"Turn right, not left." I shouted out at my grade school classmate Gina as I tried to catch up with her in the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City. She was trotting fast along Diokno Boulevard and about to turn left Seaside Boulevard. Going left would have her joining the 5-km run instead of the 3-km run which the two of us registered for.
She corrected herself, went right and was zooming her way to the finish line of the 2015 Pro Earth Run. As usual, the self-proclaimed "maestro" - the Bicolano Penguin was left eating the dust of a student. Ecstatic, she raised her two hands to give out the victory sign. It was her first fun run in the Philippines.
A few more steps after the finish line, both of us lined up to receive our finisher medals. Gina was again overjoyed as it was her first time to receive a medal, finisher or otherwise. Watching her joyous with her accomplishment was enough to put a hearty smile on my face.
Such was the highlight of my running of the weekend that just passed. The 2015 Pro Earth Run we joined was only 3 kilometers, a minuscule distance when compared to the ultra marathons of the Bicolano Penguin's recent past. Similarly, the World of DC Comics All Star Fun Run that me and my son joined two weekends ago was only 5 kilometers. No complaints on my part as I am being practical as I try to recover from my recent hospitalizations. Old dogs like me (or shall we say old fowls like me) have greatly diminished recuperative powers. On the contrary, I actually feel blessed to run these short distances as it gave me an occasion to have a bonding time with my son. In the case of Gina, it is an opportunity to be of help to a classmate and a relative.
Gina Morallo Mabuchi is actually on a vacation here in her beloved country. She lives with her husband and kids in Osaka Prefecture in the Land of the Rising Sun. In March, she arrived in the Philippines to spend some relaxing time with her mother and siblings in Tagaytay. I broached to her the idea of joining a fun run together as I felt she would enjoy it given her athletic background while growing up in our hometown of Iriga. Plus, I had the impression that she was familiar with fun runs as Japan is a running-loving country. At first, she was hesitant, explaining that she had a medical procedure on her spine a few years back in Osaka. So, I suggested we try out a short distance like 3 kilometers and we could just walk the whole way if she wanted to. This had her saying yes which was my signal to register. The target race was the 2015 Pro Earth Run. The key consideration for me was the fact that even at a short distance of 3 kms, there was the prospect of a finisher medal. Surely, this would make a newbie smile with glee.
On actual race day, we were actually late for the gun start and the two of us were part of the last runners to start the 3-km race. I was looking forward to just having a brisk walk with Gina but it was a surprise to me that she was actually running and soon we were overtaking many of those who started ahead of us. Granted many of the 3-km participants were just walking at a Luneta promenade pace which prompted Gina to observe that here in the Philippines the fun run is more like an Alay Lakad while in Osaka or any other Japanese city for that matter, the races and even the fun runs are a serious affair for the Japanese runners. I simply retorted that it is more fun in the Philippines, most especially the fun runs. To this, she gave a thumbs up sign.
She was clearly having a good time and for that brief moment, I could imagine that all the worries in the world she currently was carrying she momentarily discarded as she got to focus on crossing the finish line. Such indeed is one of the allure of running. It offers an escape, however brief, to an endorphin-laced world of fun and more fun . That is probably the reason why I will not waver and I will not tire from the vocation of spreading the wonderful message of the gospel of running, no matter how short or long the distance.
Amen to that.