Sunday, November 08, 2009

The conquering Kenyans

As they so commonly do in most other countries, the Kenyans who came to race in the Philippines in the past several weeks dominated the races they joined.

They ran the 1st Quezon City International Marathon October 18 and dominated the men’s and women’s categories.

Hillary Kimutai Kipchumba, running his first 42.195-kilometer race, ruled the men’s event at 2:30.08. His compatriots Samuel Tarus Too (2:30.36) and Daniel Chirchir (2:30.49) took second and third places, respectively. Daniel Koringo, the pre-race favorite, suffered a pulled right hamstring in the last three kilometers but still managed to finish at fourth spot.
Kimutai Kipchumba crosses the finish line first
in the Quezon City International Marathon. GMANews.TV

It was the same story in the women's side with the Kenyans posting 1-2-3 finish. 26-year-old Nairobi native Doreen Kitaka, a mother of two,  topped her event with a 2:58.55. Her compatriots Lydia Jeratich Rutto (3:09.309) and Sarah Maito (3:12.48) settled for the second and third places.

Veteran Cresenciano Sabal finished fifth overall with a 2:37.58 in the men's race, becoming the best local finisher. Aileen Tolentino took the cudgels for local female runners, finishing fourth.

Subic International Marathon, October 24

At the 2nd Subic International Marathon about a week later, it was Kenyan Vincent Chepsiror's turn to shine. 

The 29-year old Chepsiror turned in a time of 2:27.54 for the 42-kilometer race. Eight other Kenyans joined him in the top 10 of the men’s class with 18-year-old Willy Kipkemoi Rofich taking runner-up honors in 2:28:14.

Doreen Kitaka did a repeat of her Quezon City International win, closing her her run in 3:01.12. Cecilla Wangui also of Kenya, made it a 1-2 finish in the distaff side.
Subic Internatinal Marathon winners
 Doreen Kitaka and Vicent Chipsiror 

Another Kenyan in Sarah Maiyo was in fourth, coming in after Aileen Tolentino who spoiled the Kenyan party by finishing a strong third (3:29:01) and becoming the top local finisher in the meet. Filipina Joanne Mangat also barged into the top five with a time of 3:34:23.

Adidas King of the Road 21K, October 25

Less than a day after finishing fifth in the full 42.195-km race in Subic Saturday night, Richard Mutisyu added to the Kenyans’ domination of the local running events, ruling the 2009 Adidas King of the Road 21-km footrace on an out-and-back course at the Bonifacio High Street, Global City, Taguig.
Richard Mutisyu ruled the 2009 Adidas King of the Road 21-km footrace. 
Mutisyu coasted to victory in 1:13.17 with Filipino Darwin Lim, a varsity athlete of Far Eastern University trailing by 2 minutes and 29 seconds to take second place.

Philippine International Marathon, November 8

At the Philippine International Marathon 2009: A Run for the Pasig River today, Vincent Chepsiror did a repeat of his Subic International Marathon victory last month.

It was like Subic was just a tune-up race for Chepsiror who has been running for 8 years already. ABS-CBN News quoted him as saying he prepared for the Philippine International Marathon for 3 months.

In all probability, this will not be the last time Kenyans will be running, and winning, local races. Kenya has a highly honored running tradition which keeps on inspiring young runners to take on the sport that has placed numerous Kenyan distance runners in the most revered pedestals. And as long as they come, they will continue to race where there are races to be won, the Philippines included.

In a way, this would be good for local distance running. Racing with these fleet East Africans will test the mettle of the country's top local runners and  perhaps help them become better at what they do best.

Friday, November 06, 2009

World Run Day

Sunday, November 8, is World Run Day.

An article describes World Run Day, the 11th since Bill McDermott conceptualized the global event in March 1999, as an annual and unique one-day fundraiser which benefits both local and international charities by celebrating running and charity.

