Published May 21, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

In the business corridor, the word prestige is synonymous to SM and BDO Universal Bank. Top-tier clients of BDO and its sister company SM are accorded certain privileges. Shopaholics like most of us, ladies, are salivating to be a card-bearing member of Prestige.

But, in this particular context I am referring to the honor given to the country by our kababayan Jivee E. Tolentino, who ranked second during the Last One Standing Ultramarathon in Belfast, Northern Ireland held this week.

For his story, I yield my space to a former colleague, Arvin P. Panes, now based in London. From being an economic journalist back then during the ‘90s when we both covered Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas/Department of Finance, he left writing and went back to his original calling, a frontliner in the medical field. He’s a nurse. Arvin witnessed the event and celebrated the achievement.

Here’s the story.

No Filipino athlete has ever done this before in the history of sports. Running non-stop for 62 hours to reach almost 259 miles in varying weather conditions. Jivee just achieved this.

 An Ilonggo, Tolentino ranked second during the Last One Standing Ultramarathon in Belfast held Monday. He likewise smashed the UK/Irish record of 52 hours previously held by British Peter Crommie for three years.

 The Last One Standing Backyard Ultra was held weeks after the UK government lifted the lockdown due to the COVID-19, following its intensive national vaccination program.

Tolentino, 45,  was also the champion of the Belfast-Dublin-Belfast Ultramarathon about two years ago. He likewise completed the prestigious Spartathlon,

 This form of endurance race, more popularly known as “backyard ultra” was conceived by American Gary “Lazarus Lake” Cantrell, who also founded the notoriously difficult Barkley Marathons (60 mile and 100 mile-categories) which has a 99 percent casualty rate. The backyard ultramarathon is a tightly closed knit community of runners that requires its participants to run 4.167 miles in a loop each hour.

It’s tiresome.

Anyone who does not finish within an hour or fails to enter the start line anew, at the third ringing of the bell, is eliminated. The race continues indefinitely on various terrains during the daytime and through the nights, even in inclement weather, until there is only one runner left who will be hailed as the champion.

 For this year’s Belfast’s Last One Standing Backyard Ultramarathon registered 200 runners. “I and my best buddy Rex Brillantes were only aiming for 60. Yet, we managed to do 62. The 60th loop is always the most testing time even for the seasoned runners. It can be a runner’s Achilles’ heel or Waterloo or on one hand, a breakthrough point for them,” the 45 year-old Tolentino said.

 “To survive this very difficult backyard race, I was just focusing on my main goal which was to show how strong we Filipinos are. I was dedicating each lap to my mother, my children, my wife, my friends, and my group the Pinoy Runners London, which supported me through and through,” Tolentino, who has been in Dublin for 20 years, said.

“It was a team effort. I could not have done it without Rex and Donald, our Team Lusob. Rex did not sleep at all. He was always on guard. He fed me, massaged my legs when Donald had to go home to his family,” he added, expressing gratitude to fellow runner Louie Almario and the local Filipino community in Belfast who brought him hot food and provided moral support during the event.

 “I am sharing this victory with my fellow Filipinos. I want them to know that all things are possible to those who train hard and believe in themselves.”

After all the deluge of COVID-19 related news we’ve been receiving and reading for over five quarters already, the story of Tolentino is, indeed, a welcome respite. Well done.

Tolentino’s achievement earned him the 7th place in the global leader board, thus, qualifying him to jet-set into the world championship that will be held in the coming months in Tennessee, USA.

There was no prize money, just prestige!

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