PRACTICING in “secret” paid off big time for University of Southern Philippines Foundation’s middle distance runner Revodem Aranas.

Aranas sliced some six minutes off his personal best and finished in 1:15.4 for fifth place in the men’s 21K division, the top Cebuano in the category.

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Aranas, who also finished third in the Halad Kang Mon Amon race last December and competed in the 5K and 10K in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. event, was just in his third 21K race.

“Kawat- kawat lang ko’g practice para ani,” said the 18-year-old Aranas, who was thankful that his coach allowed him to join the 21K race.

Aranas trained for three hours every day for a month and finished just three minutes off the elite members of the Bald Runners club.

“Kusog gyud kaayo sila,” he said. “Eksperyensyado kaayo.”

Meanwhile, Mendel Lopez, the top Cebuano in the full marathon, said the running boom may be good for the sport, but joining weekly runs isn’t good for elite runners.

“I wasn’t able to train properly because I also raced every week,” he said in Cebuano.

JUMPS STARTS HERE

Lopez, who finished in 2:39:17, said that he has to join weekly races to support himself.

“If there’s someone who can sponsor me, and give the right allowance, I’d be very happy. I can train right and can join one marathon in every three months or one 10K race in a month,” said Lopez, who set his best of 2:35.15 in his third place finish during the Milo Marathon national finals.

Lopez was with the lead pack in the first 25 kilometers but got left behind. He said he had difficulty coming out of the SRP and going up Jones Avenue.

“Tungas ug dulhug, lisuod kaayo,” he said. “I just decided to maintain my pace, to make sure I’d be in the top 10.”

With the lead pack pulling away, and with no runner behind him, Lopez, who also finished third in the Milo Marathon last year, decided not to force himself.

Meanwhile, it seemed the winners of the 5K division were too fast since they got to the finish line, while the end of the pack were still about to start the race.

No they didn’t run it in world-record time, they just caught up with a few stragglers who started the race long after the starting gun was fired.

Joel Delposo crossed the finished line in 15:24, while Jojo Reasas was second with 15:33. Ben Alejandrino was third at 15:43.

Mary Tabal topped the ladies event with 19:12, while Aiza Baguio finished the race in 19:14 for second, just four seconds ahead of Blessica Jagna.