It's 4:45 a.m. Saturday morning as we drive through the quiet city streets.
What was I thinking?
I'm not a runner.
But here Mark and I are on our way to a local charity run.
When Mark told me he was going to enter his second 10k race in two months,
I told him I'd come along to cheer.
Then somehow he talked me into participating.
NO! Not in the 10k. I'm not that
We pay our fees and get our shirts as dawn begins to break over the city
All participants gather, and the first order of business is a prayer, asking God to bless the run.
I glance over and see Manuel Vismanos,
the barefoot runner, a local legend.
Manny is a retired policeman from Davao. He started running in the 60's and has always believed that running barefoot makes him move better and faster.
Manny is also an avid mountaineer, and he climbs without shoes, too!
Mark and the other 10k runners start off without much ceremony - before we really expected they'd start.
Then a fitness instructor runs up front and leads the rest of us in a warm-up routine. By the time the 6k runners have started, she's going strong; everyone is dancing! The warm-up gathers intensity before us 3k folks begin. I'm feeling sorry for the 2k guys - they'll be worn out before they start!
A task force guard stands by watching the warm-up; these men with their huge weapons are just a normal sight in the community. No one (not even I) blinks to see them here.
The 3k begins. This family made me smile.
The route takes us up a main street,
to an intersection where we stop to wait for a stream of traffic.
Then near the market, dodging chickens in the road, past fires burning in these cans
to steam the mais, or sweet corn sold by street vendors.
As the route progresses, I realize there's a young boy keeping pace with me, walk/jogging beside me. We begin to talk. Jaybee is 10, and from Manila, and his mom was somewhere out in front.
We had fun sharing impressions of Davao, and he wanted a photo together at the end.
Jaybee and I. I knew Michael should have joined us!
Manny comes in at 51 minutes
with Mark just 3 minutes behind him.
Snacks are served afterward -
bananas, a rice porridge (with fish flakes...no thanks, but Mark likes it!)
and hard boiled eggs.
Manny and Mark had talked at a previous race,
and he was gracious to pose with Mark for a photo.
But Manny wasn't the only one with celebrity status.
Lots of people wanted to pose with the Americans...
Thanks for letting me join you, Mark.
Maybe next year I'll be ready for that 10k...