Running: Up close and personal with Larry “Beggar Runner” Ronquillo

Unknown to many, the “Beggar Runner” idea is out of accident.

In the running community, he’s such a popular personality that runners approach him for photo opportunities when they see him – be it on the race course or at the race village. In the recently concluded NatGeo Earth Day Run at the SM Mall of Asia grounds, one has to line up just to get a snapshot with the 57-year old Larry Ronquillo, the person in the disguise of a beggar. Contrary to popular belief, Larry debuted as a beggar not in a running event but in a fun bicycle event called “Tour of the Fireflies”.

“May nagpa make-up sa akin na kaibigan ko. Ang costume nya kasi nun, taong puno sya. Tapos may natirang make-up so naisipan ko na ilagay sa sarili ko. Sumali na din ako,” he narrates. “Nag-start naman ako as Beggar Runner nung Run United 1 2016.”

Race marshals and security guards, apart from fellow runners on course, have always mistaken Larry for a real beggar for his make up and clothing made it a convincing disguise. On his debut run as the “Beggar Runner”, some would keep their distance away from him. Most organizers would also go after him thinking he wasn’t part of the race, but would then be surprised that he was bearing a valid race bib.

“Una pa lang sinisita na nila ako kaya pinapakita ko agad yung race bib ko. Yun talaga pambala ko saka importante din lagi akong may dalang pera,” Ronquillo shared.

He also added that he doesn’t mind the marshals and the guards going after him when he is on disguise.

“Okay lang sa akin na hinahabol nila ako kasi parang pinapagod ko lang sila,” he said.

But the “Beggar Runner” is not just about going in disguise to trick the race organizers and fellow runners; it also is a way for Larry to express his advocacy on teaching proper waste disposal to those who sign up for fun runs. He sets as an example to other runners by placing paper or plastic cups he used on his pocket instead of just throwing it somewhere else and as he crosses the finish line. He will also look for trash bins and throw his used cups there – something that some, if not majority of runners, do on course because they are more focused in setting their new personal records than caring for the surroundings.

When not in a hurry to chase after his own records, the “Beggar Runner” even does something “extra” on which the organizers are thankful for – bringing in additional trash bags for the trash left by the runners at the hydration stops.

“Bumili ako ng garbage bag, kada hydration stops ‘yung pinag inuman ko dun ko nilalagay tapos iniiwan ko na dun. So, kung isang dosenang water stations yun, isang dosenang garbage bag din yung dala ko,” he said.

While the “Beggar Runner” said that he won’t stop picking up trash on course during run events, he also applauds the efforts of the organizers of the NatGeo Earth Day Run when they strictly implemented the “No Plastic/Paper Cups Policy” and compelled all the registered runners to bring their own water bottles for the water and sports drink provided at the hydration stations.

“Maganda yung NatGeo Run this year kasi cupless eh. Madami nga nagsabi sa akin habang natakbo ako na wala na ako mapupulot na basura kasi nga cupless na pero natutuwa ako kasi they implemented that. At least nadidisiplina yung mga runners,” Ronquillo said.

In a way, “Beggar Runner” also thinks that he was able to help the organizers of the run to come up with such policy because he takes photos of the trash build up left by runners on course and uploads it on social media to make them aware that most only run, but are responsible for their trash.

Larry is a multi-sport enthusiast. He has competed in a couple of duathlon meets and has also have one triathlon medal under his belt.  He started competing in the former five years ago and has not stopped since then. However, he said he would not consider joining another triathlon in the near future.

“Nagkaroon ako ng phobia nun sinubukan ko mag Triathlon. Naalis kasi yung goggles ko tapos nahirapan ako mag swimming kahit marunong ako lumangoy. Napakapit na lang ako dun sa boya pero natapos ko naman yung race pero hindi ako naka-pwesto,” he shared.

Apart from his passion in sports, he’s also fond of dressing up in different costumes. This started when he used to join cosplays in Robinson’s Ermita.

“Laging historical person yung ginagaya ko. Tapos nung nag-Airsoft naman ako, ang ginaya ko naman ay si Ka Roger ng NPA.”

Whether it’s for cosplay or for running, Larry is proud that he does his own make-up and does his own concept in terms of what he wants to portray in an event.

“Fine Arts kasi ako, hindi ko nga lang natapos yung degree ko nun sa PWU,” Ronquillo bared.

When not in the Mall of Asia to do his bike or run training, Larry spends time in the community as he is also a public servant – something that runs in his blood. In fact, he is seeking for re-election and is hopeful that his “Beggar Runner” character can be of help in his quest to continue serving in his community in Manila.

In spite his very active lifestyle and fit physique, Larry knows that there will come a time that he would be retiring from multi-sports and when it happens, he thinks that being “Beggar Runner” is his best legacy.

“Dun kasi ako nakilala ng husto – being “Beggar Runner”, so yes, ayun na yung legacy ko sa running community kapag nag-retire na ako sa multi-sport,” he contemplated.

But worry not, “Beggar Runner” is not retiring anytime soon (just yet) as he still has to fulfill his ultimate goal – to run the Boston Marathon. Now  that’s something to look forward to as that will not only be a feat for Larry, but also for the Philippines if he ever completes the marathon in full costume.

In the meantime, “Beggar Runner” rests for Larry’s next run, which will be at the Mountain Run happening on June 24th.

When asked what persona he’ll be taking on, he only said a word.