Who would’ve imagined that a “simple” priest who only knows how to say, “The Lord be with you” where the people generously answer “And with your spirit” is now inspiring people to run and be healthy as the “running priest”?
That’s how Rev. Fr. Stanislas Achi saw himself before he started running. Little did he know it would turn him into a full-fledged long-distance runner, which gained him the moniker, “The Running Priest”.
Fr. Stan, as he’s more popularly known, is a 40-year-old Ivorian, Religious priest of the Little Work of Divine Providence, or Sons of Divine Providence Congregation, (Don Orione). He is currently assigned at the Mother of Divine Providence Parish in Payatas B, Quezon City under the Novaliches Diocese. (Read: ‘Mother of Novaliches’ Given Its Canonical Coronation)
How he started
Born and raised in the Ivory Coast, West Africa, Fr. Stan’s hometown was in Abengourou, 200-km from the Capital City, Abidjan. He was ordained as a priest on June 30, 2012.
After seven years in seminaries as formator (Rector)– three years in Nairobi, Kenya, and four years in Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal Philippines, he asked his superiors if he could be discharged from the formator’s task.
“I was getting worn out, overused– as someone would say. I was therefore given the possibility, though hardly, to assist in this beautiful apostolate ground with thousands and thousands of pastoral demands,” says Fr. Stan.
Being in this pastoral environment inspired Fr. Stan to make use of his time differently. So, he started to go for a simple jogging every Monday morning in July 2019.
“I was doing it just for fun. The first running was some three or four kilometers, without any inner motivation. The second week, I did it the same way. Then little by little the joy came to make of it a habit which ends by turning into a hobby and a lifestyle,” shares Fr. Stan. (Read: Woman Behind Mommy Marj Vlog Shares Her Secret To Losing Pregnancy Pounds)
From 3 kms, Fr. Stan set his first challenge for 10 kms in September 2019.
“That was hard. My heart was overwhelmed when the application I used at that time, Runtastic announced 12km. It was really the first time I reached that record– in one and a half hour,” shares Fr. Stan.
After that, he set a new challenge with a new application, NRC (Nike Run Club).
“My master word in this adventure will always be ‘challenge’. I started making every Monday a day of the challenge. And as the challenge opens to change, jogging has become more than an activity of fun for me, but a kind of second religion. Just as prayer is my life, sport, and mostly jogging and biking have become my second spirituality. I do keep a record of every Monday exercises, defeating myself day by day.” (
One of Fr. Stan’s best achievements was in December 2019 when he was assigned to help during the Christmas novena celebrations in Lucena, Quezon Province.
“Considering I had masses only in the evening, three masses every day (5 pm, 6 pm, and 7 or 8 pm), I challenged myself to run every two days. On the first day, I did 18.63km for an hour and 20 mins. Two days later, I went for 23 kms with a constant pace of 5-6 min/km in two hours and 20 mins.
These days, he runs 20 kms or more in two hours, or sometimes a little less than two hours.
“I’m looking forward to joining a semi-marathon and maybe a marathon, just for the fun and who knows– for a cause,” admits Fr. Stan.
Running as a way of life
For Fr. Stan, the most important thing in being a “Running Priest” (a nickname given by one of his parishioners) is that the sport has become his body’s best discipline and his first stress reliever.
“I realized how much energy I have– hidden within me and unexploited. Losing 1,500 Kcal every run is the way for me to keep a healthy diet and a drug-free life,” he says.
He was also given the opportunity to meet many nice people with different life orientations and motivations. (Read: Your Daily Source of Prayers and Motivation)
“Only one thing made the crossing of our journeys and roads: ‘Jogging’ and we became great running friends. The adventure started for me! It may also be a motivation for you. So join the run and let’s run!”
For beginners, Fr. Stan advised them to listen to their bodies and be consistent. “You run or bike for healthy. Your first partner is your body so listen to it. Don’t ask too much or too little. Your body will reach a point that it’ll tell you at which speed to run, how far or miles to go through. Consistency is also a golden rule. Make it a habit. For me, I do it alternately. I run twice, I bike once – taking account of my schedule of prayer and masses.”
Lastly, he reminded runners that to eat healthily, get the right outfit, and motivating buddies.
“Social distancing doesn’t mean loneliness. Motivation from other runners is essential in keeping a habit. Food is an essential element. You need calories but avoid overeating. And wear the right outfit. Choose shoes and clothes that will help you exercise.”