by Armie Garde
I am usually one of those who wake up early morning to join a race and simply run, but last Sunday morning was different, or so I thought. I cheered for my running friends and siblings who joined in the regional qualifying leg of the 36th National Milo Marathon in Cebu yesterday. I also documented the race.
I did not sleep the night before the race, perhaps because I too was excited. I have heard about the national Milo marathon before, but yesterday was the first time I witnessed it myself. I didn’t wanna be late and didn’t wanna miss the action at the starting line.
It was drizzling when I walked my way to Cebu Normal University, where the starting line was. I brought with me just the camera, tripod and my phone – no umbrella, raincoat or whatever to cover me (I wasn’t prepared for the the unpredictable weather), but I made sure the camera was clothed. The student marshals were already lining up and barricading the way when I arrived at the starting line. I missed the fireworks display, my bad, but I made it 20 minutes before gun start of the 21K race.
The student marshals let me in, perhaps because they figured I was there to cover the event. I found myself a nice spot, where I can take any shots I wanted. My lighting was a bit problematic, but I believed I managed to pull it off.
At exactly 4:30 a.m., the 21K runners were released and their volume was overwhelming. Late comers were many, most of them already looked anxious. I know the feeling because I tried being late in a race once. Surprisingly, most of them managed to catch up.
After taking the shots I needed, I went back to the office to eat breakfast, and then went back to Abellana again to catch the runners at the finish line.
I did so many races already but it was really the first time I saw a running crowd that huge. I managed to get an aerial shot of the runners and I was really amazed. Indeed, 22,000 is thousands and thousands. Aside from the professional runners and running enthusiasts, pupils and students from different Cebu schools also participated.
After my shooting business, I walked towards the Abellana Sports Complex. I don’t know but the moment I saw the entire oval, I felt renewed. I was there just two days ago but looking at the oval in a different perspective, my eye view from a totally different reference point, I felt something I must say ‘magical’. Perhaps because I was surrounded by green (my fave color) Milo tarps. No, it’s beyond that and I can’t explain but there really was this feeling of renewal from within.
Then I realized I missed running — hard but light, fast but happy and free. I missed running light, free and happy.
I watched the participants as they cross the finish line, as they yell and cheer in relief, as they embrace and tap each other for a kilometer-well- ran, as they smile with pride. Some finished alone, some by pair and most were in a group. As I watched them, I wished I had joined the race myself. It would have been nicer had I joined and also aimed for crossing the finish line before the 2:30 cut-off.
As I cheer and take videos of the finish line moment of the runners, I thought of this familiar question, “What are these people running for?”
The national Milo marathon is one of the biggest races in the Philippines, and it is for a greater cause — to help people dream and reach their dreams. The Milo’s Give Shoes program has already reached almost 20,000 underprivileged school children nationwide. Proceeds of the race partly go to this program, which give many kids the chance to own a pair of (green) shoes that is symbolic. If you have a dream, you walk and run to achieve it, and wearing a pair of shoes helps a lot.
I know that most of those who ran share the same advocacy, one of the reasons why they join the race aside from qualifying to the national finals in Manila. But I also know that most of them have other reasons why they run. A man with a down syndrome crossed the 10K finish at one hour plus – what does he run for? An old man, perhaps on his 70’s or 80’s finished strong in the 21K division – what does he run for? The man who fainted just after crossing the 21K finish line – what does he run for?
We all run for different reasons, and the thought of having so many reasons to run for overwhelms and inspires me to keep running. When I started running in 2010, I ran it for an advocacy dedicated to my fellow Pinay in Action. After two years of running, I realized that I will never run out of reasons and causes to run, but I also figured that I RUN to LIVE, PRAY and LOVE. I keep running to keep living, praying and loving.
Yesterday, I couldn’t help but weep while seeing fellow runners, most of them I don’t really know personally, crossing the finish line, emerging victorious despite the discomforts. I wept because I was happy to see them and was inspired as well. The moments at the finish line are indeed tearjerking scenes, and I couldn’t help but be swept-away.
There are still upcoming regional qualifying races, and I’m considering joining one, and try to finish the 21K within the cut off. Or I might changed my mind and try to qualify for the finals, instead. (Haha, I know, quite ambitious, but why not…I’m inspired and when I am, I’m unstoppable.) We’ll see what will happen.
Needless to say, yesterday’s race was successful – people had fun, school children benefited and some people like me were INSPIRED to keep running for something greater, for a purpose.
How about you, did you join yesterday’s run? What did you run for? What do you run for?
Armie Garde the Warat Runner, who started running ultramarathons at 23 years old, is a multimedia journalist based in Cebu City, Philippines. One of her ultra dreams is to finish BDM 102 and 160. She maintains runroo.com.