ANYTHING can happen in a marathon. One can make a huge finish. One can lose. One can get injured and not finish at all. But one can also get injured, meet a friend and eventually finish a 42K.

Sherwin Paran approached his family at the finish line of the Cebu Marathon piggy-backed by a brawny man as he hung his finishers’ medal on his daughter’s neck.

Paran had promised his daughter Xiomara that he will bring her a medal. A promise he wouldn’t have fulfilled had he not met a kind stranger, Trestel Tan, who basically carried him when he was struggling to even stand in the last half of the 42K race.

Tan had to carry Paran on his back because the latter was so injured he could no longer lift his leg.

“Natandog gyud ko sa iyang gibuhat. Kinsa gud ko para iyang tabangan, wala gud siya nakaila nako. Pero hapit nalang ko niya kargaha, hantud nahuman gyud ko,” said Paran.

Tan, an MMA fighter and trainer based in Malaysia, was in the race trying to sneak in some training time while he is in Cebu. Tan failed to register in the 42K this year but decided to run behind all the other participants as his way of honoring Sto. Niño, to whom he is a devotee.

Little did Tan know that he will be honoring the Holy Child on a much grander scale as he was able to help a fellow runner in need.

Paran’s knees gave in as he was turning around in Talisay. And when he got to the tunnel, the pain had become unbearable. But Paran said he kept reaching at the back of his belt where he had tied his daughter’s scrunchie and that gave him more determination to continue.

At the tunnel, everyone else was passing him and whatever motivation he had started to blur with the searing pain. “I kept thinking, ‘This is it, I will just ride the sweeper bus,’” said Paran.

Until, out of nowhere, Tan approached him.

“He approached me and he massaged my knee. We talked for a bit and I told him I want to finish because I promised my daughter that I would.

And that was when he said, ‘Tana, makaya lagi ni nato. Gamay nalang gyud ug kuwang maabot nata sa finish line di lagi tika biyaan. Makadala lagi ka ug medal sa imong anak,”’ said Paran.

Father’s devotion

Tan, who coaches MMA fighters, said he felt the man needed some encouragement.

“When I saw him, I could see that he was ready to give up. I was touched when he said that he wants to finish for his daughter because I am a father too. I am a coach by profession so I know when a person is about to give up and as a coach, I know how to motivate people to go on,” said Tan.

Paran’s legs were too painful to step on. “Sukad ato, iya (Tan) nako gi-agak, hantud nahuman. He kept telling me to not put weight on my injured leg,” he said. “And until the finish line, he kept telling me nga kaya ra nako.”

Paran was running barefoot and was basically holding on to Tan for support. When they reached the water station in Cebu City Hall, they stopped and Tan took off his running shoes and made Paran wear them.

“Naikog na gyud ko niya. Wa man gani ko kaila sa iyahang ngalan. Wa mi nag ilhanay pa pero ingon ato na iyahang tabang ug suporta nako,” said Paran.

When they reached the station at Cebu Normal University, Tan took off his shirt, asked for ice and wrapped it around Paran’s knees.

Tan said he felt a lot of happiness when they both crossed the finish line, over the seven-hour cutoff time, and added that he was so touched when Paran gave the medal to his daughter.

“Kung unsa nga kalipay iyang gibati adto nga particular moment, mao sad akong nafeel.

I salute him when he was very motivated to finish for his daughter. Like me, I fight in another country so I could give my son a better future. It was a proud moment for me,” said Tan.

Not a lot of stragglers completed the 42K as most were picked up by buses. The organizers opted to bring in those who no longer stood a chance to finish by cutoff.