Category Archives: Cebu Marathon

From Rio to Cebu, a fun and festive marathon

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From left: Steve Ferraren, John Pages, Rio de la Cruz, Dave Cundy of IAAF/AIMS, Jesse Taborada and Joel Juarez

Rio de Janeiro hosts one of the world’s biggest festivals. Before Lent each year, millions of revelers crowd Brazil’s second largest city. Rio is swarmed with sexy dancers, giant floats and the beating music of samba. That’s Rio. In Brazil.

Here in Cebu, we, too, have our own festival. Often called “the Philippines’ biggest mardi gras,” it’s organized in honor of the Blessed Sto. Nino and it’s held every 3rd week of January. That’s Cebu, Philippines.

Why this mention of “Rio” and the Sinulog? Because a different type of Rio is invading Cebu. No, it’s not the Rio de Janeiro of Brazil. It’s a different “Rio de…”

It’s Rio de la Cruz of running. Yes, the man we see on the covers of many magazines, Men’s Health, included; the one with the signature “Afro hair” who calls celebrities like Piolo Pascual and Fernando Zobel as his close buddies — this Rio is coming to Cebu.

Rio is helping run the run that’s adjudged as one of this country’s most fun and festive; finest and first-rate: The 2014 Cebu Marathon.

With Rio de la Cruz as the race organizer and our group — the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), the founders — there to help him out, it will be a strong one-two combination that will elevate this race to superstardom.

IAAF/AIMS. These letters stand for “International Association of Athletics Federations/Association of International Marathons and Distance Races.” This is the worldwide body whose membership includes the planet’s top races — the New York, Boston, Chicago marathons…

For the past three days, Rio has been in Cebu together with an Australian who is considered one of the top race directors of their nation. His name is Dave Cundy. He’s the Vice President of AIMS and he personally measured — on a Vellum carbon-fiber road bike lent by Chris Aldeguer — the streets of Cebu; from Osmena Blvd. to Magellan’s Cross, down to the Tunnel and towards Talisay City at the SRP. (Dave Cundy, himself, is an accomplished runner, he finished 30 marathons; his best time: 2:41!)

JAN. 12. The Cebu Marathon date is on January 12, 2014. That’s over four months from today. There will only be two distances: the 21K and the 42K.

Why no more 5K? “This distance is being offered almost every Sunday,” said Rio. “We want to position the Cebu Marathon as the premier running event. We want to motivate runners to go farther.”

Medals for the 21K finishers? Yes, finally. While we previously did not give medals — Rio insists on rewarding those who complete the 21,000-meter distance.

Jerseys and Finishers’ shirts? Check. Timing chips? Check. Loot bags with plenty of goodies? Check. The Carbo-loading party at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu on Jan. 10? Check. Live bands and dancers along the route? Check.

The top marathon organizer of our islands, Rio is always offering unique and new additions. His novel idea for Cebu’s race: the first and only “zero waste” 42K race in the Philippines.

No plastic cups. Runners will be given free water bottles (or may opt to bring their own waist belts) and will be poured water (and, possibly, Gatorade) along the route. This makes the race environmentally-friendly.

With the registration, apart from online registration, there will be Rio’s signature “cards.” Instead of having to fill-in your personal details on paper, it will now be paper-less. (More on this in a future article.)

For now, I suggest you start preparing. The Milo Marathon this Sept. 22 — also organized by Rio, as are all Milo running events — is a good start. It’s time to look ahead. If you did the 21K and haven’t completed the 42.195-km. distance,  the date “01-12-2014” may be your lucky numbers.

What makes our CERC organizing group extra happy?

For one, we’ve found a partner who’s the best in the business (Rio is also one of our country’s fastest; his 10K best: 29 minutes; his 42K best: 2 hours, 31 minutes!).

Plus, we’re extra motivated because finally, after seven years of organizing, we can do what thousands of you have already done: We can run! See you at the starting line.

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With ‘Biggest Loser’ star Alan Choachuy

From SM City to SM Seaside City

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Marissa Nolasco Fernan, SM’s top official here in Cebu for many years now, showed my dad and I the SM Seaside City design when we met a few afternoons ago at the Radisson Blu.

It’s Cebu’s version of the Mall of Asia (MOA). Only better. And more modern. With a glass-encased towering tube rising at the middle of an open garden. Ready for occupancy two years from now, it will be Cebu’s all-in-one, must-visit place soon.

Marissa also showed my dad and I a structure which, if realized, will change the sports and entertainment scene in Visayas and Mindanao: our own version of The Arena. I’m sure you’ve heard of MOA’s Arena, the 16,000-seater indoor coliseum where Lady Gaga danced, where the ALA Boys boxed, where Jennifer Lopez sang and where the UAAP games are being played.

Imagine an SM Seaside City Arena? In Cebu! Well, according to Marissa — now on her 25th year with the Sy family — this should be realized. If it does, we can host NBA exhibition games, a Djokovic-Murray 3-setter, a UFC Asia fight…

Remember the Megadome that then-Governor Pabling Garcia wanted to build? Where the CICC is right now? The Arena will be the same — only so much more modern and world-class (the MOA Arena reportedly cost P3.6 billion!).

SM2SM. For now, as the SM Seaside City construction is underway, we can visit the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod. We can hear mass there today.

Even better, seven mornings from today, we can join the run that’s the biggest this season: the SM2SM Run.

