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The best of Cebu running

/ 06:54 AM February 21, 2012

The SMB-SAC Awards, now on its 30th year, will once again honor Cebuano and Cebu-based athletes, sportsmen and sportswomen who have shown exceptional performance in their respective fields during the past year.

Leading the honorees for the great sport of Running is Mary Grace Delos Santos. After having been bypassed in the official delegation of the national athletics team in last year’s Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia, Mary Grace did not just sit in a corner and mope. She went on to win the Pinoy version of the Boston Marathon, the 35th Milo Marathon (women’s category), and clocked her personal best of 2:53:07.

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Other honorees for Running are as follows:

Merlita Arias-Dunkin. Known as Cebu’s trail running queen, Merlita dominated the trails after placing 1st in the Mayon 360 80-kilometer race in Legazpi City in April last year, the presence of Kenyan runners notwithstanding. Merlita likewise outclassed the country’s best trail runners after finishing first in the TNF 100 in Camarines Sur last May.

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Bayani Alvarez logs in the miles by running in between tapings, live airings and remote broadcasts at ABS CBN Cebu where he works as assistant cameraman. Due to financial constraints, Bayani seldom joins weekend races and picks only the Cebu City Marathon, the Press Freedom Run and a handful of  landmark races such as the first ever 100-kilometer single stage foot race in Cebu which had runners run from the City Hall of Bogo to the Plaza Independencia in Cebu. Bayani emerged as the fastest runner in this land mark race crossing the finishline after 104 kilometers and 11 hours and 6 minutes.

Emily Chiongbian achieved what all serious runners train and hope but only very few manage to achieve – a BQ or the ticket to run the Boston Marathon — the oldest, most revered marathon in the planet next only to the Olympics. Millette qualified by clocking 3:43:06 earlier in March 2010 at the LA Marathon. The 115th Boston Marathon last April was Millette’s victory lap, not just for herself, but for all of us who continue our quest for the holy grail of marathon running.

Mendel Lopez. A perennial SAC honoree, Mendel Lopez’s achievement in the middle distances is unquestioned and in 2011 Mendel brought home the gold after emerging as champion in the 10,000 meters at the Arafura Games in Darwin Australia.

Mary Joy Tabal. Hailed as Cebu’s newest road running queen, Mary Joy Tabal has dominated the women’s category of almost all of Cebu’s weekend races during the past year filling in the void left by Mary Grace Delos Santos who lay low from the weekend races to concentrate on training with the Philippine National Team in Baguio City.

Melinda Ponce will be honored posthumously for her stellar achievements in ultramarathon running. Even at the age of 50, Melinda outran men and women half her age after emerging as female champion in the Warrior 50K in Mactan Cebu and the Summit 60K Challenge in Talisay City. In October, Melinda, along with her son and two daughters were murdered by her estranged husband who also turned the gun on himself in their home in Talisay City, Cebu.

The SAC awards will be held on March 3, 2012 3 p.m. at the Terraces, Ayala Center Cebu. Everyone is invited to share in honoring Cebu’s local pride.

On bended knees

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Last Feb. 14, 2012 – after eight years of being together and seeing the world together, Ken Alonte finally asked Emmilie Cuizon’s hand in marriage in the world’s love capital – Paris.

Ken, an ultrarunner was registered to run BDM 160, but opted to volunteer to be part of my crew at the BDM 160 last month after getting a Schengen Visa. Ken was all along preparing to pop the big question to Emmilie.

“I thought Eiffel was romantic but I (proposed) Sacre Coeur Church, the highest point in Paris (overlooking the city and Eiffel still, plus a monument that reminds me of you — Joan of Arc). I had the help of my Parisian friends as well so there were 20+ local connivance to witness sa akong pagluhud. I’m glad she said yes despite her getting shocked.”

Congratulations Ken and Em!

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