In the past few years, 7-Eleven Philippines has created a stable of successful runners. In fact, the Milo Marathon Queen, Mary Joy Tabal, ran a half-marathon race for the team in Seoul and won. Since 2014, Team 7-Eleven Philippines’ runners has been winning races internationally and they’re winning it like it has become a yearly tradition.
In order to join the team, runners must first join the 7-Eleven Run series. The top 3 winners of the 21k and 42k categories will have the opportunity to run in Phuket. As for me, I was lucky enough that my 7-Eleven race report article in this blog was noticed and I was given the opportunity to join them as the blogger of the social media group. And aside from witnessing the race live, I was also given the chance to run the 10.5k category to experience the event. So, read on to know the full story, because it’s another good one to add to the record books.
INTRODUCING… TEAM 7-Eleven Philippines Batch 2016
This is the 2nd time 7-Eleven Philippines sent runners to Phuket (paradise revisited). This year’s batch consists of returning members, Mario Maglinao, Cristabel Martes, Eugine Postrado, Gregg Osorio, and Mark Anthony Oximar. And the new bloods, Richard Salaño, Argel Mendoza, Jho-ann Banayag, Lany Cardona, April Diaz, and Nhea Ann Barcena. It’s worth noting that Cristabel Martes was a former Milo Marathon Queen and the National Female Marathon record-holder, and Jho-ann Banayag was also a former Milo Marathon Queen and SEA Games Champion. How awesome is that? it’s like having living legends in your team line-up.
The runners were also joined by the 7-Eleven Philippines staff/support group/cheering squad, led by Project Head, Michelle Saludes and General Merchandise Division Head, Jose Ang jr. And the social media group, Jeff Lo of pinoyfitness.com, Paulo Fernandez and Kristian Encarnacion of Solar Sports, and blogger/runner, The Rogue Rebel, Gian Carlo Rodil.
RACE DAY 1 (June 4)
The first day of the event was for the 2km Kids Run, the 5km Run and Community Walk, and the 10.5k Run. Sir Jose, Sir Bernie, and Mam Joselle ran ran the 5k, and I ran 10.5k.
The event started at 5pm (6pm Manila time), it’s a sunset run, so it’s going to be a good run.
Over 1,400 participants in the 10.5 category and everyone was excited to run, positive vibes emanate the starting line as the timer initiating the run was counting down. The run started slow and the road was congested, it took some time for the faster runners to overtake and make some breathing room.
The only problem during the run was the weather, it’s hot and very similar to Manila temperature. Good thing that the event has proper hydration stations and ice-cold sponges are available for that much needed cool down. The race route is nice, some parts are scenic (I can even see the beach), and there are some long straight roads to make up for the loss momentum on the uphill segments of the route.
I finished the race at 01:04:12. It did cross my mind to do a Sub-1, but it was hot and I just decided to run a smooth pace, slow down to take some photos, and just enjoy the scenery. The event has an international appeal, the majority of the participants are foreigners, from countries like Singapore, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, and more. It was a fun race and I enjoyed it a lot, truly fits the ‘run paradise’ theme, and I highly recommend it for first time runners.
RACE DAY 2 (June 5)
The 2nd day is the main event, the Half-Marathon and the Full Marathon. This time around, I’m a spectator, part of the support team, and a photographer.
Mario Maglinao, Eugine Postrado, Argel Mendoza, Lany Cardona, and April Diaz are the runners for Marathon which started at 4:30 am.
Richard Salaño, Mark Anthony Oximar, Gregg Osorio, Cristabel Martes, Jho-an Banayag, and Nhea Ann Barcena will be running the Half-Marathon an hour later (Jeff Lo also ran the half-marathon just for fun).
THE HALF-MARATHON (21k)
Whilst the Marathon started on time, the Half-Marathon was delayed a little bit because the Princess of Thailand will be running and she probably got late due to traffic. Everyone in the event, the spectators, runners, and event the event photographers were politely asked to not take photos of the Princess. As a sign of respect, everyone seemed to have complied. When the Princess finally arrived, she was joined by a few runners (probably some friends or family), a personal photographer, as the police escort them towards the starting line. She was then surrounded by personal bodyguards who will be running alongside (it’s quite a sight to see a VIP surrounded by guards, think King Joffrey and his Kingsguard, but without the intimidating armor, the bad-assery of medieval weapons, and Sandor Clegane).
The race started with the Princess having a few minutes head start and the announcer said the the runners don’t have to worry about passing her during the race (and if that was King Joffrey, he’ll probably shoot a crossbow bolt on your rear end).
