Cebu Marathon 2010

Tuesday, 12 January 2010  |  Race Reports

TBR RACE REPORT: Cebu Marathon
DETAILS: January 10, 2010, Cebu City
ORGANIZERS: John Pages and Meyrick Jacalan

RATING: Excellent!

LEGEND: (Introducing my new TBR race review rating system for 2010)
5 TBR medals – Excellent
4 TBR Medals – Very Good
3 TBR Medals – Average
2 TBR Medals – Poor
1 TBR Medal – Terrible


  • well-attended and well-organized carbo loading party on a Friday (better than the eve of the race)
  • convenient and easy registration and race packet redemption
  • Timing chip for 21k and 42k
  • Fire works at the start of the race
  • Challenging and scenic route for 21k
  • Abundant water and 100Plus in long tables
  • Marshals along the route
  • Cebu-themed entertainment along the route
  • Cheerers with inspirational signs along the route
  • Bananas, sponges, and muscle rub provided at some stations
  • Announcement of name upon nearing the finish
  • Booths after the race
  • Free Leona’s pastries, 100Plus, and mineral water
  • Awarding began shortly after the race and was situated near the finish so it was very well-attended
  • Immediate release of results
  • Unique mango finishers’ medal for full marathoners


  • Kilometer markers were accurate, but there could’ve been more

Cebu City Marathon: the best local race I have ever joined. The organizers of Cebu Marathon got everything right from the carbo loading party to the awarding program. I was told that they ran Singapore, Hong Kong, and Amsterdam Marathons and attempted to replicate the best from these marathons in Cebu. Looks like they were very successful.

The one thing that stood out in this race, which contributed most to its success but didn’t cost a cent, were the people. The warmth and hospitality of the organizers and Cebuano runners were felt all throughout. Spectators lined the roads and cheered enthusiastically. It didn’t feel like another big corporate-sponsored racing event, but a run to celebrate Cebu, its people, and its culture.



I received an email from Maxi about his daughter Bea a couple of days before Cebu Marathon. He wrote:

“Bea is actually a soccer varsity player at UST.  I have encouraged her to run regularly because I see the potential in her to become a good long-distance runner someday.

Problem is, she has to have a person she can look up to as a model-runner.  She needs a guide, a mentor, a running partner.  She needs an inspiration so that she can take running with passion and dedication.

I think that fits you.”

Woah. I was flabbergasted. For a father to entrust his most prized possession to me, his daughter, even for just a 2-hour race, was an honor. We made plans to meet at the starting line.


Hubby, Ben, and I were all running the half marathon. We arrived at Asiatown I.T. Park at 4:50 a.m. with enough time to spare before the 5:10 race start for baggage check in, portalet visit, and stretching. Then, we entered the starting area and spotted Vince of Finish Line. After a few minutes of chatting and a magnificent fireworks display, we were off.

I didn’t see Bea nor Maxi at the starting line.


Our first kilometer was slow, around 7 min/km. Hubby, Vince, and I weaved in and out of the crowd of runners as we climbed the short, narrow road in the dark. At that point, I still hadn’t decided if I would go at race pace or run easy.

Soon after, the road opened up and runners took their own space. I was running alone.

The course started going downhill, and after running for quite some time, I realized it was downhill all the way until the end. Thanks to the recent Chi running course I took with Lit Onrubia (separate post on this soon), I was no longer scared of descents, but I had been converted into a fearless, forward-leaning, gravity-loving runner. I rolled through those downhills and decided, somewhere in between two stoplights, that I was definitely racing this one.


At around 5k, I ran alongside a female runner in pink. I tried to outrun her, but she wouldn’t let up. Each step I took, she matched at the same speed and power. After a while, I focused less on her and on my own pace. Lo and behold, we still ran side-by-side as if we were pace buddies.

We went up into SRP together, a reclaimed area in Cebu. And, almost in slow motion, amidst the competition and in between gasps of breath, I noticed the scenic view from the bridge, the sun above us, plus the wide road lined with runners before me; it was a sight to behold. I felt so fortunate to be part of the race.

