A HIGH school P.E. teacher distinguished himself as the ‘king of the hill’ over 12,000 runners in the NatGeo Earth Day Run 2014 held on Sunday at the Bonifacio Global City.
Aver Sister clocked 3 hours and 30 minutes to rule the first ever 42K race of the popular running event, marking the first time he topped a marathon in his career.
An educator and coach at Makati Science High School who has been joining NatGeo runs since 2010, Sister humbly said it was the absence of elite and Kenyan runners that paved the way for his victory.
“Parang nagte-training. Wala naman kasing malakas. Nakakaawa yung mga first timers ng 42K since they were having trouble with the hills at McKinley, Bayani Road and Kalayaan. I found myself encouraging them - nagaganahan ako, nagaganahan din sila,” he said after the race.
A race marshal even told him to slow down since he was far ahead from the rest of the pack. The next runner who came after him clocked in 15 minutes later.
The Soleus brand ambassador also said that he was familiar with the terrain and the race route since he passes it everyday to and from his place of work.
Jude Turcuato, head of Fox International Channels, was happy with the warm reception to their annual event.
“(This is) probably the largest one we staged in the five years we have been doing this. BGC capped it at 12,000 runners due to space limitations," he said.
“We were all very surprised at the demand. It’s the brand people are familiar and trust and we tied it with Earth Day. It really resonates with people and we actually donate the proceeds to a beneficiary.”
Turcuato explained they actually hit the mark by the third week of registration, ahead of the expected six weeks. The new 42K distance was actually one of the first categories to disappear as slots were gone in the first two days
“There are a lot of 42K runners out there and there are very few races for 42K. It’s great more and more people are running longer distances," Turcuato said.
This year, NatGeo will donate the proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund which would build fiberglass boats for fishing communities in Palawan who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda last year.
“This is what runners look for, bakit nagpapatakbo. Prior to the race, NatGeo informed everyone where the proceeds would go so masarap siyang takbuhan talaga," he said.
Organizers also made sure there were proper waste disposal for the litter involved in the race, particularly the water drinking cups in the hydration stations. Three years ago a participant shared a photo online of hundreds of discarded water cups on the road during the Earth Day Run. The photo went viral and incited the ire of netizens.
“It happened three years ago, up until that race all runs were like that. People need to hydrate at water stations. It’s what happens when you have 10,000 people running. They drank 4-5 cups during a race, that’s a lot of cups. People really do that and we really have to clean it up within 30 minutes. I think the person who posted it wasn’t familiar with the way things are done,” Turcuato explained.
Starting last year organizers made changes - part of the race kit was a refillable water bottle and instituted a policy to discourage runners from getting the cups for less spillage and replaced drinking with refilling stations. The race course also featured bigger trash bins that are ‘runner-friendly’ and also easier to clean up.
“A photo like that taken out of context still needs to be addressed and the National Geographic Society had to be involved. It was for the better and made us improve our logistics,” Turcuato said.
As a hint for next year’s race, he said they are looking at either a bigger venue such as MOA or even outside Metro Manila or cap the number of runners to even less to avoid congestion, particularly at the finish line.