Runners register to run their favorite distance and pledge a donation to their favorite charity. Results are posted and then calculated for a worldwide total. It's uniquely structured for donations to benefit "any charity on the face of the earth" and is commonly referred to as "an International Day of Charity." In 2006, McDermott partnered with the United Nation's World Food Programme to help end child hunger with World Run Day. Nearly 100,000 hungry children were fed as a result of the event.

World Run Day is reported to have raised money for more than 1,000 charities to date in the United States alone.

Two events in the Philippines coincide with World Run Day this Sunday.

Feet on Fire: Race Against Cancer fires off at 5 a.m. at McKinley Hill, Taguig. Presented by McKinley Hill, San Mig Coffee, Mizuno and the University of the Philippines Circle of Entrepreneurs (UPCE), it features 3k, 5k, 10k and 15k events. A 6k relay is also included for groups of 3. Dubbed as a cancer awareness campaign and fundraiser, Feet on Fire will benefit Cancer Warriors Foundation, Inc.

A much-bigger event is the Philippine International Marathon . Staged by ABS-CBN Foundation on a course starting and ending at the Quirino Grandstand, the 42-km race is titled “A Run for the Pasig River” and aims to help the program to rehabilitate the Pasig River. Organizers are said to be expecting 20,000 participants in the marathon (individual and relay), 3K, 5K and 10K runs.

Nothing in the write-ups about these races say or indicate that they are part of the World Run Day events, but the spirit is obviously there. Runners doing the thing they love best, and sharing the little treasures they have while running.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

She runs, and dreams

Mary Joy waited with me at the counter of Merco-Bolton in Davao City Saturday afternoon for our running bibs and complimentary race t-shirts. We have just registered for the Merco 63rd Anniversary Run set the following morning.

I was doing the 10k and Joy was gunning for a top 5 placing in the women's open 5k. She told me she would have preferred doing the 10k, but her older brother Gilbert thought she would have a better chance in the 5k.

Joy said grabbing a share of the cash prize at stake would help ensure her enrolment for the second semester.

Joy and Gilbert are from a poor family in Kidapawan. Gilbert finished a technical course at the University of Southern Mindanao Kidapawan City Campus through a running scholarship. Joy hopes to do the same and earn for herself a Bachelor in Technology Education degree in the same school.

She has been promised a slot in the athletics varsity this coming semester. She has already represented the school in the USM intra-school games, running in the 800 and 5,000 meters. She will be running in the same events in the State Colleges and Universities Athletics Association (SCUAA) games in November.

Still, she said she had to be able to pay the registration fees for the 2nd semester. Only her tuition fees for the rest of the semester will be free.

At the starting area the next morning, Mary Joy was a picture of excitement. She had on a new pair of running shoes and equally new shorts and vest, all bought in a sale by a benefactor. For the first time, she wouldn't be running in an old pair of second-hand tennis shoes and cotton race t-shirt that would be all wet and heavy with sweat before she even finishes her race.

She warmed up, jogging with other runners whom she had known through her participation in road races. She has been a road race regular since her first Milo Marathon Regional Elimination Race 3k in  Kidapawan when she was still an elementary grader. Joy literally stood tall amidst her peers. She was a tall young girl with long legs, assets she could use to her advantage.

She was standing three runners away on my left at the starting line, but was pretty soon gone from my sight after the gun fired. She was fast.

The next time I saw Joy again was on the road. I was approaching the 5k turnaround and she was on her way back. I counted her at number 7 from the leading female 5k runner. I noticed her pick up the pace, apparently trying to catch up with the leading runners.

I finished my 10k in 47:08.38 which was some 5 seconds better than my 47:14.45 Adidas KOTR 10k in 2007. I immediately tried to locate Joy, Gilbert and other fellow runners from Kidapawan after I cross the finish line. It took me about 15 minutes of moving around the crowd before I saw them.

