Today, Filipino running icon and my dearest friend, Patrick “RunningShield” Concepcion, passed away. He was the epitome of a real runner – self-effacing, humble, and kind. You would always just see him swiftly, lightly running by with a quick wave and his big smile. To me, he’ll always be running. RIP PatCon. You will be missed.
Photos: Ben Chan, Blacksheep Photography for The Bull Runner Magazine, Sept 2013
Reposting an interview with brothers, Patrick and Ton Concepcion, from March 2009 with edits:
With the The Condura Run drawing near, it was imperative that I featured running brothers, Patrick and Ton Concepcion, the men behind what is expected to be one of the best races to ever hit Manila…
When did you start running? How did you get into the sport?
PATRICK: I started running May. 30, 1980 in Vancouver Canada. I was a fat “pig” weighing in at 220lbs. The reason I started running is NOT to lose weight but simply because I enjoyed running. When I took my first running step I knew I was hooked. It gave me great pleasure a sense of freedom and confidence. The weight just melted away as I continued running on a daily basis. Now my weight is down to 133lbs.
TON: My brother Patrick inspired me to run as a kid. I saw how much he loved the sport and how he transformed from a “fatrick” to a “thinrick”.
I started running again before i turned 30. I had been married for 6 years and I gained 30 pounds with my wife and mother in law’s cooking. I wanted to be in the best shape i could before i turned 40.
I remember I was so out of shape that i could not even run 1km. Each step though took me farther and every run ended with such a profound sense of accomplishment. My first 10km race was such a thrill that I even emailed my dad what a great experience it was. It was truly fantastic to be running with a sea of humanity who share your passion.
This passion ultimately made my join countless of 10k races and doing the unthinkable…joining 5 marathons in 14 months!.
Do any other members of your family run or are interested in starting?
PATRICK: My father (Raul T. Concepcion) is the original runner in the family. My father is the greatest influence in my running Life. I remember when I was a young age of 7. That was the year 1971, I would see my father run around the village in Forbes Park to do his usual 5km run. and sometimes I would join him if I could but only for 200 meters. I remember him lacing up his Bata – Brand running shoes. (Nike, Asics, Adidas etc. was not available in the Philippine at that time) . Up to this day it is still very clear in my memory. At present, my father still does a little jogging in his treadmill. He is still is very strong at the age of 77.
TON: There are those that are seriously into running like Patrick, my brother in law Jimmyton Araneta who is a full ironman and myself.
My wife, Karen, also runs but every time she get up to 7km she gets pregnant (haha) we are now expecting our 5th child.
But last year’s Condura run created a “running boom” within the Concepcion clan. In fact there are 30 or so family members joining the Condura run this year.
Then, there is my dad who used to run a lot when he was younger. During last year’s run, he fell because the road was uneven and ended up with a nasty cut on his eye that had to be stitched. But despite this he refused any medical help and still ran to the finish line all bloodied and bruised. What a fighter he truly is. He truly is the Condura “durable” man.
What do you enjoy most about running?
PATRICK: Running is something I enjoy doing. I believe it moulds your character to be a better person. Running makes me feel unique. It gives me confidence and I feel alive. When I run, I run NOT for others but for myself. “It is a time for me and my God to connect.”
TON: It’s the best way to de-stress. It’s like I pressed a reset button in my mind after every run and I suddenly feel great again. I feel very calm and peaceful. It’s almost like a spiritual experience. Most of my best ideas come from running.
Can you share with us your weekly training program? Do you train together?
PATRICK: I average at least 75 – 85 km/wk. Saturday is my long run day usually about 21 – 25km. Depending on how I feel. I would also incorporate 1 day a week of speed and tempo run. I usually have 1 or 2 days rest in a week. Wed is usually my rest day. While Sunday is my Race Day.
I don’t get to run with Ton because I run in the morning around 4.30am and Ton is usually an evening runner. And because I reside in Alabang and he resides in Makati it’s difficult to meet.
