Press Release
March 7, 2023

Pia lauds international marathoner Julie Uychiat: 'keep breaking down barriers'
Co-sponsorship speech of Senator Pia S. Cayetano on the resolution commending World Marathon Challenge finisher Julie Uychiat

Thank you, Mr. President. Before I proceed, I'd like the people watching us to know that the Majority Floor Leader and the Senate President are very humble. The Majority Floor Leader is, well in the circle of basketball, a very well accomplished member of UST and the Philippine National Youth Team. And our Senate President is a world-champion in Arnis. And on that note, they are very supportive of women in sports and women in politics.

Mr. President, dear colleagues, I rise to co-sponsor Senate Resolution No. 471, which considers Senate Resolution No. 522 that I filed, congratulating and commeding Filipino International Marathon Runner, Julie Uychiat, who just finished the 2023 World Marathon Challenge. I will not repeat everything that the Majority Floor Leader has already said. But I will give you the inside story that I have gathered while chatting with Julie. I think she won't mind.

So to emphasize, as the Majority Floor Leader has already pointed out, the World Marathon Challenge is seven marathons in seven days, okay? To be clear, if you read most marathon books, they would recommend that you only do one marathon a year. And then, if you wanna push it and you're experienced, okay, maybe you can do two, but space it out really well, have a good break, maybe six months apart, and so on and so forth.

Not in any way to compare myself with the feat that our World Marathon Champion here has done. But I need you to put this into context, okay? So, as you all know, the Senate President is sending me to another IPU conference in Bahrain. And every October, that conference is held in Geneva. So what I would do in my earlier years in the Senate is I would look for a marathon in Europe because I was already there. And because of that, I ended up doing the Amsterdam marathon. I've done about ten marathons. Anyway, I've done Rome, Sweden, I am trying to recall the other ones.

But the point of my story is, in two weeks, I went to New York, two weeks in a row, and after the marathon in Europe, I did the New York marathon. And that was a two-week break. And at the time, my doctor was not happy at all. My sports medicine doctor was like: 'Why do you do this? It's not correct that you do this.' Guys, I had two weeks of rest. Julie had barely 24 hours of rest every day for the next seven days. That's the point I'm trying to emphasize.

It was already shocking for my sports medicine doctor to comprehend that I would do another marathon in two weeks. And yet here's Julie, who did one every day. And my question to her was, is there a special recovery tip? And I know the Senate President is listening intently, because a lot of us are athletes here. And you know what she said? It's really training for what you are about to do. So it's training that way. There is no secret.

We are also told, though, and I am a believer of good recovery, so you have to learn how to really take care of your body, take care of your body, that's very important.

So, to go back to some stories and to show the kind of fortitude this person has, she told me, and I'll share it, Julie, that during one of the races, Madrid in particular, she fell and got a bad wound. But imagine that she had to run in less than 24 hours again. So instead of having it stitched, which was the recommendation of the doctor, she said I'd rather sleep and eat than have you keep me up and stitched up. So those are the sacrifices that she had to make. And in a way, you know your body well. You felt that you needed the rest more than anything else.

But this is something else that I want to share. And this is the story of anyone who has been successful, I think. So my staff gave me this list of the races that she did to complete the World Marathon Challenge, and it is one race per continent. And they listed it by order of her ranking. So first place, second place, third place, fourth place. But she told me the interesting story behind that. The very first race was the one in Antarctica where she finished fourth. If you're going to set yourself up to run seven marathons, I would imagine, like Julie, her main goal, and I think most of the participants, is to survive. So you are not going to run out there and give it your best because you might not make it to the next six, right? So that's what she did. She paced herself and finished fourth. And somebody told her, you're much faster than that, give it your best, go faster. So the second marathon was in Cape Town, where she finished third. The third marathon was in Perth, Australia where she finished second. And then the fourth marathon was in Miami, where she finished first, and the next one was in South America where she finished first, and the next one was in Madrid, where she finished first, and the last one was in Dubai, where she finished first.

So that's the story of perseverance. I mean, I am a marathoner, and anyone who finishes a 5k, a 10k, has the right to be happy. It is an accomplishment. It's not about, I did this, you did this. It's about what you did for yourself. To do seven marathons in seven different continents in seven days, and to finish the last four at number one, is just simply amazing.

And we are truly blessed to have this story that you shared with me, Julie, because it reminds us of what the human spirit is capable of. It's not just physical, but it's mental, it's emotional. It's what you choose to do. And it's what you have chosen to do. So, Julie is 49. And she has accomplished all this in her late 40s. We are all told as runners that our peak is around late 30s. But clearly, either Julie would have been probably the fastest person in the world, if she started earlier. But at the rate you are going, you still could be, Julie. You still could be. And I am happy to know that she is continuing to set milestones for herself. She is continuing to set goals.

I've taken the opportunity to invite her to a few marathons that are coming up, one of which is in Sydney, which will be organized by no less than a Filipino, the ever famous Run Rio's Rio dela Cruz. So I was hoping, Julie, that you can grace this race. He is actually also the host now of the Singapore Sundown Marathon, which is going to be held earlier, this one is in May. So the Filipinos, I am sure, will rejoice to see you there, runners, everywhere. As Julie herself has figured out, wala na sigurong bansa na pwede mo puntahan na hindi ka makakahanap ng Pinoy. Pero sa dami na rin ng tumatakbong Pinoy, makakahanap ka rin ng Pinoy na tumatakbo. I actually had the wonderful opportunity of running the Twin Peaks Race in Hong Kong. It's a race of the two peaks in Hong Kong. and I ran it with ultramarathoners who are also Filipinos. And it's just amazing to have these experiences with your kababayans.

So I hope that Julie will continue to break expectations, break down barriers. It's timely that she comes here during Women's Month because I recently said there was a FIFA World Cup Women's Trophy Tour, it was here, we celebrated that last week. This is the World Cup Trophy that they bring around the world. And my message was it's amazing that for the very first time, our Philippine women's football players are going to the World Cup. Because when we see women out there playing - doing something that is traditionally the field of men, playing sports, playing soccer, during my time, no female played soccer - when little girls and little boys see these Filipinas making it to the World Cup, it's the same way when they see Julie running all over the world, breaking barriers, finishing number 1. That's when we make it very clear that women have a seat at the table, women are equal in decision-making, in the board rooms, in the homes, in public office, in the corporate offices - everywhere and anywhere, women are equal partners.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Julie, and we wish you all the best. Thank you, Mr. President.

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