Fifty thousand pesos to the 21K winner! Yes. No misprint there. This, by far, is the largest paycheck anyone can receive outside Manila. (As comparison, our Cebu Marathon 21K event only offered P20,000.)

The 21K champion gets 50K. The runner-up, P30,000; the 3rd placer, P20,000. Just on those podium finishers alone, that’s P100,000. In cash. Plus, there are plenty of other prizes: Radisson Blu overnight stays for two, buffet dinners, raffle items and more.

Now on its third year, runners joining the Feb. 24 race will start at the SM City Cebu. Parking, always a concern, is plentiful. There are four distances: 21K, 12K, 6K, and 3K. All distances, if you compute it, are divisible by 3K — which makes this event not only unique but also “runnable” for everyone.

A couple of weeks back, I got the chance to meet with Jen-Jen Amigo, the Assistant Vice-President for Marketing (Visayas). We were in their conference room together with Joan Zanoria (SM City Cebu’s Marketing Manager) and RJ Leduna, the SM Supermall’s Public Relations Manager for Vismin. Joining us was the race director, Joel Baring.

I listened to their plans. Full hydration by Nature’s Spring. There will be entertainment along the way — including at the South Road Properties (SRP). And there is proper coordination with the government agencies: Citom, the SRP, the DPWH.

What’s also new this year are the use of Timing Chips. Within hours after the race (for those doing 12K and 21K), participants can visit the SM Facebook page and see the electronically-timed finishing times. Few races in Cebu use the timing system but, in major events worldwide, this is a must-have race component.

Beneficiary? Of course. Based on earlier press releases, the event donated P200,000 last year. For the 2013 edition, an amount will again be contributed to two organizations: the Cebu City Task Force for Street Children and the Cebu Newspapers Workers Foundation (Cenewof).

I know that, almost every Sunday, Cebu has a road-running race organized. The 21K distance — once a rarity in our streets — has become a monthly occurrence. But next Sunday’s event is different. It’s big. You can make the sign of the cross (or say the Sorrowful Mystery, if you’re suffering in the 21K) while passing the Chapel of San Pedro Calungsod. You will run unopposed at the SRP. You’ll see the future SM Seaside City. And, who knows, 10 days after Valentine’s Day, thanks to a prize or raffle win, you might bring your wife on a dinner date or overnight stay at the Radisson Blu.

Lance Armstrong is the Big C: Big Cheater

Oprah Winfrey has interviewed everybody famous from Michael Jackson to Charice to Barack Obama. But, to the 58-year-old billionaire who is considered “the world’s most influential woman,” there is no bigger TV sit-down than the one that will air tomorrow 10 A.M. (Philippine time) over Oprah.com.

Did he or did he not? The answer is obvious. He did. He did inject drugs. He did lie. He did “pass” 500+ tests to never test positive of PEDs. He did harass and threaten anyone who questioned his “clean” life. Now we know: Lance Armstrong, once the most iconic and revered of human beings, is no chemical-free Ironman.

“It was like a world crashing on top of me,” said Oscar “Boying” Rodriguez, one LA’s biggest fans in Cebu. Boying has not only worn the yellow Livestrong band for a decade, he also wears Oakley, Giro and the Livestrong Edition Nike — Lance’s complete battle gear.

“At first, I refused to believe the allegations. Maybe because he had inspired a multitude of people, most especially cancer patients including a close relative of mine,” said Boying. Every one of Lance’s seven Tour de France wins, including his triathlon and mountain-bike triumphs, Boying followed. “I dreamt and imagined I was riding shotgun on a bike behind him! Then the USADA report came out. I was still hesitant to believe it. But when he was stripped of his titles and when Pat Mcquaid of UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale), the world governing body of which I am a member of (being an International Commissaire for MTB) confirmed the finding of USADA, it was a reality that slowly sunk in.”

Boying calls Lance’s fall a “crash.” But, ever his lifelong supporter, Boying adds, “I think he deserves a second chance!”

Chris Aldeguer, another lifelong biker and Lance fan, is less apologetic. The owner of Vellum Cycles, Chris knows the inner workings of the cycling community. He says that it’s no secret how most take PEDs.

“Maybe Lance was really the fastest guy in the Peleton but he certainly did not deserve any of the wins. It was right to strip him of his 7 Yellow Jerseys,” he says. “I believe Lance totally mismanaged this crisis. People may forgive him if he admitted and apologized using PEDS during the Tour. Not only did he constantly deny, and lie about it, he attacked and threatened those who accused him. He was very arrogant about it. I believe this case hurts the Livestrong Foundation and the Cancer community even more than it damages the Sport of Cycling. His mainstream status brought this negativity in the limelight.”

True. If we look back in history, plenty of drug cheats were caught. Ben Johnson. Marion Jones. Barry Bonds is accused by everyone. But none of them carry a higher moral stature than Lance. Only now, when he’s got no helmet to cover his face, is he confessing to Oprah.

Jonathan “Maxi” Maximo agrees with Chris Aldeguer in how excruciating the 21-day, 3,360-km. event is that’s the Tour de France.

“Multi-stage cycling is such a difficult race that if you want to contend for the podium year in year out, you have to be like Incredible Hulk!” says Maxi, whose son Igi is a national-caliber junior cyclist.

