I HAD the misfortune of starting a run with a group of 200 police recruits last November. It was a widely participated run and I couldn’t find my friends. With the confidence of a clown, I ran beside the head of the policewomen’s section and eventually lagged behind, got overtaken by the policemen and finally was left waaaay behind. By then I was panting, sweating a bucket and looking like a clown.

Come Sunday in the Cebu City Marathon, I will be running with them again and sensibly this time, not in their section. They are a fun group to watch as they run because they keep the same pace, stay in formation and chant.

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So if you live along the route of the 5K run, which is from the IT Park-Salinas Drive-Lahug (near UP), I suggest you wake up at 5:30 a.m. and watch the police group run in pack with the rest of the 1,000-plus 5Kers.

Or, if you can wake up much earlier, say 4 a.m., you can watch the Kenyans and other marathoners zoom past you as they run the 42K. The Kenyans are expected to finish first but Barangay Tinago pride Joel Garganera, wearing a Phiten bracelet, might just beat their time.

For the first time, Cebu City hosts a full marathon. It holds the distinction of being the first outside Luzon to hold such an ambitious sporting event, thanks to the Cebu Executive Runners Club (Cerc). Unfortunately for the Cerc members like John Pages, Meyrick Jacalan and Jesse Taborada, they can’t join the marathon because they will be busy overseeing it.

It will be a festive Sunday morning along the marathon route, with bands playing and people cheering from the sides.

A word to the spectators: Please stay off the streets and don’t block the way of the runners, especially the police recruits’ group. They can mash you like potato.

It will be one morning rushed with adrenaline.

Vehicular traffic in routes affected by the marathon will be limited so it is advised that you delay your Sunday activities until after 10 a.m. Streets leading to some churches will be partially closed from 4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.

These churches are St. Therese in Lahug, Sto. Niño, Redemptorist, Asilo de la Milagrosa and the Carmelite Monastery. If you go to Sunday mass early in the morning, it’s better to walk to the church but watch out for the runners when you cross the street. You don’t want to be run over by Kenyans.

More than 3,000 will join the marathon, with 500 of them in the 42K, 750 in the 21K and the rest in the 5K. Sun.Star Cebu’s elite runners Max and Marlen Limpag have registered for the 21K and are hoping to finish first and second but if someone else beats them to the finish line, they’ll settle for fifth and sixth.

The organizers didn’t expect a huge turnout in the 42K. The registrants have reached 500, more than thrice the expected number of 150. It’s not easy to run the 42K; it’s grueling.

Ask John Pages. But one guy, who had barely run a 10K, is joining the 42K. Oh well, two ambulance units will be on standby, one at the finish line and another mid-route.

Unless of course, the guy is Brandy Llenos, a friend of Joel Garganera’s and mine. Brandy had never joined a run, not even a 10K, but signed up for the Singapore marathon last December and finished it in six hours. And the guy is 42. He is a member of a regatta team and has the body and stamina of a Rafael Nadal.

Brandy Llenos, not I, will make good company for the police recruits.