The Vancouver Sun Run, sponsored by The Vancouver Sun newspaper, is a 10-kilometre road running event held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, each year on the third or sometimes the fourth Sunday in April since 1985. It is one of the largest road races in North America.The primary goal of the Sun Run is to “promote health, fitness and community spirit and to support amateur athletics”. My team, The University of the Philippines Alumni Association in BC braved Downtown Vancouver that day, and we dubbed the whole affair as the Vancouver Sun Walk for most of us because there were more first timers than repeat attendees. All of us congregated outside the Pacific Centre Atrium on Georgia Street and there was already a crowd of enthusiastic runners, walkers, and crawlers ages 0 to 95.
This was my first year to run the Vancouver Sun Run, and with the help of my team, things did not look as hopeless as I thought it would be. The crowd was made up of mostly caucasian runners, and although there were a few runners of Asian, African and other descents, Filipinos were few and far in between. Filipinos are not known to run distance races, let’s face it, as most of us are great sports spectators, and we have but a few stellar athletes. We are known better as artists and singers, people who excel in the arts and the humanities. Most of our gatherings in large crowds involve singing on the karaoke and eating mountains of food. That’s how we roll.
The weather was perfect for the trek, not too sunny or hot, and the rain held off for most of the trek. I can imagine if this were a Filipino marathon, there would be different coloured umbrellas or people wearing plastic raincoats because of fear of catching pneumonia from the drizzle. On the other hand, Filipinos would still bring an umbrella if it were extremely hot and sunny for fear of a heatstroke. Bottles of the strongest SPF lotions would be sold on the streets by vendors, as well as face towels, sunglasses, extra t-shirts printed, plastic bags filled with sago’t gulaman, and portable foldable seats to sit down on as one takes a break from the 10k trek.
It’s not that Pinoys have no idea what a marathon is. It’s just that our idea of fitness is reducing a plateful of rice to a cup at every meal so that we can lose weight. Running to us is a necessity – something you do when you’re being chased by a vicious dog in your neighbourhood, or when you’re trying to catch the last jeepney for home. Nevertheless, they both give you exercise that you never realized you already got for something so purposeful.
The Vancouver Sun Run, just like Vancouver, was a multi-cultural fabric of people who had the same objective that day – to promote health, fitness and community spirit and to support amateur athletics, regardless of race, gender, creed or athletic ability. Along the way were bands playing different genres of music to entertain the participants, as well as people from the neighbourhoods along the route to cheer runners on. It was like a runner or health watcher’s Woodstock Festival or Lollapalooza, and all the participants as well as the volunteers had a great time enjoying the walk, the smiles, the friendship and the covert competition that took place. No wonder it’s one of North America’s largest road races since 1985.
Now, I need to start training for next year’s race to do better than 2:04:38.