|Rio dela Cruz
MANILA, Philippines – He is the man behind some of the country’s world-class races and marathons, has trained some of the best runners in the Philippines, and is considered as a maestro of running events.
Coach Rio dela Cruz has certainly come a long way.
A native of Bato, Camarines Sur, dela Cruz’s life began with a series of fits and starts. He had a troubled family life and was no stranger to poverty.
The circumstances did not keep him from pursuing his dreams.
The youngest of 14 children, dela Cruz was the only one in his family to finish college.
In an interview with Karen Davila on ANC's Headstart, dela Cruz said that his relationship with running was "a love story."
"I owe everything to running," he said.
Thanks to his skills on the track, dela Cruz was able to go to college in the University of the Philippines on an athletic scholarship.
“Nag-train ako para makakuha ng scholarship,” dela Cruz said.
Dela Cruz said that one of his initial goals was to make the national team and to eventually compete in the Olympics.
But he realized that his running skills can help him pursue his dream of finishing college.
“During college, I pursued my goal of finishing my studies. I gave up my slot on the national team because of college,” he added.
Dela Cruz said that during his college years, he had no time for a social life, as he spent half his time studying and the other half training.
“It took me 6 and a half years to finish college,” he said.
Dela Cruz has been a competitive athlete for 2 decades now, and has competed in races both in the Philippines and abroad.
Dela Cruz has competed in the New York and Boston marathons, finishing both in just under 3 hours.
This year, he is set to compete in a marathon in France.
Participating in international races has allowed de la Cruz to gain sponsors. After competing in a race in New Zealand, Nike offered him a contract.
“They gave me 100 pairs of shoes. 50 out of the 100, hindi ko pa nagagamit,” he said.
Now, aside from competing, dela Cruz has gained fame for organizing running events.
He organized his first race when he was only 25 years old. Almost 2,000 people joined that particular race.
Dela Cruz admits that organizing races can be complicated.
“During the race, umaabot kami ng 1,500 people,” he said.
His events attract thousands of running enthusiasts all over the country.
“This is the advantage of running over other sports. Anyone can do it,” he said. “Kahit pangit yung form, makaka-run ka pa rin.”
“Nagiging technical lang siya, if you want to improve,” dela Cruz added.
Aside from organizing running events, dela Cruz now has his own clothing line and an events and sports management company, RunRio Inc.
Dela Cruz said his goal has now changed.
“Nag-iba na yung motivation ko ngayon. Before, it was to compete abroad, in the Olympics. Right now, the goal is to have a healthy lifestyle,” he said. -- With a report from ANC