5:30 AM January 31, 1982/Start & Finish @ Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park
The 1st Metro Manila International Marathon was held under the auspices of the SIGLAKAS, a mass-based Sports Program of Minister Elpidio Dorotheo of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and the Marathon Association of the Philippines. Coca-Cola and Lagerlite Beer were the major corporate sponsors of the said marathon race.
A Marathon Exposition was held at the Century Park-Sheraton Hotel where famous Marathon Champions Bill Rodgers and Katherine Switzer were invited to speak and deliver lectures to the running community. Dr John Wagner of the Honolulu Marathon Association was also one of the invited speakers. The Expo was officially opened and sponsored then by Miss Imee Marcose as the Kabataang Barangay (KB) National Chairman. The said Expo was conducted two days before the date of the Marathon Race. On the morning of the day before the opening of the said Expo, a short run from Luneta Park to Malacanang Palace dubbed as “International Friendship Run” was held in the presence of Bill Rodgers, Katherine Switzer, Waldemar Cierpinski, Peng Jiazheng of People’s Republic of China, Minister Dorotheo, and other Sports Officials. The said run culminated with a breakfast at the Palace with then President Ferdinand Marcos.
This Marathon Race was a well-planned event that the prevailing ratio of the Runners and the Officials/Marshals and Aid-Station Volunteers was 1:1. With 1,000 runners in the said race, there were also 1,000 Officials/Marshals & Volunteers who were involved in making this race a success.
This race was well attended by graduates of a 9-month Scientific Fun Run Clinic sponsored by San Miguel Corporation (SMC). The running clinic was held every Monday, Wednesday & Friday at 5:30-7:30 PM at the periphery of Ugarte Football Field in Ayala and Long Run sessions at the Quezon Circle on Sundays. A Lagerlite Beer Running Club headed by Angel Colmenares was also one of the famous/active corporate running teams fielding 41 marathon runners in the said event.
The top 3 runners of the (Men’s & Women’s Categories) received Presidential Trophies and the top 200 runners were awarded the Presidential SIGLAKAS Medals. The awarding ceremony of the Winners was done at the Malacanang Palace at 3:00 PM on the same day of the race with no less than the President as the Guest of Honor. At the finish line, every runner received a Finisher’s Medal, Singlet, Finisher’s Certificate, and every runner drank lots of Free Coke and Lagerlite Beer!
Waldemar Cierpinski of East Germany, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in Marathon (1976 & 1980), won the 1st Metro Manila International Marathon with a record time of 2:14:27 hours which up to this time is the “all-comers” record time in a Marathon Race in the country. Cierpinski adapted to the weather and humidity of Metro Manila by arriving in the country three (3) weeks before the race. I think this was the primary reason why Cierpinski was smiling and running at a steady pace when I met him going back to the finish line at the Guadalupe Area (infront of the Loyola Memorial Park) as I was going to the Ortigas turn-around (infront of the Robinson’s Galleria).
The second runner who arrived at the Finish Line was a certain Ricardo Carillo, a Filipino runner with a time of 2:35+ hours.
The race route was very simple then as it started at Quirino Grandstand and went all the way along Roxas Boulevard up to the Paranaque Coastal Road and back; turn right at Buendia Blvd; right at Ayala Avenue; left at EDSA until the turn-around point at crossing Ortigas Ave & EDSA and retrace the same route back to the Quirino Grandstand with runners immediately turning right a Roxas Blvd at the end of Buendia Ave. Runners had to go at the underpass of Shaw Boulevard and at that time one lane of EDSA was devoted to the runners.
What are the things we learned from our past road races during the early 80s when the first “running fever” hit the country? In my opinion, the following are some of the “pointers” and my personal assessment of the road races then:
1. First, the National Government, through the MYSD, was the overall race organizer of this Marathon Race with the direct involvement of the President of the country down to the MMDA and different cities in Metro Manila.
2. If a road race was a Full Marathon, then, it was solely a Marathon Race. There were no other lesser-distance road races on the sides.
3. There was full support from the private sector due to the presence of different corporate running clubs and their sponsorships.
4. World-known Marathon Champions were invited with the proper Exposition and Lectures from them and from sports & medical experts and this was indicative of a well-prepared Marathon Race. It also means that money were spent to invite such “international stars” in running. No Cash Prizes were published for the winners.
5. The 1:1 ratio of the runners and the officials/marshals & volunteers was really a “big” task then to make sure that the runners were safe and secured. The volunteers then were well-trained and prepared.
6. If my memory is still right, the registration fee then was One Hundred Pesos (P 100.00) and the runners were well-supported with hydration and fresh fruits in Aid/Water Stations along the route.
7. Runners did not have any complaints about registration as every applicant got his/her race packet upon registration. There were no complaints on route distance accuracy; race results; and traffic during those days. I wonder how the SIGLAKAS and the Marathon Association of the Philippines did to make our road races then without any problems! I guess, the people behind these races were then well-trained, coordinated, and matured, in short, they were “professionals” & experts in their field.
8. Marathon Races and other Running Events were given “preferential” and favorable exposure through news stories in Sports Pages in Daily Newspapers then, up to the point of relating dramatic stories of top competitors and predictions who will win the race. At this time, except for the annual MILO Marathon Eliminations and FINALS, all the other running events are featured in the Lifestyle Section/Pages of our Daily Newspapers (days and weeks after the race). For almost two years of being a runner-blogger, I have yet to see a picture of a Top Finisher/Champion of a Road Race running towards and crossing the Finish Line Tape in the Lifestyle or Sports Section in any of the broadsheets!!!
9. Running Clinics which were sponsored by Corporate Offices had a training period of Nine (9) Months in preparation for the runners’ first Full Marathon Race. These running clinics were supervised by trained coaches and conducted at least, three times a week. These running clinics were fully advertised in the local newspapers. Experts on sports injuries, nutrition, and past Marathon Champions were invited to speak before the runners. I was not able to join these clinics before as I was assigned in the Ilocos region, however, I trained for my first marathon race for almost one year, running at least 10 kilometers everyday and 20-30 kilometers in my weekend long runs.
(Note: Photos Taken From the Philippine Daily Express dtd 31 January 1982)