THE 2015 Condura Skyway Marathon will pay homage to the 44 policemen slain in a fierce clash with Muslim secessionists in Mindanao when it fires off at the stroke of midnight on Sunday.
In a unique tribute, 44 members of the Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) will be deployed in a 4.4 kilometer stretch just before the finish line at Filinvest City in Alabang - each one bearing a photo of the SAF men killed in Masampasano, Maguindanao.
As the SAF men stand at attention in 10-meter intervals, runners are encouraged to render a salute as they pass by to honor the 'Fallen 44,' as the slain policemen have become collectively known.
Marge Pateña of race organizer RunRio told Spin.ph the gesture aims to honor the men and remind runners who they are running for.
This year’s race has lured 15,000 runners, the largest number of entries in four race categories - 42K, 21K, 10K and 6K - in the one-of-a-kind race that transforms the elevated Skyway into a running course at the stroke of midnight.
Even before the deadly Maguindanao clash, the seventh edition of the Skyway run had already adopted the theme ‘Be a Hero for a Hero’ and was originally slated to benefit the dependents of military personnel under the auspices of the Hero Foundation.
Part of the race fees will now be donated to the families of the deceased PNP-SAF members.
On the event’s Facebook page, many runners expressed their desire to show their support to the PNP-SAF members during the race, with several saying they wish they could run a total distance of 44 kilometers- an additional two kilometers to a standard marathon - to honor the policemen.
Prior to the start of each race, the national anthem will be played followed by an invocation and a moment of silence to honor the fallen service members.
Before each gun start, 44 white balloons will also be released.