Crowd at the finish of the Merco 63rd Anniversary Run 

Top 5 finishers in the men's 10k

Gilbert made it to 4th place in the men's 10k. Joy, sadly, was not as lucky. She finished in 7th place in the women's 5k. Still, she wasn't sad. Disappointed maybe, but definitely not sad. She knows that more runs await her. The Davao Sunday Runners' Club Finishers' Marathon is just around the corner, and it has a 5k event. Already she is looking forward to it, thinking of tucking more quality training time in the elastic band of her running shorts.

Her brother is there to guide her, and so are her running buddies. So on fleet feet, Mary Joy dreams, and runs in chase of her dream.

Gilbert, Mary Joy and runner friends

Sunday, October 11, 2009

And again, another race

The Merco 63rd Anniversary Fun Run is on its 4th running this year, with some changes.

No, they won't be doing the 21k this time. Just 5k and 10k open races, a 3k for kids 12 years old and below, and a 3k walk-jog with your pet.

I couldn't really say that I am frustrated. A race is a race no matter the distance just as a run is a run no matter the time.

I would have wanted to try and improve on my best 21k time of 1:42:42 which I set in the Merco 61st Anniversary 21k in October 2007. But trying to do a faster 10k after quite a while would be more than good enough.

The last race I joined was the Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw 5k in March, a good 6 months ago. I missed the Milo Marathon Davao Regional Elimination Race in July and a Samsung-sponsored 5k/10k last August 23. I would have wanted to do the Auto Review Run for Road Safety and Courtesy on August 27, but ring work the night before went until close to midnight. Travelling to Davao for the race the next day, more so racing, was close to impossible.

So I'm set for the 63rd Merco Anniversary Fun Run on October 25, with my runs tucked under my running shorts' elastic band and my registration form all but filled-up and submitted. Pretty much like in the other races I missed, really.

All I have to do now is keep on doing my preparation runs, and pray that work or something else doesn't make me miss this race again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Races, races, races

Two road races are again set for next Sunday, September 27, one up north and another down south.

At the Fort Bonifacio Global City, New Balance, which is no doubt one of the major forces behind the continued popularity of running in the country today, will be holding the New Balance Power Run ... Raising HOPE.

Raising HOPE, for beneficiaries of cancer awareness projects of Carewell (Cancer Resource and Wellness Community), Philippine Cancer Society, ICanServe Foundation and Natasha Goulbourn Foundation. A 3K run/walk for cancer is part of the event, together with the regular 5K, 10K and 21K. Cancer survivors with their supporters will also be among the over 6,000 runners who will cross the finish line at the Power Run , said Planet Sports, Inc. President Anton Gonzalez.

In Davao City, the Gaisano Mall parking lot will again be awash with runners of all gender, ages, sizes, and abilities who will join the Auto Review Run for Road Safety and Courtesy. The event presented by GoodYear features competitive 10-km and 5-km distances. Knowing Davao City and race organizer Kenneth Sai's knack for gathering a good crowd, I imagine another big number of students and young professionals running in this event.

This is the first time that the advocacy run will be held outside Metro Manila after three successful stagings in Manila and Taguig City since 2004. Hopefully, it will start a steady stream of races moving from Manila to the country's southern islands.

I wonder if we can look forward to a New Balance Power Run in Davao City next year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Running in the news

I was visiting some local online news sites recently and was quite surprised by the number of running articles I read.

Well, it's not quite what I and other runners would perhaps want to see, but to get to read something about our sport quite a bit regularly in some sites is already something in this basketball- and boxing-crazy country.

It shows that running is alive and well in these parts.

It is definitely alive and will in Cebu as one story on the 2009 Don Sergio Osmeña Sr. (DSOS) 10K Run shows. Almost 500 runners competed in the event which offered P200,000 in prizes.

And then, there's the story on the Crocs Prepair to Run at the Mall of Asia. More than 1,000 runners showed up despite the steady downpour to help raise funds for WE International Philippines, a nongovernmental organization that helps the children of Smokey Mountain.

Runners are not only crazy enough to do what they love to do best even in the pouring rain. They are a kind-hearted bunch, too.

Now, isn't that good publicity?

