Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Manuel Vismanos: One amazing runner

Even before Christopher McDougall's book Born to Run was published and made waves in the worldwide running community prompting interest in barefoot running, Manuel Vismanos of Toril, Davao City has been running unshod.

With his flowing white hair and beard, it would be easy to imagine him as the original Pinoy barefoot runner. He took up running in the 60's, inspired by the site of a group of young athletes at a local school, and has never worn running shoes since. In a short write-up accompanying her photo of 'Nong Maning finishing the 27th Davao Finisher's Marathon last December 5,  businesswoman and writer-photographer Ms. Joanna Christina Lizares Co, who is a runner herself, said the 63-year old retired policeman "just felt that going with bare feet made him move better and faster. He tried running with shoes but he felt restricted and uncomfortable."

And just how hardcore as a barefoot runner is Manuel Vismanos? Ms. Joanna says 'Nong Maning doesn't consider running in Vibram Five Fingers barefoot running because the VFF's are shoes just the same.

'Nong Maning is a revered icon in the Davao running circle, and I would say more than just because he runs barefoot. Four decades of running is undoubtedly a testament to the man's passion and commitment to the sport, and all the time running barefoot at that. And while he is no spring chicken, there is a lot of strength and power in those calloused feet and sinewy legs.

I recall two occasions of running pace for pace with 'Nong Maning. One was at the 34th Milo Marathon Davao City Regional 21k Elimination Race last August 29. 'Nong Maning and I exchanged paces and leads for several times going into the Sasa turnaround point. That part of the race definitely taxed me.

Again we ran side by side from Matina to Toril in the 27th Davao Finisher's Marathon December 5. We went beyond trading paces and leads that day. Some guys from the Davao Sunday Runners' Club doing the 21k handed 'Nong Maning a bottle of Pocari Sweat. He took a swig, then looked back and handed me the bottle, insisting that I take a drink myself as we are still less than halfway into the race. Further ahead, as we ran side by side, a couple providing support to another group or runners trained their camera on 'Nong Maning for a picture. He swiftly put his arm on my shoulders, told me to smile, and together we made the thumbs up sign as the camera clicked.

'Nong Maning topped the 60-64 age category in the 34th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race last August clocking 2:00:49 good for 70th place overall. Sadly, financial constraints kept him from running in the national finals. He finished the 27th Davao Finishers' Marathon in 4:30:04, running into the finish amid the cheers of fellow runners who have no less than awe, admiration and respect for him.

'Nong Maning is not the only one who runs and races barefoot in Davao. His younger brother Bonifacio does the same. Jun Biroy from the island city of Samal who works in Davao as a salesman-marketing agent also runs and races unshod.

Another runner from Toril, Aldo Pecson, is following the footsteps of his friend and idol, and will be joining 'Nong Maning, Boni, and 'Nong Maning's close friend and neighbor Jonifer Bagayo on January 30, 2011 at the Run for Healthy Living, a charity event of Holiday Gym and Spa and the Davao Medical School Foundation. All four of them will go barefoot. Those who want to try barefoot running are welcome to join them and experience running with Davao City's amazing Manuel Vismanos.

Note: Registration for the Run for Healthy Living is ongoing at Holiday Gym and Spa, DMSF and Run Club Davao. A very nice singlet awaits the first 500 registrants.


katol said...

amazing kaayo sir!

i wish naa mo sponsor niya next year sa mga big events. i heard about the national finals and his financial constraints. we even uttered here in cebu na had we know about this earlier, we can help him unta ba. sayang.

kudos sir caloy for writing about him. im into barefoot running but with VFFs. tried barefoot but sa rubberized oval. so far so good. but dha lang ko kutob. :-)

caloyb said...

according to ms. joanna, 'nong maning didn't even know he qualified for the milo national finals until much later. hopefully, if he qualifies again next year, we can help him raise funds. maybe he can even run at the 2012 cebu marathon with the help of other better-off runners.

as for running barefoot, i don't think it's for me. i'm not a vff guy either. i'm fine with running in minimalist shoes for now. :)

Karl Vincent said...

Sir, are you joining the Run for Healthy Living? Buy me a DSLR and I'll gladly be your photographer. :D

caloyb said...

@karl vincent: lol! i wish i can! later maybe?

Twinlance Books said...

This is a great article. He looks stunning with his blazing white hair and bare feet. I wish Dr. Richards and I could have interviewed him for our barefoot running book due out this February. I agree with him that barefoot running in Vibrams or any other shoe is not really barefoot, although many in the mainstream will take this path. Great profile and thanks for sharing!

caloyb said...

@twinlance books: thanks for the comment. getting one from someone who has co-authored a book on barefoot running is something! should you decide to get in touch with mr. vismanos on a future project, i would be more than willing to assist.

Aleah said...

wow, he is amazing. does he ever come here in Manila? i would love to interview and write about that guy!

caloyb said...

@aleah: i don't think 'nong maning's financial situation allows him to travel that far. he missed going to the milo marathon national finals despite being davao's top qualifier in the 60-65 age category because he didn't have the means to fly to manila for the race. maybe if you get the opportunity to travel to davao and run there, you can meet him.

Ling said...

This blog post will serve as an "eye opener" and maybe, just maybe, some well-off runners will definitely sponsor him to a race in the capital!

Thanks for posting this Sir Caloy! I am planning to "repost" your story. This way there will be a lot of runners who will take notice at 'Nong Maning's amazingness and plight.

caloyb said...

@ling: hopefully he will have the chance to run the milo marathon national finals next year with the help of other runners and benefactors.

reposting the story is a great idea. thanks.

journeyingjames said...

ang asitg nito! thanks for sharing, sharing this too on my fb page.

caloyb said...

"sharing this too on my fb page."

sure appreciate that, mr. journeyingjames