Freeman Cebu Sports

Antarctic Ice Marathon

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — He has already carved his own niche in the running circuit on a global scale after he received a Six Star Finisher Medal from the Abbott World Marathon Majors last year for completing six of the world’s largest road races - the New York City, Berlin, Chicago, London, Tokyo, and Boston marathons.
Aside from Asia - of course, Europe and North America, he also has raced from as far as Morocco in Africa to Sao Paolo, Brazil in South America and New Zealand in Oceania.
But out of his plethora of achievements, he doesn’t want to rest on his laurels.
A hardcore long distance runner he is, Dr. Potenciano ‘Yong’ S. Larrazabal III wants to do more and raise the bar of his running excellence higher.
He attained it lately with flying colors, coincidentally on the 60th marathon of his running career.
Larrazabal added feather on his cap after he finished the grueling 2019 Antarctic Ice Marathon last December 13 to join the exclusive 7 Continents Marathon Club composed of elite runners who completed a marathon on all seven continents.
It was no less a monumental feat for the award-winning eye surgeon given the extreme sub-zero temperatures and the punishing conditions he went through.
Taking place at an altitude of 700 meters, the race presents a formidable Antarctic challenge with underfoot conditions  comprising snow and ice throughout and an average windchill temperature of -20C mixed up with strong winds.
The three-day expedition of Larrazabal and 51 other ultra runners from both hemispheres of the globe began in Punta Arenas, Chile where they boarded a private jet en route to the marathon location at Union Glacier, Antarctica.
To ensure the safety and welfare of all the participants, the organizers headed by event director Richard Donovan have prepared a marked course of 42.2km (26.2 miles)in advance. A snowmobile support, aid stations and medical personnel were also at hand for the duration of the race.
Despite the indomitable surroundings he has to contend with, Larrazabal said there was no point along the chilly and windy route that he thought of quitting the race.
“It was extremely difficult and my toughest to date because it was deep in Antarctica,” said Larrazabal, the president and chairman of the growing Cebu Doctors’ Group of Hospitals.”There was one point in the race that I feel my brain will explode out of my head because of the air. The wind was very strong that I don’t know what’s gonna happen to me. I was worried about my condition at that moment. Thankfully, everything went back to normal.”
“But I really did not think of quitting. I’ll just make sure that I will be safe and sound with all my body parts intact at the end of the race,” he added in slight jest.
He must make a reservation two years before, then submit to a Spartan-like training regimen to prepare for such a daunting challenge.
“As for my preparations, I doubled my training especially on strengthening and endurance. I want to be more durable and fit on all range for the race,” he said.
And it’s all worth his hard work and sacrifices when he finally touched down the finish line proudly carrying a huge Philippine flag signifying that what he’s doing is not only for his personal glory but also for the nation’s pride.
“I’m a very goal-oriented person. Life is full of goals and you have to achieve each goal,” said Larrazabal. “That is why I breathed a sigh of relief when I crossed the finish line. I’m happy and proud. I felt a deep sense of fulfillment within me that I was able to accomplish one of my goals. It’s a dream come true for me.”
An adventurist and purpose-driven person he is, Larrazabal’s running journey doesn’t end there for sure. He wants to push his limits further and realize more goals.
“In the next few weeks, I will embark on a more difficult challenge. It’s more extreme than this (Ice Marathon),” said Larrazabal. “But for the meantime, I will savor this moment.”
Whatever it is, he wants to keep it secret for now. Let’s just wait and see what’s up next for Doc Yong.

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