TON: When i’m training for a 42km marathon, I follow the FIRST training program which I picked up from Runners World magazine. It follows a “less is more” marathon training philosophy spread over 4 months with only 3 runs a week. Tuesday is speed work, Thursday is tempo and Saturday is a long run. Its perfect training program for those who have a hectic work schedule. I also lift weights to strengthen my core and my legs which i find very effective in making you run your best and to prevent injury.
I don’t train with Pat because he will find me too slow.
What was the most memorable race for you?
PATRICK: The most memorable race has to be the Vancouver International Marathon 1983 I finished in 3hrs. 52mins and 20 sec. The 2nd most memorable race has to be the Philippine “Pasig” Marathon 2008 because after 24 years I did my 2nd marathon.
TON: Every marathon is like a baby and they are all special. But the New York City marathon would be on top of the list. It felt fantastic running along side 39, 000 people and being cheered by the crowds of over a million people throughout the entire 42km distance. You will truly feel like an olympian for the day.
A close second is Lake Kawaguchi in Japan. My breath was taken away with the beauty of running in and out of a forest with resplendent golden leaves in its full autumn glory and by a placid lake with Mount Fuji as the back drop.
What was the toughest race?
PATRICK: Philippine “Pasig “Marathon 2008. The reason is because at the last 10km of the race I was really hurting. My Legs wanted to quit. I was cramping all over but my heart and soul made me continue. When I reach the finish line I couldn’t help but cry because i felt an accomplishment as a runner as a person. “Sometimes the moment that challenges us the most defines us” – Joan Benoit Samuelson
TON: My second milo marathon in July 2007 was the toughest because of the heat. I remember cramping really bad at 35km. But I refused to give up. So you just learn how to run with a cramp. 20 feet before the finish line, every single muscle in both legs cramped and locked up! I could not move! I said oh no this is truly a case of so near and yet so far. It was really embarrassing to stop before crossing the finish line instead of sprinting towards it. Luckily the cramp released its vice like grip on my legs and I was able to walk the remaining steps to complete my 3rd marathon.
What advice can you give to those who will make Condura their first race ever?
PATRICK: Just enjoy the race. “The Miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start” – John “The Penguin Runner” Bingham.
TON: Be proud that you actually woke up early to join the race. Have a light breakfast and pray that you accomplish all your bathroom duties before you leave the house. Play your best tunes. Run at your own pace. Suck in the energy that is all around you. Enjoy the experience and treat yourself to a fantastic breakfast after the run then have a good sleep!
What is your dream race?
PATRICK: Hummmmm my dream Race is a Manila to Baguio City Ultra Race. We start in Quirino Grandstand, Manila and the finish line will be in Burnham Park, Baguio City. It will be an Individual run not a Team relay race. That for me is the test of ultimate endurance. “Running is a head game, it is more mental than physical.”
TON: to run the Paris marathon
PATRICK: Asics 2020 and 2030 / Nike Lunar
TON: For 10k and 16km races I use Nike Lunars. They are very light and provide excellent cushioning. For the marathon, I use the Asics Kinsei 1
PATRICK: Music? I don’t run with music. I can’t enjoy my run with music. Music distracts me. I like the peace and quiet when I run.
TON: The theme from Rocky and “Don’t give up” by Chicane. But these days I prefer to run without music.
Best running accessory…
PATRICK: Garmin 205
TON: Garmin 405
Solo or group…
PATRICK: Always solo. Running is a time for me with God. I’m not a good running Partner, If I run with a group I always think about how the group is doing ( am I running to fast…to slow… do I talk to much……etc.) total distraction from what running enjoyment is.
TON: mostly solo. Running is often the only time I have alone. However, I do enjoy running with my best friends and R40- runners for others
Favorite race distance…
PATRICK: any distance between 10k and 42k.
TON: 42km – would you believe?
PATRICK: 41 min. 10 sec. UBC (University of British Columbia), 1983
TON: 51 min. 37 sec.
PATRICK: Vancouver International Marathon 1983 I finished in 3 hrs. 52 mins and 20 sec.
TON: 4 hrs. and 49 min.
For more TBR Runner’s interviews, click here.