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Mervin Guarte is the latest induction into Pinoyathletics Legends of Track and Field.

Mervin wins the Bet

Guarte meets all criteria

Having amassed a cabinet full of silverware in Athletics. With 5 Silvers in Middle Distance events in Athletics and a Bronze. 

For 9 years he has held the Philippine Record and even more unbreakable Junior Record which both are united at 3:47.65 form the 2011 SEA Games.

He also is no longer active in Athlteics having made the move over to Obstacle Course Racing.

Early Days

Mervin Guarte born 3 August 1992. From Calapan City, Mindoro. Guarte qualified for the Palarong Pambansa in 3rd Grade at that time running 400, 800, 1500.

It wasnt until Grade 6 though he started showing considerable improvement.

Mervin would train with his older brother to prepare himself for future competitions. He also had to jog 5km to get to school. Which he would run barefoot back and forth on a daily basis to build his stamina.

In High school he trained with his first Coach. Coach Ilagan. Ilagan later went onto be the Coach at the University of Batangas.

Ilagan also developed and worked with former National 400m Runner Rodrigo ‘Reneboy’ Tanuan, Former NCAA Champion Ryan Naquita, Ryan Bigyan and Marco Vilog who also later became national champions and made it to the national team. 

It was at the Palarong Pambansa were Mervin after surpassing the Palaro 800m Record in the Heats duelled with Salvador Garin (IV-A). A very fierce brutal fight with elbows thrown with Garin winning 1:55.69 to 1:56.31. Mervin did win the 1500m in 4:07.94. 

One of the Highlights of Mervin Junior Career was how he was able to place 4th at the Asian Juniors in the 1500m in 2010.

With his success at High School Level. The college recruiters came calling. It was a veteran coach by the name of Jec Gando from San Sebastian College that Mervin ended up being coached by. Under Gando Mervin broke and still  has the 800, 1500, 3000m Steeples and 5000m NCAA Records.

SEA Games Medals and Rivalry with Duong Van Thai

mervin-guarte
One of the greatest rivalries in SEA Games History. Mervin Guarte throws everything at Duong Van Thai of Vietnam

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Mervin was then taken into the National team by Coach Ojon Artiaga. And he unified the Philippine Senior and Junior Record in the 1500m with a time of 3:47.65 which still stands to this day.

Breaking the 18 year old record of Hector Begeo 3:49.0 set in 1993.

And demolishing the junior mark of Victor Idava 3:55.6 which had stood before the Gintong Alay era since 1974.

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“Coach Pak (Ojon) was a very caring coach. Like a father and he cared alot about the wellbeing of his Athletes. Mervin fondly recalled. A lot of people don’t quite understand Coach Pak. But he was good to me.”

Guarte later went onto win a string of several more Silver Medals at the SEA Games. Having a fierce rivalry with Vietnamese athlete Duong Van Thai.

Van Thai undoubtedly the greatest Middle Distance runner in the History of the SEA Games.

On a number of occassions Mervin pushed Duong Van Thai to blanket finishes at the line running with utmost fury.

Van Thai who is the same age as Mervin is still active and looking at defending his SEA Games 800 and 1500 titles at home in 2021. 

In 2017 Mervin was removed from the National team by PATAFA despite being the National Champion and SEA Games Bronze medalist. Reasons being cited as coaching issues. Despite numerous appeals and runs he decided to move on aftera  year. He then made the life changing move to Obstacle Course racing.

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“Obstacle Course Racing Management has looked after me alot.

They are very supportive.

I have several coaching working together on my programs. A coach for strength, a coach for Obstacles, a coach for endurance.

The President of the Association consults with the coaches regarding my program.”

Mervin Guarte Finally becomes SEA Games Champion

After 7 silver medals at SEA Games from 2011 to 2015. National 1500 Junior and Senior Record Holder.

Mervin Guarte finally became a SEA Games Champion. Mervin took the gold medal in the Men’s 5km Obstacle race.

In the process defeating Asian champion Mohd Saddam Mohd Pittli of Malaysia.

It was a 1-2 finish for the Philippines with Milky Mae Tajares taking the surprise silver. 

Mervin Guarte
Mervin Guarte

After being removed from the PSC Payroll by PATAFA despite being a SEA Games bronze medalist in 2017.

Mervin Guarte finally decided to walk away from the sport and try his luck at Obstacle Course Racing.

A change that allowed him to finally secure a hard earnt Gold.

Mervin who recently became a father has now netted 200,000 pesos for the gold achievement that will also go well towards his home in Occidental Mindoro.

Overall the Philippines swept 100% of the Gold medals in this events or 6 of 6 events. 

All in All Obstacle Course Racing was very successful in the SEA Games with the Philippines taking 100% of the Golds in Alabang, Philippines 6 of 6 Gold Medals.

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If asked if he would consider returning to Athletics as Obstacle Course Racing is not in the program for 2021 SEA Games?

Right now I’m happy with Obstacle Course Racing. Even if no SEA Games.

We still have the Spartan World Championship event in Abu Dhabi November or December 2020 depends on COVID.

I would be doing 21KM (20km 180 Obstacles and 1km of running).

Which is different to the 5km 20 obstacle event I did to win Gold at SEA Games.

If I do go back to Athletics it will not be in Middle Distance.

It will be Long Distance 5000m or up.

Maybe one day I want to be Milo Marathon Champion. But for now Im happy with OCR. 

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Right Now Mervin has the luxury of an Obstacle course for training which is set up at his Airforce Barracks at Lipa.

He also has very good training facilities at Bonifacio Global City of Obstacle Course Racing.

He trains at Philsports or UMak.

Guarte steps up to the 5000m

2019

Mevin Guarte undergoing fitness testing

Mervin Guarte steps up to the 5000m. Better known as an 800 and 1500 specialist. He should be able to go sub 15 min and win the race.

Guarte has a tough schedule as he is also entered in the 1500m on Day 2.

Francis Medina who wasn’t able to finish at SEA Games.

Had a PB of 50.93 at the Pre-Asian Games in March.

Along with 400 runner Michael Del Prado who will try his luck over 400 Hurdles, they are in a 4 man race.

Which includes SEA Games Bronze medallist Andrian of Indonesia. 

Along with Medina another athlete who has already surpassed the bronze of last SEA Games John Albert Mantua will see action in the Discus.

But obviously won’t have it as easy with  4 athletes ahead based on PB.

SEA Games Long Jump Bronze medallist Janry Ubas who has leaped 7.26, 7.38 this year looks to improve on his seasons best.

In the field is Deokhyeon of South Korea who has leaped 8.11m.

SEA Games 110 Hurdles Bronze Medalist Clinton Kingsley Bautista will be up against 2013 SEA Games Bronze Medalist Anousane of Laos in Heat 1.

Bautista is the strongest of the South East Asian athletes entered in 2 heats.

In the Javelin, Evalyn Palabrica SEA Games Bronze medalist in Javelin is up against the Top 2 in SEA Games Natta Nachan and Jiraya Wichaidit of Thailand. Palabrica PB of 48.25m dates back to 2014.

While Mens Bronze medalist Melvin Calano of the Philippines also competes, up against Peerachet Jantra the SEA Games Champion from Thailand.

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By Andrew Pirie

Andrew was elected Vice President of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians in 2020 after being a member for 7 years. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant, and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. Current editor and chief of Pinoyathletics.info, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is working towards his Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here https://www.pinoyathletics.info/coaching-2/

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