“How about for TdF organizers, who make the race extremely hard, to put up separate categories for dopers and non-dopers? That will level the playing field!” Maxi joked. “Seriously, Armstrong’s admission will be good for cycling in the long run. It has opened our eyes to the reality. In fairness to LA, I support his Livestrong Foundation. I had the opportunity to race in Seattle for the Livestrong Challenge. I believed in their cause. It has helped my mom battle and survive the big C.”

This is a sad day for sports. It’s a sad day for honesty. For with Lance, though he’s helped raise over $500 million to fight the Big C, he will be forever remembered for another Big C: Big Cheater.

Why there’s no other race like the Cebu Marathon

Two nights ago, I stood before an audience filled with runners. There sat an American running his first 42K. Across him was a Canadian half-marathoner. Dozens from Cagayan de Oro arrived. Victor Ting, 67 years old from Manila, previously finished a 160-km. trek. He’s joining the Cebu Marathon today. Mayor Mike Rama did not sing — he gave a speech and is running 5,000 meters at 5:30 this morning.

It was the Race Briefing and Pasta Party of the Cebu Marathon last Friday night at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu. Before “Mr. Acoustic” himself, Paolo Santos, strummed his guitar and four hard-core runners — Dr. Abraham Manlawe, Joel Garganera, Twinkle Ignacio and Raul Cepeda — spoke motivational words, I took the stage for my message. Here are excerpts…

Maayong gabii kaninyong tanan — to our guests from out-of-town, welcome to Cebu! This is the event’s sixth year. What makes the Cebu Marathon different? Is it the prize money, because we offer the most? The distance, because we’re the farthest? The number of participants, because we have the most? No. Some races offer more money, have farther (100K) distances, and have tens of thousands of runners.

Cebu Marathon is unique because of…

First, the timing. Our event is not held in March or August. It’s always on the 2nd Sunday of the year. It’s part of the festivities of the Sinulog — the country’s biggest festival. If the DOT says “It’s more fun in the Phils.,” during the Sinulog, “Running is more fun in Cebu!” Today, runners will see buntings and lights all over, they’ll hear the Sinulog beat playing, there’s dancing… it’s not a boring race. It’s festive and lingaw.

Second: Our land, Cebu. Our city. Our province. Our history. Eight years from now, we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of Ferdinand Magellan’s landing. Cebu is that historic. We are considered the oldest city in the country. For the 21K and 42K runners: you will be passing through some of the most historical sights in the country. First, we start  at the Cebu I.T. Park, the city’s premier business district. Then you pass along the Provincial Capitol, Osmeña Blvd., Fuente Osmeña, Colon St. (the country’s oldest), Sto. Nino Church. My favorite spot? Running in-between the Magellan’s Cross and the City Hall. Next, Malacanang sa Sugbo, Plaza Independencia and, possibly the only run to do this nationwide… underneath the Tunnel. Then the South Road Properties.

We have the best route of any marathon in the whole Philippines! Maybe one of the best in Asia.

Third reason: the people, the Cebuanos. We have a genuine partnership between the public and private sectors. The city government is giving the total cash prize of P389,500. We have the support of Ayala Center Cebu, Cebu I.T. Park, New Balance, Globe, Pocari Sweat and Nature’s Spring. The support of the Talisay City officials, DPWH, CITOM, TODA and the SRP are crucial.

VOLUNTEERISM. The men and women behind this event are not being paid. You know why we’re helping? Because we ourselves — all of us at the CERC — are marathoners. And many of us have travelled all over the world — from Chicago to Paris to Hong Kong to New York to Amsterdam — to join marathons. And if not also for the volunteers in all cities in the world, then we would not have been able to join.

We are giving back. This time, to you. We want you to experience the pain(!) and satisfaction of finishing a 21K or a 42K. It’s a moment you’ll treasure forever. In the streets this Sunday (today), don’t be surprised if you’ll see doctors, lawyers and top businessmen giving you a massage or a cold drink at the sidewalk.

Fellow runners: it is 32 hours from race time at 4 AM on Sunday. Congratulations! Each of you here — for joining, for spending hundreds of hours on the road, for waking up at 4 in the morning to run when everybody else is asleep, for all your sacrifices — each of you here is a winner in life.

Continue to enjoy running. Enjoy Cebu. Enjoy the Sinulog. Pit Senyor!

Reminders to the CCM marathoners

To Bernard Palermo, Danny Cristobal, Wally Liu, Bernard Sia, Chris and Nia Aldeguer and the thousands of others who’ll run the Cebu City Marathon this weekend, good luck. After hundreds of kilometers of asphalt-trampling, after months of early morning-rising, after buckets-full of sweat, this is it. It’s five nights of sleep to go. Your training is over. It’s time to fully-charge your body’s batteries for the street battle up ahead. Here are a few reminders…

Website. Want to verify if you’re registered? Visit www.CebuMarathon.com. Scan through the list. If you have any questions, send an email to info@cebumarathon.com.

Late Registrants. Rejoice! Since the Dec. 23 closure of registration, we have been inundated with emails: “Can we still register?” My reply: “Why register only now? We’ve been open for two months!” Anyway, here’s the good part: We will accept late registrants for the 5K and 21K categories. Visit the Active Zone.

Race Kits. Claiming of the New Balance singlets is finally near. It’s tomorrow. But, calm your excitement. No hurry! With nearly 2,000 joining the 42K and 21K categories — plus a thousand more for the 5K — be patient. Go on Thursday or Friday, if possible. The period for claiming runs for 30 hours: that’s Wednesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. There’s no rush. Best day to go: Friday.

