Manila International Marathon?

One of the members of the Team Bald Runner-Professional Group had asked me why is it that the Philippines does not have an international marathon race which could be at par with the Standard Chartered Bank-sponsored ASEAN city’s marathon races like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hongkong, Mumbai, Hanoi, Taipeh/Taiwan and other cities around us which are considered as international marathon events?

I answered him that there was a Manila International Marathon during the late 70s and early 80s which was sponsored by the Philippine Air Lines (PAL). I could just surmised that marathon races and running events with international flavor then were supported by the government during the administration of former President Ferdinand Marcos. It was during these times when the government’s sports bodies were held and administered by a single person who was under the direct supervision of the President. It was the time when Michael Keon was the President of the Philippine Olympic Committee, and at the same time the Chairman and Project Director of Project Gintong Alay (the forerunner of the Philippine Sports Commission), and also the President of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, the sports federation for athletics. A single person holding three sports bodies, a long-distance runner and national athlete and a nephew of the President made the difference at that time.  At present, these sports bodies are being held by three different persons whom I think could not even run or jog at least one kilometer. These people are fond of asking sports reporters to “run” after them for sports media realeases with the “envelope” that goes with such pronouncements.

The one who asked me about the Manila International Marathon was surprised when I informed him that the Awarding Ceremonies and Dinner Parties for the Manila International Marathons were held at the Malacanang Palace with no less than the President as the Guest of Honor and Host. Moreso, the prize money for the winners ranged to hundreds of pesos at that time plus the appearance money for the world’s marathon elite athletes.

It was expected that sports and marathon races in the country with the attendance of international elite runners waned after the EDSA Revolution in 1986 because everything that the former administration had done for the improvement of our sports were immediately changed. However, later during the administration of former President Fidel Ramos, the Pasig River Heritage Marathon was born but it did not have any attendance from international elite athletes. And due to the abolition of the Clean and Green Foundation that manages the Pasig River Marathon, the conduct of the race was not sure of being conducted. However,  this yearly marathon is hoped to be revived later part of this year. But the problem is, it will remain as an ordinary local marathon race in the country without any effort of making it as an international running event.

The Subic International Marathon which was held last January 2008 was attended by Kenyan/African runners which gave a flavor of being an international marathon event but it fell short of its aim of being sustained as an annual international marathon event.

So, is there a way we can come up with a Manila Internationa Marathon Race? This is a challenge to those politicians, government sports bodies, and corporate executives who are active in sports like running. Maybe we can ask for those “Presidentiables” who can not even run at least one kilometer but they could easily run for the position of the President of the Republic without any sweat. Maybe, we can ask the Department of Tourism to promote such event as part of sports tourism in the country. Or maybe, ask PAGCOR/PCSO to fund such event. Or maybe, come up with a “pressure” group to ask the President to appropriate a budget from her VAT collections or from the President’s P 300-billion stimulus fund or from her Priority Development Assistance Fund (Please refer in today’s newspapers). But with my personal experience with these people, I am sure they don’t care about this “International Marathon” thing. My best bet is to wait for CONDURA and the Concepcion Family to come up with an international marathon event, maybe, by next year! 

Let me ask this last question…Why do we need to go abroad to run a Marathon Race if we can conduct an international marathon race here in the country? Is it for the “bragging rights” or you just want to spend your hard-earned money or want/need something to write in your running blog or you need something to write about in Society Pages in our daily newspapers or is it for the experience so that you could learn something on how race directors and organizers do to promote a world-class marathon event? Maybe, as a start, we can pool our respective registration fees, travel and accommodation expenses to an international marathon abroad as a “seed” money for planning purposes. Let the first volunteer come forward and leave a comment in this post.

I have the following recommended title for our future Manila International Marathon. Choose which one do you prefer….

Standard Chartered Bank Manila International Marathon?

Banco De Oro Manila International Marathon?

Bank of the Philippine Islands Manila International Marathon?

Globe Manila International Marathon?

Smart Manila International Marathon?

PLDT Manila International Marathon?

Cebu Pacific Manila International Marathon?

PAL Manila International Marathon?

Zest Air Manila International Marathon?

Figaro’s Manila International Marathon?

SM Manila International Marathon?

“Wowowee” Manila International Marathon?

Manny Pacquiao’s Manila International Marathon?

ABS-CBN/TFC Manila International Marathon?

Jollibee Manila International Marathon?

San Miguel Beer Manila International Marathon?

Vicky Belo’s Manila International Marathon?

“Witwoteryuno” Manila International Marathon?

CONDURA Manila International Marathon?

Gawad Kalinga Manila International Marathon?

MMDA’s Manila International Marathon?

Toyota’s Manila International Marathon?

Honda’s Manila International Marathon?

Mini-Stop’s Manila International Marathon?

Ford’s Manila International Marathon?

BENCH Manila International Marathon?

Guys, the challenge to come up with a Manila International Marathon, which will ultimately become our Country’s Pride, is in your hands. I’ve done my part to promote and conduct the 1st Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon Race and I did it with the support of “82 new brave warriors” of Bataan, those “angels wearing running shoes” and “supporters” who remain to be silent and don’t want to be identified. And this will be a yearly event to commemorate our heroes.

“There is Unity in Sports”


When I joined the 2008 San Francisco Marathon last August, the EMCEE during the race’s awarding ceremony announced that the marathon event was able to raise Five Million Dollars ($ 5M) for the past five years to support the different “causes” and benefits that the City of San Francisco had been actively supporting. Now, you do your own mathematics!


15 thoughts on “Manila International Marathon?

  1. You got a good list of possible sponsors. 😀 It is also my dream that there will be a big marathon event in the country similar to the Manila Intl Marathon in the 70s and 80s. I dont see it happening this year but soon there will be. If the running community will continue to grow and support even the small races, then the big sponsors will just start coming in.


    1. melyet

      Manila International Marathon should be revived…. We have the 1st QC International Marathon and Subic International Marathon that will be held this year… I think someone with a very strong background in Marathon should spearhead this race…. and big sponsors will start to participate.


  2. bugobugo

    sir,much as i dared to dream and consequently dared to run my first road race and eventually my 1st ultramarathon, i am stepping forward and standing in line once again to help plant the seed.

    build and they shall come.

    to all, kung hindi tayo, sino? kung hindi ngayon,kailan pa?


  3. miraclecello

    Reportage on running migrated to the society pages for the simple reason that the sports pages sell acreage to the highest bidder. That’s where the “the envelope” that you mentioned is for. So if you read a news account of a running event, or any sporting event for that matter, you read about the sponsors first, it’s like watching a product advertisement on television.

    Because the news copy is filled with sponsor credits, you don’t read anything useful about the athletes, about their interesting personalities, about their awesome training regimes, about the sacrifices they make to maintain their high standards, and how they strategised to win a particular race. Sponsors should buy advertising space, not editorial space.

    I like the society page writeups notwithstanding. At least they genuinely love the sport, they don’t sell ad space in their editorial pages, and let us not forget, they look good in swimsuits! (In their own words) ha ha


  4. Hopefully we could get there, restore its former glory or even better it, in the near future. It would definitely be better to have people coming into our country to participate in these events rather than us spending our dough to join their events. I’m surprised as well that the former Manila Int’l Marathon awarding was held in Malacañang–that definitely made it an event on a level of its own. With the growing running community maybe one step at a time we’d be able to bring back those days, and I’d be glad to give my support! Of course I’d rather spend my money for events here that would help our kababayans even on a nano scale, than abroad.


  5. prometheuscometh

    I don’t think Vick Belo will sponsor marathon cause it runs counter to her customers need to look good with the least amount of effort.


