They say you find love in unexpected places. Who would have thought it could be at a marathon? Meet three couples who found each other through their love for running at The Bull Runner Sun Life Dream Marathon, the first and only marathon in the world that caters exclusively to first and second-time marathoners.

Japo Ignacio and Eda Maningat, TBR Dream Marathon Batch 2013

With an active and supportive community both online and offline, TBR brings together like-minded people from all walks of life to achieve one common goal: to run a marathon. Take for example Japo, a veterinarian; and Eda, a pharmacist, who both joined TBR Dream Marathon Batch 2013 on their own.

TBR’s 22-week program includes run clinics (Bull Session) and running talks (Bull Circle) where participants gather to learn and practice in preparation for the race. Both Japo and Eda attended these events alone. But it was at one fateful Bull Session a month before their race that they met for the first time.

“Japo volunteered his car for a carpool to Nuvali. That 2 AM run in Nuvali was the first time I met everyone I ran with that day, it was also the first time Japo and I met,” recounts Eda.

As with most TBR alumni, Japo and Eda’s health journey didn’t stop at their first marathon. In fact, five years into their relationship, they still both live an active life full of adventures together.

“We run marathons, bike long distances, swim and scuba dive together regularly.” The couple have also been active as TBR Dream Chasers – volunteers who cheer and support the runners during the race – every year since they got together in 2013.

 Mark Anthony Tibo-oc and Luzel Tibo-oc, TBR Dream Marathon Batch 2012
Years together: 12

Running not only formed bonds and relationships, it also made existing ones stronger. Mark and Luzel were one of the couples who joined TBR to run their first marathon in 2012.

“Full mary [full marathon] wasn’t on his mind yet. I was the one who really wanted to go for the distance as I was eyeing an ultramarathon already,” shared Luzel.

The couple were schoolmates in high school but they never had more than hi’s and hello’s at that time. It was after their college days that they were able to reunite and shared a common interest: running.

“We both love running; being healthy is just a side effect,” shares Mark.

When their first marathon in TBR came, they ran their own races. But little did Luzel knew that there was more than a medal waiting for her when she crossed the finish line.

Mark finished second overall in their batch and waited for Luzel, with an engagement ring on hand. He proposed to Luzel right after she crossed the finish line.

Almost six years after getting married, the couple’s love for running has never ceased.

“Our kind of date is a 50KM jog in Sierra Madre. We go out at sunrise and go back home before sunset. We discuss many topics during these dates. We talk about work, showbiz, and everything under the sun (literally),” says Mark.

Running has also been instrumental in making their relationship stronger.

“It tested our mental, emotional aspect and how we deal with arguments during our trainings. We even had fights during races! We resolved it naman just before crossing the finish line,” shares Luzel.

“When you run a marathon and beyond, both of you will come to a moment when you’re at your worst. Everything after 32 KM is test of spirit. If you can share this moment with your partner, and love her at her worst when you’re also at your worst, then you can love her FOREVER,” shares Mark.

And what’s Mark’s advice for those looking for ‘The One?’ 

“Hindi lahat ng maganda artista, ‘yong iba runner.”

Allan Lim and Patricia Caldito, TBR Dream Marathon Batch 2014 and 2016

The road to a marathon can be unpredictable; you never know what you can expect unless you are already there. Allan and Pat’s love story was just the same. Both coming from a heartbreak, Allan and Pat met through the growing and friendly community of TBR.

Typical of most runner couples, Allan and Pat’s first date was a run. The two-hour run date that started in Ayala Triangle Gardens going to BGC turned out to be a fruitful one as they talked non-stop and got to know each other.  

“I still remember clearly one of his questions ‘what’s your purpose in life?’ It was kind of weird for a first date. But since I’m a serious and deep type, I appreciated that kind of question,” shares Pat.

That 2-hour run became a first of many as they discovered more about each other and eventually started dating exclusively.

As for keeping their love alive, both agree that it is in knowing each other’s love language and sharing the same values and interests.

“We have the same interests and we push each other well enough to reach our goals,” shares Pat.

“Whenever we get into a disagreement with each other we look back at this as our foundation,” says Allan.