ABU DHABI // Ultra-marathon runner Cesar Guarin met his UAE supporters yesterday after a solo run from Al Mafraq to the Philippine embassy in Al Bateen.
The 56-year-old is in the middle of a quest to be the first Filipino to run around the world. but he is not doing it for individual glory.
The difficulty of the global run, said the father of four, was nothing compared with the hardships his compatriots faced outside the comfort of their own land.
"I believe in the heroism of the global Filipino," he said. "That is worth running for."
The Middle East run is the seventh in Guarin's 16-stage Global Run: A Tribute to All Filipinos around the Globe. It covers 1,000 kilometres across Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and the UAE.
"The team considers the Middle East as the 'crowning stage' of Cesar Guarin's run around the world," said Joon Malicse, a consultant on the team supporting Guarin. "We can't miss it."
The team arrived in Al Ain on Wednesday from Oman, where Guarin completed a 175km run. On Thursday, he ran up and down Jebel Hafeet.
"I've been looking forward to meeting Filipinos in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, since the UAE is the last country and the finish point of our Middle East run," Guarin said.
"What's so amazing about Filipinos is that they have made a decision to work abroad out of necessity instead of complaining about our government's inability at this time to provide a better future for them."
Guarin has been praised for his efforts by his countrymen.
"We're happy to be part of this noble effort to showcase Filipino excellence," said Grace Princesa, the Philippine ambassador to the UAE, who hosted a welcome reception at the embassy.
"We admire his efforts to show what overseas Filipinos are doing for their country and their families."
Filipino Runners UAE, along with Nike Runners Dubai and the Filipino Mountaineers Federation, will hold a 20km "meet and greet" run with Guarin at 6.30am today along the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
He will dash through Al Rahba and Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi, and Jebel Ali, Al Barsha, Jumeirah and other areas in Dubai from today until Thursday.
And when Guarin concludes the Middle East run in Dubai on Friday, he will not be alone.
Between 600 and 800 runners and spectators are expected to turn up at Zabeel Park as early as 5.30am for the "Unity Run for the Global Pinoy". Of those, almost 30 runners have signed up to join him in a 24km run.
"It is an honour to be part of this event," said Amor Bautista-Baylosis, 31, a market-research consultant in Dubai. "Being an ultra-marathoner myself, I know how hard it is to run long distances.
"It takes a lot of patience, commitment and discipline to be able to do the challenge."
The expatriate is one of the founding members of Filipino Runners UAE, which started in 2010. She did her first 72km ultra-marathon in the mountains of Wadi Bih in Dibba, Oman, in February.
Guarin also dedicated his global run to Filipino street children. In 2011, he ran from Melbourne to Brisbane in 37 days, raising A$6,000 (Dh22,000) for impoverished Filipino children.
Guarin started his quest in the Philippines in 1983. Since then, the athlete has run across the United States, several European countries, Canada and Australia.
After the Middle East run, his next solo outing will last 74 days, covering 3,134km, during which he will cross from Alaska to California in the United States via Canada. The run is expected to take place between September and November this year. Guarin said he would like to finish all the remaining stages - which will take place in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America - by the third quarter of 2017.
Once Guarin finishes all the stages, he will have covered 42,000km across 47 countries in about 920 days. If successful he will be the first Filipino, first Asian and fourth person to run around the world.
Listening to inspiring stories from Filipinos during his global run has kept him motivated, he said. The idea of giving up has never crossed his mind.
"I don't see myself stopping from running," he said. "For the Filipino, I will run around the world."