Akyathlon: local heroes vs new faces
The Pilipinas Akyathlon this Sunday is the first of two points races back-to-back in the Cordillera mountains around Baguio. It is the race where Davao’s Elias Tabac appeared on the international stage for the first time, winning the 46 km in commanding style ahead of local stars Aligan and Sano Oy. This weekend the longest distance race has been beefed up to 49 km and 3500 m of elevation gain, and we are looking forward to seeing more new faces emerge in competition with already established top runners, such as Majo Liao and the Telias brothers.
Larry Apolinario is one of those runners coming from the southern islands of the Philippines, who is keen to show himself to the world. Also Joseph Noy Gentoleo is one to watch. He scored two top five placings in ATM points races last season, and also won the Mount Talinis Mountain Marathon. Of the two Telias brothers, Al is usually the one who stands out on the 50k distance, while James is seen more often on the ultra distances. Al Telias is always a reference for races in this mountain area, but landing the big victory so far has eluded him. Will tomorrow be his day? Another local hero, Marcelino Sano-Oy, was chasing Elias Tabac and Jeffrey Saligan all the way to the finish last year and is therefore a logical top favourite as well. Sano-Oy is a former winner of Cordillera Mountain Ultra, too, the event that takes place in the same area here next month.
Pilipinas Akyathlon is the local championship of Skyrunning and also the third points race of the 2019 ATM season. On the start list we see a few athletes who already have Tahura Trail or the 9 Dragons in their legs. We will be paying attention especially to American Chris Miller, who ran himself in the top 10 in Bandung three weeks ago. Miller collected 310 points and this weekend needs 240 to topple last week’s 9 Dragons winner Kazufumi Ose from the top spot in the championship ranking. 240 points corresponds to a top 17 finish in Akyathlon. It’s early days in the championship of course, but if you’re active now you can find your name in the top places of the ranking for quite some time and you can choose your races tactically later on in the season. Also on the start list is Ijen 100 winner Sungsik Joh from South Korea. Sungsik may find Akyathlon a little short for his characteristics as a trail runner, but a good placing is always on the cards.
Tomorrow’s women’s race will see last year’s winner Majo Liao return to the scene. Majo Liao is one Philippines’ most established trail runners and purely on experience alone she will certainly feature again this weekend. Expected rivals for the victory are Cheryl Navarro, Cecile Waes and Carrie-Jane Stander. The latter, and her husband Kent, had a tough time in last weekend’s 9 Dragons Ultra and will be motivated to score a good result. Carrie-Jane Stander is the winner of Ijen 70 last season, so she already knows how to win on the ATM tour.
As always, ATM will be reporting live from Tinongdan and the Akyathlon tomorrow from start to finish.