A grateful runner gives thanks to the NYC Marathon: ‘Dream come true.’

The author (at right, hands raised) at the finish line of his third New York City Marathon on November 4, 2007. It was in this event where he met Mang Eddie.

By Gerald Tabios

On November 7, the New York City Marathon will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The local road race, which takes place exclusively in Central Park, has grown to become the world’s largest and most prestigious marathon.

In 2019, 53,520 people completed the marathon. A total of 197 Filipino finishers were listed by their nation of citizenship. Unfortunately, the New York Road Racers confirmed that the 2021 event will have a smaller field of 33,000 runners, a year after canceling the 2020 race due to the pandemic.

This week, I was going over my marathon mementos and notes. In my binders, I discovered two letters from a Filipino runner I met at the starting line of the 2007 New York City Marathon. Candido “Mang Eddie” Joaquin, 57, of Bulacan province finished the New York City Marathon in 6:22:10 on November 4, 2007.

Upon reading it again, I told myself that I had to share this letter from a motivated runner with a grateful heart. In his letter translated in English, he wrote:

July 16, 2008

Dear marathoner,

My countryman, Gerald, greetings to your family, friends, and colleagues at the New York Road Runners. 

Thanks again for lending me a blanket before we run. I was trembling at the starting line. I thought I could withstand the cold, but it was good you were there to help me keep warm. I was also hungry even though I brought candies, chocolates, and some amulets. But they were not enough. 

My target was four hours and 30 minutes, but it took me 6:22:10 to finish. It hurts. At 27 kilometers, I thought I could not make it. I focused only on the finish line. Good thing I was able to complete the race and get a medal and a raincoat. I was dead last, but we will not go home defeated. Finishers are also victors. 

Gerald Tabios is a long-distance runner. He has participated in the New York City Marathon 15 years in a row. He will be running his 16th New York marathon next week. Visit his running exploits: www.geraldtabios.com.

About 2,000 runners were about my age, I am 57, and it hurts that I was the weakest. Maybe I was wrong to eat voraciously during our cruise in Mexico, and we were eating steak almost every night in New York. It was all my fault.

I received the marathon handbook two weeks later after my arrival here in the Philippines.

I learned many things from the experience. We bought a thermal jacket, but I did not bring it with me. I also went hungry, but then I thought I was overeating in the previous days.

I am not sure if I can run there again. My dream of running the New York marathon has come true.

I used to say that I would be happy just to see the fastest runners in the world. New York is forever in our mind. You and all the runners from the Philippines showed what the Filipinos are made of and gave honor to the country. There were also female runners from Malolos and Baliuag, Bulacan who greeted me. You give us strength and hope.

Again, thank you very much.

Mang Eddie

The Philippine Consulate General invites the Filipino Runners of the 2021 New York City Marathon to a Carbo-Loading Reception on Friday, 5 November 2021 from 6:30 P.M. to 8:30 P.M. at the Kalayaan Hall, Philippine Center, 556 5th Avenue, New York City, New York. To register please go to the link: https://forms.gle/ZAwexy6Q9qvpTqdJ8

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