TBR Dream Stories: Gari Tiongco, Bib No. 267; Gene Tiongco, Bib No. 268; Greg Tiongco, Bib No. 269; Bryan Ermac, Bib No. 102; Lynette Ermac, Bib No. 103; Warren Ermac, Bib No. 104

Monday, 31 May 2010  |  Bullish Insights

The Tiongco/Ermac family stood out in our crowd of TBR Dream Marathoners. They usually came early as a group to most of our Bull Circle talks and Bull Session clinics. And, during the race, they ran together, in their distinct uniforms, running most of the route together.  It was obvious that they were seriously committed to their marathon dream…and to supporting each other.

Here’s their inspiring story about marathoning and family.


Written by Gene Tiongco…


– TBR Dream Marathon Finishers: Team Tiongco/Ermac –

To write about my first marathon, I have to write about how I began running in the first place. And to write about how I started to run, I have to write about the people I run with.  To mention myself, I have to mention my co-runners.  This is my story and most probably our story.  This is after all, a family story.

We are a group of 6, 30-something year old runners.  Yes, we are all related as we are cousins.  We are made up of 3 brothers (Gari, me, Greg, 2 brothers (Warren and Bryan) and  Lynette (Bran’s wife).   Our running story is nothing extra-ordinary.  We started in 2008, joining 5K runs and feeling so exhausted after.  But we kept on running and so did our love affair with running blossomed.  We turned to each other for support and encouragement.  We even started following thebullrunner.com in mid 2008.  5k runs turned into 10ks then we moved to 15ks and finally 21ks.  We were happy with all  the 21Ks that we entered and never mindful of the time, but as long as we all finished, that was our ultimate goal.  When word got out of the TBR Dream Marathon, we did not hesitate to join.  We all prayed and hoped that all 6 of us will be included.  And as fate would have it, we all made the list.

The training preparations came and we followed the training plan  to the hilt.  Sacrifices were made as we skipped our weekend night outs and parties to prepare for our long runs.  We limited our alcohol consumption as well.  We ran in UP, Tagaytay, Greenhills and even in Nuvali all for the sake of training and, yes, for the love of running.  Even as some of us were abroad or on vacation, the mentality of having long runs stuck as no one deviated from the training plan.  We even had a uniform done for the race.   More than the long runs, it was moments like these that draw us closer together and as we ran we talked about life, our children, our country and everything else.  These made us closer and eventually accountable for each other.  This is where we all felt the value of togetherness and what a team is all about. We learned to value each other. It was all about support and complimenting each other and of course bringing out the best in each one.

The night before the run, we all slept in one house as we mapped out the course and check all the necessary things for the run.  We planned our pace.  We all vowed to look out for each other even as we finish with different times.  We were each others’ strength  and compliment. This was not just about being runners, it was about being family.


– Pre-Race Meal with fellow TBR Dream Marathoners –

The day of the run came and as we cheered with Jaymie and Jim that we will be marathoners by lunch time, we knew that whatever happens, we will savor and enjoy the moment….together.

The route was perfect.  Whenever we pass by other dream marathoners we could only hear words of encouragement and compliments. We ran strong and smart.


– Bryan, Gene, and Gari –

When we reached the 33K mark, then our obstacles and trials came.  One of us had severe cramps, and as we reached out to help, he encouraged us to just run and never let go of our dream of finishing a marathon.  With the help of the dream chasers, he was able to run back. We were tired, cramped and the heat was already torching us, but we encouraged each other and as we ran our own pace the last 8 kilometers, we know that at the finish line we will all be waiting for each other.


– Gene –


– Greg with wife, Tinine –

Aside from the  training we had, it was our support for each other that provided the strength for us to finish.  As the finish line was near,  we were all rewarded with the most precious prize of all:  our families waiting for us, our loving wives and sweet kids were at the finish line waving banners and cheering us on.  It was like coming home to the sweet comforts of the family.  This was the most inspiring moment for us.


– Gari runs towards the finish with his kids –


– Fans of Team Tiongco/Ermac –


– Marathoners Bryan and Lynette with their kids –

When the last member of our team arrived, we all hugged each other and smiled and proudly proclaimed that we were all finishers.  It wasn’t about the time we finished it anymore,  it was all about having each other finish.  More than that, we realized that even in times of trials and a long journey, we have each other…. all the time.