Back to the pink runner. All the while, from 5k to the 11k turnaround, we ran without speaking nor acknowledging the others’ presence. Many times, I thought, I should say something to break the silence, but shyness overcame me.

After the turnaround, I decided to make peace with competition. As I gobbled up my Hammer Gel, I turned to her and said “Do you want a gel?” And, when she looked at me, I was pleasantly surprised.


It was Bea! The 18-year-old I was supposed to run with, the one I missed at the assembly, was the same pink runner I had been running with for over 6km!

As Master Oogway said in Kung Fu Panda, “There are no accidents.” And, I do believe that Bea and I running together was no coincidence.

– with Bea, who runs half marathons at an age when all I thought of was school and parties. I wish I discovered running as early as Bea did –

– Bea and I right behind Vince of Finish Line along SRP –

We ran together for the next few kilometers. We even spotted her dad Maxi along the way. As much as I wanted to chat more, I could not, for the life of me, impart more than a sentence or two of wise TBR words (gosh, I actually couldn’t think of any!) to help her out as I was struggling to breathe myself.

Shortly after, Bea slowed down and ran behind me. At City Hall, I stopped to drink and searched for her, but we lost each other in the crowd.


We all knew this was coming. The downhill would eventually be a long climb up towards the finish. I was fine all throughout the run until I hit Km19.  It was at this point that I was too exhausted to run. So, I did what I had never done in any half marathon in the past. I walked!

Within the next few minutes, Kenneth of Cebu Executive Runners who was a marshal in that area, came up to me and cheered me on. He ran by my side so I picked up the pace, too. He told me it was the last climb up, once I reached the top and made a right, it was downhill all the way.

We passed school girls shouting “Go Ate, Go Ate, Go!” Kenneth taught them, “Go Jaymie, Go Jaymie, Go!” And that’s what they chanted from then on.

They offered sponges dripping with cold water and I took one for each hand. Before I left, more than 3 girls squeezed over 10 sponges on top of my head and I squealed in delight and gratitude for true Cebuano hospitality.


I made a right turn and I was relieved to see what Kenneth had promised: no more ascents!

Matthieu O’Halloran passed me at this point and I focused on following his pace to the finish. Yeah right! How foolish of me to choose a top triathlete to pace my weary self to the finish. He was gone in the blink of an eye.

I focused on running steady; my pace sped up to a 5:30 again. Before I knew it, I could hear my name being announced on the speaker and I crossed the finish line.

– with the hubby after the race –

– with Ruby of R.O.X. and Tiffin (10th place, 5k winner) –


My goal for the year is a sub-2hour 21k. My secret goal for this race was to cross that off my list. I was so close, but I didn’t make it.

My official time: 2:01:25. Darn it. Average pace: 5:44 min/km for a distance of 21.12km. So many what ifs, like what if I didn’t stop at a station or if I didn’t walk. But, I’m still pretty happy with my run despite the annoying 1-minute overtime. It’s a new PR and I came in 13th overall in the female category.

Bea has a new PR at 2:04 from her previous 2:09. Hubby has a new PR too at 2:10. Woohoo for us all!

Congratulations to Cebu Marathon organizers and all runners who finished this fantastic race! Hope to see a 2nd Cebu Marathon in 2011!

Click HERE for Cebu Marathon results.

– John Pages, Cebu Marathon organizer on stage –

– Awarding was very well attended. So unlike most of the post-race programs here in Manila –

– with friend Jujet de Asis, 2nd placer 5k –

– Bacolod gets hooked on running too. With female runners from Bacolod –

– with Ogies the Pogies –

Thank you to R.O.X. Recreational Outdoor Exchange, Marriott Cebu City Hotel, Ben Chan and Kevin Bautista of Photovendo, John Pages, Meyrick Jacalan, Cebu Executive Runners, and Noy Jopson for making the Cebu trip a memorable experience. Until the next time!