MANILA, Philippines -- Eight Filipino runners defied the odds in completing the New York City Marathon in a virtual fashion.
The eight homegrown running enthusiasts competed against a global community of runners in the prestigious event.
Michelle Matias, Carla Piscoso, Beef Co, Anton Sietereales, Vincent De Guzman, Christian Servillas, Bel Castro and Lucille Bunagan were the contenders selected to represent the Philippines in the Run for the Medal category, the 42KM virtual category of the NYC marathon.
After it was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NYC marathon made a comeback this year and commemorated its 50th anniversary through a series of on-location and online events that welcomed runners across the globe.
From October 23 to November 7, each participant of the virtual Run for the Medal Category was given a chance to complete the full marathon anywhere, within the two-week timeline.
In the men's division, Spartan Pro athlete Beef Co secured the top spot among the group with the finishing time of 4:16:00, followed by first-time marathoner Vincent de Guzman who finished the race at 4:29:00. Next, celebrity coach Antonio Sietereales clocked in 6:32:00, while entrepreneur Christian Servillas finished with the time of 6:33:00.
In the women's division, first-time marathoner Michelle Matias was the first to cross the virtual finish line with the time of 5:20:00. Fitness guru and influencer Carla Piscoso also made exceptional strides and completed with the time of 5:30:00, while running enthusiast Lucille Bunagan clocked in at 5:39:00, and food and spirits educator Bel Castro checked in at 6:14:02.
"It is such a great honor to finish my first-ever 42KM race in no less than the New York City Marathon. Running virtually has its own challenges but there is no better time for me to take on this new milestone than now," said Matias, a full-time mom and part-time writer.
Aside from the pre-selected representatives, two athletes from the New Balance Run Club Clark, Abe Tayag and Christian Patiu of the TriClark-Scania Triathlon Team, ran independently and completed the marathon with impressive times, clocking in at 3:25:00 and 3:35:00, respectively.
"Completing a full-fledged marathon is no easy feat -- especially in this pandemic context," said New Balance Philippines marketing manager Mishka Rafael. "Crossing the virtual finish line is a tremendous feat in itself."
"The sport of running proved to us its inclusivity -- how it can collectively unify people of different life stages and different backgrounds in achieving their aspirations amidst the trying times. We are extremely proud of our runners for finishing strong in the race and representing New Balance Philippines in the biggest running event in the world," he added.