Thank you  Jaymie, Jim, Atty. Raymond and the TBR team for providing us this memorable experience and making dreams come true…For making us realize the value of togetherness and family.  And yes,  we will all pay it forward on the next Dream Marathon.

Who are the “Real” Runners?

Saturday, 29 May 2010  |  Bullish Insights

Here’s a note I received last night from a certain JimS regarding the latest issue of TBR Magazine with Karylle on the cover. I appreciate his candor and I admire his support for our elite athletes, but I certainly don’t agree with the way he belittles the non-elite. Thank you JimS for your feedback!

Hector Yuzon on your magazine, for what? Their were three more other Filipinos who finished LA Marathon way better that Hector. All three performed impressively and qualified for Boston. Milet, a female runner from Cebu has a more compiling story than Hector. Stop featuring so called pa “pogi” runners and instead feature the accomplished and real athletes. But you wont do that don’t you. Keep doing the same practice and you will lose credibility as a real runners magazine. Yong Larrazabal? This guy can’t even qualify for Boston and he is your cover story? How about the Sabals and the real runners in the country? Feature them and help them get sponsorships to run international races instead of promoting the wannabes.

Thinking aloud, guys. Here are my questions and it would be great if you could answer them:

If you are not an elite runner, does that mean you do not have the right to be featured in a magazine or obtain sponsorship due to your achievements or contributions to the sport?

Yong Larrazabal stages races in Cebu and donates all profits to charity. Hector Yuzon guided a group of TBR Dream Marathoners without expecting anything in return. Is Hector or Yong less of a runner than Eduardo Buenavista?

If our latest TBR Cover, Karylle, only started running two years ago, and she does not run as fast as the elite, does she have a right to call herself a “real” runner?

We featured TBR Dream Marathoners in the same issue, three runners hoping to accomplish their first marathon, did they not have the right to be featured in our pages?

If your PR for a 10km is 1 hr 30 mins, does that mean you are not a “real” runner?

If you never won a medal in a race, can you call yourself a “real” runner?

If you never qualified for Boston or never won in a national competition, does this give another runner the right to tag you as a “pa-pogi” or a “wannabe”?  Shouldn’t some runners pay just a wee bit of respect to regular people who juggle running with other responsibilities in life and still manage to perform relatively well?

Who are real runners anyway?

More importantly, what is a “real runner”?

To my mind, real runners are those who have a serious passion for the sport. Real runners are those who make running a part of their lives regardless of the number of races they’ve run, the medals they’ve won, how far they’ve covered or how fast they can go.

Who’s a real runner for me?  He’s the loner who does not join races and has no running friends, but he laces up every 5 a.m. to run 10km.  She’s the mom who just gave birth, but commits to spending 30 mins. thrice a week to run while her newborn is sleeping.  He’s the 50 year old divorcee who picked up running a few months ago as a symbol of starting a new chapter in his life. She’s the newbie who picked up a free magazine last month, got inspired by the story of Donna Cruz (another “real” runner in our book), and finally got the guts to run a 5k this weekend.  Those are real runners.  And they deserve the same attention and exposure as the elites of our world.

TBR Magazine is a lifestyle running magazine. It is a resource for training, gear, nutrition, race calendar, directory, and so much more for runners.  Needless to say, we feature real runners based on the definition stated above.  We choose to feature real runners, whether they are artists, CEO’s, housewives or just like any “Juan” out there because we believe that each runner can be an inspiration to another.

Having said that, we have a high respect for our elite athletes and encourage companies to sponsor them so they can do our country proud.  It is a sad fact that our elite have little support and means to join races abroad to gain recognition.  I know there are runners who are helping them gain exposure and I applaud them for that.

I told a friend before that my criteria for choosing the cover of TBR Magazine was this: the cover runner must LOVE running. I could feature the President of the Country, the no. 1 runner of the world, or the most popular matinee idol, but if we asked them this: “Do you love running?” and they replied with a “No.” then I would rather feature the “wannabe” who seriously loves the sport.