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Running is alive and well in the Philippines

More and more corporate sponsors are getting into the Philippine running scene and that's good for runners.

Yes, even us non-elite, age groupers, and recreational types. More races simply mean more opportunities to test ourselves, hone our running skills, live out our dreams of breaking that personal record, or simply enjoying a weekend race with birds of the same feather.

So what's out there?

GMA Network just had its “Eleksyon 2010 na, Tatakbo ka Ba?" event at Bonifacio Global City last Sunday. Veteran runners ruled the race as expected - Jujet de Asis stamped his class in the men’s 5K competition, while Alley Quisay (in photo by Scott Kho/GMANews.TV) dominated the field in the 10 K. On the distaff side, Aileen Tolentino won the 10 K and Nhea Ann Barcena ruled the 5K.

And more is yet to come.

Quezon City has the Quezon City International Marathon set for its 70th founding anniversary this year. The event has been reported as one of the richest running events in the country, offering a P3M purse, and drawing an impressive field of 10,000 runners.

ABS-CBN Foundation is staging the Philippine International Marathon on November 8 in a course starting and ending at the Quirino Grandstand. The 42-km race dubbed “A Run for the Pasig River” and open to all runners aims to help the program to rehabilitate the Pasig River. Organizers are said to be expecting 20,000 participants in the marathon (individual and relay), 3K, 5K and 10K runs.

Running is truly alive and well in the Philippines.

I only hope they would bring the races outside Metro Manila, way down south, so runners here could join the fun, too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Final run

July 5th. It was my first hour-long run in about a month.

I chose to take one of those dirt road circuits that takes me through some 13 to 15 kilometers of wooded hilly terrain. An almost 6:00 am start was not ideal for a run this long, I thought, especially for one like me who doesn't do too good in the heat. The shade from the rubber and fruit trees that line both sides of these backroads and the cool breeze that blows through them would somehow keep me from burning out fast.

I told myself that this would be a good run. And it was.

I ran easy, keeping in mind that this would be like going into unfamiliar territory all over again. My easy 6k runs have been sort of on again-off again in the past weeks. I overslept more than I should, and on running days, my ageing body felt "old" and tired.

The usual itty-bitty aches and pains here and there showed up going into the first two kilometers, but have vanished by the third. The cool breeze blowing through the trees that line the rocky dirt roads made me feel good and kept me feeling refreshed as I plodded on. The climbs needed quite some effort naturally, but the sound of a babbling distant mountain spring harmonizing with bird calls that I hear from time to time somehow took my mind from the discomfort.

At the 10th kilometer, I was back to running on concrete. I had two more easy downhill kilometers to go. And I felt something funny on my right shoe.

It was like something was sort of hanging at the heel when I lifted it. It didn't only feel funny, it also sounded funny. I was sure the heel of my shoe was still there, but something else was not as it was supposed to be.

At the end of my run, I examined the sole of my right shoe. The rubber outsole has been partially detached, and was flipflapping as I walked.

After 3 years of being with me on training runs and in a number of races, my Nike Air Max 30/40 had had it's final run. My second Air Max model and fourth pair of Nikes, it has served it's purpose well as part of a runner's life, just the way it was meant to.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Living up to tradition

The Isport BOTAK Paa-Tibayan Takbo 100-kilometer marathon, the first ultra marathon ever staged in Metro Manila, is set on Sunday. It is described as a milestone in the local running scene, and I guess no one will disagree.

For BOTAK to organize and sponsor the race is, I would say, living up to tradition.

BOTAK shorts and singlets have been standard running wear for serious runners in the 70's and the 80's. Up until 2000, I took pride in wearing my BOTAK instead of the issued running singlet for the Davao Finishers' Marathon. Doing it gave me the feeling of being up there with the best, at least even only in what I wear. I still have two well-worn sets with me, though I don't use them as much on my runs anymore.

