Runner for a Cause
Singapore-based Filipina marketing creative specialist, Chona Duroga shares how her passion for running started, and how she turned that passion into charity
Running a marathon – six full marathons to be exact – was farthest from her mind. She would describe herself as shy, timid, socially phobic, and not even the athletic type.
Looking back, Chona Duroga, a 33-year-old Filipina marathoner who is now working in Singapore as a marketing creative specialist, never thought she would come this far.
To date, she has joined a total of 60 running events. Of which, six are full marathons namely, 36th Milo Marathon in July 29, 2012; Run United Philippine Marathon in October 28, 2012; Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in December 1, 2013; Sundown Marathon Singapore in May 31, 2014; Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in December 7, 2014; and Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in December 6, 2015; and the rest are half marathons and fun runs.
She doesn’t even like running at first as it makes her tired. Her love for running only came as an accident w hen her managing editor gave her a free slot in a running e vent in 2008.
“Grabe, feeling ko mamamatay na ako. Hahaha! (I felt I’m going t o die)”, Chona recalls.
That race was followed by another 5-km run in 2009, but she only got hooked in February 2010 that she started registering three running events in a month, not caring if it’s free or she has to pay, she’s alone or with a companion.
That was the time w hen running is slowly becoming a tr end and everybody wants to join.
“Na-realize ko kasi ang saya pa lang sumali kahit mag-isa lang ako eh marami din akong nakikilalang bagong kaibigan (I realized I’m still happ y even if I join alone because I meet man y new friends),” Chona quips.
Chona cited the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore in December 1, 2013 as one of her memor able marathon events not only because it was her first marathon in Singapore, but it was dream come true.
When she was still working in the Philippines, she knew some runners who really travel to Singapore just to join the race.
“I told myself, someday it’ll come true. I just don ’t know how, but fate somehow brought me here in Singapore,” reveals Chona.
Chona used to work as a graphic artist at FAME Inc, a publishing company in the Philippines, but had to move to Singapore two years ago to support her family. When she arrived in Singapore, she immediately registered for the SC MS six months before the event to make sure she gets a slot .
The SCMS was her proudest, but most difficult run. It was scorching heat, she almost had a severe sunburn, but she was able to finish it in seven hours, which is less than the eight-hour cut-off time
“Naiyak kaya ako ng tawirin ko na ang finish line kasi nakaya ko, napakasarap ng feeling na na-achieve ko ang pangarap ko ng walang injury at may kasama pang smile (I cried when I crossed the finish line because I did it. It felt really good that I w as able to achieve my dream without injury and with a smile).”
Of course, she received her most-awaited finisher’s medal plus a finisher’s shirt. She never felt more proud of herself and thank ed God for the strength and her safety.
Modesty aside, Chona doesn’t really prepare for her marathon events unlike other runners who really follow a training plan or diet .
Maybe she’s confident because she joins running events twice a month and trains during weekends at The Fort or Marikina Riverbanks that she didn ’t saw the need to prepare.
“I pray hard. That really helps. I finish the race safely with a big smile,” she says.
But now in Singapore, Chona makes sure she trains two months before the event. She would run 5-km t o 10-km every day after work, but she r educed that to three times a w eek to avoid self-injury and runs 21-25 km during weekends instead.
“Longer hours of sleep are recommended for runners before the event, but I haven’t done that yet,” reveals Chona. “Maybe I’m too excited for the event that I can only sleep four to five hours, sometimes lesser or none. But it’s not good f or the health. I’m trying to change that .”
Perhaps she’s also gifted with good, sexy genes that did not see the need to diet. In fact, Chona eats everything served on the table, eats r ice but less on viand two hours before the race, and eats banana while running up to four pieces.
Whenever she runs, Chona makes sure she wears her own running attire so she can easily identify herself in photos being uploaded by professional photographers. She pairs them with Saucony pink rubber shoes, cap for protection, and belt bags for phones or medicines (optional).
She also puts petroleum jelly in her inner thighs to avoid them from contacting or bruising. But her most important accessory is her digital cam. “That’s important to me. You know how I love to take photos. Even if I don’t bring water as long as I have my camera. But I have never tried putting the music on while running even on my training. I just don’t feel it,” says Chona.
For those who want to get into marathon or running, C hona tells them to start in the lo west category like 5 to 10 km and tr ain continuously.
“Wag biglain ang katawan, baka mabigla din ang buhay mo!” she says.
Apart from gaining confidence, being physically fit and health y, meeting new friends, and spotting local celebrity runners, Chona believes one shouldn’t just run for the sake of running. She thinks it’s important t o know what’s your goal or reason for running.
“My goal in running is t o help children in need. More kilometers, more money (Euro) to help the foundations,” she explains.
Chona works for Adecco Singapore, a leading provider of HR solutions. It organized a Win4Youth, a global sports initiative, to raise money for youth foundations while living Adecco’s core values actively.
Now on its sixth y ear this 2015, the project concentrated on achieving the ambitious goal of 1,750,000 km by triathlon again. All colleagues, associates, and clients in more than 60 countries throughout the company are invited to organize their own triathlon events and to participate in locally organized and official e vents.
This year, each employee has a target of 175-km. For all the kilometers covered by colleagues, clients, and associates, Adecco Group has committed money to selected youth projects in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Colombia, Greece, and the US.
The Foundations each take a different approach to support young people of various ages. However, all foundations have a common purpose – they all help give young people a future in work and life.
And for eight months in the company, Chona has already run 700 kms and has been awarded recently as the t op one Win4Youth Achiever in the running event. Other events include swimming and cycling where each event has three top achievers.
“Listen to your body. Don’t be a showboat. It’s okay to walk in a while if you’re already gasping for air. Visualize yourself near the finish line, holding your medal. Always believe in your capabilities. Never give up. Don’t compare yourself to others. Don’t forget to pray, it really helps, promise!” Chona ends with a laugh.