I had more than an hour to kill before the first runner crosses the finish line. So, I walked around the area nearby, just a quick stroll and sightseeing. I returned to the event site, near the finish line as the spectators await the first runner to arrive. Then came the announcement as the first runner from the half-marathon is only a few kilometers away from victory. The American announcer is enticing the crowd, creating suspense. And when the announcer finally said the leading runner is from the Philippines, followed by the word ‘maybe,’ (to stir up excitement and suspense) the 7-Eleven Philippines support/cheering squad erupted with joy, they started clapping and cheering louder, especially when the name Salaño was mentioned (even before the runner was on sight). I can hear and feel their excitement, they’re ecstatic. I’m excited too, knowing that one of us is just a few strides away from winning. Then I can hear their cheers getting louder and louder. They can see Salaño approaching, I can’t because the start/finish line arch is blocking my view. The best I can do is wait and capture his moment as he crosses the finish line. So, I’ll let my photos below tell you what I saw…
See that? it’s the moment! the stuff of legends, the result of hard work and dedication. Richard Salaño, the first runner to cross the finish line with an official time of 01:15:18. He is Laguna Phuket Internation Marathon 2016’s Half-Marathon Overall Champion.
After taking the photo above, I greeted and congratulated Richard. I also asked him if that amazing 1:15:18 time is a new PR. He said, no, his current PR is 1:10. How amazing is that? want to be more impressed? he actually beat 3 Kenyans at 7-Eleven Run 2016 to get here.
And the winning doesn’t stop there. Team members Gregg Osorio and Mark Anthony Oximar were right behind him, securing 3rd and 4th place respectively.
Moving to the Female category, the first woman to finish the half-marathon was Vivian Tang from Singapore who crossed the finish line at 1:27:11. The defending champion, our very own Cristabel Martes finished at 2nd place with an official time of 1:28:13.
Just a minute behind her is another team member, Jho-An Banayag taking 3rd place.
Triathlete and last year’s Run United 32k Champion, Nhea Ann Barcena, put up a noble effort and finished at 1:35:10, ranking 5th in the female category.
THE MARATHON (42k)
Moving to the Marathon Category, there is a new champion. Koji Nishizawa from Japan finished the race at 2:37:53. Congratulations to the new champion.
Our defending champion, ‘Super’ Mario Maglinao, fell to 3rd place overall with an official time of 2:49:54. He may not have won this time, but he put up a good fight and there’s always next year to look forward to.
Eugine Postrado and Argel Mendoza secured the 4th and 5th place, respectively. Mendoza finished the race at 3:08:50 and also ranked 1st in his age group, whilst Postrado finish at 2:55:36 and got 3rd place.
In the Female Marathon category, April Rose Diaz finished the race at 3:35:21. She ranked 23rd overall, 4th in the female category, and 2nd in her age group.
And finally, saving the best for last. This year’s Laguna Phuket International Marathon Female Champion, another newcomer to the team, Lany Cardona. This year’s Marathon Queen, Lany crossed the finish line at 3:23:00.
So, that it for the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon. All of the runners bagged awards. Our runners dominated the Half-Marathon category including the overall championship. We also won the Marathon female category. It’s very similar to last year’s sweep, just in reverse (our 42k champion is now a female and the 21k champ is now male). And if the trend continues next year, it’s gonna be another successful run (pun intended) for Team 7-Eleven Philippines again. If that’s the case, the team might as well be synonymous to the words consistency and winning streak.
The support from 7-Eleven Philippines staff is amazing, it’s part of the runners’ success. They take care of you, they cheer loudly for you to boost your morale, and most importantly, they make sure you have fun and a good time. Want to be part of the Team 7-Eleven Philippines? all you have to do is join the 7-Eleven Run series (usually scheduled on the first month every year), do your best to make it to the top 3 of the 21k and 42k categories, and you’re in. Bringing out the best in you is what the team encourages. Work hard, dedicate yourself to your passion, and give it your all. The next international half-marathon or marathon champion could be you.
Thanks to Philippine Seven Corporation (7-Eleven Philippines) and their major sponsors, Safeguard, Selecta, Pocari Sweat, Del Monte, Nature Spring, Gatorade, Powerade, and Summit Water for the all-expense-paid trip and for supporting our runners and giving them the chance to shine in the international marathon scene. See you on the next 7-Eleven Run.
But, the story doesn’t end here. Part 2 of my blog will be the chronicles of the Phuket trip. What I saw, what we did, the whole experience. Just go here: https://theroguerebel.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/this-one-time-at-phuket/