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Sport of running has changed this teener’s life

THEY say hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. And in running, no one is ever truly born with talented feet. You reap what you sow.

Take Aldrin Mancera for example, a fifth placer at the 3k event of the 41st National MILO Marathon Manila leg. A scrawny lad with a body built for prize fighting rather than athletics, one you’d picture as a runner of another more vernacular meaning. But he can go at it with the best of ‘em. He has proven it, thanks to a stubbornness to learn and a hard head reminding him always to refine his craft.

“Walang training din po gaano para dito. Umulan po kase halos buong linggo,” said the first-time Milo Marathon side-event winner on his 0:12:06 performance while waiting in line to get his prize at the claiming tent.

He stands a head taller than the boy in front of him. Then again he’s no physical specimen, at 16 years old he ought to be, most of his counterparts only just entered high school. But you can’t blame him, it has been merely a year when he first learned the love of running.

The Grade 10 student from San Rafael Technological and Vocational High School in Navotas said the ‘balik-entry fee’ he’ll receive will go a long way when another week of schooling starts. The boy loves going to school, mind you, even if he lives in Malabon. Though he’s not enthused entirely because of the lessons and the books.

See that’s where he trains everyday now after having been recruited by the school as a transferee track and field player for SRTVHS. First one in, last one out.

Aldrin Mancera (right) is shown during one of his training sessions. At left, Mancera proudly shows his membership in the  Team Bridge Point. Above, a grandmother and grandson duo run in the 3k event of the Milo Marathon, where Mancera placed fifth. Peter Paul Duran

“Pagkatapos po ng klase nagte-training ako mag-isa. Minsan po kahit hanggang alas siete o alas nueve po,” said Mancera, the youngest of five siblings. “‘Yung tatay ko po talaga pinaka-proud kapag nakakauwi ako ng medal. Pero siya din ‘yung galit na galit kapag nagte-training ako hanggang gabi (laughs).”  

“Self traning lang po ginagawa ko,” he shared. 

A personal dojo of sorts to hone his skills, the miniscule oval lot in their school provides what it can to Mancera. But the dogged teen just finds ways to deepen his roots. Mancera says he tags along the training sessions of Navotas City athletic scholars who train near his school even if he’s not part of the local student-athlete program just so he could be around stronger and more serious crowd. 

And his persistence paid off. One weekend, the usual stroll for him on a lazy Sunday morning, a champion runner took notice. Sandy Gabiana, an ultra-marathoner and consistent placer in various running events mentored him and took him under Team Bridge Point. And he has supported the boy’s passion since.

“Nakasabay ko lang siya (sa pagtakbo). Nakita ko ‘yung potential niya kaya gusto ko talaga siya ma-improve,” the 35-year-old mentor said after the ceremonies. “Ngayon worth it naman lahat ng turo ko. Para sa inyo din ‘yan. Magagamit ninyo ‘yun hanggang tumanda kayo.”

Mancera, the son of a taxi driver and a housekeeper, prays his coach’s words ring true. 

“Para po magka-tiyansa makalibre ng pagaaral,” the young boy said on his reason to continue the sport. “Kung sakali po baka makakuha ng scholarship sa college. Sana po kunin.”

And thanks to running, the marathon of his new life has now commenced.

“Naging masaya po ako dahil sa pagtakbo. Dati po kase puro tambay lang ako sa amin, puro po computer. ‘Di na rin po ako nagpupuyat,” Mancera thanks running for his 180-degree turnaround in life. 

“Dati rin po kase basagulero ako. Araw-araw po may kaaway. ‘Yung pag-yoyosi din po ini-stop ko na. Kapag pinagpatuloy ko po kase hihingalin ka eh (laughs). Nawala po talaga ‘yung mga dating bisyo nu’ng nagseryoso na po ako sa running,” explained Mancera, who tried smoking because he saw many of his peers were doing it in their community. He knows better now to keep off bad company.

But he hopes, more than finally placing in the podium in next year’s Milo Marathon, to see himself influence others, too, in living a healthy lifestyle through the sport he loves. 

And that’s another race he’s determined to win.

Topics: Aldrin Mancera , Milo Marathon
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