LIKE I do each Friday night before the Cebu Marathon, I gave a speech. Fronting a couple of hundred runners who had just landed to participate in today’s race, it was the Pasta Party at The Terraces of the Ayala Center Cebu.
Cebu City Councilors Richie Osmeña and Mary Ann de los Santos—who’ll join the 21K race today—were in attendance. Mayor Michael Rama arrived later during the program to deliver his own inspirational message. A lady disc jockey (DJ) was flown in by the title sponsors Safeguard from Manila to rap and energize the crowd. Pasta and pizza prepared by Shakey’s was served. A giant-sized LED screen stood on center stage. Local rock bands serenaded the hundreds of spectators.
In my welcome message the other night, here’s what I said:
“Fellow runners, maayong gabii kaninyong tanan! Welcome to the Carbo Loading Party of the 2014 Cebu Marathon. Especially to our friends from out-of-town, welcome to our beautiful island of Cebu.
“This event started in 2008. In the first two years, we had the Sinulog Half-Marathon. This Sunday (today) will be the fifth edition of the full 42K marathon.
“In all the previous years, this race had been locally-organized. Together with the Cebu City Government, our group—the Cebu Executive Runners Club or CERC—organized the race. I’d like to acknowledge the CERC members who are here tonight.
“Each January after the race ends, we always ask ourselves the question: How do we make the Cebu Marathon better?
“I’d like to announce the answer tonight: RunRio.
“The answer is to partner with the best race-organizing team in the whole Philippines. That’s RunRio. I’d like to acknowledge Rio de la Cruz and his team, led by Ms. Ally Lim, the event manager.
“Because of RunRio, this event has turned international. There are thousands of road-running races around the world but only a few are accredited by the IAAF/AIMS or the International Association of Athletics Federations/Association of International Marathons and Distance Races.
“We are proud to say that the Cebu Marathon is one of those races.
“Speaking of international, this 2014 we are hosting the most number of visitors in our marathon history. We have foreign runners representing 23 nations who will join us this weekend. This list includes 17 elite marathoners from Kenya. We have a few dozen flying from the United States.
Nations as distant as Mexico, Switzerland, India, Netherlands, Iceland and even Haiti will be represented. Also, locally, there are hundreds from Manila and Cagayan de Oro and Bacolod and Davao and from many parts of the country who are here to run.
“But tonight, we are happiest to welcome the contingent of 70 runners coming from Tacloban, Palo, Leyte and Samar. They deserve the loudest applause. We salute their perseverance. Despite the tragedy, they are here to show the world, ‘We are running forward!’
“Their cry is not only ‘Bangon, ‘Pinas.’
“It’s ‘Dagan ta, Pilipinas!
“Finally, what makes the Cebu Marathon different from any other race is this: the Sinulog. When you run this Sunday on streets of Cebu that will be passing the iconic spots like the Magellan’s Cross, the Provincial Capitol, Colon St., Plaza Independencia, the Tunnel and the SRP -- you will not only be handed out Gatorade drinks and Nature’s Spring water, you’ll also be cheered by dancers, loud music, live bands, drum beaters.
“With the Cebu Marathon, our aim is for you to experience a run that’s festive and lingaw. A Sinulog marathon.
“Welcome to Cebu, good luck and God bless!”