Half way there: Just 24,000km to run

MANILA - After a 30-year journey, traversing rugged mountains and concrete jungles around the world, Cesar Guarin, the Filipino who aims to be the first Asian to run around the world, is almost halfway through his dream.

The 56-year-old has covered 18,000km, with 24,000km more to go, running an average of 43km a day in seven to eight hours.

It's a daunting goal, to say the least, especially when most people find it a Herculean task to finish a full marathon of 42km.

But Guarin, known as the "father of ultramarathons" in the Philippines, is taking things one day at a time.

During his Trans Pilipinas Run in 1983 (Zamboanga to Baguio), the epic run that started it all, he ran an average of 65km a day. His Trans USA (New York City to Los Angeles) two years later saw him do 56km a day.

Today, with 30 years of long-distance running behind him, Guarin's goal has shifted.

"I used to want to run the longest, to run the fastest, to run the strongest. Now I find it more fulfilling when I connect with people, with other Filipinos and runners around the world," he said.

"Global Run: Alay sa Pilipino" is a tribute to overseas Filipino workers and a running campaign for tourism in the Philippines, and Guarin hopes to reach his goal by 2018, by which time he would have finished an equivalent of 995 full marathons.

To set a record for a global run, he must cover 42,000km - a figure that is roughly the size of the earth's circumference.

Last year Guarin completed his European leg, kicking off from Finland, then crossing towards Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Britain.

He covered more than 4,000km, finishing just five days before the opening of the London 2012 Summer Olympics.

In his youth, Guarin once held on to an ambition of becoming the first Filipino to bring home an Olympic marathon gold, a dream dashed by a devastating injury.

But it was that frustration that fuelled him to run his first ultramarathon, ultimately becoming the country's first ultramarathoner and jump-starting his Global Run.

Since then, he has met hundreds of Filipinos abroad, such as a Filipino woman who used to peddle rags on the streets of Manila at eight, but now drives a BMW in Finland, and the "Miracle Man" who survived a series of diseases and life-threatening operations.

Last May, Guarin completed Global Run's Stage 7 in the Middle East, surviving rough terrain, extreme weather conditions and sandstorms.

He covered six countries: United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

But Guarin doesn't always run on his own. At times, he has an entire community of Filipino runners tailing him, cheering him on at the start of his run, stopping on the road to give him a thumbs up, or welcoming him at the finish line.

Global Run's Stage 8 will be in North America. It will be Guarin's first winter run, with chances of snowfall. He has never run through snow before and the prospect excites the little boy in him.

Beginning in the middle of next month in Anchorage, Alaska, he will cover 2,470km, crossing over to Alberta and British Columbia in Canada before going down towards Washington, Oregon and California in the United States.

He will end his run on Dec 23 at Santa Monica beach, where he also concluded his Trans USA Run from New York City to Los Angeles 28 years ago.

"This is going to be a special run for me," he said.