Pasta Party. The Cebu City Marathon is not just a one-Sunday-morning sports program; it’s weeklong. You’ll receive discounts to Planet Sports this week. You’re also invited to the high-class, fun-infested Carbo-Loading activity. That’s 6 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 11, at The Terraces of Ayala Center. Dinner coupons to four prestigious pasta-serving establishments will be offered for sale to all CCM runners. Plus, there’ll be a live band performing and — guess what — Manila-based acoustic star/singer Paolo Santos will join the party!

Emergency Info. Reminder… When you receive your Race Bib later this week, please make sure to write the Contact Names and Numbers of those whom the organizers should call in case of an emergency.

Relax. With just five days left before race day, it’s time to slow down. It’s better to be under-trained than tired on Sunday. Drink lots of liquids. Don’t increase your food intake but take more carbohydrates when the race nears. Relax.

RACE DAY REMINDERS…

Cheaters not welcome. To anyone planning to cheat, please do not. Not only is the entire route littered with marshals, CITOM officers, policemen – plus computers to track each runner’s footsteps — what’s worse is if you get caught. How about your name being embarrassed in the newspapers? Or, being “excommunicated” from the Cebu running community? As our Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP) motto reads: BE HONEST.

No Race Number, No Entry. The organizers will be strict. Nobody but registered runners wearing official race bibs will be allowed inside the cordoned area for runners. Anybody else attempting to run (bandits, they’re called) will be courteously removed from the route.

No wheeled vehicles. Cars, motorcycles, bikes — any type of wheeled vehicles — are absolutely not allowed inside the runners’ area.

Hydration. There are a total of 13 water stations in the entire route. Each station will have overflowing water and isotonic drinks. So no need for you to carry a water belt (that will just add extra weight). Our official hydration sponsors: Pocari Sweat and Nature’s Spring!

Cheer. We ask the spectators, family members, and friends to cheer along the route. Jane-Jane, Andrew and Nica Ong and Dr. Albert Santos have finished the New York City Marathon. What’s makes it special? They say: the 2 million spectators who line the streets to cheer. So, like NYC, let’s go out and shout, PIT SENYOR!

Puso: the Heart of the Cebu City Marathon

The word has two meanings. In Tagalog, “puso” means “heart.” In Bisaya, it’s pronounced in a stronger manner: PU-SU!

To us Cebuanos, we know the meaning of “puso.” It’s our favorite dish with lechon. We eat puso during parties. We bring bundles to the beach. Every important Filipino-style, get-your-hands-dirty event involves this hanging rice.

“Puso is rice, yes, but it is more than that,” said an article in wayblima.com entitled, “The Art of Hanging Rice.” It added: “Puso is an integral part of the barbecue culture of Cebu, and I would go so far as to call it an art. Puso is to the Cebuano what the baguette is to the Parisian, or the bagel is to the New Yorker.”

Well-said. Why this talk of the puso? Because, after three years of the Cebu Marathon when the 42K finishers received their mango-designed medals — now the CCM medals have a different look.

Puso. Yes, if you haven’t seen the photo yet, visit Facebook or the website (cebumarathon.com) and gaze at it.

Why the puso? When Meyrick “Jacs” Jacalan, our Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) organizer who was responsible for the iconic mango design, thought of a different look for 2013, he rattled-off several options. (One interesting option was a lechon runner!)

The puso represents Cebu. And it will be the prized possession of all 42.195-km. finishers of the January 13, 2013 race.

Shifting to Tagalog, it also takes a lot of “puso” (heart) to run from the Cebu I.T. Park to the Capitol to the City Hall to the Tunnel to the SRP — all the way to Talisay — and back to Lahug. That takes sacrifice. That entails eating pain and suffering and offering tons of prayer when one passes the Basilica Menor del Santo Niño. That takes heart.

And so, Bisaya or Tagalog, the word “puso” is the perfect representation of next Sunday’s reward. A “puso” for the “puso” (strong heart) of the marathoner!

PRESS CON. We unveiled the medal last Thursday. When the CERC members and media personalities gathered in a long table, guess what was served in Mooon Cafe, our family-owned Mexican-inspired restaurant?

Of course, the puso. The diners were puzzled. Does Mooon now offer puso? Our CERC group — Roy Trani, Kenneth Casquejo, Jesse Taborada, Rudy Tindugan, Dr. George Evangelista, Barry Marquez, Raffy Osumo, Annie Neric and Dodong Sulatre — aware of the surprise, didn’t comment. Together with pork barbeque, we just munched and ate. Finally, when the press-con started, I joked to the group, “It’s not true that Mooon now offers puso…” Then we unveiled the medal made by Suarez Arts.

ONLY 42K? Now on our fourth year of organizing CCM (we had two Sinulog half-marathons earlier), our CERC group has decided to stick by tradition. We know plenty complain. My mom — who’s done several 21Ks and a 25K — was one of those. Why don’t the 21K finishers get medals? (All 21K and 42K finishers, though, will receive Finisher’s Shirts.)

It’s a tradition that’s started and a tradition that will continue. That’s why, as each year progresses, the number of 42K participants increases or is maintained. This year, we’ll exceed over a thousand 42K runners. We want the 21K runners of this year to aim more, go farther, train twice as much — to make that moment when the medal is draped on one’s neck even sweeter.

