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CHASING AND MAKING HISTORY

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By Gabe Lombard

“You don’t run against a bloody stop watch, do you hear?  A runner runs against himself, against the best that’s in him.  That’s the way to be great, running against yourself.  Against all the rotten mess in the world.  Against God, if you’re good enough.”  ~Bill Persons

I recently had the privilege, for the second year in a row, of teaming up with seven of the fastest runners’ on-island for Guam Running Club’s 44th annual Perimeter Relay Run.  For the second year in a row we made history, breaking our previous decade-old record setting performance from last year.  Though the course, rules and technology have changed over the years – I’m pretty confident that these boys would have set the bar  over any course, at any time, with whatever rules were required.

With the addition of Guam Olympian Derek Mandell, John F. Kennedy high school running prodigy John Aquino, and Ironman World Championship qualifier Cameron O’Neal, this year we smashed our year old record by about 7 minutes – clocking in an average pace of 5 minutes and 37 seconds per mile over the 48 mile course, finishing with a time of 4 hours, 30 minutes and 28 seconds.

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The record breakers pose after crushing the Perimeter Relay record. Peter Lombard (in arm sling) was a member last year but recovering from injury this year. (courtesy photo)

Cross Country Dynasty

Between the eight of us, we have nearly a decade of local Cross Country All-Island Champions.  I won in 1999, Napu Castro took the reins for the next three years and Derek followed suite in 2003.  Chris Magtoto picked up the torch from 2007-2009, and it’s highly unlikely John is going to lose in his remaining high school years after taking the championship last year.

It’s hard to explain the effort and emotion that goes in to teaming up with guys you are normally battling on the run course.  Chris, Charlie Epperson, Derek and John regularly push each other to their limits at various local 5k and 10k runs.

Teamwork

All of a sudden instead of competing against each other, you’re competing as a team – something that runners aren’t able to do that often once high school and college is over.  I think that’s what makes the Perimeter Relay such an enjoyable event.

You’re still pushing yourself to your utmost physical threshold, but you’re doing it for the other people on your team with a common goal in sight.

Whether your team finishes first or last, it’s that goal that bonds you.  It’s the scenic ride with your teammates cheering your runner on along the twisty and hilly roads of southern Guam.  It’s the memories that will last for years and years to come (like accidentally leaving Charlie at Merizo Pier in 2012 after he was done with his final leg), and the opportunity to get to know what makes some of the fastest runners on Guam tick.

The Future

Will we attempt to go after the record again next year?  Maybe.

It’ll be quite a challenge though, as a majority of our team was in prime shape for this year’s run – less Rico Flores having a bum ankle and Napu (though it could just be him being his usual humble self) admitting he wasn’t in top form.  I don’t see us taking minutes off the record anymore.  But, should we all remain healthy and able, I think the mission of getting under 4 hours and 30 minutes could bring us all back together again.

Each of us left everything we had on every leg we ran, and for that we’ll always share a special bond that runners of all levels can understand.  It’s the passion in that pain, in overcoming our own limitations, no matter how fast or how slow, that keeps us coming back for more.

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Chasing Booty (L-R): Derek Mandell, John Aquino, Christopher Magtoto, Charlie Epperson, Rico Flores, Gabe Lombard and Napu Castro. (courtesy photo)

Chasing Booty 2013

Gabe Lombard
Derek Mandell
Chris Magtoto
Napu Castro
Charlie Epperson
John Aquino
Rico Flores
Cameron O’Neal

(Lombard recollects their record setting performance by first-hand account of this year’s race)

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