Millette Chiongbian and the Boston Marathon

How excited are you? I asked Millette Chiongbian, who’ll be joining the most prestigious 42K race in the world — the Boston Marathon — just eight days from now, on April 18.

“Hi John! Really excited!!!,” she said. “I think no other marathon does this.”

That’s true. There’s the Celtics, the Red Sox, the New England Patriots — all famous Boston teams. Add the planet’s most revered race: the 115th Boston Marathon. Yes, it’s 115 years old. It was in 1897 when this event was born. After the 1896 Olympic Games, it was founded and remains “the world’s oldest annual marathon.”

What’s difficult with Boston is the qualifying time. Everybody wants to join it. Few are accepted. That’s because you need to be very fast to qualify. For Millette, her qualifying time was 3 hours, 45 minutes. That’s speedy. Yet, she qualified. In March 2010, she joined the Los Angeles Marathon and clocked 3:43:06. Her time was just 114 seconds off the cutoff time; she qualified.

Her excitement? “It started building up when I got the Confirmation Of Acceptance in the mail sometime Nov ’10. Then by March ’11 I was assigned my race number thru email: 17009. This number signifies my rank from the fastest runner out of 27000+ runners. Runners are numbered according to their qualifying times. And just today (last Wednesday), I got the Number Pick-up Card, a Welcome Book and it’s sked of events. Owning a number for the 115th marathon edition means a whole lot. It can be meaningfully taken from my history or from Boston Marathon’s list of entrants in this edition. It’s actually a whole journey that started with a promise.”

Based on our research, no other Filipino — male or female — is joining next Monday’s Boston Marathon. Only Mrs. Chiongbian. “The feeling I am beset with is beyond compare. This is a celebration and a chance for me to run my victory lap for Cebu, as I’ve said in my speech during the Cebu Marathon pre-race party. And technically speaking, Boston’s procedures from registration to verification to confirmation and in welcoming the athlete sets itself from the other races I’ve joined.”
They say with Boston, the hardest part is qualifying. Once you’re in, it doesn’t matter if you finish in 3:30 or 6:30 — just by qualifying, you’ve claimed victory. “My plan is to humbly finish,” said Millette. “I have so much respect for the legendary course. I have no targets because of its unpredictability. I have no solid nor conclusive basis as to how I am going to perform on Marathon Monday. I will simply enjoy the course route.”

Millette will leave for the U.S. on Wednesday to acclimatize herself. With her will be her three children, Justin, Yuan and Savvi. Also joining the group are Dominique and Angelique Climaco, plus Clifford, Gera, Alfonso and Marco Alegrado. Good luck to the first-ever Cebuana to run Boston!

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