, two weeks ago, did a 37-km. run in 3:02.”

His Sunday goal? “I hope to do sub-4 or better.”

Yet, to me, whether Steve accomplishes his targeted time of 3:59 or 3:35 is not as significant as the lesson he has taught us: If we set a goal, with marathon-like patience and dedication, we can achieve it. Godspeed, Steve.

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Carbo-loading the night before the Singapore 42K, (from left) Steve, John, Jasmin, Jana, Harthy Satina and Steve’s wife, Nanette

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That’s me and Steve after the Singapore Marathon

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