Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Team Davao Runners, keeping the fire for running burning in Davao City

Over the last couple of years, running has experienced a resurgence in Davao City. From once or twice in a month or two, fun runs and races have become a lot more frequent, now going at a rate of one a week. On several occasions, two fun runs have been scheduled on the same day much to the dismay of runners who would rather not be made to choose between events.

Participants in these races and fun runs have also grown tremendously. From being just a few hundred several years ago, they now number by the thousands.

This resurgence also gave rise to a new and running group that is steadily growing in popularity among young runners in Davao City - Team Davao Runners.

Team Davao Runners

Formed in August 29, 2010 after the 24th Milo Marathon regional elimination race in Davao City, Davao Runners was first conceived as a Facebook page by running brothers Jette Roy and Nico Sanchez. They wanted it to be a venue where Dabawenyos could be updated on running events in the city and eventually a tool for forming a group of runners who will encourage and support one another.

The first recruits who formed the core of Davao Runners together with Jette and Nico were Caryll Cayaban, Nico's college friend and a newbie runner; Chaz Llanes and Dickenson Togonon, Jette's Tau Mu fraternity brothers; Dino Macavinta, whom Jette met during the Milo Marathon Davao City regional elimination race; Jay SalvaƱa, another newbie runner who was also active in Facebook, and Mary Ann Degala, the only woman in the team who was known for her "kikay" running outfit.

The group participated in a number of races, meeting more people and recruiting more runners into their ranks. From being just Davao Runners and a Facebook page, the group slowly metamorphosed into a running club adopting the name Team Davao Runners or simply TDR.

TDR's first major group run was no fluke. Imagine running 13 kilometers uphill to Eden Nature Park in Toril's highlands, and then another 13 kilometers back down again to the junction in the district center.

"We still had some sort of hangover from finishing 21 kilometers in the 27th Davao Finisher's Marathon last December 5 when we decided to do what we called the Eden Challenge," says Jette.

"It was all Nic's idea. And it sounded okay to us because it presented a change of  scenery and a pretty neat way to burn excess calories gained during the holidays," he adds.

On the morning of January 2, seven of the group’s members - Jette, Nico, Chaz, Dino, Jay, Jian and Caryll - with new recruits Joey Fernandez, Roy Salingay and Arn Enobio took on the 26 kilometer challenge without the aid of even hydration belts. It was undoubtedly an unforgettable running experience which prompted the group to adopt it as a final test run for all would-be TDR members.

Savoring the conquest, TDR members at the entrance to Eden Nature Park. Yes, they are standing on an incline and it's mostly that way from the start of the run in Toril proper.  

Another group run followed on January 9, this time dubbed as The McDo Challenge. It followed a 15-kilometer route from McDonald's Damosa to McDonald's Matina and vice-versa.

"No registration fees, fancy singlet or ice water, just pure fun!" was how the group described the event in their Facebook page. It generated a modest number of participants despite being just a practice run and was even supported by the Holiday Gym Runners' Club.

TDR has since kept the fire for running burning in Davao City.

Over a period of less than a year, TDR has slowly grown in membership. It now has a roster of 48 total members - 8 women and 40 men - mostly young professionals. The group is largely self-coached but sharing of running experiences is not wanting especially with a couple of more experienced masters runners providing guidance and valuable insights to the group.

Scores have expressed interest to be part of the group for a number of reasons.

Some find the group's dedication to the sport admirable. Guided by the motto "Train or Stay the Same," TDR members hold regular group practice runs ranging from 10 to 21 kilometers and even beyond. These practice runs are at times opened to other runners who are only too excited to join the group. Monthly group birthday runs are also held in celebration of members' natal days.

Even more runners are drawn to TDR because of the group's friendly and happy demeanor especially during races. It is all too common to hear other runners comment "Ang saya-saya ng grupo na yan" when referring to TDR.

They are wacky, too. Most of the time.

But TDR is careful about expanding its roster too much too soon. Membership is by invitation. Would-be members are required to join regular practice runs held every Tuesday and Thursday and participate in at least one race a month.

"We are after quality, not quantity," Jette explains.

"Attitude, dedication, character - these are very important to TDR more than running experience and ability. Only those who have shown enough of these in our open group runs are considered for membership, and they are keenly observed from 1 to 2 months before they are finally inducted into the group by taking on the Eden Challenge."

It is not only running that Team Davao Runners takes seriously. Following the recent devastating flash flood in Davao City which affected a couple of members, the group initiated a voluntary donation campaign through its Facebook page asking runners to share unused or old running singlet and shirts to the affected communities. Despite the short notice, the group was able to gather at least 5 boxes and 5 large plastic bags of donated items which they delivered to GMA Davao. This sense of social responsibility warranted exposure in the local news.  

TDR mates Doc Cris Lao, Joanna Lizares-Co and Kathleen Vera-Competente prepare to deliver donated goods for Davao's flash flood victims

Despite the attention the group has been getting lately, TDR keeps its feet firmly on the ground.

"TDR is still a young group, and we know that we still have a lot to do to be at par with other running clubs. But we are not in any hurry," says Jette Sanchez.

"What we want to do right now is to further strengthen the bond between the current members, and while doing that, help other runners especially the new ones grow in the sport through activities like the TDR open group runs. The more Dabawenyos who run, the better it is for the sport we love so much, and all the better too for a healthier Davao City

No comments: