Surigaonon lady to set a record with her Butuan-Surigao run

A thirty-something woman from Surigao City vent all frustrations over a heartbreak over two years ago, towards running. And like Forrest Gump, she never stopped running since then, joining marathons and ultramarathons left and right, both locally and abroad, even winning in a number of them..

Starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday (Aug. 15), Cherry Rose Betonio will go out and “set a record” – as the first woman in the Caraga Region to run from Butuan to Surigao, the region’s prime cities. That’s a total of 130 kilometers, from the St. Joseph Cathedral in Butuan to the City Hall in Surigao.

Cherry Rose Betonio on the road. Photo provided by Cherry Rose Betonio, taken by Tong Pascual
Cherry Rose Betonio on the road. Photo provided by Cherry Rose Betonio, taken by Tong Pascual

Running clubs in Caraga said no woman from the region has yet dared to do it so far.

Now, Betonio has a message to her former boyfriend: “Thank you. You are a blessing in disguise.” Referring of course to their break-up exactly two years and five months ago, the life event that got her into running.

She now refuses to talk about that romance of yore. “Let bygones by bygones,” Betonio stressed, quickly adding that she now has a new love of her life that makes her life even happier.

Betonio hails from Barangay Talisay in mineral-rich Nonoc Island, which is part of Surigao City, but is now based in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City for her house property rental business. A nice place indeed, considering that runners consider the Bonifacio Global City as one of the best running places in Metro Manila.

But Betonio, in an interview over Facebook, admitted she doesn’t have a regular running training program to prepare for certain races. “My running is usually in actual races,” she confides, “unless some friends invite me for a run.”

Where she spends time, however, is in the gym, where she already was years before she started running. That’s three to four hours in the gym almost daily, doing weights and squats, strengthening her muscles, her core and her back, exercises that are just as vital for runners.

Unlike some runners who run long distances for some causes (for the environment, for the poor children in some parts of the world, etc.), Betonio runs just for herself. She just wants to improve her time (what runners call “personal record” or PR), and improve herself in the process.

Asked how long it would take her to run from Butuan to Surigao, she said she doesn’t have a target time to complete the course. “I just want to explore the place and enjoy it by running,” she explains.

These past few years, Betonio has been joining races in many parts of the country and even abroad, including marathons (42 kilometers long), and even much longer races, or what runners call ultras. And winning some of them.

These include the 2nd Sungay 60-kilometer Ultramarathon Challenge running from Tanauan City to Tagaytay City last October 19, 2014 where she finished in nine hours and 57 minutes.

She reigned supreme in the Ultra Runners Club Davao 100 Miles (160 kilometers), winning in 30:22, last May 23-24.

Betonio was crowned as champion in the 60-kilometer Cavinti 360 Utramarathon in Tagaytay City, finishing the race in 8:08.

She was proclaimed as the queen in the 105-kilometer TransCebu Ultramarathon last July 25-26, finishing the race in 15:58.

Betonio was first runnerup in the 52-kilometer 1st Lipa to Dolores Speed 52 Ultramarathon last July 19 with a time of 7:17. The race started in Lipa, Batangas City and ended in Dolores, Quezon Province.

She was second runner up in the 9th PAU (Philippine Association of Ultrarunners) 50K Ultramarathon Race that stretched from Tagaytay City to Nasugbu, Batangas last May 9 with a time of 6:15.

Outside the country, she ran in 42k, 50k,70k, 85k and 101k races in Singapore and another 42k in Penang, Malaysia.

The list goes on and on …

“There were times during these races that I wanted to give up. But determination and support from my family and friends made me finish all my ultra races with these unforgettable podium finish,” she said.

Betonio said she enjoys running because it entails self-discipline and constant training. Running, along with her time in the gym, has made her healthier, with the fringe benefit of a body to die for.

To prepare for the Butuan-Surigao run, Betonio has been running along the highway these past few days. Last Thursday, she ran from Mainit town to Surigao City, which are 40 kilometers apart.

A few friends will be pacing her in her run this weekend, but they won’t be running the whole distance with her. She will have a support vehicle, too, loaded with food, water and other drinks.

Cherry Rose is a sponsored athlete of Fitness First, a classy gym at the Bonifacio Global City. Photo courtesy of Cherry Rose Betonio
Cherry Rose is a sponsored athlete of Fitness First, a classy gym at the Bonifacio Global City. Photo courtesy of Cherry Rose Betonio

Betonio’s record attempt, which will include an overnight run until Sunday, may be epic to non-ultra runners, but it’s actually just part of her training for even more challenging ultramarathons up ahead in the next months.

Betonio is preparing for the Craze Ultra 100 Miles in Singapore on September 5-6 this year.

On October 31-November 2, she will joining the 200-kilometer 3rd West Coast Manila Ultramarathon.

Betonio will also run for the 120k Andres Bonifacio Day Ultramarathon on November 29-30 in Silang, Cavite.

By January 1-3 next year, she will be gunning for the Monster Ultra 200k in Singapore.

Betonio will also participate in the Bataan Death March 102k Ultramarathon on January 30-31 next year, and its 160k version on February 27-28.

“There are only two things that could probably stop me – either I get an injury or I’ll get sick. I hope God will spare me from both,” she stressed.

Surigao Runners Club president Atty. Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine said he has not yet heard of any woman who has endured a run from Butuan to Surigao or vice versa. “I wish her the best,” he said.

Come Saturday, Betonio will likely set a record for herself, all for the love of running.