Cebu Runners Against the Wind
Big Sur International Marathon
April` 26, 2009, Monterey, California
Written by James Abilla
Published May 10, 2009
More than 4,300 runners braved the 39F (3C) temperatures for the pre-dawn shuttle pickup at 3:35 am to take them one hour South through the meandering crests and troughs of California’s breathtaking western cliffs.
Drs Peter Mancao and Yong Larrazabal, his wife Donna, and fellow Cebuano runners James Abilla & his wife Margaret, Fil-am Sacramento residents, Steve Leonardo and Melanie Nicholas donned their running gear, pinned their numbers, and boarded the shuttle hoping that the temperature would rise even just a few degrees by race time at 6:45am. “If I can see just beyond the condensation when I exhale. I’ll be OK”, joked Dr. Mancao.
The Big Sur International Marathon scares even the best of marathoners for its world-feared hills and winds. Starting at the 16th Km and ascending 160 meters over the next 4 kilometers, “Hurricane Point” presents the course’s greatest challenge, typically with winds blowing down towards the runners around 50 KPH. The conditions are such that even the most respected runners will avoid joining the race to keep their marathon times unblemished. The Big Sur Int’l Marathon officially advises all runners to “plan to add 30 minutes” to their normal marathon times.
Hurricane Point is marked at Km 16 with a 50-strong roaring Taiko Drum Group, and ends at the peak called “Bach Breaker”, complete with a concert pianist playing a Full Grand Piano to ease your pain. A small sign “Hurricane Point” greets runners at the top. That day, runners found out why they called it Hurricane Point – a constant 40-km head-on wind challenged everyone’s attempt to make it to the grand piano!
“I was lucky to have chosen a tight beanie cap, otherwise a normal hat would have blow right off”, said Dr. Yong after the race. “I made it through Hurricane Point on the verge of total hamstring collapse, but luckily my training with Donna in the hills of Maria Luisa made me more prepared for uphills. The howling wind made it impossible to hear my iPod!”.
Donna, who wisely chose to run the 18K as her first foray into international long-distance running, only had warmth on her mind immediately after her race. Finding shelter inside her kuya’s car (heater on), she playfully remarked, “I would really love to run the full Big Sur International Marathon if they could turn the heat up, shut the wind down, and flatten the entire course!”.
Yong crossed the finish line with an impressive 4:26:46, followed by James at 5:01:52.,followed by Steve Leonardo at 5h5m,Melanie at 5hr 10m, Margaret finished at 5:15:19 and Peter at 5:24:15. Donna’s time for the 18K was 1:41:00 while her brother , Jomar, clocked 2:40:00 at his first attempt at long distance running. Mykha ,Peter’s daughter ,clocked 32minutes for the 5k run.
“We all are happy that St. James Premium Water and Larrazabal Eye remain committed sponsors to these international events to support Cebuano runners” , remarked Dr. Mancao. “My hope is that more people in Cebu would include regular exercise in their daily routines. With the money you save buying medicine by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can travel the world instead and see spectacular places like Big Sur”.