A Comment From Coolrunner1009

Mr Coolrunner1009 posted this comment on the article/story, “Who Listens To RUNRADIO”. I am posting his comment so that all my readers would be able to read it and you can make a rejoinder or comment on this post.

“Thank you BR for your suggestions. I discovered the joy of running in the 1979 and was also a witness to the running boom that swept across the country like wildfire for more than a decade. From my recollection, running at that time had a wider grassroots base because both the government and private sectors were at the forefront in showcasing the Filipino athlete’s (or runner should I say) talent. There were even FREE races like the Kabataan Barangay’s People’s Run (circa 1980?) where I finished my first 5K. Who could forget the Siglakas and Band Aid Marathon clinics then? The athletes who gave our country much pride then – Lydia de Vega, Isidro del Prado, Jimmy dela Torre, Elma Muros, to name a few, all came from our society’s grassroots.

The way I see it now, the renaissance that we are now witnessing has not yet reached down and deep to the lower strata of society which must be teeming with vast but untapped potential. While the middle and upper classes could definitely produce great runners, the grassroots, by mere function of demographics must be the reservoir of our future champions.

I agree that the use of the lingua franca as well as the involvement of less privileged but outstanding athletes e.g. Bertek in promoting running could make much of a difference. While I appreciate NU 107 in doing its best to promote running, there are inherent constraints because this station couldn’t stray too far from its English-literate, upper to middle class target audience. However, should not do much harm if the folks at Run Radio would use Taglish at least, in this metropolis where Pilipino is the lingua franca. Other sectors (AM stations, gov’t agencies, NGOs, etc.) should follow suit in reaching down and deep to socio-eoconomic classes C&D. A multilingual and multisectoral approach by the key players (or promoters) should enhance their effectiveness in reaching a broader audience. Me impression kasi na ‘burgis’ at ‘pa-cute’ kung palaging English na lang ang gamit. Ang telenovela nga, isinasa-Tagalog para lamang maakit ang mga masang manood. The ratings will tell you the rest of the story.

Lastly, I find it PATAFA’S decision to ban runners from the national pool legal but not moral. It’s a pity that our best runners are living a hand-to-mouth existence. I also lament the fact that registration fees at major races, which range from Php 350-500, would cost the common tao more than a day’s wage. It’s difficult for a breadwinner who is passionate with running to justify spending such an amount for a race at the expense of hungry mouths in his/her hungry family. I cannot imagine how many of our less fortunate fellow runners who belong to the minimum wage earner have been running with guilt in their consciences just to experience the euphoria of competing in a road race. I don’t know if socialized registration fees for races would work. What do you think BR?

More power to you BR for your advocacy! Although your expressions occasionally tend to draw strong criticisms from other sectors, it is always necessary to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable for the sake of raising the bar on running.”

I really like this kind of comment from my readers who had experienced what was like during the “running boom” in the late 70s and the whole decade of the 80s. I still remember that there were so many running activities then—fun runs, running clinics, relay runs, corporate running competitions where the champion team was sent to Stanford University for the International Corporate Running Competition. Through my personal experience and research, the government was at the forefront in organizing road races—whether to celebrate a national event or historical event or in major road race competitions. The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (MYSD) under Minister Doretheo who was also an athlete himself and he could muster the cooperation of the city governments in Metro Manila, PC-METROCOM, Philippine Highway Patrol, PATAFA, volunteers, PATAFA, and private corporate sponsors. The country was still then under Martial Law!

I just wished that the concept of Project Gintong Alay during those times will be fully appreciated by the present sports authorities. As I said before, as long as we have different personalities holding these key sports instituions in the country, the perceived “sports politics” and “finger-pointing” syndrome will always be there and our athletes are the ones being jeopardized. And as long as we have “fat-bellied” & “very, very, very old” sports commissioners/officials/sports federation leaders who could not even experience what it takes to run a 3-Km distance, then our sports excellence program will not reach a higher level of accomplishment. No amount of being trained and very good in PR, marketing, and “savvy” in management, what we need is a good leadership who can set an example and transparent to our athletes and to the public.

Socialized Registration Fees? Depending on the cause or advocacy of the road race, it could be done. But the problem is, how can you distinguish the Class A from B from C & from D? What are parameters if you want to consider a runner to be at the Elite, Middle, or Poor Class of the society? This is a very tedious work for the Race Organizer. The runners will complain if you require them to bring their ITR or SAL to find out if they belong to a certain category according to their income & property. Actually, if we have a supportive government and corporate sponsors, we can have a road race that could be free from registration fees!

It is true that some of my posts and expressions are very “abrasive” to some group of runners and/or race organizers and even to sports authorities and government elective officials. Running is a way of life for me, for the hardcores, and to most of us who want to enjoy the “intangible” benefits of running. Others would make running to make a living with the hope and greed to enrich themselves. Others would run because it is the “in” thing nowadays and they want to be identified with this group and that group. Others would use running to help others which is to me is a crap and cheap reason to earn more money. Others would run because they are “celebrities” and they voluntarily or get paid/rewarded to endorse some running-related products. Others would want exposure to the public for some personal or political reasons. The reasons are so many. But for me, if you want to help in running, we have to go to the “grassroots” and encourage the less-priveleged ones to run and get the best from them. Train, educate, feed, ingrain to them good values and lead them to a better life by transforming them to be the best runners. Who knows, this could be the solution for the country’s problem why we could not even earn a Gold Medal in the Olympic Games. For a population of 90 Million, I believe there is somebody out there who would be a future star in Athletics that will make us proud in the Olympics. All is needed is for somebody to discover him/her, rear, guide, feed, educate, train, and lead him/her to be the best runner.

