The Philippines may consist of more than 7000 islands, but for regional running enthusiasts, one of the most anticipated annual events to take place there is the Cebu Marathon, which happens in January every year.
Running through Cebu City on the island of Cebu, the event has a strictly controlled limit of 5000 runners and starts in the early predawn hours. The marathon flags off at 3.00A.M., and the half marathon begins an hour later. The shortest 5km distance category starts at 5.30A.M., and the fastest runners can finish the race in time with the sunrise.
The ancient origins of Cebu City date back to the 13th century, before being declared a Spanish colony in 1565. The island and city was also a stopping point for Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, as his fleet of ships was circumnavigating the world. It was on one of the smaller islands that the famous explorer lost his life after being embroiled in a local civil war.
The result of so many cultures intermingling over the centuries is that the city is an interesting juxtaposition of classical European and Asian architectural styles. Considering that the marathon is over before breakfast, even Filipino runners from the other islands take the race as an opportunity to stay and visit the city.
Cebu’s history is well documented in several good little museums in the city. If the nightlife is more of your scene, the upscale Lahug district comes alive by night with clubs. And just over the bridge is Mactan Island, one of the few places in the world where you can experience world-class diving within minutes of a major international airport.
With a generous cut-off time of seven and a half hours for the marathon and four hours for the half marathon, even slower runners need not worry about being unable to complete the full distance within the time limits.
Besides the two main events, the only shorter distance available is the 5km route, which does not have an official cut-off time. This makes it an ideal ‘starter event’ for friends and family members that want to come along, but are not trained to managed the longer distances.
It also helps to think of Cebu City, and the marathon, like an entrée-sized Manila; it’s still energetic, exciting and fast-paced, but on a slightly less overwhelming scale. Find out more about the Cebu marathon at http://www.cebumarathon.ph.
Update: Watch the highlights of the Cebu Marathon 2019 here: