MANILA – It was so good last year, a repeat was inevitable. For the second year in a row, Hyundai redefined the Filipino running landscape by staging a 100% free fun run for an estimated field of 26,000 at the Quirino Grandstand, the Hyundai RUN For A Cause last April 29.
In a time where the prices of joining fun runs are reaching unprecedented heights, Hyundai’s free run is a welcome development. As soon as on-line registration was opened, the slots for both the five and 10-kilometer categories were quickly filled up that it was forced to shut down for a while as the server went bonkers. Reopening days later, the few remaining slots were gobbled up in five minutes!
Runners were made to choose which among eight causes they wanted to support – Education, Women and Children’s Rights, Community Development, Filipino Pride, Youth Development Through Sports, Environment, Responsible Auto Ownership and Road Safety and Social Entrepreneurship as part of Hyundai’s Corporate Social Responsibility program.
A rainbow of colors from the different singlets blanketed Roxas Boulevard. Last year, there was only one singlet design for all the runners but this time, each cause was assigned a specific color. I chose to run 10 kilometers for Youth Development Through Sports and its corresponding purple singlet. By the way, the cause was really my choice having been involved in sports for almost 15 years now and the assigned color had no bearing with my decision.
For Youth Development Through Sports, Hyundai is partnering with The Younghusband Football Academy of national team stalwarts James and Phil Younghusband. They will support the Younghusband brothers as they conduct football clinics throughout the country.
Because of the huge volume of participants, runners were fired off in waves five minutes apart. The 10-kilometer runners were split into three while the five-kilometer group reached eight waves! The first wave left at around 15 minutes after the announced 5:00 AM gun start.
Despite being assigned to Wave A, it was tough to move around since the faster runners in Wave B caught up quickly and mixed in. This is definitely not the type of race to aim for a personal record due to the heavy human traffic along the route.
Just like last year, hydration was provided in the form of sealed 330-millimeter water bottles with a Hyundai label specially manufactured for the race. I just got one bottle from the first hydration station and it was enough for the whole ten kilometers.
By the way, the course was from the Quirino Grandstand to T. M. Kalaw then right at Roxas Boulevard before making a u-turn just at the foot of the EDSA flyover then going back to the starting point via the Manila Hotel. The five-kilometer runners had the same course but made their u-turn at Quirino Avenue.
I clocked an unofficial time of 1:06:55 on my watch which is two minutes off my personal record set in last year’s HSBC Run. Still, I was satisfied with my performance because I maintained a steady pace and had an easy time on the Buendia flyover, capped by a mad sprint from Manila Hotel to the finish line in hopes of salvaging the record.
Surprisingly, the final wave of five-kilometer runners had yet to leave. In fact, the VIPs from Hyundai, the beneficiary organizations and some celebrities were having a photo-op at the starting line, including the Younghusband brothers and the husband and wife tandem of Richard Gomez and Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez who also graced last year’s run.
The only red mark though was the baggage counter wherein discipline simply disappeared. Apparently, the baggage counter was to small and congested to accommodate the sudden surge of runners coming to claim their stuff, a lot of which was returned muddied.
Still, Hyundai should be commended for putting up this free run. One may wonder how they would recover this investment.
In the period since last year’s run, Hyundai’s sales increased dramatically as the Korean brand gets set to dislodge their Japanese rivals as the industry leader. The activity generated a lot of goodwill for the company and they are reaping the rewards.
What is in store for the third installment of the Hyundai RUN For A Cause? The first two are already tough acts to follow, so let’s just see what rolls out of the production line.