Sweet Mango Marathon

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Cebu Marathon
10 January 2010

From the moment I saw the race announcement I had an inkling it would be a great race. As I finished my half-marathon there I felt more sure: it was a great race. A shoe-in for the Best Philippine Race of 2010 unless others up their ante.

I was impressed when they announced the race months before the actual event. This ought to be the practice, and thank God others are following.

I was glad they had a website. A marathon of substance deserves its own URL in cyberspace. The fact that route maps were already up that early reflected the seriousness and preparedness of the organizers. The fact that they organizers kept updating the site certainly drummed up interest.

It had a timing chip for a reasonable price. Now who can argue with that.

The mango medal was a charming treat. I wanted to have one, but I was not ready to do another marathon just yet.

Note to organizers: If you are seeking first-time marathoners or veteran marathoners who had tasted a lot of things already, try to differentiate yourself or offer value by investing in a medal and a timing chip.

My faith in the wisdom of throwing money for this Cebu trip was reinforced when I went to the claim my race pack. There it was carefully stacked, sealed in clear plastic with my named printed on a sticker label. It reminded me of the pack I got from Singapore Marathon actually. There was no name on my bib nor a second bib for personal words of encouragement, but it was impressive just the same. I had my pack in 5 minutes, could have been less if I did not take photo ops with Metro Manila runners in the process :-)

The expo was spare but I was not there to shop actually. I was there in Cebu to eat  =)  More on this later.  The local expo was something I first experienced during the Adidas KOTR. Honestly, I do not know what to make out of our local expos. If the vendors will be selling the same models, for the same prices, and they happen to be readily available anyway, why the expo? I hope our expo can evolved into opportunities to sell old models at discounted prices, or avenues to introduce new models.

I was busy doing a last ditch tempo run and lechon guilt-laden 3k in the mall gym so I did not really catch the CLP program start. I did see the venue though (the swank Terraces at the Ayala Center, which for me takes the best of Greenbelt and Ayala Town Center architecture). I heard there were talks by Cebu runners as well as Metro Manila personalities. Too bad I missed these. I saw the Spirit of the Marathon playing on the video wall, and took a peek of the food offering there. Tempting but our small group already had ours at Sunburst. We capped the dinner with La Marea's wickedly sinful warm brownie cup. I was on BLC mode (Biggest Loser Contest Season 2), but I know a sustainable diet requires occasional treats. Sweet!

Movie showing at the Terraces

Tempted by La Marea treats

In between race preparation and the race itself, I managed to try the mall gym, check out the Runnr and ROX branches there, buy souvenir shirts, try Cebu lechon and manok sa buko (very much like tinola in a cool coconut shell), check out restos in Banilad Town Center, and do the Crown Regency Php1,000 package: dinner buffet, skywalk, skyride, and a very interesting club show ;-)

Stuffed with the Regency buffet and with just two hours of sleep, I excitedly trooped to the IT park for my half-marathon. Coming from the holidays, I was not expecting a PR for this but I wanted to tempo run this as much as I could hold. This was the first of the string of half-marathons I hope to do this year. For my standards, I did a reasonably well 2:38 for my half, with a relatively even pace of 7:15min/km on the first 15kms. As I expected,  my pace dropped a bit in the last few kilometers owing to lack of training for longer distances, but I was glad I improved my long run pace from the Rizal Day run. Also, I did my best lap in the last kilometer to the finish. In that last km I gave it my all. That was all that mattered to me that time, to finish strong in a half-marathon. May I finish strong too in the half that will truly matter for me this year.

I came to Cebu primarily to experience the running scene there. That it happened to be my first race of the year, and first half-marathon of a series was a great co-incidence. I was happy to have done this. As I was doing my last kilometer I kept telling myself. Keep pushing. Push the envelope. Level-up. The Cebuanos broke standards and expectations for this race. Do the same. I might not be in the best condition for a PR yet, but push at least in the last kilometer. Like my Cebuano brothers, I did.

It was a great race because the organizers thought really well of us runners. I think I saw organizer John Pages all over Cebu that weekend...attending to the kit collection, CLP and on the race day itself. Not to run  to oversee things was a selfless act on his part. I do not know the guy but what he and the club did was awesome. The greatness of the race experience lied in the fact that we runners felt there was a genuine effort to please. When I saw the fireworks at our race start I was mesmerized. Wow, what a nice gesture. The dancers in fiery red Spanish-inspired regalia were an awesome sight in the expanse that was the SRP coastal highway. There were also cheerers in Singapore but having your countrymen cheer for you on the road is an experience all-together different. I might not have stayed long enough to enjoy the Sinulog, but on that race I think I experienced the Sinulog spirit. Thank you my Cebuano brothers and sisters. Take a bow, you all deserve it. I hope to get my mango marathon medal next year.


Sam The Running Ninja January 18, 2010 at 10:38 AM  

I started to hate more and more of myself everytime I see blog articles about this race and why I just let this go.

If the organizer/s can still include a timing chip on this race but still charge reasonably, I don't see why this can't be replicated here in Manila. Hope somebody will be able to replicate such feat here.

Are you running 42km on condura?

Rico Villanueva January 18, 2010 at 10:56 AM  

Don't worry Sam, we can go back next year for this (hopefully there is a repeat!) I hope Condura can offer the same race experience. Btw, I'm skipping this race as I will be attending a wedding in Boracay. Enjoy the Skyway!

Amado L. Castro, Jr. January 18, 2010 at 2:42 PM  

I like what you said of the "Genlemen's Club" at the Crown Regency. Naughty naughty ha!

edr January 18, 2010 at 4:59 PM  

Was also at Cebu from Manila for my first half mary ...finished in 2:13...During the run, I noticed photos being taken..do you know of where we can find them? thanks and congrats...

Gingerbreadman January 18, 2010 at 5:52 PM  

Rix, you aint doing Condura? Woaaaah!

Cebu was awesome man, was glad to have shared the experience with you and the gang :)

Rico Villanueva January 18, 2010 at 7:08 PM  

Sir Amado, that club certainly kept us awake. Haha.

Luis, if I arrive Sunday early enough, I might run along with some of the marathoners on their way back. Cool Cebu Adventure btw. Thanks!

Hi edr. I know the magazine Front Runner has a photographer taking pictures. The photos might pop up in the next issue or in Bugobugo's blog. Most of the photographers I think are individual supporters of runners. Congrats on your run btw :-)

janine January 19, 2010 at 6:33 PM  

Equally mesmerized by the fireworks. Yun palang, sulit na! ;) Good run, Rico!

Hotlegs Runner January 21, 2010 at 8:28 AM  

ang saya saya! sama ako next year! =)

tracy c. January 21, 2010 at 10:34 AM  

Congrats on your Cebu run, Rico! :) Naks, mango medal na next year! :)

Anonymous January 22, 2010 at 12:56 PM  

Hi Rico, thanks for cheering us up runners at the finish,it certainly helped after the 42 see you in the next run... Chito SW

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