More than that, BOTAK founder Cesar Guarin was already an ultra-runner way before ultramarathons became big running events. In 1983, he did the Trans-Pilipinas Run in 39 days, the first Filipino to ever run from Mindanao to Luzon. Two years later, in 1985, he became the first Filipino to run across America, traversing the country from East to West in 87 days.

Being part of the first ever BOTAK Paa-Tibayan Takbo 100-kilometer marathon will undoubtedly be a memorable experience especially for those who only know too well the part that BOTAK running wear has played in Philippine running, those masters and veteran runners who may still be clinging to their own well-worn sets of BOTAK.

Run strong, brothers. Run strong and proud.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


I am tired.

At 53, I am not as fresh as I used to be.

My breathing is heavier. My lungs burn faster than they used to. My heart reaches maximum beat rate earlier.

My legs don't hurt, though. They don't feel rubbery. They just churn, perhaps by instinct, and so I keep on running.

Each running day I ask myself why I still need to do this thing. And yet each day I let my legs just carry me to another 30 minutes, another hour of body battering. Never mind the absence of an answer to my question. Never mind the lingering doubt if I can do this yet again.

In the coldness of the breaking dawn I sweat. In the solitude of my run I find my space, my peace, my self.

I am a runner, and a runner I will always be.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Darn shoelace!

After the euphoria of finishing the 1st Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw Run 5k race had passed, reality began sinking in.

I had run the race well, I presume. I started off a bit to the back of the pack and still quite confused if I was lined up for the right race as I hardly noticed the 10k runners start off. The announcer was calling on the 5k racers to prepare so I was thinking maybe this wasn't my race yet. But up front I saw runners in my age group lined up, and I thought maybe this was really it. I was trying to make my way to the front when the starting gun went off.

Darn! I had to play catch up early in the race, and that wasn't my style. I am one of those diesel engine-type runners who need to be warmed up in the early part of the run before revving up at mid-race. I tried doing as much catching up as I can while settling into a comfortable pace. I felt good, and I felt I was running well. I was passing people left and right. Then I felt something happening down on my left foot.

You never miss the feeling of a shoelace loosening. You feel your foot slowly beginning to slip and slide in the shoe. You feel your foothold going and your stride breaking. I looked down and saw the loosening knot. I kept on with the pace, but deep inside I knew I would have to stop shortly as the shoe began to feel a lot looser.

A few hundred meters before the uphill leading to the halfway mark and the turnaround point, I did what I hated to do but had to. I stopped to tie back the darn shoelace.

Now, I had to do a lot more catching up. I pushed myself up the hill leading towards the turnaround point passing a couple more runners. I went for a drink, missed the first water-filled plastic bag, successfully grabbed the second one, and remembered to get a plastic straw necklace which indicated I passed the turnaround checkpoint

Putting the plastic straw necklace around my neck with one hand and holding the water-filled plastic bag to my mouth for a short sip after, I braced myself for 2.5 kilometers more of running.

Up ahead I saw the familiar colors of the faster guys in my age group. I guess you just can't avoid marking fellow runners when you see them within chasing distance. I first passed a fellow age-grouper from the Army who was pacing a lady soldier who joined the race. I knew he was running slower than he usually did, but it sort of gave me a sense of achievement, be it kind of pathetic, to be running faster than him.

Farther up ahead I saw my buddy Cris pacing a young female runner from our place. I kept up my pace hoping to catch up to them before we reached the finish line. As we passed Victoria Plaza, I caught up with and passed a young police officer who, with his buddy, went past me in the first half of the race. Sweet vengeance, I thought to myself. Persistence and experience really pays. His buddy was still way up ahead though, and was really quite fast, it would be futile for me to give chase. But Cris was there with Mary Joy, just a few more meters ahead.

As the familiar view of Gaisano Mall loomed ahead, and the corner leading to the short straightway to the finish line came closer, I realized there wouldn't be enough ground left for me to be able to catch up to Cris and Mary Joy. They made the turn and was lost from my sight, but not for long.

