Takbo Runfest: Celebrating Friendships

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Last July 25 I ran the 10K in the Takbo.ph runfest. Months ago I already put in my race calendar that I would race the Matabungkay Triathlon that day, for it was a perfect day for peaking for my Cobra Half-Ironman in August 22. I am a moderator of takbo.ph forum and one of the takbo.ph community’s pioneers, but I reasoned out that my takbo family would hopefully understand that this time around, I must concentrate in probably the biggest race yet in my life.

But July 25 came and I found myself in Fort Bonifacio running. I was there for a confluence of factors but on hindsight I think I was there to be reminded of an important lesson.

Back in December 2008 I had this year-ender post entitled “The Roads are Best Shared”. In that post, I wrote about my hope that in 2009, I would get to meet more people and get to know the personalities behind those faces I see often on the road. God granted my wish. In 2009, I got to meet LOTS of people, thanks in big part to takbo.ph forums.

In takbo.ph it is as if I have discovered a secret – a formula for fun and sustaining the running passion. The formula is simple: sign-up, introduce yourself, greet fellow nervous newbies, show online your newbie enthusiasm, mistakes and learnings, look out for one another, share and give back, and at times, literally hold hands together towards the finish line.

But not everything is sugar and spice and equally nice. In a community of thousands, differences are a given, and disagreements are bound to happen. The running endorphins certainly did its part in cooling heads and glossing over differences, but the differences are there. It amazes me at times how something so diverse manage to hold onto each other. I believe it was because we all know – consciously or unconsciously – the takbo.ph secret to lasting happiness. For as long as we can, we hold onto that secret. We collectively zero in on the good, and laugh off the differences. We take everyone as they come, in whatever form they come. A culture of acceptance and tolerance has been created, and the same culture has been used to ward off elements that threaten to destroy the collective fun.

In accepting everyone, the community encounters people who thrive on the edge of what is acceptable and tolerable. People who find fun in testing that gray area called undefined. How do you deal with that? This is every moderator’s nightmare and I personally have to deal with a number of these. The key solution so far has been a combination of tolerance and respect. Tolerate differences only in so far as it does not affect the general sensibilities. Still a delicate juggling act, yes, but somehow we managed.

In my foray into multi-sports I tried to bring in that takbo.ph culture. It was so successful we managed to churn out multi-sport athletes out of many runners. In SWAC (Sheerwill Aquathlon Cup) we promoted and celebrated the values of pushing one’s limits, supported by friends, all done in the spirit of fun, with a little bit of competition thrown in to spice things up. The takbo.ph values of helping others was extended to Project Training Wheels where adult runners finally learned to ride a bike. There is even an informal how-to-buy a bike thread and people like Pio who would personally escort newbies during their first bike purchase. It was fun, exciting.

It was fun until we tried to put a structure into it. We had a successful formula, it was working, and now we are venturing into new territory. It was then that differences manifested themselves. We have always been diverse, but do we have enough common ground to last?

By virtue of being a moderator and originator of SWAC, I was in the midst of that multi-sport revolution in takbo.ph. I watched how friends surged and tagged in various ways. I have my personal views of how things could be done, but in the spirit of adventurism – we all being newbies – we let everyone try new paths. I sometimes worry about what my friends are doing, but in the spirit of understanding, and me not sure myself what is the best path, I respected everyone’s actions.

In our giddiness to try multi-sports we were mostly motivated by the novelty and challenge of it. We all tried to level up. How soon, how fast, in what way were some of the questions we had to answer. In the mad rush to find answers I personally felt we lost track of some of the values we had at takbo.ph:  camaraderie, tolerance, fun, while at the same time making personal improvements.

I suppose that is why that fateful Sunday I was there in Global City, peaking not in a triathlon race but in a fun running event. Because only when you are truly having fun do you actually last in sports and reach your full potential. In Takbo Runfest I ran my favorite distance of 10K amid cheers of friends and just a day after simulating Matabungkay Triathlon distances for about 5-6 hrs. It was an effortless run and my 10K personal best so far (1:04:13 in my watch). I was there in Runfest to celebrate friendships and re-immerse myself in the values of takbo.ph. I hope to bring back some of those values to multi-sports.

I still believe that in sports as in life, only real friendships endure.


Jinoe August 4, 2010 at 10:25 AM  

Thanks Rico for being part of Takbo.ph. You have been a great help to where it is now.

I agree with the challenges of being a moderator. And you always surpass them with grace and... uhm.. beauty (?).

For lasting runs and lasting friendships.

Doc Marvz August 4, 2010 at 1:21 PM  

*sniff* nakaka-touch naman! :) great article rico! Thanks for always being there for us! You are one and only commissioner! :D

All we need is Sheer Will!!!

Marga August 4, 2010 at 1:38 PM  

You know I heart you, right? :)

I loved everything about this piece---the way it was written, the why, the sincere content, the appropriate pictures, the shared sentiments, the man, and the heart behind Sheerwill. (*melancholic sniff*)

Bong Z August 4, 2010 at 3:46 PM  

Nice one kuya! suggestion po...ummm... pwede lakihan or palitan ang font? malabo na mata ko eh :-)

kelcy August 4, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

i crush rico...i'm glad we've met! :)

mykol antigua August 4, 2010 at 6:04 PM  

Thanks for this insightful blogpost about the RunFest. I missed the whole spectacle, but you encapsulated everything there is that one needs to know about the whole event.

Not only do I wish to run and compete like you, now I also want to write like you...

Salamat, Idol!

rj August 4, 2010 at 9:24 PM  

Rico, even friendships have to be tested. It is through these 'ordeals' that we fin our true friends. We just have to endure all these in order to find gems among the stones. Glad to have found my gems. I will treasure them.

Mar Marilag August 4, 2010 at 10:35 PM  

Well said, Rico.

The classics can never be outfaded. It can only be refined!


Nice one for good times. Cheers to the coming fun!

Rico Villanueva August 4, 2010 at 11:22 PM  

Jinoe, thanks. You did create something beautiful there. Let the magic last.

Doc Marvs, we started as 10K pace mates. Kaunting panahon na lang makakasabay na uli ako sa pace mo =)

Marga, thank you, thank you, thank you. You do know that your selfless act in Botak 100 is one of most inspiring acts I've seen in the community. Let us continue to spread the love.

BZ, haha. Hey, isa ka sa pioneer. Ikaw actually ang first graduate ng SWAC!

I crush you too Ellen. Sikat ka na, star ka ng SWAC at Project Training Wheels =)

Idol Mike, hello, mas magaling ka sumulat sa akin, 'no. This one just came out of my pen - handwritten - one morning but did not get published until yesterday. I glad I did publish it.

Thanks Mar, Cheers for the good ole values!

Julie August 5, 2010 at 12:15 AM  

"I still believe that in sports and in life, only real friendships endure." I can't agree more =)

two thumbs up! well said Commissioner Rico

Amado L. Castro, Jr. August 5, 2010 at 2:30 PM  

Well said Rico.... I like every word you used and describe the group and your personal feelings. Amen.

Neil August 12, 2010 at 8:38 AM  

Very well said commish.

Congrats also on the chillax PR.

FFS August 17, 2010 at 4:02 AM  

hello po! I've heard about "the sheerwill" from blogs and runs.

Congrats po dito(although mejo late na comment)


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