Up and running

Randy Rivera: Audio bible kept him going

By Elton Lugay

Close to a hundred Filipinos participated in the chilly November 6 New York City Marathon where one person suffered a heart attack and a couple decided it was the best time to get married.

“It was so much fun. The crowd’s energy, diversity and excellent music made it most memorable,” said lawyer Mia Fernandez who ran with fiancé Frank Ayala.

Mia Fernandez: ‘Lechon’ on her mind

The couple dedicated their race in memory of their friend Tawny Ong, a cupcake baker who passed away this year. Mia also participated to raise awareness for the Filipino American Human Services, Inc., where she is a member of the board.

“Now it’s time for an ice bath and real physical therapy,” she chatted with The FilAm after the race. She said images of ‘lechon’ kept popping in her head while she was huffing, puffing in the cruise to the finish line.

This is Mia’s first try at the New York marathon, but this woman warrior has joined the Asbury Park, New Jersey Marathon three weeks ago championing the cause of battered women and children in the Asian American community.

Mia finished 26 miles at 4 hours, 38 minutes and 33 seconds, limping toward the finish line.

For Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Randy Rivera, the goal was to “have a strong finish which I hope to apply in life.”

Randy, who was listening to an audio bible while running, raced in support of Team for Kids. He and wife Monette, a TV reporter, have three children.

“I was just praying and praising the Lord for giving me the endurance and will power to finish,” he said. “Being a New Yorker, I loved all the spectators from across the great city of New York egging and encouraging all the runners to keep going. Real inspiring, made the run special.”

A week before, Randy had a flu and was not able to train adequately. He observes a daily running regimen at Central Park.

“This is my first time to run but I’ve been running for a long time,” he said. “I know that the Lord carried me through the entire time, and I am very grateful.”

Gem Padilla. Photo by Felix Manuel

Another participant was Bb. Pilipinas Universe 1990 Gem Padilla. She was sponsored by Timex.

“I was hoping to beat Oprah Winfrey’s time, but I did not. Probably next year,” she told a friend, blogger Felix Manuel.

About 2 million people jammed the city’s five boroughs to cheer on the nearly 50,000 runners. Ninety-eight Filipinos were listed in the official registry. In the end, Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai ruled the men’s race, clocking 2 hours, 5 minutes, 6 seconds; while Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado won the women’s division with equally impressive numbers: 2:23:15.

The other Filipinos who participated in the city’s “most exciting fall sport” were Carmencita-Mia Fulgado, Grace JungSook Yoon, Rhodora Ursua, Mark Reyes, Randy Gonzales and Jonathan Cayetano.

Officials of the Knowledge Channel Foundation, led by its president Rina Lopez-Bautista, and ABS-CBN Digital Consumer Devices also ran for their favorite charity.

Elton Lugay is a journalist, publicist and community events organizer.


  1. rolan ocampo wrote:

    there are more Pinoys who ran this years race. if you would go to this this link


    select Philippines on the country represented then click search, it would give you the list of Pinoy runners who registered Philippines as their country. but i believe there’s more.

    more power to you!!!!!!

  2. Chit E wrote:

    Hi, this is a great post! Thanks.

  3. Rustica wrote:

    Hi, this is a great post! Thanks.

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