Akyathlon with lots of Cordillera warriors
Pilipinas Akyathlon is a new entry in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship, and the second one in Philippines following Rizal Mountain Run last week. A great chance for the pinoy runners especially to claim the spotlight in the ATM championship ranking. A number of Rizal finishers will indeed be racing again this Sunday. Not in the least: Aggy Smith Sabanal, the female winner, and Dean Perez, 3rd place in the men's!
The Akyathlon is a 46km mountainous race featuring Mt Ugo but from another side than in Cordillera Mountain Ultra. Start and finish is at Binga Lake. 3250 metres of elevation gain in 46 km means this is a race for mountain goats, and of course the local armada of trail runners will be omnipresent. Baguio City is just an hour away from the race venue, and that's a city with a lot of Philippines' strongest mountain runners. Marcelino Sano Oy, Al Telias, Arnold Lozano are all racing this Sunday! They will be joined by Wilnar Iglesia and Rexell Aguirre from Mindanao Island, to name just a few more podium and race win contenders. And let's not forget the abovementioned Dean Perez. Perez stayed ahead of Pablo Diago Gonzales at Rizal, and that's no mean feat.
Also in the women's race we have an interesting last-minute addition to the start list: ATM joint championship leader Aggy Smith Sabanal will be competing with none other than Sandi Menchi for the women's race victory. The still very young Sabanal, age 21, looked strong and a consistent pace at Rizal. She might find Akyathlon even more suited to her characteristics as a trail runner. Still, Sandi Menchi should be regarded as the top favourite. Will the local star finally aim for the ATM championship title as well? Last year, she finished three ATM points race and won all three of them. Also on the start list this weekend is Grandmaster Cheryl Bihag.