Unexpected finish

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Monday, March 10, 2014


SHE was just supposed to escort another runner in the All-Women Ultra Marathon (Awum) 50K but she pulled off the biggest surprise when she not only won the race but finished in record-breaking fashion yesterday at the Alta Cebu Village Resort and Convention, Cordova, Cebu.

Mereeis Ramirez, 33, completed the race in four hours, 38 minutes and 27 seconds to erase the old record of 2013 champion Jade Abellana’s 5:10.

This year, Abellana settled for fifth place with 5:15:18.

Abellana said it would be hard for her to break the remarkable record that Ramirez set in the third edition of Awum.

Ramirez admitted that she joins races as a way to support her three children, having been widowed since 2010.

The Awum did not stake any cash prizes but Ramirez still joined after having been asked by her friend Annie Penaruya to escort her on her ultramarathon debut.

“Annie asked me to escort her. In exchange, she paid for my registration and round-trip ticket from Dumaguete. However, I was surprised when she suddenly told me that she changed her mind: that she will go solo to conquer her fear and that I should just go and conquer the title,” said Ramirez. Ramirez said that the experience was totally different from the local races after finding herself getting the queen’s treatment complete with a crown, cape and scepter at the finish line.

“I never dreamt to become a beauty queen, waving my hands as I walk around the stage, all eyes on me. It was a totally different experience. I was treated like a queen,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez is indeed a queen on her own right. Not only did she impress all the 250 runners after winning the title and making a record, but raising her three kids alone epitomizes how strong Filipinas are.

During the race, Ramirez beat Sandra Soliano by more than five minutes (4:43:34). Jennifer Red Sabela came in third in 4:55:05, while Preciosa R. Sanchez came in fourth at 5:14:26. Abellana finished fifth.

Completing the Top 10 were Virginia Parajenog (5:15:47), Jennefer B. Catublas (5:19:22), Wilma Theresa H. Lugay (5:19:32), Mary Luz Shimizu (5:21:10) and Path A. Torremoro (5:23:50).

Abellana was awarded Miss Pakigol, while Sunshine Cunanan was named Miss Stunning after the race.

Meanwhile, Sen. Pia Cayetano made a sub-seven in her first ultra marathon race and considered Awum her race of the year.

“At first, I joined the race as training in preparation for a marathon in Rome next week. Before the race started, I told all the 250 participants that I will just stop at 21K or 25K. What was important was being able to run and celebrate Women’s Month with the participants. However, while doing a slow pace, which allowed us to relax, I was able to talk to fellow runners. And I was inspired to see all these 250 women, a lot are working mothers like me, running this race. It inspired me to finish the race and be a part of the experience,” said Cayetano.

Cayetano commended the organizers behind the concept of Awum, which is a good way to showcase the strength of every Filipino woman.

“I am so impressed with their concept. I also commend all the volunteers, especially the marshalls on the bike, who were looking after the safety of the runners. It was a very festive ambiance as several running groups had prepared a lot of food and drinks in every hydration station. This is one the best experiences I had, sana tuloy-tuloy na ito,” said Cayetano. (ISL)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 10, 2014.

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