At least, I am doing my part by coming up with the Elite Team Bald Runner Distance Project for the past 15 months, without the support of the government, from PATAFA, or from any corporate entity except from a few friends of Bald Runner who really believe in this advocacy. It is better doing something to solve the problem (even if it will take years to produce a result) rather than not doing anything at all. I hate to hear and read from cheap talks and cheap posts in blogs and in media releases about pronouncements on how to solve such problem. I’ve been reading and hearing their plans & pronouncements to improve our sports excellence program for the past years but nothing happened to elevate the level of excellence of our athlete’s performance. It is very frustrating to observe that our “sports excellence” is up to the level of the ASEAN Games. No amount of promising hefty amount of rewards for medal winners (in the Olympic Games or in any International Games) if the training & service support of our athletes are not adequate and lacking. I firmly believe that it is better to “front-load” these cash rewards for the training of the athletes rather than dangling them as rewards to be attained.

Let me enjoin everybody then to help and support the Elite Team Bald Runner Distance Project as this is our hope in Long Distance Excellence in the country. My deepest thanks to Coolrunner for the comment he posted in this blog and I hope one of these days I would be able to personally meet him in one of the future road races.

See you on this weekend’s road races!

Tony Benson: The Man Behind Project “Gintong Alay”

If there is a man to be fully credited on the success of Philippine Sports, most especially in Athletics, it is Tony Benson of Australia. He was the National Coach of the Project “Gintong Alay”. The following is the excerpts taken from his website, www.benson.com.au. Readers are encouraged to visit his site and see its “Honour Roll”  page where he presented Ani De Leon, our woman qualifier and participant  in the 2008 Ford Kona IRONMAN and our past athletes in Athletiics as his athletes who were trained under him .

A 1972 Olympian and once the fifth ranked 5000m runner in the world, Tony was undefeated on tours of the USA and Europe between 1970 and 1972, is the last Australian distance runner to win at the prestigious Cologne, Stockholm and Oslo meets. In addition Tony is a sub “4” minute miler, a former Australian 2000m record holder and the 1969 Pacific Conference 1500m Gold Medalist. He has best times of 3:59.8 (mile), 7:50 (3000m) and 13:36 (5000m) as well as a road 10k time of 27:37 on a Ballarat course that, while uncertified, had seen only two other athletes, Wayne Bourke and Kevin Brady – both sub 14:05/5000m runners, break 30 minutes on the course in 40 years.

Tony began coaching in 1967 while teaching at St Patrick’s College in Ballarat. He moved to club coaching with Ballarat YCW on his retirement from international competition in 1973 and within two years had produced the first of what would be a long list of internationals. During this period a small skinny kid named Steve Moneghetti arrived at St. Patrick’s starting an association that would last through Steve’s foundation years. In 1979 Tony was offered, and accepted, the position of National Coach of the Philippines. At that time the Philippines ranked 29th in Asia. By the time Tony had left the Philippines they had reached 6th place, produced Asian champions and record holders as well as Olympians including a steeplechase semi finalist.

Tony first became involved in triathlon through Emma Carney while still the National T & F Coaching Director of Australia and assisted her with her running during 1993 and 1994 as she started to make her very successful transition from a national class runner to World Champion triathlete.

In June 1993 he left Athletics Australia and by the end of 1994 had a squad of 25 athletes. Since then the squad has grown to the point where there are usually between 70 and 80 athletes training at six to eight different locations around Melbourne as well as interstate and overseas.

Tony Benson has been the Head Coach of Olympic, Commonwealth, World Championship and Asian Games teams, lectured in Africa, Asia and the Pacific on behalf of the International Olympic Committee and International Association of Athletic Federation and put his theories into practice by producing Olympic athletes and World Championship level athletes, triathletes and duathletes.

In 1993, at the insistance of close friend Irv Ray, Tony and Irv produced a best selling coaching book called “Run With The Best”. The philosophies it contained were proven when Irv coached 17 year old Ryan Hall to a 3:42.7/1500m and No2 US high school miler of 2001 and Patrick Sang, a former standout Kenyan steelechaser, used the RWTB principles he adopted after meeting Tony in Nairobi at the 2002 IAAF All Africa Level 2 Coaches’ Course in his preparation of 18 year old 2003 World 5000m champion Elicud Kipchoge.

Finally he has also mixed with elite athletes and coaches from triathlon, cycling and swimming and acknowledges the influence of many of these highly respected and successful people in the construction of his training schedules and in the development of his computer programs. He is a Level 5 Track and Field coach and a Level 3 Triathlon Coach as well as National Track and Field Consultant (AFTCA).