Running United In Cebu: The Lechon Experience!

Some of my favorite indulges, the Cebu Lechon, the tastiest lechon (roasted suckling pig) ever, Cebu’s Danggit and Carcar’s Chicharon (pork rind) are some of the reasons why Cebu City is high on my Must Visit Cities list. If your runners’ diet too often includes a plate of pasta, green salad and a fruit, forget it! You’re on an out of town trip and so is your diet! Besides, this is Cebu–a food lover’s paradise! This place is one of the few cities i’ve visited down south more than a decade ago where you get to taste some of its delicacies and once thought, “I can live in this place and eat all the food available.”

Cebu City’s urban development renaissance began in the late 90s and the result is a radiant metropolis. The dazzling Asian Park (I.T. Park) showcases an array of gleaming buildings, hotels, shops and restaurants. It’s like a little Ayala Alabang with clean and well-paved roads most suitable for, what else…running!

While Cebu boasts most of the visitors perks associated with a major city, there is little of the “snobbishness, mind your own business” feel you get in other cities of Metro Manila. Instead, the Cebu ethos is one of relaxed amiability. Also, there is a great running tradition here as well, the Pearl of the South is home to many competitive runners and other elite athletes.

Last week, i was one of the few bloggers fortunate enough to get invited by Unilab, Inc. to witness and run the last leg of the Run United Regional Series Half-Marathon in Cebu City which was held last Sunday, December 18 and it was great! It was nice seeing the large turn-out of runners specially in the 21k event which boasted a total of 1,300 runners, one of the largest 21k event to be participated in Cebu.

Here are some quick impressions of the 21k Run United Event:

  • Great course which was relatively flat with just a few gentle hills
  • Runrio’s usual high-tech pre-race program which included the video of the route and Emcee Boy Ramos’ exciting hosting of the event
  • During the early stages of the run, we saw church-goers arriving in their places of worship, some bringing their own stools to attend midnight mass. I can only surmise what they had in mind while looking at us. They must have been thinking that we runners are supposed to celebrate midnight mass instead of running while i was wishing that they should run instead and hear mass later!:-)
  • Though most roads were closed to accommodate runners, street intersections were partially allowed to open thus at times, we were running side-by-side, playing “patintero” with vehicles.
  • Cebu runners are raging fast from the very start and you feel them whiz past you during the early stages. You seldom see walkers during the first half.  However, you get to catch up with some of them during the latter stages of the race.
  • I NEVER saw any lovers (runners) walking and holding hands!
  • There are many good teen-age runners who topped the short distance races. They will be the country’s top runners in the future.
  • Saw numerous running clubs (based on their uniforms), many more than you would see in several Manila races combined.
  • Coach Rio standing alone below the finish line arc, ready to greet the finishers, which he rarely does in Manila
  • No complaints for the delayed medals and finisher’s shirt!
  • Loaded on lechon for lunch the day before the race, another serving for dinner, and still another serving after the race. I ate way too much and paid for it when i really felt heavy during the race. Lessons learned.
  • Even after running the half-marathon, i gained 3 lbs when i returned to Manila.


I was completely toast when i crossed the finished line in 2:31:24 (2:30:58 chip time ). Over-all, the race was an amazing experience and one that i’d do again if given the chance. I big thumbs-up to the Unilab Team led by Ms. Claire Papa, Janice Ianne Miguel and their team for their great hospitality and support who took care of all our needs while in Cebu! Mabuhay kayo!

I’m not been doing any “real” running as of late, this Christmas season has been just an endless series of late night-outs, parties and over-stuffing with food!

Tonight is Christmas eve and guess what’s on the table for our noche buena?


Here are some pictures taken during our Cebu trip:

Getting ready to board at NAIA's Centennial Airport

Cebu's famous Marcelo Fernan bridge

Checking-in at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel

Inside the hotel lobby with its imposing Christmas Tree

View from our hotel room

At the Cross of Magellan Shrine

At the Sto. Nino Church patio with Glaiza and CJ

Coach Rio and Host Boy Ramos prepping up the runners before the race

The 21k crowd numbering about 1,300 runners

With Jinoe, Bee Yen, Amanda, CJ, and Pedz

We're almost ready

About to get the high-five from Coach Rio at the finish line (Photo by Jinoe Gavan.)

With Unilab's big boss, Claire Papa (3rd from right) after the race

3rd place finisher at the 21k run, Loushen Abella.