P.S. JimS, I wrote Millette, a good friend, hoping to feature her Boston-qualifying LA Marathon along with Hector.  Unfortunately, her story didn’t reach our print deadline.  I’ll be featuring her here on thebullrunner.com instead.


Friday, 28 May 2010  |  Bullish Insights

When I read Roxy’s story on Facebook, I knew I had to repost it here.

It is a story of a young woman’s strength and empowerment, faith and fortitude through four long months of training and the longest 4 hours and 56 minutes of her life…



They say the marathon changes your life in a profound way only another marathoner can comprehend. I thought I had it all before the big day; mine was changed while I was training for the marathon, and the journey to the Big Day itself has been life-changing. But nothing prepared me for the real thing.

I toed in the line, ran my glutes and hearts out, and 4 hours 56 minutes and barrels of sweat later, I dashed to the finish mark a different person. The marathon has just battered me, refined and polished me, tested my limits, humbled and brought me to my knees, strengthened my faith in a big God, inundated me with joy and reminded me just how blessed I am.

Of Running and Love and Friendship

Sharing, savoring sweet victory.

No one trains for and runs a marathon by himself – and my marathon journey was weaved into stories of friendship and love and persistence. I have gained not only friends through running, but also that one person who was so loving and patient and persistent he convinced me to give love a shot a little sooner than I wanted to (hehe, peace Carlo!).

For months, Carlo so eagerly guided and encouraged me all throughout my training – so eagerly you would have thought he was the one actually running this marathon. All those sleep he willingly gave up, all those countless hours he devoted to my training, all those buckets of sweat he invested for my arduous, crazy looong runs, all those dedication validate: this was “our” marathon. And of course, a huge part of how we started and a huge part of the friendship we have initially built, we owe it much to running, to this marathon training.

– “A friend (Carlo, from team SecondWind) volunteered to train me for this marathon, and soon enough, our friendship blossomed into something a lot deeper, a lot more meaningful. We fell in love, and the rest, as they say is history.”

No one runs a marathon by himself, and not only Carlo was there, but my dear girlfriends (and the boyfies of the girlfriends!) as well. Dear girl friends who may have found the idea of running 42 kilometers totally insane, dear girlfriends who probably thought me nuts for attempting to do this, but dear girlfriends who eagerly supported me just the same. Friends don’t let friends do crazy things alone, and there they were, sans sleep yet still managing to be the most kikay, noisiest and cheeriest cheerers that day. Their energy was just contagious.

And then there was my family who may have questioned my masochistic tendencies, too, but stood by me just the same. Hundreds of miles away, my Mom and Dad and my Aunt and my sister were up by gun start to pray for me. My phone was teeming with well wishers’ words of encouragement as well. I was one spoiled and loved marathoner.

One nervous runner with cheerful, giddy cheerers. 😀

– Roxy with Carlo and friends –

Joy in Little Things; Joy in Running

I love running. I love the joy it brings me, the sense of order and the pride of accomplishing my goals, no matter how small, it gives me. I love how running keeps me aligned with my inner self, how running makes me feel strong, both physically and otherwise. I love discovering new routes and rediscovering something new in those same, old routes. I love being one with the breeze, with the trees and sunset or sunrise when I run. I love the jovial spirit and camaraderie of the running community. Oh, I just love running and the running community and everything in between! This was my happy preoccupation as I stepped on the start line, as I worked on a gentle cadence on the first few kilometers.

Before I knew it, I was past the 21st kilometer mark. Half of the marathon was already ticked off as bright, vivid hues of red, orange and blues broke in the horizon. Oh, sunrise. I could have slowed down to a pensive stroll and just adore it and bask in the peacefulness of Nuvali were it not for the Dream Marathon that I, apparently, was a part of. Dream Marathon. How apt; it was so real and surreal and I really dreamt this. I still could not believe I was finally doing it.

Dream Marathon. Indeed.

I knew I was not the only one running in such hypnotic trance. This was our first (or second, for a few) marathon, after all. And firsts are supposed to etch an unforgettable stamp like no other. Among me were at least a couple hundred of nameless faces (much to my regret that I let most of them remain nameless.. I do hope there’s a post-race getogether or something:), also running their own battle. We may be nameless to most of us, yet we wore our hearts on our sleeves as one. I saw hope in the faces of my co-dreamers. I saw persistence, dedication, hard work. I saw dreams slowly shaping into reality one step after another. I saw a purpose for being there, and the resoluteness to carry on that purpose in three hundred faces.

