Freeman Cebu Sports

Road racingwith Mark Ylanan

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente 'JV' Araneta - The Freeman

Cebu had tasted again an exciting road race two weekends ago.

The road race, which was eponymously named after Mark Ylanan, was just what Mark had wanted it too be- a classic! Starting adjacent to the Cebu South General Hospital and finishing just a stones throw away from the Molave Milk Station in Barili, Cebu, where Mark’s rest house is located, it consisted of two major obstacles, the Uling Climb and the climb from Aloguinsan to Mantalongon, Barili. The parcours was bada-s short, difficult, and sweet!

Now, I am getting ahead of myself here. When Mark Ylanan, probably the most respected bicycle road racing marshall, passed away too soon late last year, his wife, Ellen and his family decided to honor Mark’s legacy with a road race.

Mark was a licensed mechanical engineer and his first love was basketball but when he switched to cycling, he never looked back. I got to know him after he came home from Saudi Arabia, after one of his close friend, Eric Cabalda, told me that he wanted to help local cycling.

You see back in the days, bicycle racing was simply for the professionals like in the Marlboro Tour and the amateurs, who I think raced under the POC. Now both organizations didn’t see eye to eye and therefore, you are either an amateur, and you get paid by the government or a pro, and you get paid if you win.

Enthusiasts like me, who wanted to do what the pros do, was left out. And that’s where Mark and me came in. I organized while he and his crew, whom we named Recycle, (Reclamation Cycling) because we meet most days and especially Saturdays first at the Cebu North Reclamation Area, where SM City now stands, and then later to the Mandaue Reclamation Area, adjacent to the Cebu Doctors University.

In spite of the constant lack of funds, I can subjectively say that we had the best events, period!  The reason why Mark was well respected was because he would never tolerate any subterfuge, not even from his close friends. And this reputation of his followed him everywhere- from the local road racing events to the the Suarez Cup and the Terry Larrazabal Bike Festival in Leyte and to the SEA Games. He would never ask for a fee from an organizer and there were a few times when he would open his wallet to feed his crew when a race organizer would screw him up. But it never shook his person and he never complained. He simply moved on to his next job.

“His” race, which was held last June 17, was more than just a success. In fact, it was the most attended road race I have ever seen here in Cebu. After the race, there was a party and cycling goodies, courtesy of Frank Gatdula, was raffled. Even the massive downpour after the party didn’t dampen the spirits of this who joined.

Ellen and his nephew, Jack Ylanan, who took over Mark’s position in RECYCLE, announced that from this year on, the Mark Ylanan Classic will be an annual event.

I’m sure Mark was proud of the support he received from the participants, who without Marks earlier work, would have been doing something else that day.


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