After seeing the documentary film “Spirit of Marathon” I came to realize how big a deal really it is to be able to run a marathon or in a 42-kilometer run event. The film basically seem to impress upon me the idea that marathon events or other race categories like the half marathon events doesn’t happened much in the United States or at least in Chicago area where the documentary centered in as much frequency as it does in the Philippines. The event such as the “La Salle Bank Marathon” is a most anticipated event among those who are interested in running that these participants or would be participants put quite a lot of effort and preparation to run in this event.
In contrast, here in the Philippines where run events are scheduled whole year round and in so many places all over the country especially in Manila where events occurs almost every week, runners do not put much thought into it except to sign up and show up and perhaps rouse up their friends into joining them. Preparation here in the Philippines is not as serious as what in the Spirit of Marathon documentary had shown being done in the States. Here, those who does serious preparation such as undergoing routine runs and gym works prior the actual events are those who had come to realize later how training can further improve their pace and help them avoid injuries. But for the rest of the participants who never thought of getting injured by “mere running” or are not aware of what’s a Personal Record is; running could be a great opportunity for bonding with family, friends or co-workers including to get somewhere else.
Run events here in the Philippines may feature some of the following distance categories like 3K, 5K, 10K, 15K or 16K, 21K, 32K, 42K (full marathon), 50k (ultramarathon). Without the participants realizing it, if they constantly run in various run events; beginning with the least distance event until they have this distance well under their pocket and soon ready to upgrade to the next distance category, they are actually gradually being weaned to run into still further more distance until they could not resist the lured by the allure of running a full marathon and ultra-marathon.
In the documentary aforementioned, about 40 thousand runners had participated in the La Salle Bank Marathon. Many of these participants probably hadn’t run in other run events in the same year the Chicago Marathon was held except for training runs. Many of the participants hailed from across the United States of America and from other countries as well. The number swelled because beyond this event there would just be a trickle of other events participants can take their training to the test. In the Philippines we do not have the same overwhelming number of participants in a single event. For one thing there are no venue that could accommodate such number. Active Health of Unilab and Run Rio the organizers of the Run United Philippine Marathon 2013 boasted of having at least 4,000 participants. The Condura Skyway Marathon had also similar attendees for the 42k category. This number is expected to grow as newbies who had run in at least 4 consecutive 21k category races are finally convince they are ready to take the challenge of the full marathon. Of course there are also those who felt the Run United franchise run had gone too commercialized and expensive that they may opt to run in other marathon events or upgrade to ultramarathon beginning with the 50K distance. Lately there has been surge in the number of these 50K run events which feature crossing one province to the next like the Nasugbu 2 Tagaytay Run, Laguna 2 Rizal Run. The chance to see new route or simply crossing provincial boundaries on foot has a nice ring into it that definitely pique the interest of runners into joining these events. Thus, spreading the number of runners in various run events further and why a similar number of participants in the Chicago Marathon could not be replicated here in the Philippines.
Running clinics and training camps are not that popular and are usually if ever there are available like the Bull Runner Academy among others are basically participated by those who are interested in taking their running to the next level like increasing their PR or for competitive purposes. But for most of the participants it is either through their running clubs to whom they reach out for training. Another reason for the least popularity of running clinics is that many of the participants of run events as mentioned earlier do not think formal training is necessary since they jog every morning a couple of kilometers and are quite contented in being recreational runners. Running is already a pressure enough to contend with, the pressure that may be added by pursuit of PR or peers who are doing much better might be a bit too much pressure for a runner whose only aim in participating is to spend quality time with the love ones and feign having healthy lifestyle.
For my part, I ran at least 3 kilometers 3 days on weekdays and 21k on weekend. The weekend run is a result of my having signed up for a run event. If there’s a 42k run category my training for it constitute the sum of all the 21k run I participated prior to that 42k run event. The term tempo run, long slow distance run and recovery run are nonexistence in my training vocabulary. That is why I was rooting for the main protagonists of the Spirit of Marathon and was even more emotional when they were able to finish their respective runs more than I can remember feeling when I finished my first 42k run. But I know this does not diminish my accomplishment. 42k is 42k. It is a distance more people can’t yet comprehend of running. I know because that was also how I saw it. That is how I even see it sometimes.
In the documentary running was shown that it could be cheaply done by just donning a regular running shoes or it could be done like for the professional athletes in a mind bogglingly complicated fashion to include long time training programs, coaching and monitoring by specialists and being outfitted with the advance aerodynamically designed apparels. One of the protagonists of the documentary a Kenyan runner mentioned about why they have to excel in the sport. According to him this is their way of marketing their country in the similar fashion why Filipino had to excel sometimes in singing or in boxing. So, running purpose could be about elevating your country’s pride in the world arena or about as mundane as collecting race bibs and finisher’s medals. For me running is my way now of achieving something since I don’t do much outside teaching photography in class. The one thing the documentary and my experience kind of agree though is that running is for everyone who is willing to spend some time in seeing the other end of the road.