Exorbitant fees the reason for fewer races?

Manny Villaruel lost 42 lbs. He used to weigh 235. Now, six months after he started running, he weighs 193. Manny used to drink beer. LOTS of beer. One party we attended, the annual Press Freedom night, I kept on ordering the free San Mig Light and, like a plant who’d swallow water from a gardener’s hose, Manny gulped and gulped. Not today. Not last Sunday. Not anymore.

“I haven’t taken a single sip since January,” said Manny, the sports editor of The Freeman. It shows. Running the 12-km. distance during the “Hunat Subgu 2 – Dagan Para Kay Maning” race two mornings ago, Manny did drink—from the water stations. (He runs… away from beer.) Amazing transformation.

From the hundreds who participated, I saw plenty of familiar faces: Dr. Marivic Tan, Joe Soberano with his son Franco, Allan Choachuy, Dr. Vic Verallo with his son; Roy and Dr. Rosan Trani, my idol Steve Ferraren, speedy Jun Remo (who finished the 21K in 1:41), Kenneth Casquejo, Dr. Edward Gaisano…

Thanks to race director Joel Baring, the event had few hitches. Water stations, stationed every 1.5 kms., overflowed. The race started on time. Each category—6K, 12K and 21K—had its own overhead digital clock. The jersey, color blue with sleeves, was of high quality. A Pocari Sweat energy drink station stood. A bottle was given to each 12K and 21K finisher. The food at The Terraces was plenty: two puso, one hard-boiled egg, a stick of longanisa, a banana and juice. The 21K finisher’s medal was large and made by Suarez.

My only complaints? It would be nice to see a complete set of kilometer markers. There was zero entertainment on the road. This is what excites the wearied runner: music or dancers along the route. During the 21K start at 4:30 A.M., there was no loud, heart-stomping music that accompanied Jiggy Jr.’s countdown.

Still, these are few and minor. What I liked best: the venue. The Terraces of Ayala Center is the best start/finish area in our island. The location is central. There are plenty of parking slots. Comfort rooms abound. And, during the awarding, where everyone converges at the sunken portion—it’s perfect. (See you there again this Sunday for the MAPFRE Insular-organized “Go Run For Road Safety” race.)

ORDINANCE. My colleague Cheska Geli wrote an article last Sunday entitled “Running code downside.” Since the new ordinance was implemented in February, fewer runs are being organized in Cebu City. Many have moved to Talisay or Lapu-Lapu or Mandaue.

While I agree with the one-race-a-day policy (though organizers can still hold simultaneous events in other cities), there are plenty of questions to ask:

Where does the P15,000 payment go? Does it help the run? Or does it help the city run these events?

This amount (for the 21K) excludes the thousands (for overtime pay) that must be paid to CITOM. This amount, if I’m not mistaken, will not even go to the personnel of the Department of Public Services because, according to the new rule, the organizers themselves have to clean all the garbage.

No doubt this ordinance has plenty of good. But, four months after its implementation, it appears to have one bad outcome: fewer Cebu City races.

As an organizer/sponsor, why pay P15,000 when you can pay P500 for a Mandaue City-located run in Parkmall?

WIMBLEDON. If you switched on your cable TV last night and watched sports, your eyes must have been attracted to green grass.

As is the tradition, Wimbledon’s defending champion plays first. And so, at 8 P.M. (PHL time) yesterday, Novak Djokovic stepped on the manicured lawn of Centre Court.

Like any tennis fanatic, my dream is to watch the event that’s been visited by Monsignor Achilles Dakay.

“My first Wimbledon visit was in 1999 with Monsignor Eliseo Gamallo. We saw Lindsay Davenport beat Steffi Graf to win the trophy,” Msgr. Dakay told me in an earlier interview. His next visit was in 2003 when the William sisters met in the finals. “There’s no place like Wimbledon.” he said, adding, “You’ve got to try those strawberries and cream!”

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