With every-Sunday races in Cebu today, collecting medals is no longer a rarity. Many runs offer medals. We’d like for the Cebu Marathon “puso” to be one of the most treasured of metals in your cabinet.

This, therefore, is a challenge to all runners: Go for that full marathon at least once in your life. If not next Sunday, maybe in 2014.

REGISTRATION. Since Christmas, the registration has been closed. But, beginning Wed. (Jan. 9) at the Active Zone of Ayala Center, slots will be available for the 5K and 21K. (Very limited slots might be available for the 42K; email us now at info@cebumarathon.com.)

Finally, if you’re joining, visit the website to verify your registration details. Good luck and God speed!

Free ACC movie passes to CCM registrants

Last Tuesday, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama – a runner both on the road and for public office – welcomed us to his Conference Room at the City Hall. In attendance were running enthusiasts Councilor Edgar Labella and Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) members Jesse Taborada, Dodong Sulatre, Meyrick Jacalan and Rudy Tindugan. Cebu City Sports Commission chairman Edward Hayco joined us.

The occasion: To officially launch one of this island’s grandest of sporting events, the Cebu Marathon. The date? January 13, 2013. The venue: Start/Finish at the Cebu I.T. Park in Lahug.

Distances? 5K, 21K and 42K. These three categories are perfect for any body and everybody. If you’ve longed to exercise and join a fun run, the 5,000-meter distance is ideal. You can jog, walk, stroll most of the way and sprint as you cross the finish line.

The 21K or half-marathon? For those who’ve been running 5Ks and 10Ks, it’s time to take your running to the next level. The 21K distance is far — but not as leg-cramping and exhaustive as the 42K. The beauty of this category? Just like the full marathon, it will take the runners along the most scenic of sights: from Cebu I.T. Park to the Provincial Capitol, down along Osmeña Boulevard, passing through Fuente Osmeña, to Colon Street, to the Sto. Niño Church, Magellan’s Cross, Plaza Independencia then down the SRP Tunnel. You may a U-turn somewhere at the SRP… and back to the Cebu I.T. Park. Everybody who’s done a 10K the past few months should register for the 21K.

The 42.195-km. run called the marathon? For those who joined the 21K last year and have done several this 2012, it’s time to go all the way in 2013. You can do it!

Along the way – and during this Sinulog season — you will be greeted by hordes of volunteers who will man the 13 water stations – all loaded with overflowing water and isotonic drinks plus the signature gimmick of CCM: bands, loud music, Sinulog dancers, cheerers — all motivating you to finish and claim that Finisher’s Medal.

ROUTE. The only change with the 42K route is the Gen. Maxilom (Mango) Ave. area. In the three previous CCMs, the Mango Ave. portion was one of the last (and most difficult) climbs. In the 2013 edition — as suggested by ultra-marathoner, Atty. Haide Acuña — we will do Mango Avenue first. This means that, upon exiting SRP, the 42K runners can now focus on running straight to the Cebu I.T. Park minus the Mango Ave. “Heartbreak Hill” obstacle.

PRIZE MONEY. Thanks to the support of the Cebu City government, who has funded the cash prizes of all the winners since this event started years ago, the same will hold true this 01-13-13.

The cash prizes – totaling P389,500 — are as follows (same amount for both men and women):

Marathon (42K): P60,000 (champion); P30,000 (runner-up); P20,000 (3rd); P10,000 (4th); P5,000 (5th); and P2,500 each for the 6th to 10th placers.

Half-marathon (21K): P20,000 (champion); P10,000 (runner-up); P5,000 (3rd); P2,500 (4th); P1,500 (5th); and P1,000 each for the 6th to 10th placers.

5K: P5,000 (champion); P2,500 (runner-up); P1,500 (3rd); P1,000 (4th); P750 (5th); and P500 each for the 6th to 10th placers.

GOODIES. As I mentioned in this column a few weeks back, the participants will receive a limited-edition New Balance singlet. The value of this NB singlet is worth upwards of P700; if you’re joining the 5K (registration fee is P600), you’re actually receiving more than your fee.

The 42K (fee: P1,400) and 21K (fee: P900) participants will all receive Finisher’s shirts (apart from the singlet) upon crossing the Finish Line. And, of course, exclusive to the 42K finishers, the prized CCM medal (new design).

FREE MOVIE PASSES. Finally, here’s good (early Christmas) news for all runners who have not registered yet. Starting today, Nov. 22, until Nov. 30 — only for nine days — all registrants to the 21K and 42K categories will receive free Ayala Center Cinema movie passes. You need to register at the onsite registration booth at the Active Zone of Ayala Center Cebu. Remember: this is only from Nov. 22 to 30. Run to Ayala and register now!

Pacman-Marquez 4: Who’s interested?

PUERTO PRINCESA–It’s our first time in Palawan, the home of the longest navigable underground river in the world. We arrived last Friday. While Typhoon Ofel left Cebu and it was sunny in Mactan, the skies darkened upon arrival in Puerto Princesa. It rained the entire Friday. Yesterday was the opposite: clear blue skies engulfed this island of blue seas.

I’m accompanied by three girls — Jasmin, our daughter Jana, and top junior netter Sally Mae “Em-Em” Siso. We’re here for the national championships of the Palawan Pawnshop Junior Tennis — a Group 2 major event that has brought together 220 entries from all over the archipelago.

