(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin Henson - Some 1,000 runners are registered to participate in a new type of marathon at the Fort in Taguig tomorrow morning. Discovery Channel is staging a vertical marathon or tower-running, up and down 25 floors of the Bonifacio E-Services Building, and it’s called RACE or Run And Climb for the Environment.

The country’s first-ever vertical marathon was conceived to promote energy conservation and according to Discovery’s Philippine representative Jacque Ruby, there’s no more appropriate event that encourages “taking the stairs.”

Ruby said he was overwhelmed by the response of enthusiasts signing up for the fun competition, which is split into heats of 20 runners. He never imagined getting over 1,000 participants, including the Philippine Patriots team of the Asean Basketball League, race organizer Rio de la Cruz and actor Piolo Pascual. Beauty icon Cristalle Belo Henares and popular event host Rovilson Fernandez were designated ambassadors of RACE and will join the runners negotiating the unusual route.

Cash prizes await the top finishers but Ruby said the juiciest reward is for the best Filipino placer in the century division (100 floors) to compete in the 73-storey, 1,336-step Swissotel run in Singapore in November next year. What’s more, Ruby said if the No. 1 Filipino runner clocks a top-rate time, he or she could be in line for a trip to New York City for the run up and down the 102-floor Empire State Building in September. “We’re very excited with this event,” said Ruby. “Discovery is a niche channel and we feel our involvement in events, particularly with themes like energy conservation, is important in connecting with our audience. The idea of a vertical marathon was a natural. We all know that by taking the stairs, we conserve a significant amount of energy every day. It’s that notion we want to impart through this event which we are staging for the benefit of Gawad Kalinga.”

Kevin Dickie, senior vice president and general manager, Southeast Asia, Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, said, “Discovery Channel educates and provides quality entertainment to Filipinos but we also recognize our role in inspiring individuals to support their community...with the RACE marathon, we are creating a venue where Filipinos can become more informed on energy conservation.”

* * *

Participants must be within the 16-65 age bracket. Entry fee is P600 and all proceeds will go to Gawad Kalinga’s environmental arm, Green Kalinga. Cash prizes for the century run are P25,000 for first, P15,000 for second and P10,000 for third. For the half-century run, the cash prizes are P20,000 for first, P10,000 for second and P5,000 for third. In the ladies’ category, the cash prizes are P20,000 for first, P10,000 for second and P5,000 for third.

For the century run, participants will cover a short 160-meter distance on the street to enter the E-Services building from the parking access up to the first floor ramp. They will run nine ramps in the parking section, a distance of 1,090 meters, then proceed to the stairwell and go up the stairs to the 25th floor. Upon reaching the top, the runners go down the stairs and proceed to the finish line on the street. Negotiating a combined 50 floors will be for the half-century run. Runners who do a double take of a combined 100 floors will fall under the century run.

There are strict guidelines on overtaking. Three medical stations will be put up on the ninth floor, 25th floor and the finish area. Two ambulances will be on stand-by for emergency purposes.

In all, the half-century marathon will cover 512 meters for the horizontal run (street-level), 1,090 meters for the slope run (nine ramps) and 707 steps for the vertical run (stairs). The century marathon will cover 782 meters for the horizontal run, 2,180 meters for the slope run and 1,414 steps.

Ruby said he did a test run of the half-century marathon and timed about 17 minutes. Top runners should be able to finish the century run in 15 minutes. In the Swissotel vertical marathon in Singapore, the record of six minutes and 55 seconds covering 1,336 steps was set by Balvinder Singh in 1989.

Ruby said there’s an added attraction to joining and finishing. Finishers are eligible to win a Chevy Cruze in a raffle draw.

“Vertical marathons are getting to be more and more popular, particularly in countries that experience a lot of rain or snow or poor weather for outdoor running,” said Ruby. “For Philippine purposes, we’re doing it as an integral program in our campaign for energy conservation.”

Henares and Fernandez said they wouldn’t miss participating in the milestone event for the world. It’s a can’t-miss affair for a good cause.

* * *

Don’t fail to check out the two-part audio documentary on Manny Pacquiao, accessible on BBC World Service starting today. Senior content producer Lyndon Saunders and boxing correspondent Mike Costello recently flew in from London to interview Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, friends, trainers, analysts, economists and politicians for the exclusive report. The second part will air on Dec. 3, also on BBC World Service. The link is documentary manny pacquiao.shtml.

Also, you can still access our commentary of Pacquiao’s recent fight against Antonio Margarito on There are video highlights and a complete 50-minute audio discussion of the imperatives of the fight, the implications of the weigh-in, the referee and judges, the fight itself, keys to victory, what’s next for Pacquiao and who’s the greatest fighter of all time. Write in your comments on facebook, type in Joaquin Henson for an accept.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved