Posted in 10k, 21k, 42.195 kilometers, 42k, half-marathon, Marathon, Uncategorized

Paradise revisited: 7-Eleven Philippines made another successful run at the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon

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.

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Top (from left to right) Mario Maglinao, Argel Mendoza, Eugine Postrado, Gregg Osorio, Mark Anthony Oximar, and Richard Salaño. Bottom (from left to right) Jhoan Banayag, Lany Cardona, April Diaz, Nhea Ann Barcena, Cristabel Martes.

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.

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The runners with the 7-Eleven staff and the social media group.

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.

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The fun runners. We run for fun not to compete.
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Welcome to Laguna Phuket.
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The Start/Finish line as seen from a distance.
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A scenic view right beside the event site.

The event started at 5pm (6pm Manila time), it’s a sunset run, so it’s going to be a good run.

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A little bit of confident selfie at the starting line.
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Smiles and excitement minutes before the gun start.

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.

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Slow and smooth start.

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.

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The heat is on!
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Trees provide that much needed shade and fresh air.
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Coconut trees and a beach can be seen in this scenic part of the route.
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I’m not here to run fast or make a new PR. I’m here to enjoy my first international run. So, selfie time!

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.

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It was so well organized, they even serve post race meals instead of the usual drinks and light snacks we get in most local running events.
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5k (Sir Bernie) and 10.5k (Me) Finishers.
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Not fond of the medal design, but I enjoyed the run, so the medal is an afterthought.

 

RACE DAY 2 (June 5)

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A pre-race prayer led by Mam Rowena at the Chabana Hotel lobby.
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Our Team Jacket and ASICS Team Shirt.
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The official race venue of the 11th Laguna Phuket International Marathon.

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.

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Go Team 7-Eleven Philippines.

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)

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The Half-Marathon starting line. See if you can spot the soon-to-be 21k overall champion.
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Is it possible that Mr. Salaño is foreseeing his victory? Look at those eyes, it’s like his warging.

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).

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The Princess arrives. Unfortunately, everyone is not allowed to take photos of her.

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).

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Richard Salaño on full blast!
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That speed though…

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…

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Almost there….
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It’s going to be Legen… wait for it…. Dary!
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Legendary!

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.

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The runner who gives his all, is the runner who gets the sweetest victory.
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The face of Hard Work and Dedication.
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And the new half-marathon champion of LPIM 2016… from the Philippines…

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.

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Osorio finished at 1:19:05. 3rd place overall, 3rd place in male category, and 2nd place in his age group.
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Oximar finished at 1:20:23. 4th place overall, 4th in the male category, and 3rd place in his age group.

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.

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Martes finished the race at 1:28:13, placing her 10th overall, 2nd in the female category, and 1st in her age group.
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Still the National Record Holder, Cristabel Martes.

Just a minute behind her is another team member, Jho-An Banayag taking 3rd place.

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The former Milo Marathon Queen and SEA Games Champion, Jho-an Banayag. She finished the race at 1:29:17. She ranked 12th place overall, 3rd in the female category, and 2nd in her age group.

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.

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That smile. Barcena finished at 1:35:10. She ranked 21st overall, 5th in the female category, and 4th in her age group.

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.

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The new Marathon Champion, Nishizawa, finished the race at 2:37:53.
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Pain is temporary, glory is forever.

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.

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Nhea Ann Barcena congratulating our champion.
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Heart of a Champion.
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Maglinao finished 3rd place overall with an official time of 2:49:54. He ranks 3rd in the male category and 2nd in his age group.

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.

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Mendoza (left) ranked 5th overall, 5th in the male category, and 1st in his age group. Postrado (right) in 4th place overall, 4th in the male category, and 3rd in his age group.
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Argel, floating in the air while checking the time. It’s levitation, holmes!
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To the finish…

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.

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I wasn’t able to take photos of April during the race because I couldn’t find her and the sidelines were getting crowded by spectators.

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.

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The new Marathon Queen of Laguna Phuket International Marathon 2016.
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Cardona finished the race at 3:23:00. Ranking 10th overall, 1st in the female category, and 1st in her age group.

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.

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Thank you for the ample freebies, favorite refreshments, and the eye-catching, color-themed singlets.
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The 21k Champion.
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The 42k Female Champion.
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The Champions of the Univers… I, mean LPIM 2016.
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The runners and their awards. Everyone’s a winner. Even I feel like a winner with the presence of the great athletes.
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Numbah 1!…The runners and the 7-Eleven Philippines staff/support/cheering squad.

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/

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