Name: Yuri Delumbria Cipriano
Age: 40
Nationality: Filipino
Profession: QHSE Manager, Arabian Gulf Switchgear LLC, Member of Filipino Runners United (FRU)

Yuri D. Cipriano doesn’t run without a reason, because for him, running without a reason is the same as laughing or crying without any reason. He prepares for a race for a particular purpose and the purpose is never self-service. The pain and suffering that one feels during each run connect him to the pains wrestled by people around him and to the labyrinth of sufferings in our society.

What does running mean to you? Tell us about your love for running. What excites you about running?
The fact that running offers a host of physical benefits and increases life expectancy is good enough for me to pursue it. To start with, all you need is a pair of good running shoes, put one foot in front of the other and you are ready to hit the road. But it also a fact that running is a lonely sport: you have to run alone (most of the time especially if you are a slow runner), suffer from the usual running injuries and sacrifice your nightlife. I have learnt to love running, not just from the health perspective but also because of its potential relevance in addressing societal needs. Personally speaking, I consider running as a transformative venue for creative expression and a means of outsourcing support for the needy.

How did you get into running and stay in it?
I was not into running until 2010, when my athlete friends organized a project dubbed ‘Takbo para kay Kabayan’ (Run for our Countrymen) –a charity project aimed to raise funds to assist the repatriation of Filipina household workers and for medical support of selected Filipino cancer patients in the UAE. From then on, I have become a regular participant in almost all local races in the UAE.

What does your training involve?
As a weekly routine, I run 5 to 10km every other day and do a long run on weekends. Aside from regular running, I also do strengthening exercises and cross train other sports.

You have used your love for running for the betterment of the community. Please tell us more about this?
Long distance running humbles me. It is an open door that invites me to enter, then listen and understand the agonies of life. It is like weeping with the persons afflicted with physical illness, with those who are victims of man’s selfishness. I do believe that weeping with them will somewhat alleviate the pain and suffering that they feel.

My first 10km run was dedicated to raise funds for the repatriation of Filipina household workers and support for cancer patients; my first full marathon was aimed to raise awareness on Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and raise funds to support the medical treatment of a former classmate; my first race outside the country – a multi-stage ultra-desert run – was in support of the Running With Cancer initiatives in raising fund for the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP).

What challenges have you come up against?
Scheduling for a regular run is not that easy for an expat like me since I am bound to an 8 hour work day and have to travel Dubai to Sharjah on a daily basis. Running and training after work requires a lot of self-discipline, focus, and determination.

Please tell us about your latest running stint in the Sahara desert?
Just a couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Marathon des Sables, a six-day self-sufficiency in food, multi-stage desert ultramarathon covering 250km of the Sahara Desert in Southern Morocco. It is known as the toughest footrace on Earth. Though I was unable to finish the race due to the worsening blisters and Iliotibial Band syndrome, I succeeded in raising a good amount of money for Friends of Cancer Patients, made new friends and realized some of the frailties that I have to work on. I promised myself that, if given a good reason, I would be back in the race after a year much stronger and more determined.

How has running changed you as a person?
Aside from maintaining my fitness and practicing a disciplined living, I can say that I am more connected with my feelings and compassionate to those who are in pain and agony. It gives me time to reflect on the good and not-so-good things about life, discern and plan for something for the good of others. ■

Words by: Bandana Jain
Photos by: Supplied