Seven days ago at the Kawasan Falls Marathon, nobody felt more pressured than Dr. Potenciano Larrazabal III. As organizer, 800 runners traveled three hours and 116 kms. to join his race. Worse, an intensifying typhoon threatened. To top all that, Dr. Yong was not a mere spectator — he was joining the grueling 42K.
But, like numerous hills that he’s climbed before, the Kawasan Falls Marathon turned out to be near-perfect. Jesse Taborada, a veteran of 9 marathons, calls it “the best I’ve joined in this country.” The weather? Cloudy but no rain. “It was the first Philippine marathon I joined,” said Yong, “that had no sunshine the entire time.”
Yong? He finished in 3 hours, 49 minutes. That’s Lamborghini-fast. Of the 271 runners that completed the 42K, he ranked 14th.
Why Kawasan? “After running marathons abroad, I decided Cebu needs its own Big Sur or Niagara Falls Marathon,” said Yong.
“After running there (Badian, Alegria and Malabuyoc) a couple of times last year, we (Dr. Pete Mancao and I) decided this is it. And what a finale and treat it would be for the runners to end the marathon running by the river leading up to Kawasan Falls. The course had mountains on the left and the sea on the right.
“We were fortunate that the 3 town mayors ( Mayor Robburt Librando, Mayor Melit Guisadio, Mayor Daisy Creus) were very receptive and cooperative. The townsfolk all lined up the route to cheer on the runners. We were also very lucky to get the very generous and supportive ThreeSixty Pharmacy to be our presenter. All hotels in the 3 towns were fully booked that weekend including the neighboring town of MoalBoal. It showed the trust the runners had with Run for Sight Foundation considering the place was 3 hours and 116 kilometers away from Cebu City.
“Even 50% of the runners have never been there and 30% have never heard of Kawasan Falls. This placed a lot pressure on the team (including Joel Baring) but I was glad we pulled through. With God’s Blessing, we had great weather for running as it was the first marathon I joined in the Philippines that had no sunshine the entire time I was running.
“Next year, we plan to have it on June 10 2012. This marathon is aimed to complement the CCM (Cebu City Marathon) which is six months apart and is set on the countryside. It will be also only for long distance runners ( 21k and 42k only). June 11 is a holiday, so runners may bring their families to have tour excursions and Island hopping afterwards (think Sports Tourism). This will be affordable to many but very limited to few ( 500 slots -21k 500 slots -42k) so as to preserve mother nature and the beauty of Kawasan.”
Here’s an amazing fact: Yong has completed his 21st marathon race. From latest to first: Kawasan (3:49). Sundown, Singapore (4:20); Los Angeles (3:57); Tokyo (3:51). In 2010.. Singapore (4:11); Niagara Falls (4:01); Camsur (3:47); Moray, Scotland (4:01); Milo (4:02). San Diego Rock & Roll (3:55); Seoul (3:46); Condura (4:16); Cebu (3:58). In 2009.. Macau (3:49); Robin Hood, UK (4:16); Big Sur, U.S. (4:26). In 2008.. Chicago (4:47); Hong Kong (4:19); In 2007.. New York (4:31); Milo (4:26); Pasig (4:55).
“I run more relaxed now and am more confident because of proper mileage and training,” he said. “Fear of cramps has gone. I calculate when to go slow or fast. Discovering the trick of using mind over body.
“If I run abroad, I try to enjoy the sights and sounds,” he said. “It is easily one good way of exploring the place you visit. I also try to get ideas so I can apply it here and share it with our fellow runners. I got a lot of good ideas from the Niagara Falls and Big Sur Marathon which we really enjoyed and applied them to the Kawasan Falls Marathon.”
His tips for us? “Get the right training with a proper mix of long runs, tempo and speed-work; most importantly, mental strength. Don’t pressure yourself too much. Conquering your marathon goal is 50% body and 50% mind. If you feel midway that you are not up to it (goal time), there is always a next marathon and just enjoy the run.”
Every 42K is unique, says Yong. “What excites me the most about marathons is that you never know what to expect and how your body reacts since this is 42k. And every 42k experience is different from one another. When running, so many things enter your mind; a simple ache or muscle twitch could lead to a cramp or injury which could result in my first DNF. I listen to my body: drink when thirsty, eat when hungry, rest when tired. When fear or stress steps in, I think of a happy memory.”
With injuries, Dr. Larrazabal has hardly been injured since running six years ago. He even completed 10 marathons in 12 months (Dec. ‘09 to Dec. ‘10). Why no pain and injury?
“I run less than recommended. When others run 100K/week, I peak only at 60K/week. Not because I want to, but because of my busy schedule. I do daily eye surgeries from 8 to 10am. Then clinic consultations till 5. After, I do eye laser procedures till 6pm. I get to run on weekdays when my kids are asleep at 9pm or earlier when there is bad weather or a typhoon and patients don’t make it to the clinic. I do my long runs on Sundays but I avoid road runs, opting to run in track, sand, water, grass and the treadmill.. all gentle to the knees. I confess to watching the full Schindler’s List movie while on the treadmill. I also make sure I rest at least one week after every 42K. This way, I have a longer, more enjoyable and pain-free running life.”
On his 42K list this 2011: Berlin in Sept., Korea in Oct. and Taiwan in Dec. And while he previously targeted to finish 33 marathons, that number has been tripled.
“Because I have learned to love running even more and discovered that there are so many marathons to conquer all over the world,” said Dr. Yong Larrazabal, “I have decided to increase my target to 100 marathons.”