On his 74th Marathon, renowned ophthalmologist, Dr. Potenciano “Yong” S.D. Larrazabal finishes on sub4 active time the biggest virtual marathon in the world as recorded by Guinness World Record with over 50,000 runners all over the world – the Virgin Money London Marathon 2021.
The New Marathon Landscape
When the pandemic hit the world in 2020, the marathon scene also adapted to the changes brought by the health safety risks and other limitations. However, like a marathon freak, this did not hinder Larrazabal finish the 42Kilometer race that made him accomplish 5 Virtual Marathons so far – on top of the 69 actual marathons he already completed before the pandemic.
“I have done 69 actual marathons and five virtual marathons already. And despite the limitations, this is so far the best way to keep me active and healthy. Although I am still hoping those actual races will return soon, these virtual marathons keep me on track of beating my records,” Larrazabal said.
In the recently concluded London Marathon 2021, where Larrazabal finished at 3 hours and 57 minutes, the race is in sync through a mobile app. When runners pressed start, the official time begins. Tracked by GPS, connectivity is critical in the duration of the race. While on his earphones, Larrazabal describes that while running, he listened to 3 commentators, including the former marathon champion Paula Radcliffe. He further narrated that in the length of the marathon, he can also hear cheers from a virtual crowd, and commentators will mention the landmarks in London you may have passed by should it be held physically.
There were also event trivia and feedback he can hear while running inside their subdivision starting at 5:30 PM last Sunday, October 3, 2021. “Good thing I wrapped my phone with plastic case and wore my ASICS Meta Speed Sky that kept my legs fresh and comfortable even when wet because, in the middle of my run, the rain poured hard that night,” Larrazabal added.
While many would remember 2020 as a year that COVID19 conquered the world, it is the same year when Larrazabal brought national pride when he conquered the World Marathon Challenge by finishing 7 Marathons in 7 Continents in 7 Days. It led him also to become the first Filipino to be a member of the elusive 8 Continents Marathon Club.
Since then, he has already received numerous accolades and plaudits from different government and non-government organizations in the country. But the journey continues for Larrazabal as he will continue to race and promote the sports.
“For me, running every marathon I join is just the icing of the cake. The actual cake is my training – it keeps me fit and healthy. It is the safest sport anyone can start doing. So I hope that with everything I do, people, especially the youth and working professionals like me, will start running again and remain healthy,” Larrazabal added.
With this another feat of Larrazabal, he proved that he is his toughest competition. And by doing so, he hopes to inspire many to consider doing the sports he is passionate about, especially now when people need aid to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy.
“As I said before, running makes me focus. It did not just develop my stamina but also my courage – to face all the challenges thrown at me. Running changed my perspective in life; it might do the same to you too. So let us keep running,” Larrazabal concluded.