Banning the Kenyans
To ban or not to ban the Kenyan runners from the weekend races? That is the question that the competitive athletes in Cebu’s local running scene wish the Cebu City Council and race organizers would address soon.
This, following the often clean sweep of podium finishes by the running band of Kenyans in even the smallest of Cebu races starting in the latter half of 2011, which effectively shut out Cebu’s local elite runners like Adonis Singson and Ian Bernido.
In this year’s edition of the Cebu City Marathon held last Jan. 8, not one from Cebu’s top male marathoners even bothered to run in the men’s 42K category knowing they would be shut out from the top ten. Among Cebu’s top runners, only ultramarathoner Noel Tillor rose to challenge the Kenyans.
Tillor whose racing credentials include the Bataan Death March 102 (2011) and winning 1st and 2nd place respectively in the Summit 60K ultra Challenge and the Cebu Century Challenge 104K, emerged as the fastest Filipino male landing at 8th place.
Frankly, banning the Kenyans from Cebu’s local ordinance should be out of the question. It falls right smack of discrimination.
Discrimination, as legally defined, “refers to the treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit. Discrimination can be the effect of some law or established practice that confers privileges on a certain class or denies privileges to a certain class because of race, age, sex, nationality, religion, or handicap.”
Indeed, why should we ban the Kenyans? Is it because they are fast and physiologically superior runners? We cannot ban the Kenyans just because we can’t cut it.
Whether you’re a runner or not that’s just the way of the world — train harder, run faster or be beat. We simply have to take our game to the next level. I do not believe in giving our local elites a separate set of prize money. It will only encourage them to settle for mediocrity and not strive to beat the Kenyans.
The local band of Kenyan runners are neither invincible nor unbeatable. This was proven by Cebu’s local running heroes Mendel Lopez who outran Kenyan Simon Losiaboi thrice in the mountain races, the newly crowned Milo Marathon queen Mary Grace Delos Santos who outclassed the Kenyans in the country’s longest running 42K race and local trail running queen Merlita Arias Dunkin who beat a Kenyan and emerged as top female in last year’s Mayon 360 50-mile race.
Our local runners, who depend on the local races to augment family income lament that the Kenyans have effectively deprived them of what should have been their share in the prize money. But there are many creative ways of making extra income such as taking on coaching and pacing assignments from among weekend athletes looking for guidance in their training and are willing to pay for it.
A gift from the Sto. Nino
It’s just 12 days to go before the Bataan Death March 160. According to the race rules, participants are allowed to have pacers from KM 102 until the finishline at the Capas National Shrine in Tarlac. I was resigned to the idea of running the dark, lonely and treacherous MacArthur Highway alone because I could not find the heart to ask my friends to run 58k with me. It seemed like too much of an imposition.
Then, from out of the blue last Saturday, a Cebuano ultrarunner and BDM 102 (2011) veteran offered to pace me. Ken is also registered to run BDM 160 and has in fact booked his tickets for the race, but encountered logistical problems at the last minute. I took it as a clear and unequivocal sign that God wants me to be successful in my second attempt to finish 100 miles within 30 hours. He sent me a gift in the person of Ken, and I didn’t even ask for it. God knows what you need, and sometimes, even if you don’t ask, He will give it to you.
Belated Pit Senor to everyone!
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