I entered the chute shortly after Cris did, not forgetting to press the stop button on my Timex Ironman Triathlon. I glanced at the time on my watch as I walked out of the chute towards the guys handing out water. 23:39.32. Not bad, I thought. Not bad at all.


When I got back to the hotel, I checked on my laptop to compare my time to my previous 5k performances. It was 8+ seconds slower than my 2007 Run For Peace-Davao 5k time of 23:30.55. It was even much slower, by a little more than a minute, than my Araw ng Dabaw 5k time of 22:25.98 last year. And I thought I was running well.

But then, I thought, there was no uphill in that course last year. And I had to retie the darn lace on my left shoe. I wonder what my time would have been if that darn shoelace just stayed knotted.

(Darn! I should have reviewed this.)

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw Run - a run to remember, honor, and thank a friend

On March 15, the usual Araw ng Dabaw Run will take to the roads of Davao City with a new name - the Vic Sai Araw ng Dabaw Run.

Vic Sai is a veteran sportswriter and Davao City Sports Council, Inc. president. He had cardiac arrest while asleep and passed away on March 16 last year. A week before his death, I saw Vic at the finish of the 71st Araw ng Dabaw Run where I ran the 40 and above age category. I approached and thanked him for a nice race. I finished 37th overall and 10th in my category.

I didn't get to know Vic through running though, but through a national chess tournament organized by then Governor now Vice Governor Manny Piñol in Kidapawan City. Vic was not only covering the event but was helping in the tournament management as a representative of the Philippine Sports Commission.

I learned about his death through text messages from runner friends. It was a pity I wasn't able to go with them to pay Vic my last respects in Davao City on the eve of his burial.

If anything, the gesture of local runners from my side of Mindanao to remember Vic and see his remains before he is finally laid to rest shows the man's influence in local running. The name of Vic Sai has been associated with a lot of races in Davao City, foremost of which is the Milo Marathon Regional Elimination Race. Vic has been associated with Milo since I don't know when, and brought the race even outside the confines of Davao City.

Kidapawan City played host to the regional eliminations of the country's most prestigious and longest running footrace a couple of times or so, thanks to Vic Sai. It gave local runners in this city nestled in the foothills of Mt. Apo the opportunity to race with Mindanao's best on their own home turf. Until now, I hear non-runners talking about that day sometime ago when they ran the "Milo Marathon." They owe the experience to Vic Sai.

Vic's son, Kenneth, sent me and my group an invitation to the race through SMS a month ago. I gave a positive response and has told other Kidapawan City runners including 33rd National Milo Marathon qualifier Gilbert Maluyo about the invitation. We may be few in number, but we sure hope to have our names listed among the event's participants.

For me, it will be a run to remember, to honor, and to thank a friend.

Monday, February 23, 2009

One race to be happy about

The results of the Milo Marathon regional elimination race in General Santos City yesterday, February 22, are out.

Mindanao finally has qualifiers for the 33rd National Milo Marathon finals by way of a local race. The top four finishers in the men's category finished below the 1:15:00 qualifying time. The top two women finishers also beat 1:35:00. That's five qualifiers in a single race!

Junel Boncit of Tagum ruled the men's race in a repeat of his victory over last year's field, completing the 21k course in 1:11:11. Elmer Bartolo finished in second place with a time of 1:13:11 and Brian Lupo took third in 1:13:44.

On the distaff side, Monalisa Ambasa exacted sweet revenge from former National Milo Marathon queen Estela Mamac Diaz of Davao City who ruined her bid for a sixth straight victory in General Santos last year. It was a very close race between the two with Ambasa edging out Diaz by a mere two seconds. Monalisa turned in a 1:31:13 to Estela's 1:31:15. Both left Cynthia Jaro a distant third in 1:40:42.

With runners from Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Davao already assured of their berths in the finals, it was sweet victory for North Cotabato to have Gilbert Maluyo of Kidapawan City barge into the list of early qualifiers with his fourth place finish in General Santos in 1:14:37.

