Fuente Osmeña and the Quezon City Circle

MANILA—Question: What do the two ring-shaped ovals of Quezon City and our own, Cebu, have in common? Answer: They’re both historic landmarks located at the center of each metropolis. Plus, more than that, when these two cities organize a momentous sports event called The Marathon, the two rotundas will be the main features.

For Quezon City, celebrating it’s 70th founding year, the Quezon City Circle will be spotlighted today. Because this morning is the Quezon City Intl. Marathon, a world-class event with P3 million in prize money and an estimated 10,000 runners joining. For Cebu City, it’s the date 01-10-10. Spelled in full, that’s January 10, 2010, when the Fuente Osmeña will be a key turning point for the runners participating in the Cebu City Marathon.

As you read this, I’m in Quezon City. The purpose: Like a few dozen from Cebu, to join my third 42K race—the Quezon City Intl. Marathon.

Who else from Cebu are here? Plenty. There’s Atan Guardo and his brothers Genito, Jerry and Jeson. There’s Tinago Councilor Joel Garganera. Haide Acuña is here. So are three members of the Holiday Gym and Spa: Annie Neric (who already finished the Singapore Marathon) and two first-timers, Mike Enriquez and Monsignor Siongo Tan. From the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), there’s president Jesse Taborada, Dodong Sulatre, Joel Juarez, Bro. Carlo Bacalla, JR and Rovie Aguilon, Dr. Raymund Bontol, and one of our fastest, Steve Ferraren. These runners are joining the 42K.

For the 21K, there’s Lahug Brgy. Captain Mary Ann de los Santos, The Freeman columnist Raffy Uytiepo, coach Bert Banzon and Frederic and Millette Chiongbian—one of the most recognizable of running couples in Cebu.

Our route? The 42K race begins at 4:30 a.m. at the Quezon City Circle. From there, we enter the U.P. Diliman grounds. (To me, a U.P. Cebu graduate, this will bring back delightful memories of the one semester I studied there.) We’ll encircle the sunken garden of U.P. then exit the sprawling campus and make our long trek along the Commonwealth Avenue, considered as the widest road in our country (with eight lanes per way). We’ll run northwards to the Batasang Pambansa, exit the House of Congress, then traverse to the La Mesa Dam. From there, it’s more winding roads before heading back the same route to the QC Circle finish line.

Why, you ask, run a ridiculous distance of 42.195 kms.? What for? Is the purpose to self-inflict pain? A form of masochism, to induce torture on one’s physical being? Yes. No. Running for four, five or six hours is agonizing. You can develop knee aches, ankle spasms, calf strains, leg cramps. Complete physical exhaustion is expected. Vomiting isn’t rare. Even bleeding, in one’s nipples, due to the friction of the shirt on the chest, is common.

Then, why? The answer is easy: Because the marathon is “the Mt. Everest of runners.” In the Running Clinic the CERC conducted last month, when I spoke before the 150 in attendance at the Casino Español, I said these words…

“Why do it? Precisely because it’s such a difficult goal… a target that not many have achieved… an aim that, at first, you thought was not possible… that’s why we run marathons!

“If you’re a mountain climber, and you’ve scaled the summits of Mt. Manunggal and Mt. Apo, it’s Mt. Everest. If you’re a tennis player and have joined local tournaments, it’s like entering Wimbledon. The only difference is, as tennis players, we can’t join Wimbledon. We can’t be in the same event with Roger and Rafa.

“With running, yes we can join the same events as the world’s elite runners—the only sport, in my analysis, where you’re beside the world’s best.

“But more than that… it’s an effort that will require years and months of training and endless weeks of waking up at 3:45 a.m. each Sunday to prepare for the long runs… it’s a big sacrifice… it’s a commitment… it’s a test of your perseverance… That’s why we run marathons!”

See you at our very own, the Cebu City Marathon!

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