I first ran with Anne Curtis two years ago when I was in training for my first half-ironman. She turned up to the Thursday running group I used to join with Kuya Kim Atienza and her boyfriend Erwan Heussaff. Kim tasked me to stay with Anne as she attempted to do her first 10-kilometer training run.
Fast-forward to yesterday, and there I was on the starting line at the Heroes for Children Run to accompany Anne on her first 21-kilometer race! And by “accompany” I mean UNICEF had asked me along with two other runners to pace Anne.
She had declined a security detail, so the pacers (there were three of us) were asked just to run in the background. I would make and take calls to update UNICEF and Anne’s management on her progress along the course. Erwan would also be around to keep her company during the race.
Anne had a target finish time of 2 hours 30 minutes, which was well within her capability to achieve. Still, this being her first half-marathon she didn’t know what to expect. “I’m so nervous!” she said over and over before the gunstart.
And then we were off. I didn’t know if she wanted conversation, so I stayed a step behind her as she ran the first few kilometers shoulder-to-shoulder with Erwan quite quickly.
I let Anne take the lead on the pacing; this was her journey. Along the way I offered just a few words of encouragement and a cup of cold water to pour on her head as she heated up and slowed down. I also positioned myself in a way to offer her a bit of a buffer zone from onlookers, but she always met them with a smile and a wave.
The kilometers ticked by and her legs grew heavy and breathing became labored, but based on the first time we had run together I knew she wouldn’t quit. With the added motivation of running for the child beneficiaries of UNICEF, she was unstoppable.
As we approached the finish line and the growing swarms of fans, I had to get my guard up to make sure she would be safe. (I know Anne’s fans are awesome and very supportive, but her getting tangled up and tripping on people’s legs in a stampede was something we wanted to prevent.) Hence the serious face in these photos!
There was a very perceptible lift in her pace the last kilometer, even though she was super tired! She crossed the finish line to the cheers of her UNICEF family and her fans, and Jinoe Gavan of takbo.ph/Leadpack hung her first 21K finisher medal around her neck.
It was a great turnout for the race as all 5K, 10K, and 21K kits had sold out, raising much-needed funding for UNICEF’s 1000 Days of Life campaign.
I’m happy to have done my part in supporting the race, but also honored to have seen how passionate Anne is for her work in children’s welfare through UNICEF. When a celebrity uses her platform to draw attention to and support for a worthy cause, much good can be done.
Congratulations to everyone who participated, and I hope running for a cause made your exertions more meaningful. I know it did so for me. :)