The Cebu City Marathon: Ato ni bai!

Running has replaced badminton as the most popular recreational sport in Cebu today. If you arise early on a Sunday and visit the two parks—Cebu Business Park and the Asiatown I.T. Park—you will see women and men in short shorts, leggings, sleeveless shirts. On their feet are soft, thick-padded shoes and they’re all moving in forward motion.

Consider last Sunday. There were two races held simultaneously: the 2nd Running MAD event at the U.P. Lahug grounds and the Velez Hospital Run along Ramos St. Nearly 2,000 runners joined both.

This Sunday, Nov. 29? The same. There’s the Go For Green Tourism Eco-Run at the Asiatown I.T. Park and the 4th Seminary Fund Run at the Cebu Business Park. Both start at 6 a.m. Both will invite over a thousand participants each to trample on our asphalted road. Both will ask runners to sweat.

Which brings me to the paramount race in our land: the Cebu City Marathon. Scheduled on “01-10-10,” that’s Jan. 10, 2010, this will be the Wimbledon of road events, the Super Bowl of Cebu racing, the PBA Finals of all Cebu running events.

The main reason? This will be the first time in several years that Cebu will host the full marathon distance of 42.195 kms. Most races are 5K or 10K—this one will be different; there will be three distances: 5K, 21K and 42K.

Also, the prize money. A total of P300,000 in cash prizes will be offered to the winners. The 42K champion? He nets a large amount of P50,000. The runner-up, P25,000. And so forth.

Next, the SRP. For many of us who drive through the South Road Properties area—and for plenty of us who want to run or bike inside the SRP but can’t—this will be your chance.

The Sinulog. That’s another reason to invite friends from outside Manila to come. Scheduled one week before the grand festival, what a time to see Cebu’s streets—by foot. By running.

And, possibly the best reason of all, is the distance. You see, among runners, the ultimate goal is to finish a marathon. If you’re an elite, world-class runner, it’s like joining the Olympics 100-meter dash. If you’re a boxer, it’s like fighting inside the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. It’s the same with running. As you progress from 3K to 5K to 10K and to 21K… the major challenge is to finish that 42K.

I, myself, can attest to this quest to finish the “holy grail of running.” I started running three years ago and, last December, finally crossed that finish line at the Singapore Marathon. The good news is, Cebuano runners need not travel to Singapore or Hong Kong. This event will be here.

Ato ni bai! The latest update? It’s called the ChampionChip. For the first time in Cebu—and, I believe, in the entire Visayas and Mindanao—the Cebu City Marathon will hand out timing chips for the 21K and 42K runners. This is unprecedented. And expensive! At a total cost of no less than P500,000, our group—the Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC)—has decided to use the chip.

Put simply, this chip is a mini transponder that runners will attach to their shoes. Water-resistant, it will record the time of the runner from start to finish to all points along the route. Benefits? Plenty. It will prevent dishonest runners from making short-cuts. The results, to be posted within 24 hours, will be accurate. And, the organizers will have a hassle-free finish line, devoid of dozens of people checking the time splits of the finishers.

In short, world-class. It will elevate the event to a higher status. This timing chip system—now used in a few races in Manila—is a staple device of races like the marathons in New York, Boston, London and Berlin.

Because of this latest development, registration fees have been slightly increased. The 5K run (which won’t use the chip) is the same at P250. The 21K, previously P350, will now be P450. The 42K, priced at P450 before, will be P650 (with Finisher’s Medals).

Registration begins tomorrow, Friday, at the Active Zone of the Ayala Center Cebu and the Cebu City Sports Commission (PSC office). Deadline is Dec. 31. Register ASAP!

John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!


  1. Wow John! CERC is really making it happen. =)

    Mas inspired na mi sa among training kay wayok na ang CCM!

    On Sunday a group of 25 runners and triathletes will run it’s first group training run 32K in all using the CCM route. =)

  2. Haide,

    Thanks! Yup this is a good and major new development.

    Haids, running inside the SRP, please measure, starting when you enter the SRP, a distance of 8.5 kms.

    That means (back and forth) the total distance inside the SRP is 17 kms.

    Good luck with the training!

  3. Awesome news! I hope this will become an annual event, I’m hoping to run this event on 2011….

    By the way, just curios wasn’t there a 42k event two years ago in Cebu?


  4. HI Cerrone! Yes, the last 42K in Cebu was in 2007. That was also organized by our same group, the CERC. But that was on a much smaller scale with only about 200 or so joining the 42K. For the past two years (2008 and 2009), our group has also organized the Sinulog Half-Marathon. But this January will be the big one!

  5. This is awesome and I am so glad you are taking the lead on this. I cannot imagine anyone else more well suited to take this first shot at major race in Cebu. Remember, the Boston Marathon started with only 15 runners with only 10 finishing, and the winning time was a relatively slow 2:55! This will be a great run, and yes, you are allowed to make mistakes. What counts is you are doing this! Lemme know how I can help.

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