Bos­ton marathon’s mys­tique

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By BILL VE­LASCO

There is some­thing about this week’s Bos­ton marathon that cap­ti­vates global run­ners and spec­ta­tors alike. Held on the third Mon­day of April or Pa­tri­ots Day, it holds a spe­cial place in many peo­ple’s hearts. Maybe it’s nat­u­ral, since it is the largest city and cap­i­tal of Mas­sachusetts. Or per­haps it is the work­ing-class rep­u­ta­tion of the city, the hard­nosed at­ti­tude of the Ir­ish, the blood sweat and tears of Celtics, the for­mi­da­ble chal­lenge of Heart­break Hill, or how the city seems to over­come ad­ver­sity by pure will. In 2013, two home­made bombs det­o­nated near the fin­ish line, killing three peo­ple and in­jur­ing hun­dreds, in­clud­ing 16 victims who lost limbs. The cit­i­zens’ re­sponse in the af­ter­math was typ­i­cal Bos­to­nian, just two words: Bos­ton strong. And the world ral­lied around them.

For many Filipino run­ners, this edi­tion of the race had spe­cial mean­ing. Large groups of Filipino ath­letes, celebri­ties and even en­tire fam­i­lies flew to Bean­town to race, cheer or support other run­ners. Ac­cord­ing to the Bos­ton Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion, 30,074 qual­i­fied; 27,221 started and 26,411 or 90 per­cent fin­ished. More than 45 per­cent of the en­trants were fe­male, an equally im­pres­sive num­ber.

“The Bos­ton Marathon is one the most cov­eted races for run­ners, as it is the world’s old­est an­nual marathon, hav­ing started in April 1897 and con­tin­u­ing un­til present day ev­ery year since then,” says Amale Jop­son, vice-pres­i­dent of AboitizLand Inc. and wife of veteran triath­lete and coach Noy Jop­son. “To join the race, you have to qual­ify based on time stan­dards for your age group and gen­der. There are also slots al­lot­ted for char­i­ties and part­ners which re­sult in rais­ing over $10 mil­lion ev­ery year. So get­ting a chance to par­tic­i­pate is a priv­i­lege in it­self.”

Jop­son first ran in 2014, but in­evitably knew she would re­turn. Her en­tire fam­ily, in­clud­ing her hus­band and coach Noy, cheered her on with signs, com­pli­ments and all forms of support. But one thing all run­ners had to deal with this year was the heat, which was partly re­lieved by the warmth of the peo­ple along the course.

“Ev­ery­one had to slow down,” adds Jop­son, who still ran eight min­utes faster than she did three years ago. “The heat train­ing in Cebu def­i­nitely helped and I was on track to match my per­sonal best at the half, but it’s very dif­fi­cult to re­cover after the New­ton hills, even if it’s down­hill to the fin­ish for the next 8K. Bos­ton is Bos­ton – re­spect for the course and history and to­tally en­joy the truly awe­some ex­pe­ri­ence – I was smil­ing 70 per­cent of the way. The crowds also re­ally helped – from start to fin­ish, cheer­ing and giv­ing very use­ful things, like ice, wet tis­sues, wa­ter­melon, pop­si­cles and even Vase­line (which I ate be­cause I thought it was crushed ice!) happy and priv­i­leged to have run a sec­ond time.”

For in­ter­na­tional busi­ness con­sul­tant, re­spected mo­ti­va­tor and cor­po­rate trainor An­thony Pangili­nan, this year’s Bos­ton Marathon com­pleted a great chal­lenge he laid down for him­self: to com­plete all of the world’s great­est marathons, putting him in a very small, elite group of Filipinos.

“It was sig­nif­i­cant for me be­cause it’s ev­ery run­ner’s dream!” ex­plains Pangili­nan, who in­ter­views busi­ness ti­tans on his pro­gram on CNN Philip­pines. “The old­est and most chal­leng­ing of all (after hav­ing run Lon­don, Tokyo, Ber­lin, Chicago and New York or what they call the World Marathon Ma­jors). It’s an honor to be one of seven Pi­noys who’ve com­pleted all six so far. It’s chal­leng­ing as a course be­cause it starts with a long down­hill and you think you’re about to run the eas­i­est course when the se­ries of hills (in­clud­ing Heart­break) make you feel like you were set up for trou­ble! Quick honey­moon and now the long drawn mar­riage!”

Other well-known run­ners like Kim Atienza, Amanda Carlo and Ani de Leon all have their own unique ex­pe­ri­ences, which they’ve been shar­ing on so­cial me­dia. Jong Sa­julga fin­ished the gru­el­ing course in a stun­ning time of 2:48. All told, Bos­ton will also leave in­deli­ble me­mories for those who came, saw and valiantly con­quered its long, chal­leng­ing, rolling run.

“The Bos­ton Marathon is re­ally a di­chotomy of sorts – re­ward­ing and pun­ish­ing at the same time,” re­flects Jop­son. “It’s a re­ward and priv­i­lege just to be at the start­ing line, cel­e­brat­ing life, love and health with 36,000 other peo­ple. Then you go through a long down­hill stretch and un­du­lat­ing hills that’s just won­der­ful un­til you hit the New­ton hills – you love them and you hate them! They’re re­ally tough com­ing in so late in the race, and it’s not your train­ing that gets you through. You look around and ev­ery­one is chal­lenged, and the wheelchair ath­lete or some­one who’s run­ning for char­ity push­ing a wheelchair up th­ese long hills, try­ing all sorts of tricks just to get up, gives you goose bumps and suddenly you want to help them run their race and for­get about your pain!

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