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HK maid shrugs off injury to finish London Marathon

28 April 2017

By Vir B. Lumicao

Calo raises Philippine flag at the finish line
Despite running with an injured ankle, Filipina domestic worker Theresa Calo managed to finish the grueling 26.2-mile (42-kilometer) London Marathon on Apr 23, and fulfill a dream.
Calo joined a record crowd of more than 40,000 runners from all over the world who took part in the 37th edition of the race to raise funds for charity group Oxfam. The run started at Blackheath, a district of southeast London, and ended at Westminster.
The 37-year-old Calo who has been working as a domestic helper in Hong Kong for the past 15 years, was full of excitement after finishing her first marathon event.
“I enjoyed my first 26.2-mile run! I managed to finish it and, yeah, 1 down, 5 stars to go!” Calo said in a message to The SUN two days after the event.
Calo clocked 4 hours, 48 minutes and 40 seconds to finish on 7,877th place among women runners and 25,269th overall in the biggest edition of the event where 39,400 runners crossed the finish line from a record field of 40,048.
Her record run was sponsored by local gym, Pheform, while she helped raise nearly 1,500 pounds for Oxfam's poverty alleviation program through the online fundraising platform, JustGiving, by taking part in the marathon.
Although it was just her first time to join a marathon and had been running seriously for less than two years, Calo has taken part in several running events in Hong Kong, including the Vibram HK100 in January, where she managed to land in third place.
Calo said there were only five Filipinas who ran in the marathon. Three of them are based in London and one in Italy. Of the five, Calo was the second to finish the race.
“I came in No. 2. My time was just 5 minutes slower than the first one, who has run 52 marathons already. So I think I did OK for a first timer despite running half-injured,” Calo told The SUN.
The runners were sent on by Prince Harry and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the marathon that ended at The Mall, the road leading to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth II’s official residence, from Trafalgar Square. 
Calo looking in top form despite the
swollen ankle
In the 18-39 age category, the Baguio native and veteran Hong Kong runner was 4,379 th to cross the finish line, holding up the Philippine flag with both hands.
“I would say the race was tough, especially running half-injured. I was a bit worried about my ankle going into the race, but I didn't want to let it ruin the experience,”said Calo. 
She added that the swelling began two days before the race so she rested it and applied cold compress using lots of ice.
“Overall, I was aware of my ankle during the run, but it didn't affect me too badly.  It hurt, but it didn’t stop me running or enjoying the day.”
She said the first and last miles were the hardest parts of the race – the first being the long wait to get moving as the starting point at Blackheath was packed with runners, and the last mile where the exhausted runner pushed towards the finish line.
She said she compensated for the delay in starting off by chatting with many runners. 
“The crowd was huge that even though the race was meant to start at 10am, I didn’t go through the starting line until 10:37. It took so long for the tens of thousands of people to get through the start.  But it’s OK because your time starts only when you go through the start,” Calo said.
Calo said the crowd of runners was so huge in the first mile “and you can't really run at more than a slow jog… through some relatively narrow London streets”.
“The last mile was hard for obvious reasons.  I wasn't particularly worn out, my quads were burning and cramping, I had to stop to shake (the cramp) off, but after 25 miles you just want to finish and you feel so close but so far still,” recounted Calo.
“However, the last mile of the route was spectacular so it made up for (the pain) – past Buckingham Palace and up the world-famous The Mall to cheers at the finish line.
“The atmosphere was truly amazing.  It was a wonderful experience, and one of the best of my life.  There were crowds the entire length of the course and it felt like London really loves the marathon.  People of all ages were cheering the runners on, and they really helped push people forward. 
“Even the runners themselves helped each other with encouragement. I’ve seen all sorts of runners – old to young, serious ones, grumpy ones, funny ones and even runners with crazy costumes.   The crowd added something special to it – the enthusiasm was infectious.  It was like nothing I've experienced before. I feel road marathon is much tougher than my 100km,” Calo concluded.
She was referring to the Vikram100 Hong Kong Ultra Trail Race where she won a bronze trophy on Jan 14.
Calo said she would be staying in Britain until Apr 30 “to do a little bit of exploring” before returning to Hong Kong.
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