  6. runmanila

    I like the Gintong Alay program — regardless of any weaknesses it had. Aspirational, Excellence, Clear Goals, Membership Pride. We wait for the day that a similar one comes forth with the right kind of leadership suited in the Philippine sport scene — that will have the same impact.

    It is said a country’s national sports program is a reflection of its political ways. So we wait. And hope that it comes sooner.

    Until then, we depend on the private sector and kindred spirits who have passion for whichever sport they are into to develop it. For running, we have people like you, running shield, runrio perhaps, and others.


  7. runnerforchrist

    I don’t think this one will click…San Miguel Beer manila int’l marathon nor the following: Marlboro Manila Int’l Marathon, Barangay Ginebra Manila Int’l Marathon for conflict of interest? (beer at water station or cigarette at the finish line? lol)

    And what about the following still not mentioned but with the capacity to sponsor/organize? Adidas, Nike, Mizuno and New balance? and the running premier in our country-Milo?

    Cobra is now sponsoring Ironman in Camsur, why not an International Marathon?

    It’s so sad that while there are galore of runners in our country, an International running event is still lacking.

    Thanks for posting Sir. If no one will do it, then let’s join our forces like we did in BDM, and lead us again the way!

    God bless.


  8. That’s a shame. People in charge of something they no nothing about, unfortunately all too common. As you know San Francisco has two marathons, the one you participated in and the Women’s Nike Marathon. Both do not offer prize money so it is not attended by elite runners, however as you mentioned, they raise a lot of money for charity and bring a lot of tourism dollars to the city. For two years I was an aid station captain for the Nike event and the last year I did it, 2007, they raised 14 million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society. I’m sure they raised more than that in 08. It sells out and keeps on growing every year since it’s inception in 2004 and gives us lots of tourism dollars.

    As per your question on my blog. Yes Sir Jovie, that was a Buff Headgear. I wear those in cold/rainy weather. I like to pull it up over my face to keep my face warm especially when the rain starts going sideways. I still prefer a bandana since I can wrap ice in it in hot weather and use as a compression bandage (saved me in three big runs).


  9. martinlorenzo

    Sir Jovie,

    I am also a consultant (commissioner) for DOT under Usec Cynthia Carrion (on my spare time). We have a meeting for scuba diving related activities next tuesday (May 12) at 10am at the DOT HQ in TM Kalaw. We can meet with Usec Carrion before 10am to discuss this proposed Int’l Manila Marathon. I am sure she would listen and act on it. She has been at the forefront of scuba diving and health/wellness promotion in the country. Lately, we have been busy with medical tourism.

    It all boils down to allocation of budget. Public-private partnership is needed here, with the private sector taking more charge on this initiative. But due to the current economic crisis, most companies have withheld such extra-curricular promotions, unless you have the helm leader as a runner himself (i.e. triathlete Fred Uytengsu). Perhaps the Asian Development Bank may assist in this event, as part of their poverty alleviation or gender specific project. Just a thought.

    See you sunday at Botak, rain or shine.

    Martin Lorenzo


  10. sfrunner

    Hi Jovie. I do know that the Manila International Marathon was around in 1982. It was one of many races under the auspices of a group called AIMS (Association Of International Marathons and Road Races). There were some notable people in the group including Scott Thomasson (San Francisco Marathon and at the time, the Pamakid Runners president), Fred Lebow (NYC Marathon) and Katherine Switzer (AVON group).

    To my knowledge, I’m not sure if AIMS is still around today but the group celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2007. The group was responsible for certifing courses with the famous wheel. The IAAF adopted it later.


  11. runningshield

    i totally agree with you. i admire your drive to bring the Running Races in the phil a bar higher. Hopefully our govt will be proactive and fully suport this endevour. Manil Marathon ___ or Philippine Marathon ___. for your info the goal of the Condura run is to have a FULL MARATHON in 2012. same time as the London Olympics. Thank you


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