Last Friday, we had dinner at La Terrasse with Roland So. No, he’s not the husband of Michelle — he’s the former No. 1 player who’s also here as a tennis parent. With his wife Tina, he brought along three of their six children: Camille, Mia and Mariel.

Perfectly-timed during the semestral break, we’re here not just for tennis but also to visit some of the country’s most famous tourist spots: the underground river, the fireflies sanctuary, Honda Bay, the crocodile farm… (Since we’re stuck in Puerto P., we can’t visit the other prominent yet faraway sites: Coron, El Nido, Tubbataha Reef.)

We’re most excited, of course, with trekking the 8.2-km. underground river that is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as (thanks to the online votes of the internet-savvy Pinoys) one of the world’s “New 7 Wonders of Nature.”

A bit of scary news, though. Upon arrival here, we were told of a disease. The name: “Come-back, come-back!”

UFC. I got plenty of feedback from last Thursday’s “UFC beats boxing” column and I’d like to share one, coming from a former Class-A tennis player and golfer.

Nick Torres said: “Hi John! AMEN to your column today! I’ve been trying to educate Bidoy (Aldeguer) about the UFC because he’s puzzled why it’s so popular. I told him everything you wrote plus the genuine respect 99% of the fighters have for each other plus the ‘Countdown’ and ‘Ultimate Fighter’ series, etc. I’m sure you know at least 30 UFC fighters on sight and know their backgrounds, fighting style, and always have a sentimental favorite for every single fight, right? You can’t say the same for boxing unless your family name is Aldeguer, Villamor, Gorres, etc.”

PACMAN. This is hard to believe. And it’s a sign. Manny Pacquiao, with just six weeks to go before his Dec. 8 fight against Juan Manuel Marquez, is absent. He’s not found in the news. There’s Donaire. There’s ALA. But there’s hardly any Pacman. This is surprising. Maybe the public is bored and weary of his 4th encounter vs. Marquez? Whatever the cause, the buzz surrounding Pacman is no longer the same. My advice for our modern-day hero? Pummel the Mexican, knock-him-out and then, before a worldwide audience, announce your retirement. Pacman’s skills, as we’ve witnessed in the past few fights, is waning. It’s time to end the career of the greatest Pinoy athlete ever.

LATE ARRIVAL. It was a long and tiresome trip for Team Visayas. En route to the 4th National Milo Little Olympics, the delegation’s departure from Cebu got delayed by one day. They arrived in Manila on Oct. 19 (Friday) and had to be ferried straight to the Marikina Sports Park for the Opening Ceremony. They finally landed at the Robinsdale Hotel, all tired and travel-weary, past 9 P.M. – with games scheduled early the next day. That was the delay going to Manila.

Coming home was even worse. After the Milo Olympics finished last Sunday, the Visayas Team was supposed to leave Manila last Monday. Instead — no thanks to Typhoon Ofel — they left four days later, sleeping in the boat as it got stuck in the pier. They finally arrived in Cebu only yesterday noon!

CEBU MARATHON. The online registration of the event slated this January 13, 2013 is now on-going. Register now… www.cebumarathon.com

CERC Party

Our group, the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), held a victory and thanksgiving party two nights ago at my house. After the success and hard-work behind the Cebu City Marathon, which CERC organized, it was time to relax. We started with a Holy Mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Renel Cabag of the OAD. Then, it was the all-out eating of lechon, kare-kare, dinuguan… (yes, we marathoners, given the mileage on the road, gorge and eat buffet-style).

Among the CERC members who attended the celebration were Roy Trani (CERC president), Jesse Taborada (past president), and Jacs and Perl Jacalan (the ASAP couple staying on until 1 A.M. when Perl celebrated her birthday at the strike of midnight).

Also at the party were Jun Remo, Joel Juarez, 3:43-marathoner Steve Ferraren (our group’s best dancer), Steve de la Cerna, Barry Marquez, Arnold Palma, Rudy Tindugan, Dr. Albert Santos, Dr. Ian Barlaan, Ted Tecson, Jon Consunji, Kenneth and Dr. Tata Casquejo; my SunStar boss, Michelle So; XTERRA champ-to-be Dodong Sulatre; Roel Militar; 4:09 marathoner Nica Ong and Ironman women Annie Neric and Jane-Jane Ong.

After dinner, it was time to turn sentimental. One of our most prized members, Bro. Carlo Bacalla, is leaving Cebu. A member of the Don Bosco congregration, Bro. Carlo will relocate next month to Laos. Yes, the communist republic Laos. (But true to running form, before agreeing, Bro. Carlo reviewed his future neighborhood and found out that there was a beautiful track oval just a few kilometers away. Yes! he said, after discovering the oval.)

Two nights ago, while “Chariots of Fire” played in the background, we viewed pictures of Bro. Carlo joining the 102-K and 160-K ultramarathons. Yes, 102K and 160K! In fact, today, he is leaving for Manila (together with Atty. Haide Acuña) to join this Saturday’s Bataan Death March 160-km. run from Mariveles, Bataan to Tarlac.

We wish Bro. Carlo and Haide good luck for the sure-to-be-agonizing 160K… and Bon Voyage to Bro. Carlo who’ll convert Laos into a running democracy.

