DEFENDING champion Noel Tillor will be among the men’s field in the 42-kilometer race of the 10th Cebu Marathon this Sunday, which starts and ends at Cebu Business Park.

The four-time champion, however, said that competing for the title is not his main target. He plans to run with his pace and be relaxed.

The 31-year-old auto mechanic, who won the event in 2012 to 2014 and 2016, is a devotee of Santo Niño de Cebu and he wants to dedicate the run to the patron saint of Cebu.

“This is my offering to him for the blessings and the New Year that has come,” the native of Bogo City said in Cebuano.

Last December, Tillor was still undecided to join the Cebu Marathon as he wants to take a rest after consecutive races in 2016. “I decided to race pero wala kaayo ko practice. I will just listen to my body. Hopefully I will be in good physical condition on race day,” he said.

One of the formidable contenders for the men’s local 42K title is the reigning Cebu Leg Milo Marathon men’s champion Rafael Pescos of Spectrum Runners Club.

Pescos, 22, a Cebu-based runner who hails from Negros Occidental, is coming off a win over Tillor in the Baybay City Marathon last December.

The Cebu Marathon, which attracted about 4,000 runners, is one of the activities of the Sinulog Festival, an annual fiesta in Cebu dedicated to Señor. Sto. Niño.

Aside from the marathon, the race has other categories—the half-marathon, 10K and 5K. For the first time in 10-year history of the event it will cover the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu. The previous editions were held in the cities of Cebu and Talisay.

The marathoners and half-marathoners will be passing by Marcelo Fernan Bridge to complete the course. The 10K and 5K participants, meanwhile, will traverse Cebu City, whose roads are decorated for Sinulog Festival.

The race has attracted foreign runners, a total of 154 coming from 30 countries. Japan is the most represented with 31 and followed by USA and Singapore with 21 and 16, respectively.

The race is organized by Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) and Runrio.