In an interview, Race Director Kenneth Sai of Vantage Sports Promotions said they originally targeted only 3,000 participants. Four days before the race, some 3,500 were already in the official entry list and more were still joining going into the March 10 deadline. All indications pointed to the race overshooting the 4,200 record set in last year's Kadayawan Festival Run.
The Phoenix Run did just that. On race day, some 4,500 runners filled the start/finish area at Roxas Avenue, the biggest ever gathered for a road race in Davao City.
|Part of almost 300 runners in the 21k|
(Photo by Zosimo Co)
The Kenyans came and they conquered.
Benjamin Kepkazi led Davao's Anthony Nerza by almost a minute at the finish with his 1:08:30 clocking. Nerza came in at 1:09:24 followed by Rafael Paliquit in third with a time of 1:11:52.
Susan Jemutai led the women's side of the event with a 1:28:24 effort. Davao's top finisher was Jaro whose time of 1:30:09 was good for third place.
|21k women's race winner Susan Jemutai of Kenya is interviewed after receiving her award|
(Photo from the Phoenix Run Davao Facebook page)
Cebu's local elite also came and showed their class on Davao's roads. Mary Joy Tabal clocked 1:28:42 in placing second to Jemutai in the women's 21k race. Tessie Escasiñas took eighth place with her 1:52 clocking. On the men's side John Philip Duenas finished fourth with 1:13 and Mendel Lopez took fifth 1:14.
Mary Grace Delos Santos, originally from Alicia in Zamboanga Del Sur but is now based in Cebu, ruled the women's 10k with a fast 40:31.
All had their share of the more than P400,000 worth of prizes at stake in the event, the biggest so far for a footrace in Southern Mindanao.
Sen. Pia Cayetano sadly wasn't able to make it to the event but her Pinay In Action team was there. Dubbed "Takbo Para Sa KinaBOOKasan," the Phoenix Run was organized to support the advocacy of Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Foundation to provide books to students of the company’s adopted schools and to other pre-school, elementary, and high school students in chosen public schools in Davao. It is an advocacy close to Sen. Pia's heart whose agenda is topped by education and health as well as upholding the rights of women and children and environment protection.
Davao's now legendary barefoot runner Manuel Vizmanos again took on the challenge of the 21k route unshod with his YS (for "wa'y sapatos" or "no shoes") crew of Aldo Pecson, Jonifer Bagayo, and Boni Vizmanos, Manuel's younger brother who topped the 60-64 age group. Joining them in his first ever 21k barefoot run was young Dean Macavinta of the Davao Runners. Speedy Jun Biroy from the island city of Samal also conquered the 21k route unshod. No VFFs or huaraches for these guys. Yes, hardcore barefoot running is alive and well in Davao City.
|Davao's now legendary barefoot running master Manuel Vismanos|
(Photo by Zosimo Co)
The sponge and energy drink stations, the fire trucks at key points providing runners with a welcome shower on the 21k route, the drum and lyre bands dishing out lively beats all added up to make the Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run nothing less than a superb event. Race Director Kenneth Sai of Vantage Sports Promotions has again raised the bar on Davao road racing, and runners can't be anything but happy with that.
Me? I got my revenge on this 21k route, the same one used for the 34th Milo Marathon Davao Elimination Race last year. From a 1:51:27, I lowered my time for this course to 1:41:31. To top this, I finished first in my age group.
Going up that stage to receive my award was sweet. It would have been sweeter perhaps if it came after an effort against the fastest Davao-based runner I know in my age group, but flu got the best of him. He was there at the finish though, the first to give me a handshake when I went down the stage.
My Araw ng Dabaw Phoenix Run was definitely more than good enough for me.