Blessings for a CCM ‘sun’ day last Sunday

Thank you, Lord! When the rains deluged Cebu last Saturday night, we were worried. Rain is good. It usually is. But not during a major outdoor event like a marathon. But, thanks to His divine plan, the stormy weather stopped at 3 A.M. and the skies cleared (even from the scorching sun—perfect for the runners!) the entire day. Thanks to….

CERC. It’s called volunteerism. Members of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC)—led by our president Roy Trani—have to be lauded for the many months of preparation.

KENNETH CASQUEJO. Among the CERC members, none worked harder than Kenneth, the man behind the race-organizing company Run Check. Kenneth handled the bulk of the operations—from helping in the Registration to heading the Race Expo to delivering many of the supplies (water, bananas, Pocari Sweat). Good job, Ken!

UC. The biggest contingent was from the University of Cebu. When I met Atty. Gus Go two months ago, he promised that his students will join. They did. Numbering 2,000, they crowded the streets. Special thanks to UC’s top officials Bernard Ricablanca and Emerson Subong.

BOYING. Seven days ago, I received this SMS message: “Do you still need extra help? Although I am registered, won’t be able to run. Crashed my bike and sprained my wrist and ankle. Not being able to run will be frustrating but at least helping out and being part of it will ease the pain.” The sender? Top sportsman Boying Rodriguez, who helped last Sunday at the Plaza Independencia.

SRP. By motorcycle, I was able to tour the CCM route. The best spot was the South Road Properties. The climate was cool. Both lanes were closed to vehicular traffic. The sunlight emerged from the waters off Bohol. Thousands of brave runners mustered the courage to fight their fatigue and run.

TUNNEL. Among the 14 water stations that provided hydration, one of the best areas—manned by CERC’s Dodong Sulatre—was the tunnel. Two “higantes” entertained the runners. Free massage was offered. Cold water spray was splashed on the faces. Loud music boomed. Perfect.

12 NOON. Eight hours after we released the 42K runners at 4 A.M., the last runner, Francis Velasquez of Cagayan de Oro, arrived barefoot. He ran without shoes (to raise funds for the victims of Sendong) the entire route. We gave his wife the finisher’s medal as she donned it on him at the Finish; they kissed and hugged as we applauded.

JIGGY. Arriving just minutes before Francis was Jiggy Cerna who succumbed to leg cramps at Km. 22. Imagine limping the remainder of the way—that’s 20 more kms.—just to finish. That’s perseverance. Jiggy’s wife, Chay, who finished the 21K, patiently waited at the I.T. Park. What a gallant effort from the voice behind Y101.

MAYOR. Proclaiming during the Press Conference that a healthy body is a prerequisite for a strong mind, Mayor Mike Rama joined the 5K. He wore jersey number “1.” Councilor Edgar Labella, a long-distance runner, also ran.

CITOM. Nearly 100 traffic enforcers engulfed the city of Cebu last Sunday. With most of the roads closed to provide a safe passageway for the participants, CITOM played a most crucial role. CITOM Chairman Jack Jakosalem and executive director Raffy Yap: thanks!

YAYOY AND ED. To Cebu City Councilor Raul Alcoseba, who spearheads the Committee on Sports, his backing for the prize money was invaluable. So was the support of CCSC chairman Edward Hayco.

FIRE BRIGADE. Led by one of my closest buddies, Wilton Uykingtian, the Cebu Filipino Chinese Volunteer Fire Brigade helped cool the heating bodies of the runners. They were at Fuente Osmeña. They showered water at the SRP.

MEDICAL. In an event covering 42 kms. in scope, medical response is most essential. The CERC is blessed to have many doctor/members. Thanks to our fellow CERC member Dr. Rosan Trani, we were able to enlist 10 more groups who spread themselves all over the route. Dr. Wyben Briones was one volunteer. He was stationed at KM. 36 in Gen. Maxilom Ave. Thanks to the All Terrain Medical Relief Organization (AMRO).

Congratulations, CCM runners!

To all those who participated and finished the Cebu City Marathon yesterday, January 8… CONGRATS!!! All the months and weeks of hard work on the road have paid off… and you must be resting those legs and knees and recuperating. There’s no better feeling than seeing that finish line and crossing it. See you all next year!

Cebu Marathon: a celebration of running

“The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can’t dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon.” – Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon.

Those words are true. A rare number of Filipinos have ever joined the Olympic Games. No Pinoy—since we joined in 1924—has won the gold. But the marathon? The distance of 42.195 kms.? Running by foot—not riding the car, motorcycle or bike? Anybody—yes, that means any body, slim or heavyweight; teenager or a 78-year-old like Raul Cepeda—can achieve “the feat of feet” called the 42K.

As you read this, thousands of runners have swarmed the streets of Cebu. They’re along Osmeña Blvd. They’ve converged at the Cebu I.T. Park. They’re sprinting in Escario, Gorordo or inside the SRP.

Foreigners joining the Cebu Marathon? Sure. There are 18 nationalities represented: from Sweden, UK, Malaysia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Ethiopia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kenya, Malaysia, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, and Thailand.

The first participant when the online registration was opened several months back? He was from Germany. One Kenyan runner landed in Cebu two days ago. Armed with a PR of 2:13, he vowed to break the CCM 42K record.

Like our very own Sinulog, the Cebu City Marathon has become international.

Apart from those running the 42K, there will be thousands more joining the 21-km. run. Two nights ago during the Race Briefing at The Terraces of Ayala Center Cebu, I said that the 42K/21K runners are lucky.

