Finishing a marathon is already a huge achievement on its own, but conquering the New York City Marathon—that's a feat that runners from all over the world hold in high regard.
Out of the six world major marathons, NYC Marathon is the largest—this year saw over 50,000 runners traverse through five of the city's five boroughs on a 42km course. 2022's race would be the first time the marathon was in full capacity since 2019, which recorded 53,627 finishers.
Inclusive of persons from different walks of life, the race featured participants of different nationalities as well as athletes with disabilities, and there's even a non-binary division for gender non-conforming individuals.
This year's winners from the men's and women's races were both Kenyan, who each received $100,000 (P5.8 million) on top of their finisher's medal and bragging rights.
The marathon is famously challenging to qualify for, as the time standards that you must achieve to get in are hard to beat. For example, women aged 18 to 34 must nab a time of 3:13:00 to qualify—to compare, an average woman with proper training and preparations typically finishes a marathon in 4:56:39, according to RunRepeat.
However, there are alternative ways to secure a spot like gaining entry through the Road Runners Club, running with a charity or partnerships, and lottery draws.
Celebrities are known to join the race through charities—Ashton Kutcher joined the 2022 NYC Marathon to raise funds for Thorn, an organization he founded to fight child sex trafficking. Other big names like Sean "Diddy" Combs, Ryan Reynolds, Pamela Anderson, Kevin Hart, Alicia Keys, Cynthia Ervio, Will Ferrel, and writer Haruki Murakami have also earned their finisher medals in the past.
Despite the grueling task at hand, many Filipino celebrities who have run the race always take note of the spirit of community and camaraderie that filled the New York air, as well as the fellow Pinoys in the crowd that cheered them on. Here are some local celebs who have nabbed a medal at the prestigious marathon in the past.
This year, the NYC Marathon saw 170 runners from the Philippines and the most notable of them was Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach, who finished her first-ever marathon in 6:29:32.
"The NYC Marathon wasn't a race, it was an experience. A life lesson. Probably the best run of my life. I saw and felt so much. I AM SO HAPPY and grateful, inspired, humbled, and emotional... lahat na!" she wrote on Instagram.
For Wurtzbach, the medal she earned represented the importance of keeping the promises we make to ourselves. Running was also a step out of her comfort zone.
"I knew it would take time and dedication to achieve it but I wanted to stick to that promise no matter where life or work pulled me," the beauty queen said. "Over the years, I got used to being at the service of others and most of my decisions revolved around work or pleasing others. This time, I stuck by running a marathon for me. This was my way of taking care of myself."
In 2016, Anne Curtis ticked an item off her bucket list as she finished the 42km New York run. She described how each borough had a different feel and vibe as well as how she was recharged by the spectators cheering her on.
"I can't explain how fulfilling it is when you cross the finish line. It certainly isn't easy but the whole experience is worth the physical pain," Curtis said.
"The spectators are there to cheer you on, give you power-up high-fives and push you when you feel like you want to stop. To all the kababayans that were out there today to cheer me on... screaming and some even with posters, Maraming Salamat."
Curtis has also finished other world major marathons like the London Marathon in 2018.
Kim Atienza, or Kuya Kim, is no stranger to running—in fact he's an avid triathlete—and he proudly shared finishing the NYC Marathon in 2015 in 3 hours and 57 minutes.
In his Instagram post of the medal, the TV host thanked his family, running buddies, and God. He also shared a Bible verse that kept him going throughout training.
"Thank you so much [to my family] for being in all my races. You inspire me to be the best I can be. I love you all so much!"
In 2006, Sen. Pia Cayetano was one of the 38 Filipinos who finished in the world's biggest race, clocking in 4:06:28. Alongside her was business tycoon Fernando Zobel de Ayala.
"Being part of the Philippine contingent to [the] New York Marathon is truly an honor and a heartwarming experience. Being cheered on by fellow Filipinos boosted our spirits and pushed us to give it our best," she said.
Maricel Laxa and Anthony Pangilinan
Husband and wife duo Anthony Pangilinan and Maricel Laxa joined over 50,740 runners in conquering the five New York boroughs in 2013.
"The crowd was incredible as we passed each town with a variety of ways to welcome the runners through their singing, dancing cheering! For me, it was a great sight-seeing adventure," the couple told the Philippine STAR.
"This is truly one race I will never forget. The warmth of the people who reached out with their encouragement and support also the nourishment we so needed at each mile—all of them are precious!"