Close racing and many happy faces at CMU!
The Cordillera Mountain Ultra, follow-up to the Marathon organised in previous years, did not miss its debut in Dalupirip, Itogon yesterday. The first Filipino points race in the 2016 Asia Trail Master series saw a very close battle for victory in the men's 50k race, and drama in the women's. On the top step of the podium stood Marcelino Sano-Oy and Gretchen Felipe as the day's champions. Runners and spectators spoke of a truly well-organised event with a fantastic running course, which made the journey to the remote area very much worthwhile. "CMU was publicity for the sport of trail running," one happy finisher said afterwards.
The race started at 4 a.m. just before dawn, and runners only had a few kilometers to warm-up as the ascent of Mount Ugo began quickly. Marcelino Sano-Oy, a 26-year-old local runner, had already taken the lead, but was closely followed by the experienced Alison Telias. Sano-Oy is a previous winner of the Cordillera Mountain Marathon and knew the terrain very well. Yet, Telias kept chasing him and was at times less than a minute behind. In the descent of Mt Ugo the pressure seemed to be getting to Sano-Oy, as he had to stop and stretch to stop the cramps he started to suffer from. Telias caught up and passed him, but eventually Sano-Oy fought back in the late stages of the race and reclaimed first spot! At the finish, Sano-Oy took the victory with a 3-minute gap over Al Telias in 6:06:36. In a join third place were teammates Aldean Philip Lim and Eric Gueb in 7:05:19. One of the pre-race favourites, Thumbie Remigio, injured himself during the vertical kilometre race on Saturday, and opted to run the 21km instead. The shorter race was won by Roland Wang.
The women's 50k race had a rather unexpected outcome as big favourite Majo Liao sprained her ankle in the early part of the race. Liao could not react to her challengers as for most of the rest of the race she could only walk and not run. Showing a high degree of mental strength, Liao nevertheless continued and finished ... even on the podium! These could be important points for her in the ATMs ranking later this year. The race was won by Gretchen Felipe in 7:25:58, which is a strong result as well for the experienced runner. Next to Felipe on the podium in second place was Penny Nepomuceno (7:53:59).
As part of the podium prize package, both Marcelino Sano-Oy and Gretchen Felipe have received free race entries for the Magnificent Merapoh Trail in Malaysia.