“Cebu is one of the oldest and most historic cities in the Phils.,” I said. “And, as we planned the route a few years back, we made sure that runners get the chance to pass through the most iconic landmarks of Cebu… Provincial Capitol, Fuente Osmena, Colon St. (the oldest street in the nation), Magellan’s Cross, City Hall, and Plaza Independencia. Runners also pass through the Tunnel, the only time of the year that happens; the SRP is also closed for the safety of all participants. Enjoy the scenery!”

To all CCM participants, congratulations!

QUOTATIONS. Let me leave you with these inspiring words…

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.”  – Jesse Owens

“A marathon is like life with its ups and downs, but once you’ve done it you feel that you can do anything.”

“I run because it’s my passion, and not just a sport. Every time I walk out the door, I know why I’m going where I’m going and I’m already focused on that special place where I find my peace and solitude. Running, to me, is more than just a physical exercise… it’s a consistent reward for victory!” – Sasha Azevedo

“I’ve learned that finishing a marathon isn’t just an athletic achievement. It’s a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible.” – John Hanc

“The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals.” – Hal Higdon

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, ‘You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.’ The human spirit is indomitable.” – Roger Bannister

“People ask why I run. I say, “If you have to ask, you will never understand”. It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain, but know, deep down, how good it really feels.” -Erin Leonard

“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” – Oprah Winfrey

12 reminders on the ’12 Cebu City Marathon

This Sunday, lives will forever be changed. Thousands will run the Marathon of Cebu called the Cebu Marathon. Nearly 1,300 brave-hearts—many of them first-timers—have enlisted to run the 42.195 kilometer race called the Marathon. Another 1,200 are joining the 21K. Over 4,000 are expected to run the 5K. Five days before the gun start, here are a few pointers…

1) CHECK WEBSITE. Log on to www.cebumarathon.com. We’ve posted all the participants’ names — 42K, 21K and 5K. For any concerns, email us at info@cebumarathon.com.

2) VISIT RACE EXPO. Beginning tomorrow until Friday, race packs will be available for distribution. But here’s an important note: For tomorrow (Wednesday) only, the race packets of the 42K and 21K registrants will be distributed first. (All categories will be open Thursday/Friday.) CLAIMING: To receive your race pack, bring the email confirmation or claim stub that was sent/given to you.

3) JOIN CARBO-LOADING PARTY. If you’re a CCM participant, hear the final instructions and listen to top-notch runners during the Friday (Jan. 6) night Pre-Race Party. This will be at The Terraces of Ayala Center and will start 6 P.M. Load up on pasta and join the fun before the run.

4) RUN THE 5K. For those who failed to register on time last December, here’s good news. We are re-opening the registration during the Race Expo only for the 5K runners. 5K ROUTE. What’s exciting about the 5,000-meter Fun Run is the route: from Cebu I.T. Park down to Juan Luna Avenue… turn right towards the Cebu Business Park (passing along the Pag-Ibig Bldg.).. then run up to Escario St. (Parklane Hotel) before turning right to Gorordo then to JY Square … finishing at the Cebu I.T. Park.

5) TUNNEL & PLAZA. This January 8, the entire SRP Tunnel will be closed from 12 midnight until 9:30 A.M. for all the 21K and 42K runners. This is special. It is only during the Cebu Marathon that this 800-meter underground stretch of roadway is available for you to walk and run. Enjoy the tunnel!

6) PLAZA INDEPENDENCIA RUN. This park is beautiful. One of the highlights of Michael Rama’s mayorship, passing in-between the Magellan’s Cross and the City Hall then traversing inside the Plaza, we’re proud to call this running city… Cebu.

7) SRP IS CLOSED. The SRP—thanks to the joint efforts of the city governments of Cebu and Talisay—will be closed from vehicular traffic from 12 midnight until 9:30 A.M. this Sunday. Yes, I know this means inconvenience for the motorists—but it only happens once a year. And this is meant to ensure safety for the nearly 3,000 runners of the 42K and the 21K. SRP CUT-OFF TIME. For the runners, this means a cutoff time of 9:15 A.M. along the SRP and inside the Tunnel. If, by this time (which is 5 hours 15 minutes after the 4 A.M. start), you are still along the SRP/Tunnel, you will be asked to stop and ride the bus.

8) DRINKS GALORE. Nature’s Spring, our very own Cebu brand of water, will refresh all participants this weekend. For the sports drink, Pocari Sweat will be stationed along portions of the 21K and 42K route.

9) REST. With only five days left before the historic 01-08-12 date, it’s time to relax and recharge. The next few days is no time to cram your training. It’s better to be undertrained than over-trained.

10) RACE BIB. In case of emergency, we urge all runners to print the name of the person you wish to be contacted at the back of your race number. With several doctors as part of the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC), we are putting a lot of emphasis on our medical response.

11) WEAR COSTUME. Plenty of prizes will be given away to individuals and groups who don the best Sinulog-themed attire. Run and be seen.

12) FEEL THE BEAT, GET ON YOUR FEET! Thanks to the super couple named Meyrick “Jacs” and Perl Jacalan, the CCM has that perfectly-worded slogan. It’s days before the Sinulog and what better reason to run. You can dance, strut, glide, sprint or crawl. However you want to run the marathon, be sure to finish!