HE SPEAKS as if in a whisper, barely discernible in the cacophony of the football matchplay commentator and the groups of people in nearby tables.

“It’s a sport that anybody can join. All you have to do is wear rubber shoes and have the determination to just do it,” Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III told a group of reporters two days after he ran yet another personal best—a 3:47:22 full marathon in the 2010 Seoul International Marathon.

Determination is something Larrazabal understands.

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The eye surgeon just ran his 11th full marathon, running a 42-kilometer race at least monthly for the past few months, and set a personal record.

Larrazabal went to South Korea with no marathon training. When you say marathon training, you typically mean months of programmed long runs, speed work and cross-training. He had none of that.

“I’ve been training marathons almost monthly so I treated the Cebu City Marathon and the Condura Run like long runs. I just did what I had been doing after Macau” he said.

Yong said he wanted to beat three hours and 40 minutes but went with the 3:30 group “because the weather was good and the route was flat.”

His first 10 kilometers was a race-worthy 48 minutes, his half-marathon, 1:47. But he ran out of steam. He finished the last 5 kilometers in almost 40 minutes. Yong said his wife, runner Donna Cruz-Larrazabal, told him to target a 5:12 per kilometer pace.

“Wala na, nahutdan na. Ni-gamble ko ba. Maayo na lang best time gihapon,” Yong said with a sheepish smile, “Gwapo kaayo nga race. I would recommend it to runners. It’s one of the best marathons I’ve joined.”

Yong said he feels he would have done better with longer training. For the Macau Galaxy Entertainment International Marathon in December, where he recorded his previous personal best of 3:49:48, he trained for it for two to three months.

Yong, however, said runners should also learn to enjoy races and realize that not all runs should be competitive. He said he would be spending at least two months to train for his next marathon, the San Diego Rock n Roll. His lifetime goal is to eventually qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Apart from running marathons, Yong is also an active campaigner of the sport. He was recently awarded by the Sportswriters Association of Cebu for his contribution to the running boom in Cebu.

Yong organized monthly Run For Sight races as a way to encourage people to run. At that time, local races were rare and there were even months when no fun run was scheduled. “I’m happy na very successful ang running sa Cebu,” Yong told reporters.

With races now being scheduled almost every Sunday, Yong said he wanted to take a backseat as a way to show support to local organizers. But, he said, they would definitely hold the University Run, their flagship race, and even expand on it.

With San Diego still two months away, Yong said he would be joining local races but would run a minimum of 20 kilometers on Sundays. He said he would likely run ahead then proceed to the race’s starting line.

Yong said he would run in The Great Lapu-Lapu Run on April 18 before rushing to the Cebu Doctors’ University’s graduation rites. Running?

Yong gave a sheepish smile.

(maxlimpag@gmail.com /www.CebuRunning.com)