I talked to Gilbert one early morning a week before the race. He was finishing his training run while I was just starting mine. I reminded him of the 1:15:00 qualifying time. Gilbert, a machinist, was working full time in a local machine shop to help support his family and he had to sneak in early runs in preparing for the General Santos City race. When he told me he did 1:16 in last year's elimination race, I said he can be assured of a 1:15 or less this year so long as he prepared enough.

I often saw Gilbert running the hilly Kidapawan City terrain in his usually fast tempo pace and disappear from my sight within seconds. I had no doubt that he could do better than 1:15 in the relatively flat General Santos City race course. He proved me right.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Looking forward to national qualifiers in the GenSan Milo Marathon elims

The 33rd Milo Marathon General Santos City regional elimination race fires off at the country's tuna capital early tomorrow, February 22, and this time around we may finally have Mindanaon runners making it to the national finals in Manila by winning a local race.

Both defending champions in last year's male and female categories are reportedly joining the race - Junel Boncit of Tagum, Davao del Norte and Estela Mamac-Diaz of Davao City.

Boncit ruled last year's race with a finishing time of 1:08:05, way faster than the 1:15:00 qualifying time set for this year. In fact, last year's results show all top 4 runners finishing in less than 1:15:00. Elmer Bartolo came in second at 1:08:40, Rafael Poliquit was third in 1:12:47, and Noel Espina was in fourth place with 1:13:01.

On the distaff side, Diaz recorded a fast 1:24:05, again way below this year's 1:35:00 qualifying time for women. Second placer Monaliza Ambasa (1:26:47) and third placer Merlie Edullantes (1:33:35) also finished with times below 1:35:00.

Given the relatively flat terrain of General Santos City, fast results below this year's qualifying times are really very possible tomorrow. More than that, both Boncit and Mamac are strong runners.

In Kidapawan City in 2006, both Boncit and Diaz ruled the regional elimination race of the 30th edition of the Milo Marathon. Boncit led the men's field with a time of 1:19:37 while Diaz finished unchallenged in 1:41.14.

Boncit, who decided to run in Kidapawan City then to avoid the tough competition in Davao, discovered that running in this place I call home in the foothills of Mt. Apo was not that easy either.

“Mahirap pala ang course dito dahil paglabas mo, pababa ang daan at pagbalik mo paakyat naman (The course here is difficult because you start off going downhill but it's all uphill on the way back)," Boncit was quoted as saying.

If Boncit's time in the tough Kidapawan City 21k course then was that fast, there can be no doubt that he can run much faster in General Santos. So with Estela.

To both of them, good luck!

(Photo from shows Estela Mamac-Diaz at the finish of the 32nd Milo Marathon regional elimination race in General Santos City last year)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Races, two. Qualifiers, zero.

Iligan City hosted the second Milo Marathon regional elimination race in Mindanao last Sunday.

It was a race not devoid of drama and human interest, as most Milo regional races are.

News reports say eventual winner Roger Sawin-ay of Lantapan, Bukidnon raced his heart out to pocket the P10,000 cash prize and relieved himself of the prospect of "returning to his home province on foot." Sawin-ay left Lantapan with P700 in his wallet. He used P500 to pay for his lodging.

While Sawin-ay's winning time of 1:15:10 earned him a big payday, it wasn't fast enough for a slot in the Milo Marathon National Finals. Jeffrey Sotto, who was edged by Sawin-ay at the finish, clocked 1:15:21, while third placer Edgar Lapastigue posted a time of 1:19:59.

Sawin-ay's winning time was in fact slower by 04 seconds than Raul Lamprea's winning time of 1:15:06. in the Dipolog City elimination race the other Sunday.

There's still a blank list of Mindanaon male runners who are going the finals by way of a Mindanao elimination race. Male runners need to finish in 1:15:00 to qualify for the Manila finals.

The top women finishers in Iligan City didn't do any better either.

Cecile Faith Topia topped the distaff side in 1:40:56. Melyn May Canamo came in second in 1:51:14. The women's qualifying criteria for the national finals is 1:35:00.

