How it all Started
It all started last year when Ms. Marogel Callo, or simply Ms. Mars to most runners, of Pinoy Fitness called out to the Fabulous Running Divas to represent PF as hydration cheerers along the route of the Adidas King of the Road race. Together with four others (Chutee Brazil, Yie Tolentino, Victor Cruz, Aljim Gacad), we made up a small but rowdy provider of some upliftment to the weary runners along the Buendia-Kalayaan Flyover junction. We came in an assortment of “nakakaaliw” costume provided by a fellow diva Red Ginger. A bigger, louder and better equipped group Sigue Corer Runners won the competition. We promised to come up more prepared this year.
The opportunity for making a comeback, this time more fabulous than last year as we will be representing our very own group, came a month or so before the start of this year’s edition of the Adidas KOTR. Chutee called out my attention to a blog post by John Henri Mariano at CommunityBlogph inviting running groups, entities and/or runners to join once again in the cheering competition. I immediately posted in our facebook group page a notice to come up with 15 members to make the cheering squad. Naturally more than that number manifested their willingness but sad to say I have to turn down some.
The Team Composition
1. Rikki Suarez
2. Blue Zapanta, Jr.
3. Allan Cabiltes
4. Ivan Patrick C. Pagulayan
5. Red Ginger
6. Alyna Bejoc
7. Lawrence Serrano
8. Angelita Tuazon
9. Mary Ann Beldia-Milana
12. Ayen Adelan
The Concept of our Colorful Outfits
The quest for the elusive cheering competition plum started with something that will best represent us as a group – a uniform (well, of course)! So we researched for a good but reasonably priced supplier and luckily found one in Willix (Crafteli/Print and Run). But this is not to be without several hitches before this group shirt will see the light of day.
First is the fact that no one in the group is a good graphic artist which is needed to come up with a printable design. Willix is meticulous in this regard. For the price they are offering, an inhouse artist’s redrawing is not offered. With some heartfelt acting and sheer perseverance, though, we made them to redraw, though begrudgingly, the design we submitted. After a few days, a major setback once again reached me through email informing me that the deadline set is not to be met due to some problem beyond their control. Their ink supplier from Taiwan failed to deliver on time! Wow! What a conundrum this one truly is. This time I’m ready to give up on the shirt.
When I posted the email of Willix on the group chat stating such problem, immediately FRD Angelita Tuazon took the matter into her own hands, well literally, by lifting the phone and calling Mr. Bong Haduca to give him a piece of her mind, including the prospect of a refund and some other persuasive pronouncements only a person working in the Municipality of Pateros can muster. Fearing this, a sudden change of mind miraculously happened and some Godsend ink materialized the following day. So once again all is set for the July 6 deadline which is a day before the event! And because of this all-powerful sense of command over the supplier, Madam Angie is now endearingly called “Madam Chairman.”
A uniform group shirt alone does not create a fabulous cheer support atmosphere. As divas we believe in the saying that “more is more”! So enter Miss Divi Blue Zapanta, Jr. who as a frequent Divisoria goer happened to buy this colorful feather headdress which he planned to use in a Nuvali Trail run 2 weeks prior. With consultation from the rest of the team, a mardi gras theme was decided upon as our cheer group’s theme. Add some butterfly wings of different colors and sizes plus some tutus all courtesy of Red Ginger plus some metallic pompoms, noise making instruments like tambourines and do-it-yourself plastic 1 liter softdrink bottle maracas and the always present rainbow socks in our emsemble, and, voila!, our FABULOUS costumes are complete!
On the Day of the Race
Come the most awaited day and arriving at our meet up place of Honda at 9th Avenue at 3 a.m. with none but rainbow socks to my possession, the rest of our outfit came as each one assigned to carry them arrived. First to appear were the butterfly wings and tutus which Redg Candido carried with the help of an officemate all the way from her Market Market office. Next came the mardi gras headdress when Blue arrived together with Ayen and Sir Ralph. The last and the most important aspect of our costume came with Ivan who came just in the nick of time. Maybe he found it hard to wake up much earlier after a date last night! Then it was dressing up time by the corner of 9th Avenue and 30th Street right in front of all passersby of mostly drunk bar goers about to go home from a night of partying.
