Both the Korea 50K in Dongducheon and the Mount Apo Sky Race in Santa Cruz, Davao in Philippines were characterised by very hot weather giving even more difficulty to the runners on already challenging race courses. The Mount Apo Sky Race proved quite dramatic in particular, with only 20 finishers - 1 female - and the rest already cut-off after either 25k or 43k. If the race hadn’t been stopped by the race director at km 75 for security reasons, few would have made it to the finish. Last year’s winner of the then-70K Mt Apo Sky Race, Pablo Diago Gonzales, was therefore right in his pre-race warnings: this was going to be a shocker.
The new route added three more peaks to the course and those proved to be extremely technical with virtually no running possible for the first 25K following the flag off at midnight. It took David Gianelli and a local road runner 5 hours and 20 minutes to complete those 25K. Gianelli, the Italian winner of the Indonesia SuperTrail last year, was the fastest man in the race also last weekend. As soon as they hit Mount Apo he was by himself in the lead and by km 75 he held an advantage of over 1 hour over the very strong Jag Lanante. The Thailand-based Filippino overtook Pablo Diago Gonzales just a few kilometres before the improvised finish line. Gianelli completed the 75K in 14 hours and 44 minutes, and now being temporarily based in Philippines will also travel to Penang in 3 weeks for the Malaysia SuperTrail race, Penang Eco 100, where he will compete on the 100K. Pablo Diago is a busy bee this spring as well, as he is lined up for Tengri Ultra Trail in Kazakhstan and the same Penang Eco 100K. Local Mindanao runner Rexell Aguirre was 4th in Mount Apo, preceeding Joseph Gentoleo.
Rizal Mountain Run winner Aggy Smith Sabanal was the only female finisher and scored her second ATM race victory of the season. Definitely in her element on the most technical of trails, Sabanal overtakes Majo Liao in the Asia Trail Master Championship with this new success by 65 points. Still very young for an ultra trail runner, it will be interesting to see her compete on the tough mountains of Mantra Summits Challenge in Malang, East Java, Indonesia this July.
All other women, including Hong Kong’s Tanya Bennet, last year’s winner Manilyn Mamugay and Cheryl Bihag were all cut-off at km 43.
Over in South Korea, there was local success as Kim Jisub took the victory ahead of Austria's Michael Kabicher and Japan's Hiragi Taichi. Jisub finished in 6:33, 14 minutes ahead of the European. The difference between numbers 1 and 2 in the women's was similar with France's Laetitia Pibis staying ahead of Yasuko Natsume of Japan, and her compatriot Sae Enaka completing the podium.