In hot pink top, red hot nails and jade earings 😛 “Ang saya mo pa, Rox?!” Haha.

I saw that purpose mirrored in the face of the volunteers, too. With us were selfless volunteers, looking after the runners, making sure we have everything we need, cheering us on, giving all the encouragement that we needed. The Dream Chasers would run with and give an extra push to the marathoners – strangers and friends alike, it did not matter at all. As if they were running their very own marathon, too. The SecondWind zone was also a huge relief for us runners. Like a personalized cheer zone, like that second wind phenomenon miraculously renewing weary and battered runners.

Chin Chua
– Full support from Team Secondwind –

I basked in all the goodness around me. The beauty of Nuvali, the serenity of near-sunrise, the sincerity and eagerness of the volunteers, the overwhelming support of the running community, runners running their hearts out no matter the pace. Ah, this is how every marathon should be.

Of Fighting and Pushing and Honoring the Spirit of the Marathon.

Two hours and thirty one minutes had elapsed for my first 21 kilometers. Another 21 to go, and I was grateful it felt as if my gas tank contained more than half of its reserve. Carlo validated: it was a good time and I was still within the sub-five hour target he had long ago firmly believed I could clock in. That would mean living up to my usual negative splits (or running faster towards the end of the run, in simpler terms), running a faster (way faster) second 21km in spite of run down and battered legs, and counting on my usual finishing kick. I knew I had a looong shot.

I knew I had a long shot for a sub-five hour first marathon, but that moment onwards, I knew I was doing my very best. Sub-five or not, I knew I was pouring my all for this marathon. I knew I respected the distance, I knew I honored the Spirit of the Marathon. It took all of me not to break down in tears as this sank in.

I was running, running, and running. Stubbornly fighting back tears, greeting back the friendly volunteers, smiling to co-marathoners, acknowledging the Dream Chasers’ encouragement. I was running with all my heart and it never felt this good. Never felt this overwhelming.

Thanks for holding on. 🙂

Twenty nine kilometers done. Thirty. Thirty one. Thirty two. Ten kilometers to go and in my calculation, I only had an hour and 4 or 5 minutes to go. Can I do a sub-five hour? Can my legs carry me for another 10 kms within sixty minutes after the 32-kilometer worth of punishment I just put them through? Most probably not.

God, I was so exhausted. I was dead tired and it was so tempting to take it easy, to take a looong walk break, to sit back on a corner, wash off all those dirt and grime and sweat off my face and walk all the way to the finish. At least, I would still look good when I cross the finish line.

But that was not me, I did not train for a marathon just to settle for the rock bottom of my expectations. It was not me to find the easier way out, to settle for what was less. I have come this far, and far too many people believed in me. The ball was now in my court, and it was all a matter of believing a little more. I was already giving my all, yet I knew that if I challenged myself, there was still room for something a little better than that best. I was whispering a tad too many times, “Lord, I really don’t think I can do this, but if You will let me, please carry me safely to the finish line within five hours.”

Pain, Pain, Pain. And Longest Two Kilometers

I ran the last ten kilometers non-stop, walking only a few yards whenever I reach a hydration station. I ran it hard, I ran it with my heart, I ran it with faith and prayers. I could have been tearing to pieces at that point, but nothing was more encouraging than strangers cheering for you along the way. And the thought that not too far off, SecondWind zone was looming in the horizon, and that Carlo would be running the last three kilometers with me. And the thought of my friends waiting for me at that Finish arc down there.

I could not care less for a sub-whatever, I just wanted to finish in one piece. But all those training we have invested for this, it suddenly dawned on me: what the heck, I should just go for it. I knew I had a slim chance to a sub-five hour, but I knew I was putting a good fight.

Carlo running the last 2 or so kilometers with me. I was in so much pain here.

I knew I was putting a good fight. UNTIL PAIN CAME ALONG, two kilometers and a half away from the finish mark. For the first time in all my running life, sidestitch attacked me. It was so sharp and torturous a kind of pain, I had to take walk breaks. I was having a hard time breathing, every step I took was laced with pain. I was losing so much time. Lord, why now, why on the last two kilometers, I was so close to the finish already.


