DAVAO City's seasoned runner Olive "Iron Lady" Firmeza concluded her 2023 season with a runner-up finish in the women's 42K event at the 37th Davao Finishers Marathon (DFM) 2023, held over the weekend in an out-and-back course from NCCC Victoria Plaza grounds in Davao City.
Firmeza, an employee of Philhealth, completed the race in four hours, 40 minutes, and 19 seconds, placing second to fellow Dabawenya Claudia Go who checked in at 4:22:18.
Angelita Duay settled for third with a time of 4:44:15.
The winners received cash prizes and other merchandise items.
Despite leading the race until the 23rd kilometer, the 49-year-old Firmeza, who single-handedly raised her three children since her husband's passing 18 years ago, admitted to slowing down due to muscle cramps that started in the 15th kilometer.
"Nag-slow down ako. Naa pa gyud nabilin na impact from 700km race ko last July (I slowed down. I was still feeling the impact from my 700km race last July)," she told SunStar Davao in a Facebook chat interview.
She continued, "First time ko naka experience na mu lock ang muscles ko. Satisfactory gihapon ang performance considering na five months pa lang from 700km Mindanao loop. Self-assessment din, I need more time for recovery. And somehow, kaya pa makipagsabayan sa mga young marathoners (It's the first time I've experienced that my muscles locked up. The performance is still satisfactory considering that it is only five months from the 700km Mindanao loop. I need more time for recovery. And somehow, I was still able to keep up with the young marathoners)."
Firmeza said 2023 has been a "fulfilling year" as she finished the country's longest road race - Mindanao Crazy Run, making history in women's ultra marathon. "It's my greatest achievement as an athlete," she said.
Engaging in short-distance races and marathons, Firmeza believes, helps maintain her fitness as she ages.
As a way of giving back to the community, she conducts a free run clinic every Wednesday evening at Azuela Cove, known as "Run Clinic with Coach Olive," where she trains aspiring runners and inspires solo parents.
Meanwhile, Paul James Zafico (3:07:19) secured the DFM men's 42K title over Arthur Abogado (3:16:05) and Marciano Colarte (3:28:06) who ended up in the second and third place, respectively.
In the 21K, Rodel Salvani (1:22:14), Carlito Sausal Jr (1:32:08), and Ronnierick Busayong (1:32:38) claimed the first three spots in the men's division.
The women's 21K title went to Joanna Marie Cruz (1:52:05) while April Joy Morales (1:52:28) placed second, and Marica Patricia Tan (1:58:02) was third. MLSA