Filipinos are well represented in NYC Marathon

2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach running and waving to fans. Photos by Lindy Rosales

By Lindy Rosales

The 2015 Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach led an assortment of Filipino and FilAm runners who presented a  united front at the TCS New York City Marathon on November 6.

People cheered on Wurtzbach as she sprinted at the start of the 26.2 mile-route. She ran her debut marathon after several months of serious training. At mile 14 in Long Island City where there were no barricades on the street, Filipinos ran along with her while  taking pictures and videos. Members of Pinoy Runners New York  were waiting for her to pass by and unfurling a big Philippine flag. It was a joy to see her running steady and gamely waving at supporters.

We met some of the runners at the Philippine Consulate which hosted  a carbo-loading reception the day before the big event.

Maner Puyawan, who started running in 2015, is one of the co-founders of Pinoy Runners Global, a community of Filipino runners around the world. They call each city a “barangay.” PRG started with four barangays in New York, Milan, Amsterdam and Paris. Puyawan said running helped him lose weight and he is advocating that people make it  part of their healthy lifestyle. 

An emotional Mark Mendoza celebrates his birthday by finishing the race.

Mark Mendoza is a first-time runner. A nurse practitioner who worked in the emergency department of Lincoln Hospital on 98th Street during the pandemic, marathon day was  his birthday. Mark who was influenced by his sister to join, got emotional after finishing the race.

“I don’t run at all, but my sister is running so I have to run too,” Mark said. He started training only in November and ran three to four times a week.

“I’m nervous but I’m gonna try my best,” he told The FilAm before the start of the race. “I’m gonna take it slow, I’m gonna take my pace. Let’s see what will happen. I’m really excited actually.”

Ultramarathoner and probably one of the most experienced Gerald Tabios, who has completed 17 marathons, gave this advice to the room full of runners: “Just put one foot in front of the other.” He ran his first New York City Marathon in 2004, three years after his family moved to the city.  

Melinda “Lynne” Langlois, a breast cancer survivor, is running her third NYC marathon after 2017 and 2021. “There is life after cancer,” she declared.   

Lynne started long-distance running in 2017. She has completed all the major marathons in one year and is attempting to do a second round of the majors. She is hoping to get  her second six-star medal in Tokyo on March 2023.

“It’s not gonna be easy, but it’s gonna be worth it,” she said. Lynne cross-trains off season and is always at the gym, if she is not running.

Maner Puyawan and Melinda Langlois at the carboloading reception hosted by the Philippine Consulate for the runners.

Another running pro Deo Jaravata is a high school teacher from Los Angeles. November 6 was his eighth NYC marathon, and his 524th race. He has ran in seven continents, 31 countries, and 50 U.S. states.

“Since I’ve been doing this for so long, I think my body got used to it. And I’m very lucky I don’t have any knee problem. And my last injury was in 2000”, said Deo. “During a race, if I feel like I’m hurting, I walk. That’s my secret. If I’m tired, I just walk it, but I walk fast”. He is on his 20th marathon this year and his goal is to complete 22 by year end.

Close to the finish line, Wurtzbach’s fiancé caught up with her, encouraging her on that last leg.

“My knee hurts, I’m limping. The last few kms hurt sooo much. Lahat masakit”, she wrote in her Instagram story.

The TCS app alerted me that Wurtzbach finished the race at six hours, 29 minutes and 32 seconds.

The streets around the finish line were littered with mostly ribbons, plastic bottles and paper cups and crowded with marathoners, their cheering families and supporters, volunteers and policemen. It felt like the biggest block party in the world. It was loud and  crowded, security was tight, but there was an unmistakable festive feel all over. Restaurants were full and the food carts were bustling with business. 

On my way home walking toward the subway, I spotted Wurtzbach leisurely walking with her fiancée. She was wrapped in the blue poncho of a marathon finisher. Hanging on her neck was the big, round medal.

“Sobrang saya,” she said. “Dream come true, kasi ang tagal kong pinangarap to.”

TCS means Tata Consultancy Services,  the title sponsor for this year’s marathon.

© The FilAm 2022

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