This year will be a totally different experience for runners that will be running the 2023 edition of the prestigious Cebu Marathon on Jan. 8.

Runners will be running, for the first time, part of the race on the challenging but scenic Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) and on a route that’s festive and unbothered by vehicles.

“I tried biking there (in IronMan). It’s not very steep. I think some will have to walk but it’ll be a spectacle especially with the drone shots. It’ll literally be the first time that people will go up (and run) the bridge,” said Cebu City Sports Commission Commissioner John Pages, one of the race organizers. “This route is more contained. No vehicles are allowed. It’ll be a better experience for the runners.”

Runners will be cheered on along the route not only by family members and running enthusiasts but also bands and music.

“It will definitely be a very festive atmosphere. We have been doing this since 2008 and we are offering this to the beloved Sto. Niño. We will be doing our best,” said Cebu Executive Runners Club (CERC) president Jesse Taborada.

CERC, part of the race organizers, assured the safety of the runners with not only police and medical personnel but also the navy and the coast guard on standby on the waters along the CCLEX.

SM Seaside City Cebu is also opening the basement parking lot and three of its rest rooms for the comfort of the participants. Some of the restaurants will also be opening early for the runners after they finish the race.

The Cebu Marathon drew well over 5,000 participants in its 2020 edition, right before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country. This year, the annual marathon has drawn a total of 8,632 runners—2,125 for the 42K race, 4,029 for the 21K distance, 1,808 for 10K and 670 for 5K.

“This is a record breaking number of participants,” said CERC’s Merrick Jacalan.

A total of P360,000 worth of cash prizes will be up for grabs for the fastest finishers; so runners should expect some stiff competition.

“We expect the top runners to join,” said Pages.