07 MAY 2019, Manila, Philippines – Filipinos can celebrate another global victory as the country welcomes home elite Filipina triathlete and FWD Financial Wealth Officer Joyette Jopson, who overcame all odds and conquered the grueling 42-kilometer FWD ‘78° North’ Marathon held near the North Pole on April 16.
Jopson becomes the first Filipina to run a marathon in the Arctic, enduring the freezing temperatures of Longyearbyen in Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean, just 1,050 kilometers away from the North Pole. Jopson—triathlete, 2014 Ironman 70.3 Philippines Filipino Elite Champion, and FWD Financial Wealth Officer—completed the race with an impressive time of 4 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds—claiming a first-place finish in the women’s category and third overall.
Jopson’s participation was sponsored by FWD Life Insurance (“FWD Philippines”), one of the fastest-growing insurance companies in the country. She was the lone Philippine representative in the marathon and was joined by FWD Team Asia runners from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, and Thailand in the marathon, sponsored by pan-Asian insurer FWD Group (“FWD”).
Powering through the challenges
In a media conference held at Manila House, Bonifacio Global City on May 7, Joyette recalled, "We ran on a mix of ice and roads covered with ice which was very slippery. I learned that you can overheat even in cold races so I had to take out a layer on top and bottom because I got uncomfortable after 10 kilometers. After the race, it took me more than an hour to warm up because it was really freezing.”
“In spite of the challenges, I am delighted to have brought the Filipino pride to the Arctic through the
FWD 78° North Marathon and of course, I am even much happier to have performed well, placing first in the women’s category,” added Joyette. “I’d like to thank FWD for the opportunity to represent both the company and the country in this once-in-a-lifetime experience!”
FWD Philippines President and Chief Executive Peter Grimes congratulated Joyette for successfully completing the marathon. “We’re very proud of what Joyette has accomplished. Her experience as a triathlete and her sheer determination to succeed despite the challenges along the way indeed makes her the perfect representative for the Philippines,” Peter said.
“How she pushed on and performed excellently despite the uncertainties and sudden changes was truly admirable. At FWD, we’re all about celebrating life and doing your best no matter what life throws at you,” Peter added.
Displaying grit and resilience amidst uncertainty
FWD had initially been supporting the annual North Pole Marathon, dubbed as the ‘world’s coolest marathon’, returning as the title sponsor for the third year in a row. However, the marathon was cancelled at the last minute because of geopolitical tensions between the Russian and Ukrainian administrations regarding flight plans to the North Pole.
Committed to providing a true marathon experience for the FWD Team Asia runners who were already in Svalbard, Norway, FWD organized its own run called the FWD ‘78°North’ Marathon. The marathon was held at Longyearbyen, part of the Arctic Circle, to allow the runners to fulfill their ambitions to complete a marathon in sub-zero temperatures and extreme winter conditions while raising funds for their sponsored charities.
“FWD successfully arranged the marathon against all odds in three days, inviting all registered North Pole Marathon runners to take part,” FWD Philippines Head of Marketing Roche Vandenberghe said. “FWD Team Asia and other 2019 North Pole Marathon runners successfully completed the FWD ‘78° North’ Marathon, all of whom displayed grit and perseverance to rise above a maelstrom of climate and logistical challenges.”