The sound of a Howitzer 105 mm canon broke the silence of the cool morning last Sunday, Nov. 21, as Mayor Manuel “Chiquiting” Sagarbarria fired a blank round to signal the start of the Dumaguete Adventure Marathon 2010.
Col. Manuel Ochotorena, 302nd Brigade commander, had obtained permission from Camp Aguinaldo to fire the canon to start the race.
It was the first time in the Philippines for a canon to be used in this manner.
“We’re used to firing our canons at hostile targets but this time, we are firing our canon for peace,” said 1Lt Winlove Bag-ao of the Philippine Army’s 302nd Brigade based in Tanjay, who came to Robinson’s Mall Dumaguete in the wee hours of that morning to bring the canon and some Army runners.
Last Sunday’s run was the second adventure marathon, and the fifth long run organized by Foundation University in cooperation with the Metro Dumaguete Road Runner’s Club and other sponsors.
“This is Foundation University’s gift to the City of Dumaguete and the Province of Negros Oriental,” FU President Mira Sinco told an ABS-CBN TV news crew before the race started.
“Marathons,” she explained, “are the world’s biggest tourist attractions, and we hope that this race, held every third Sunday of November, would get bigger and bigger.”
The runners came from all over, and came in many shapes and sizes, but there was something for the 3,869 individuals who joined this race. The biggest group were members of the FU community– 3,511 of them — who ran mostly the 3k and 5k route.
One hundred thirty-three runners came from all over the country to run the 31.5k three-quarter marathon.
Last year’s winner, Jeson Agravante, 22, of Silay City, was among the first to register. He also romped to a win in this year’s run.
The women’s division, on the other hand, was also won by Mereeis Ramirez, 30, also last year’s champion.
There were 96 runners who signed up for the 10.5k quarter marathon run, led by Vice Mayor Alan Gel Cordova and his upperclass “mistah” Col. Kristoffel Kiamco who came from Samar.
Also in this group were middle-aged professionals — doctors, lawyers, and teachers.
Seventy-six runners joined the 5k Finishers’ Run, and another 45 joined the 3k run. Also running the 3k were children with disabilities from the Great Physician Rehab, who ran with their parents or relatives.
A very visible person during the race was Dr. Aparicio Mequi, former chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission, who now chairs the FU Institute of Youth Sports for Peace (IYSPeace). “I’m just here as a watcher because I have turned over the organization of this race to FU people. And I’m happy to see that they’re doing good. I must have been a good teacher,” he chuckled.
Even for a seasoned organizer like Mequi, it was gratifying to see everything fall into place, especially as the support from the various sponsors started to pour in.
One big problem was soliciting rice for prizes.
The Dumaguete Adventure Marathon, in keeping with its rice conservation advocacy in partnership with PhilRice, only gives out rice as prizes, and are not convertible to cash, except for those from faraway places.
For the Dumaguete Adventure Marathon and the succeeding event — the Rice is Life Cookfest — a total of 90 cavans of rice were needed. But as of Oct. 28, there were only 16 cavans in stock.
Mequi sounded the alarm, and called on every member of the FU community to help in raising the needed amount of rice. By race day, a total of 130 cavans had been collected.
A total of 14 towns and cities had also signed up for the cookfest that was held at the Al Fresco section of the Robinson’s Dumaguete Mall starting at 8 a.m. They all showed off their skills in preparing dishes with rice as the main ingredient.
“It was the grandest show that we, at Foundation University, ever staged in concert and in unison with other sectors in Negros Oriental,” Dr. Mequi said in an email to all the organizers, paying tribute to all the unsung heroes who made the race a reality.
The effect of all those efforts even had Mayor Sagarbarria raising his thumb in approval. “The Dumaguete Adventure Marathon will surely put Dumaguete City in the tourism map,” he said, saying that the event adds to the variety of attractions that Dumaguete City has to offer.
But perhaps by far the biggest compliment the DAM got was from a seasoned runner who came all the way from Manila to run the race. As posted on the website Takbo.ph, Manokanrunner writes: “It’s a simple run, but organizers here know how to organize a race.”