Another male Mindanaon runner made it to the finals, though, by way of the Batangas City elimination race held simultaneously with the one in Iligan. Gerald Sabal, brother of two-time Milo Marathon king Cresenciano Sabal who is from Sultan Kudarat, crossed the finish line in 1:12:25, two seconds behind Alquin Bolivar to claim second place.

Maricel Maquilan of Polomolok, South Cotabato also assured herself of a finals berth after topping the women's race in Batangas City in 1:29:37. Ellen Tolentino of Cagayan de Oro City came in a distant second at 1:37:43. Ellen won't be doing the finals this year.

Back on home soil, General Santos City is all set for its own elimination race this Sunday, February 22. Will a Mindanaon runner finally meet that men's 1:15:00 or women's 1:35:00 qualifying mark and get to run the Milo Marathon National Finals by way of a local qualifying race?

We'll see.

Men champion Roger Sawin-ay and women winner Cecile Faith Topia display their trophies after winning the Iligan leg of the 33rd National Milo Marathon. Also in photo are, from left, John Montalvan, Milo sports coordinator for North Mindanao, Nestle AVP and Milo events sports executive Pat Goc-ong, Vice Mayor Henry Dy, Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz, Miss Iligan Ingred Baulete and national race director Rudy Biscocho.Photo from

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winners, yes. Qualifiers, no.

Mindanao still has to have a local male runner qualifying for the 33rd National Milo Marathon by way of a local elimination race.

That's how it is after the individual finishing times of the winners in the men's division of the first Mindanao qualifying race in Dipolog City last Sunday, February 8, fell short of the set qualifying time.

Raul Lamprea led the top three finishers with a time of 1:15.06. Mohammad Sherwin Managil registered 1:15.14 for second place and Cipriane John Topia clocked 1:15.29 to grab third. All their finishing times failed to break the qualifying time of 1:15.00.

That being the case, no male Mindanaon running in a Mindanao elimination race has yet made it to the list of the cream of Philippine running that would compete in the country's longest running and most prestigious long distance foot race. Cris Sabal is a Mindanaon from Sultan Kudarat, and is already assured of a slot in the finals with his 1:09.42 finish in the 21K course in the Subic elimination race last Sunday. But again, he qualified by way of the Subic race which was held simultaneously with the one in Dipolog.

The regional elimination race moves to Iligan City this Sunday, February 15. Perhaps by then, we would have Mindanaon male runners from among the 7,000 registered runners who would make it to the list of national finalists by winning a race on home soil.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The game is a-foot!

This Sunday, February 8, the first of a series of elimination races for the 33rd National Milo Marathon reels off in Dipolog and Subic.

Local runners will again have a full schedule training and racing in these events. That includes the lesser mortals like us who are content to bask in a personal best finish in the middle, or even at the back, of the pack.

After Dipolog and Subic, Iligan and Batangas are next in line on February 15. General Santos and Palawan are set on February 22.

A four-month lull comes before the action takes place again in Manila and Cebu on July 5, Davao and Tarlac on July 12, Butuan and Santiago on July 19, Cagayan de Oro and Laoag on July 26, Tacloban and San Fernando on August 2, Tagbilaran and Baguio on August 9, Roxas and Dagupan on August 16, Iloilo and Legaspi on August 23, Bacolod and Naga on August 30 and Dumaguete and San Pablo on September 6.

For Mindanao, a total of 6 races are scheduled. That's quite a lot to choose from for those who seek to experience racing in a city or locale other than their own. I personally prefer running in Davao or General Santos for practical reasons like these two being closer to home and thus being less expensive and cumbersome to go to. But there is always the lure of being able to do each one of these races in the same year. I can only wish.

Whether it is Davao, General Santos, far Dipolog, distant Butuan or exciting Iligan, one thing is sure. It will be another running experience to savor. We won't be running anymore if we don't find it that way, would we?

(photo courtesy of