This weekend the ATM Championship moves back to the Philippines, but this time in the south on Mindanao Island. The highest mountain of the country is Mount Apo, and once a year the whole park is open for trail runners. Participants numbers need to be restricted for the 100 km main race to 100, but it has not been any issue to sell those out, even after some political issues interfered with the race. David Gianelli and Aggy Sabanal were the heroes a year ago, but they won’t be there in Santa Cruz now. In fact, it’s a Baguio Boy who could be the biggest favourite to win this year’s edition: Koi Grey!
Koi Grey is in the best shape of his life and currently ranks 6th in the ATM Championship with strong showings in the 9 Dragons and Cordillera Mountain Ultra, the latter crowned by a podium place even. A reputed mountain runner, Koi Grey has the speed to challenge for the race victory, even when 100k still remains a long distance for him. Let’s see this weekend if he has made progress on dealing with that distance. An important challenger will be local Davao star Rexell Aguirre, who has been on the podium before on Mt Apo. Aguirre has been preparing himself very well and if he can run injury-free will be tough nut to crack for Koi Grey.
Other podium contenders are Julius Kevin Japlit, one of this season’s busy bees, and fresh Grandmaster Richard Akol.
In the women’s, ATM Championship leader Carrie Jane Stander is running again and could have a go at the race victory this weekend. Her main rivals will be local star Manolyn Mamugay and Maria Sepe.