Kenya’s Losiaboi vs. Cebu’s Lopez: the race is on

Soon after Simon Losiaboi arrived from Kenya last October, he was unbeatable. Race after Sunday morning after footrace, he won. Our local runners, who had never before experienced running  alongside a towering African, were tormented. They stood at the starting line aiming for second place. Engraved on the gold medal were the words “Simon Losiaboi.”

That all changed last weekend. Mendel Lopez, who was previously the Simon Losiaboi of Cebu before Simon Losiaboi arrived, joined the Ramon Magsaysay trek called “Paghandum Ni Magsaysay.” Beside Mendel, who had just arrived from Hong Kong and won third place in the 21K race, was his forever-nemesis, Simon. The gun blasted in Balamban. The runners sprinted not on flat asphalted road but on steep uphill terrain often littered with pebbles and dirt.

Guess what? Lopez beat Losiaboi. Taghap. Well, guess what: the following morning, last Sunday, the two stood beside each other again. They sprinted off; each with a different stride, both with the same goal: to finish No.1 in a lung-busting 8-km. climb to the foot of Tops in Busay in a race called “Run To The Clouds.”

Lopez beat Losiaboi. Again. Dili taghap. This is amazing. And thrilling. It’s like a movie we enjoyed so much that we can’t wait for Part 2. Which brings me to ask: Who’ll win in Part 2? Will Mendel, looking extremely lean when I saw him two weeks ago as our awardee during the 28th Cebu Sports Awards, with his renewed confidence, strive harder, run even faster, and continue to beat Simon?

Or was that a partial taghap. Since Mendel trained, in the weeks before last weekend, up hills and mountains to prepare for Hong Kong, was he better conditioned for the vertical climb? And when they return to flat ground, will he succumb to the silver medal?

Maybe not. Maybe. Or will Losiaboi, having tasted the sour taste of defeat, fight harder, train not twice but thrice daily, eat even less and become thinner than a bamboo pole, reclaim his gold? Abangan.

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