For some people, completing a 5-kilometer run might already be an achievement of a lifetime. But Joy Rojas is not just “some people.” [firstpara] The Filipina runner recently ran a dizzying 3,000 miles (around 5,000 kilometers) across the United States of America, getting recognized not just as the first Filipina to accomplish such a feat, but as the first Southeast Asian woman to do so. For her tireless legs, 5 kilometers is barely a warm up.
The cross-country trip, dubbed as the Takbong Pangarap Trans-USA Run 2009, kicked off on May 10 at the Eagle Rock Plaza in Los Angeles, California. From there, the 44-year old mega-runner ran over 4 miles (around 6-and-a-half kilometers) a day, never stopping except to get some food and rest.
Braving elevations as high as 10,850 feet, which makes it that much harder to breathe, a stress fracture injury that delayed her by 6 days, and temperatures that reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, she persevered.
In Joy Rojas’ mind, she knew she couldn’t disappoint her supporters: Western Union, a major sponsor, her trainer Mat Macabe, her mom, and the many other Filipinos who were aware of the magnitude of this runner’s historic goal.
She also wasn’t just about ready to let down the beneficiaries of Takbong Pangarap: The Social Services Division of the Philippine Hear Center, and the Anti-TB Program of the Inner Wheel Club of Quezon City.
And she didn’t disappoint. Joy finally reached the finish line on November 22, 2009 at the beautiful Central Park in New York City. In the 169 days that it took her to finish her coast-to-coast journey, traveling over 16 States, the Filipina runner stood as a symbol of Filipino pride, and heart. The Filipina Forrest Gump showed the world, the tough-as-nails spirit of Filipinos. And for that we are proud.
WORDS BY: GELO GONZALES