Runnng the rural roads of Siargao is very relaxing. (photo courtesy of Tong Pascua)
DEL CARMEN, Surigao del Norte – For residents of Siargao Island, surfing and scuba diving are the two sports that matter most. For a few hours last Saturday (November 16), they were treated to a brand new sporting spectacle as a group of 30 pioneering runners pounded the roads in the First Shore It Up Half-Marathon, a 21-kilometer footrace from the Numancia Elementary School (NES) grounds to just past Sayak Airport and back.
Elias Tabac topped all winners with a time of 1:23:24. He was followed by Eris Aclo (1:28:11) and Remegio Sili Jr. (1:37:29).
Judelyn Miranda ruled the distaff side by clocking 1:41:20, breaking away from Second Placer Michell Aclo (1:43:57) after running side by side for most of the race. Cynthia Escasinas was a very far Third Place at 2:52:55.
Champions received PHP 10,000.00 while the Second and Third Placers received PHP 5,000.00 and PHP 3,000.00. Pilar Mayor Lucio T. Gonzales fired off the runners at 3:00 PM, many of whom were previous winners in races held around Mindanao.
Braving the hot late afternoon weather, the fans lined the main road and lustily cheered all the participants as they passed by. At the turnaround point, the crowd was more than enough to block both lanes!
Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo “JR” M. Coro II left no stone unturned to ensure the race’s success. Aside from mustering the support of the local police and civilian volunteers, the preparations included the most trivial like rounding up stray dogs before the race.
Being the first of its kind on the island, race organizer Without Limits brought the standards of Metro Manila fun runs and a little more. Aside from equipping all participants with a timing chip, the set of distance markers were complete from Kilometer One to 20 and each marker had a water station.
The course was a simple straightaway with a few inclines. The concrete surface was well paved with almost zero potholes.
Running in the province is a welcome development as coconut trees and farmland complete with grazing animals replaced the usual tall buildings. The greenery really helped mitigate the heat and was definitely a relaxing sight.
For additional safety, headlights were offered at the 12-kilometer point in anticipation of the early sunsets at this time of the year. Most of the faster runners though opted not to avail since the sun was still up.
The Siargao It Up Half-Marathon was just one of many activities of Shore It Up, a corporate social responsibility project of the Metro Pacific Investments Corporation that is now on its fifth year. The main activity involved volunteer divers cleaning up the beaches and seas of the island.
The children of Siargao were recruited as members of the Junior Environmental Scouts, pledging their support to protect and maintain a clean environment. Main sponsor Philex Mining also inaugurated the grandstand at NES that they helped refurbish.
While the half-marathoners and participants in the five and one-kilometer side events slowly trickled back into the NES field, a contest entitled “Pimp Your Habal-Habal” was held wherein the contestants tried to outdo each other in dressing up and accessorizing their motorcycles. After announcing and awarding the day’s winners, a “Battle of the Bands” provided great nightcap as three entries disputed the PHP 30,000.00 top prize.
With the success of the events, there is no doubt that it deserves a repeat in 2014. Being the first edition, expect a lot of improvements and changes.
The potential is limitless. Noted triathlon coach Jojo Macalintal joined the Without Limits team in conducting a survey and study about holding a triathlon and other multisport events on top of the half-marathon.
Siargao has enough roads and beaches to stage at least a half-Ironman race. Along that line, the Siargao It Up Half-Marathon can also be expanded into a full Marathon or even an Ultra-Marathon as early as within the first half of 2014.
With gracious host Del Carmen Mayor Alfredo “JR” Coro II after the race.
The combined support of Metro Pacific Investments and the Siargao Island local governments led by Mayor Coro plus Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas and District I Representative Francisco T. Matugas was very instrumental. For sure, this partnership will continue to bear fruit in the years to come.
Thank you very much to Metro Pacific Investments VP for Media and Corporate Communications Melody M. del Rosario, Mayor JR Coro and the Without Limits Team for making our participation possible. We look forward to returning to the beautiful island of Siargao very soon!