Ever since Michael announced he was running
, he said he would do it in under 4 hours and inside the top 10,000. He was even filmed by FilmeFilms declaring he would make this time on Youtube
. In the short film, Michael’s Filipino mother expressed her pride of her son doing something and trying to achieve something. This is a powerful message Michael hopes others will take from his own experience.
Sunday itself was a glorious day of sunshine, not ideal for runners, especially those who have been training in the colder, damper winter months. It was a long day, Michael, PG (Adrian & Mae) and a few of his supporters, Bobby, SJ, Oliver & Katie travelled to Blackheath at 8am and met ABS-CBN (Rose & Patrick) there at 9am. Other supporters were preparing to see Michael in Deptford, Wapping, Westminster and Victoria. On the train, the mood was buoyant as runners and supporters chatted and offered advice to eachother. There was one older gentleman who wished Michael well and good luck to the Filipino community, he said, ‘I have met people from the Philippines but I don’t know anything about it’. Justifying one of the reasons Michael believes in PG’s ideology.
Officially his race was to begin from the Blue start in the elite men section at 9.45am and Blackheath was jam-packed full of runners and well wishers from all over the world. There Japanese runners with placards in support of the victims of the Tsunami, People in fancy dress drawing publicity for their chosen charity and even a guy in a Testicle costume raising money for testicular cancer! As the Marathon started, PG, his supporters and ABS-CBN were also running to make it to the start of the race and catch a glimpse of Michael set off. Unfortunately we missed him! All the preparation, running and we missed him start!
As thousands of runners set off, crowds were calling out the names on their shirts and vests, offering words of encouragement, at this stage, it was distracting, a bit later on this kind of support proved to be a god send for many of the runners.
Travelling around London proved difficult as trains were packed as tightly as the morning rush hour and Sunday service on the tube did not help. It was here that the support broke up, one supporter, Kenny, managed to catch up with Michael in Deptford at around mile 8 and he actually ran a short distance with him! Oliver & Katie went to Wapping/Shadwell to catch a glimpse of Michael run past at mile 13 and PG, ABS-CBN, Bobby & SJ went on to Westminster to get a good spot at the last 600 metre mark to cheer Michael on at the last leg of his 26 mile journey.
St. James Park was packed and the atmosphere was electric, people were already approaching the last leg at 12:30am! There were runners who looked like they were running down to the newsagents to get a pint of milk, hardly breaking a sweat, although there were many more who looked like they had just gotten out of a very long sauna! Others were obviously approaching their limit and a few ‘hit the wall’. The crowd was brilliant, with every single person cheering the runners on, for a guy who started running backwards as his legs just gave up on him and had to be helped along to a guy that had stopped and was hunched over, only for the crowd to spur him on to ‘pick those legs up’ as he began running again to finish.
It was this atmosphere that got a few of Michael’s supporters saying they want to run at some point in the future. At 1:30pm we were eagerly awaiting Michael’s approach, a prediction of sub 4 hours would have him at this point before 2pm. As we saw Michael approach we gave him a huge roar! Some other sections of the crowd joined in, crowd mentality I guess. He didn’t disappoint either, thumbs up and smiling he maintained a good pace until he reached the finish line a good 5 minutes under the 4 hour mark, 3:54:06 to be exact! Michael finished in 7,849th
position out of 34,738 people! Placing him in the top 10,000, another goal he wanted to achieve.
It was at this point most of Michael’s supporters met up to greet him at the end of the Marathon run in the Piccadilly side of the park, PG, ABS-CBN, Bobby, SJ, Oliver & Katie, were joined by Kenny (all the way from Deptford!), Janice & Hazel. Michael appeared with his medal and the guys all cheered, posed for pictures and began the slow walk out of the park to Victoria to where other supporters were waiting, Romella volunteered to drive Michael back to Marylebone and Minesh & Justina met up with the group to travel back to Baker St to meet another well wisher AJ for some well-deserved Nando’s chicken. And, when reviewing the Marathon footage recorded from the LIVE BBC show, Michael can be quite clearly seen at the starting line beginning his run and waving into the camera! We got to see him start after all!
Of course, the whole reason Michael ran to raise funds for Philippine Generations, was to help raise funds for future events. The money raised will help PG to hold the Philippine Independence Day World Cup in June, to hold a Kultura Workshop for the community that will be free to attend, to celebrate PG’s 4th Birthday with a community event and for PG to continue the successful Parol Workshop this Christmas! Central to this was the support and faith shown by main sponsors Moneygram who are looking to really build their relationship with Philippine Generations and the Filipino community in the UK, they offered this official statement:
‘MoneyGram were proud to sponsor a regular volunteer for the Philippine Generations, Michael Castro who ran the London Marathon on April 17th by donating £1000 to this charity to continue providing events and support to the community in order to help the Filipino become more recognised people in the UK. ’
In the UK, MoneyGram is available in every Post Office Branch, Thomas Cook and Going Places stores plus hundreds of independent outlets. Not only is your money typically transferred in 10 minutes (subject to agent hours of operation) but we also understand that value for money is important offering a money transfer service from only £4.99.
In the Philippines the MoneyGram Service is available in over 7,000 locations including BDO, SM, M.Lhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier, KwartaGram and thousands of points all over the country. Money can be received in either Dollars or Pesos.
By Adrian Williams