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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

June 13, 2012

Running’s Recent History in the Philippines

A few weeks back, I had lunch with the family at The Red Crab Alimango House at the Venice Piazza.  As we were waiting for the tastefully delectable crab maritess to arrive, I gazed upon the wall of the restaurant as it had a collection of vintage posters.  

Instantly, one poster caught my attention.  It was about a Sunday Fun Run, every 6:30 am at the CCP grounds along Roxas Boulevard, sponsored by the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of the Philippines, conducted by the Road Runners Club of the Philippines and endorsed by the Ministry of Youth and Development.

Wow.  This poster must have been from  the  Marcos presidency years as this was  the only time in  Philippine history that government executive branches were referred to as ministries.

This poster made me curious about the history of running in the Philippines.    So, I googled about it and came up with a handful of  written gems:   

1. “Running in the Philippines? Is there really such a history?”  (http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=266011073410341)

This piece, made by a blogger named Dakilang Adventurista,  has a list of running milestones in the Philippines from the very first Milo National Marathon in 1974 to the world record-setting Pasig Run in 10-10-10 with 116,000+  participants.  

This is an article from the running blog of Jazzrunner.  Here, the writer quoted a lot from Ruben “Direk” Trinidad, the de facto  historian of the RUNNEX Running Club. According to Direk, the Thomasites, the American teachers who sailed into the Philippines aboard the USS Thomas and were credited with introducing the American education system in our country in the early 1900s, included running as part of the Physical Education curriculum.  He pointed out that the first official “standard”  marathon in the country was held at the 1968 National Track and Field Championships held in Roxas City.  The  winner was Naga City-born Benjamin Silva-Netto.  Yes, the same  Silva-Netto that joined the marathon at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics (refer to earlier article http://www.bicolanopenguin.blogspot.com/2012/05/philippine-marathoners-in-olympics.html#more).  This write up ended with the statement that the “...first running boom was felt in the early 1980s.”

This is a first-hand account of the running boom in the 1980s by an obvious and ardent participant of the said boom.  Rene,  the Jazzrunner, got to finish four marathons in the 80s to the early 90s.  He was a few pounds lighter then but the passion for running never wavered in the lover of jazz. The early 1980s was the time of Botak (what happened to this sports apparel brand?).  It was also the time when true world running legends ran competitively in our shores, thanks to the creation of the Manila International Marathon which debuted in 1982.

4. History: 1st Manila International Marathon. (http://manilainternationalmarathon.com/history.htm)

5. Pioneering an International Marathon  (http://manilainternationalmarathon.com/event.htm)

In the running universe, you can’t get any more legend than the names of American Bill Rogers   and East German Waldemar Cierpinski .  Rodgers is the four-time champion of the Boston Marathon (1975, 1978, 1979 & 1980) and New York Marathon (1976, 1977, 1978 & 1979)  while Cierpinski duplicated the feat of Ethiopian great Abebe Bikila by winning back-to-back Olympic gold medals (Montreal 1976 and Moscow 1980).  Entering 1982,  the two running heavyweights were poised to finally meet head-to-head and the Manila International Marathon  seemed to be Thrilla in Manila 2 in the making. But it  was not to be as Rodgers, although arriving in Manila, begged off due to poor conditioning.  Nonetheless, sports enthusiast Red Dumuk,  in these 2 articles posted in the Manila International Marathon website,  talked aplenty of the drama and trivia  that abounded in the first edition of the MIM.   

The last article, in particular, provided me with info which made me understand and appreciate the poster which started this latest blog entry of mine.  Back in the days of Marcos Martial Law, there were weekly running clinics in Metro Manila such as Siglakas Scientific Running Clinic, Johnson & Johnson (Band-Aid) Marathon Clinic, and Pepsi Cola Marathon Clinic.   These weekly running clinics were a big factor  in helping many Pinoy  runners   fulfill  their dreams of finishing a full marathon.  Remember, back then, there wasn’t the internet yet and so the primary source of running knowledge for many locals were these weekly running clinics and the resulting Sunday fun runs.  Both of which were ostensibly free as this was the time when there were no high-priced race organizers yet.

Old school rocks.

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