Beautiful weather for the 49km of the Pilipinas Akyathlon resulted in highly motivated runners at the start. Several of them were newbies or roadies coming to trail for the first time, and they certainly left their marks. In the men’s race, Helmer Retolado stepped onto the international scene by winning in a strong fashion ahead of Larry Apolinaro, who had been leading earlier on until Retolado caught him in the last 5 km. Both of them made their debut in the ATM circuit. Retolado hails from the Rizal mountains east of Manila, while Apolinario comes from one of the southern islands. The winning time was 6:24. The podium was completed by Baguio home runner Jeff Aligan, who was second in this race behind Elias Tabac last year . Edu Losnong and Al Telias were the next home runners in the finish. In 14th place we had American Chris Miller. Coming from Virginia, Miller scored 10th in the Tahura Trail three weeks ago and is the only runner who did that double. Miller’s 14th spot was just good enough to overtake Kazufumi Ose on points and become the new leader in the ATM Championship after three races. He will stay on top for at least a month as the next points race is on 10 March, the Cordillera Mountain Ultra.
Also in the women’s we have a new championship leader, after some revisions were made to the result of the 9 Dragons in Hong Kong last week. Canada’s Carrie-Jane Stander is now ranked as a finisher and was 9th on the 50 miles. Combined with her 5th place in the Akyathlon last Sunday, the always smiling Stander hops ahead of Magdalena Boulot to the top of the women’s championship ranking. Last season, Stander won the 70k race at Ijen Trail in Indonesia, and ended as 11th in the championship. During Akyathlon, the pace set by local women Jenny-Vi Fontanella and Cheryl Navarro proved to be a bit high, though. Fontanella is a cyclist who has only recently began trail running. Her battle with established runner Navarro was high-level as illustrated by their 8th and 11th place in the overall result. Fontanella even stayed under 8 hours. In third place was Cecille Wael, who continues to make progress in her performance. Considering her idol Majo Liao - last year’s winner - was 40 minutes behind and Stander more than 90 minutes, Wael ran an impressive Akyathlon.