DUBAI // Euca Bolingot ran last year's Dubai Marathon to fulfill a personal goal, but today he and 38 other Filipinos will be hitting the streets for their countrymen.
"This is a special marathon, since I'm not doing it for myself," said the 28-year-old IT professional, who formed Filipino Runners UAE in Dubai last year. "I've never fel this kind of pressure before."
The 39 runners will cover a cumulative distance of approximately 800km, and have so far collected pledges for Dh20,000 - half of the Dh40,000 they hope to raise.
The beneficiaries are 22 Filipino patients undergoing treatment at Rashid Hospital in Dubai, the majority of whom do not have health insurance. Money will also go towards supporting the livelihood, training and repatriation of Filipinos residing the UAE.
Initially, 34 Filipino runners were planning to participate in the full 43km event, as well as a 10km road race and 3km fun run. Earlier this month, five more decided to run in the event, dubbed Takbo para kay Kabayan, or Run for my Countrymen.
"I monitored the progress of the runners and made sure they would not exhaust themselves a few days before the run," said Mr Bolingot, who also serves as the team captain. "And I also had to work on the charity aspect of the run."
One of the team members, Gary Elizaga, a 30-year-old accountant living in Dubai, said Mr Bolingot helped him develop physically, mentally and emotionally as an endurance runner.
"I'm prepared for the run," he said.
Mr Bolingot said that Dubai Roadrunners, Dubai Creek Striders and ABRas AC, a Dubai-based athletics club that focuses on endurance running, are supporting Filipino Runners UAE and Migrante UAE, a migrant-rights group that helped create the charity run and select the beneficiaries.