Last runner wins ultra

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Monday, May 2, 2011


A YOUNG runner who relied on nothing but his physical strength willed himself to finish a 65- kilometer race, first.

The absence of an escort and support vehicle did not hinder 21-year-old Aivan Villalon of Sipalay, Negros Occidental in conquering the Labor Day: Coast to Coast Run from Toledo City to Cebu City Capitol.

The run recorded 214 starting runners out of the 226 who registered, with 191 finishing within the 12-hour cut-off time.

Wearing his only pair of broken shoes he’s had for three years, Villalon, whose travel expenses and registration fee were shouldered by their town mayor, was a last-minute entry, the last runner to sign up for the ultramarathon.

He arrived last Friday in Cebu and was only able to eat during the carbo-loading party. He spent the night before the run in a building across the Toledo City hall and slept using a box as his bed.

“Okay naman. Masarap, the best ang rota!” Villalon exclaimed.

Villalon, who maintained his lead since the beginning of the race, achieved a personal record for a 65k ultra run after he crossed the finish line in 6:22.52. He sustained no injuries in the entire race.

The long-distance runner also placed third overall in the Rogin E: Last Man Run, a 65K ultra-marathon last February.

Meanwhile, Charlie Berberio fell short of the top spot after he encountered a minor problem with his running shoes. He was using shoes with thin soles and that caused blisters on his toes.

The runner from the Sugbo Road Runners Club maintained his second position as he was also second overall during the 50K ultra-marathon last year.

He failed to use his desired shoes after it got wet during his 12.6K Ecotrail Run last Saturday. He tried to find an alternative pair but was unsuccessful.

Berberio, who was supposed to join the TNF 100K Run in Camarines Sur last Saturday but failed because of lack of funds, finished the race in 6:36.21.

Renz Gabuya also managed to keep his third spot from last year, clocking in at 7:01.37.

Others who made the top 10 were Benedict Balabe, Virgilio Belicano, Kenji Yoshioka, Joel Cuyos, Enrique Mangas, Wenceslao Almince and Chad Davis.

In the women’s division, an Australian based in Manila who was running her first ultra-marathon won first place.

Natasha Davis, 41, finished the race in 7:28.19, just shortly after her husband Chad crossed the line. She was the best finisher in the women’s category and the 11th overall.

“The run was very scenic, mountainous and extremely hot,” said Natasha.

Cebuana Melinda Ponce settled for the second position after she arrived an hour later in 8:36.46.

Ponce was more than happy to have improved her rank this year from the last year’s ultra run, where she placed fifth in the female category and 54th overall. For this year, she finished second among the women and 37th overall and she also did it cramp-free.

Cynthia Arnaiz grabbed the third place among 15 female registrants in 9:15.43.

Other winners for the age group category were Jay Yosores (18-30 years old), Kenji Yoshioka (31-39), Benedict Balabe (40-49), Alejandro Zaga (50-59) and Adulfo Puerto (60 above).

Jonel Mendoza of Front Runner Magazine was happy with the compliance of the runners with this year’s stricter rules.

“The runners were more disciplined. Mabuti naman at nakuha ang mga runners ng isang pakiusap lang,” Mendoza said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 02, 2011.

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