Our faces naturally would not match the rest of our appearance without a touch of color. So when Alyna arrived, she immediately laid all her make-ups in the concrete sidewalk and started to work on Blue’s face, being the lead cheerer. I helped in putting some eyeliner and false lashes to some ladies and some powder and blush on to the guys. And with the final tightening of the headdress using some hair pins, we are picture perfect from head to foot. Bring in the cameras! And the runners, of course!
Let the Race Begin!
All set and prepared by 5 a.m. in our assigned cheering place which is but a few hundred meters from the start/finish line, we espied some orange wearing Team Poncan with large boxes in tow. Hmmmmmm. They have their own “pasabog”. This is going to be exciting, indeed! At exactly 5:45, the gunstart sounded off and off the runners come in a horde of hundreds toward us filling the entirety of the 4-lane street. At this instant we need to back off to the curb to avoid getting in their way. There we shouted with all might we can muster some bombastic cheers to avoid our voices being drowned by the collective noises of huffing, stumping, shuffling, and simultaneous talking of a thousand runners.
What happened next is more than two hours of continuous shouting of cheers and yells, dancing, jumping, making noises, posing for pictures with the runners, amongst ourselves, talking with friends who were there either just to watch or to support another friend or loved one, making some touch ups of our already sweat out made up faces, displaced hair and headdress. All made their very best to enliven the already weary runners and give out what’s left in their legs for a last sprint to the finish line after some 16.8K, 10K or 5K (for the relay) of running. Being almost harsh and voiceless from shouting, we simply made up for it by making noises with their tambourines and maracas, or dancing like there’s no tomorrow just.
As the number of runners became but trickles, our two column formation became just a road apart where they pass in between like in a canopy of colorful headdresses, wings aflutter, unwavering cheers, glimmering confetti and never-ending high fives. As a runner ourselves, we know the importance of not only an audio but a visual encouragement. So with this in mind, we kept on despite feeling all weary and harsh from not only the shouting but the jumping, dancing and running for 2 hours continuously. We have this burning desire to help out fellow runners, give them a boost, entertain them and show them a fun side to running.
When the very last 16.8K runner came into view followed closely by an ambulance, all competing groups came together and ran-walked with him providing him the support befitting a dignitary. Showered with confetti, cheers and colorful entourage, his last few hundred meters were done with aplomb! Holding the Fabulous Running Divas banner up front like some running muses announcing the arrival of this majestic runner, I and Lawrence kept the pace until the finish line with the Team Poncan, Barefoot and Smile Runners banner bearers at our side in a unifying run. The finish line though did not signify the end for us as a string of picture taking with kings and queens of the road ensued making us feel like celebrities ourselves.
And the Winner is!
By the end of this magnificent race when the announcement of the winner came, victory was not to be ours. It was to be the day of Elmo, the mascot of Team Poncan. The color of the day was to be orange and not violet, the color of royalty. To put it bluntly, we lost! Hard it may seem to accept but that is how it is to be. The winner was determined by a set of judges with a set of criteria by which to base the winner with. And we came up short in their assessment.
In the end, the important thing, though, is that we did our very best to come up with something befitting our group’s name for our fellow runners and for nobody else. We will not let this piece of award, not the title of being adjudged Best Cheering team (though I must admit it feels good to be cited so), be the definer of what’s worth going for. The task at hand as ingrained in each of the members of this team is to be FABULOUS runners, supporters, cheerers we can be in any means possible, in whatever ways we can muster. Then let each and every runner that happened to pass by our colorful and festive canopy of heartfelt cheers be the judge.
See you all in the next edition of Adidas King of the Road and we promise to be fiercer, more colorful, and more fabulous, this time around, for the experience and the satisfaction of having painted a smile on the face of a fellow runner and not for the top price. Well, maybe. As the saying goes, “a diva does what only a diva does.” Let’s leave it at that at this point.