I would not talk, I did not want to stop at the hydration station, I was panting and gasping and wincing in pain. I was panicking, I was nearly wailing: “I can’t do this!!” And yet Carlo remained calm and hopeful and supportive. He would press on my numbing hands, apply pressure on my sidestitch-stricken side. He would remain patient whenever I can’t take it anymore, run with me whenever the urge to break into a crazy pace would hit me, only to be patient to walk with me because I was in pain again. Now and then he would look at me tenderly, smile and tell me, “I’m so proud of you,” “You’re the best,” “You’re still the most beautiful” that earned him either a dismal blank stare, eyes rolling, or something like, “Arrgh, I look like crap.” That was the most masungit I got and I’ve never been too grateful he was utterly patient with me.

100 meters. 200 meters. 300 meters. Where was the 40th kilometer mark again? Geez, it was taking me forever! All I wanted to do was cross the finish line, hug my friends, take a long hot bath and indulge in a hearty breakfast over stories and camwhore moments.

Km 40. “Two kilometer and 200 meters to go,” Carlo encouraged me. WHAAT??! No way! Barely fourteen minutes left. Can I sustain a sub-7 min/km pace? Sure; that’s chicken. But not when I was in so much pain. I was praying and praying again, Lord please take me to km 41, please make me cross the finish line, please make this stubborn pain go away.

I plodded on again, and somewhere down to the last kilometer, I found again that side of Roxy who does not give up. That side of Roxy who puts up a good fight, that side of Roxy who stands her ground no matter how hard the earth shook. In a daze that was Solenad and pain and Carlo and the dear friends waiting for me and the family believing in me and blurry, cheering faces and vaguely familiar voices, my legs managed to carry me to the finish line. Miraculously.

4 hours 56 minutes. Four hours 56 minutes of joy, peace, endurance, struggle, pain and faith. I crossed the finish line humbled, battered, refined, yet overjoyed. And I was certain, the marathon has changed me in a profound way. And I knew, reliving that 42-km journey will bring me to tears for as long as I still can remember.


– Big hug from Carlo, coach and boyfriend –

TBR DREAM STORIES: Aleta Yao, Bib No. 302 & Carlos de Guzman, Dream Chaser Bib No. 22

Wednesday, 26 May 2010  |  Bullish Insights

This isn’t just a story about running, it’s a story about love…between a TBR Dream Marathoner and her Personal Pacer.

At TBR Dream Marathon, we only allowed for 30 Personal Pacers and 30 Dream Chasers.  The limited slots were first come, first served.  The slots were in great demand and they filled briskly.

This was a letter I received a month before TBR Dream Marathon, which tugged at my heartstrings and got me all teary eyed…


Hi Jaymie!

I have a question regarding your upcoming full mary this May.

My girlfriend (Aleta Yao) is joining your race and this will be her first 42k.

Can I run with her the whole distance?  I promised her that I will be there to be with her every step of the way. I’ve already done 2 marathons and 3 ironmans.  I wont be racing for a P.R. or anything.

My girlfriend is very special to me and I wanna be there with her as she experiences this very meaningful “first” in her life…Plus I just wanna show her how much I really love her and adore her all the time…And running with her the whole way is one of the things that I know will help me show that to her…

My problem is, the 200 limit is probably full but if ever, I don’t wanna take the slot of someone who is doing the full distance for the first/second time.  What’s the best way for me to join this run? Can I register for the event? Running bandit most definitely is out of the question.  Or can I be a Dream Chaser or something?  I will be bringing my own nutrition with me and it’s perfectly ok with me to pay the reg fee even if I wont receive any of the gels, timing chip, bibs, etc.

Thanks jaymie and hoping for a favorable reply.


So it came to be that Carlos got his wish.  He was one of the first to sign up for a much coveted Personal Pacer position for his girlfriend Aleta.  And, on the big day of the race, Carlos and Aleta showed up at the starting line together.



And, Aleta (Bib No. 302) had her pacer and her boyfriend by her side throughout the entire run…



Here’s the letter I received from Carlos two days after Aleta’s first marathon…

FROM CARLOS, MAY 24, 2010:

hey Jaymie,

First of all i just wanna thank you for letting me participate as a pacer at the dream marathon.

I wanna say kudos too for organizing such a FANTASTIC race.

Even the term fantastic would be an understatement for the event that u just did.

The race was very very very organized…. I cant say that enough.  From the aid stations, the support crew, the logistics, everything!

It was perfect. the first/second timers are really really lucky.

I’ve done a lot of races like Singapore Marathon, Ironman West Australia and I can say that this is almost up to par all of em.

From the organization, down to the execution.

Honestly i think you may have set the bar too high though hehe 🙂 Everyone’s gonna get spoiled now when you organize another race.

But I’m sure that wont be a problem for you 🙂

Again, I just wanna say thanks jaymie for making a lot of people’s dream (including my gf aleta yao) come true.

I’m very honored to be part of this once in a lifetime event.



* Some images courtesy of Photovendo

TBR DREAM STORIES: Marnie Hurst, Bib No. 136

Tuesday, 25 May 2010  |  Bullish Insights

There are hundreds of stories to tell about TBR Dream Marathon.  The best ones will come from the runners themselves: what happened on the roads of NUVALI as they took each step leading up to their first 42km, who were the angels that helped them on their way, what went through their minds as they worked for their dream.

This is a series of stories that will come from the runners themselves.  By posting these, we hope to inspire more people even after TBR Dream Marathon has ended.  The dream continues…

To share your own TBR Dream Stories, please email me at tbr(at)thebullrunner.com


marnie post run

I did it!!!!  WE did it!!!!  Thank you so much, Jaymie.  Really, words cannot express my deep gratitude for all you have done.  That was the most amazing marathon a new runner could ever ask for.

I wanted briefly share my marathon story with you.  So I started my week with a cough that I just couldn’t shake.  I coughed for about the first 3rd of the race and was really worried, but then I guess I coughed it all out, because it just went away completely.

– Marnie at the early portions of her first marathon –

But then at around 30km (just like everyone says!) I totally hit a wall.  My hips were hurting, kind of freezing up, and I have a heel spur on my left heel that was hurting so bad.  There was a terrible pain shooting from my heel all the way to my hip.  And then the hill came!  I had to start walking, but even then I felt like every step was a monumental effort.  My legs just quit working right.  Inexplicably I started crying.  The pain wasn’t THAT bad, but the tears just started flowing.


I was at somewhere around 35km, limping along, when a guardian angel swooped down in the form of Alfred the Dream Chaser.  He approached me and asked if I was ok.  I burst into tears again and told him about my heel and hip and my legs not working.  He helped me get a brisk walk going by pumping my arms, assured me that I could make it to the finish line within an hour walking at that pace, and then ran ahead in search of some ibuprofen for me.  He stayed with me for about 3 km cheering me up and getting my head back into the game until we came upon a woman in worse shape than me, and he flew off to help her out of her crisis.

At around 39km I was able to start running again and made it to the finish line with a smile on face.  There I was greeted by the wonderful new friends I have made in the process of training for this marathon.  Jim Lafferty was also there with his sweet words of praise and congratulations.  I was on cloud 9!!!  I went for my MUCH appreciated shower and sat down to eat with my running buddies where we had a front row seat to cheer on the rest of the runners.

And before too long, along came Alfred running alongside yet another runner who, like me, was heading for a successful finish to her first marathon with a smile on her face.  All along the way there were so many words of encouragement shouted out, warm smiles, caring co-runners, marshals and dream chasers.  Days like this are few and far between and I will NEVER, EVER forget it!!!!

– A sweet finish. Hugging Aileen, a fellow TBR Dream Marathoner –

– with Alfred, her Dream Chaser, and Marie, a fellow TBR Dream Marathoner –

When I got home I was greeted by cheers and hugs from my loving, supportive family.  I have entered near legendary status in my household by tackling my first marathon at 45 years of age.  I would never have thought about taking on this challenge if it wasn’t for you and your marathon, Jaymie.  THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!  I hope that your heart if full with all the love being sent your way by so many!!!

*  Images courtesy of Marnie and Photovendo