Posts tagged philippines
Mt Apo Sky Race: Koi Grey reaching for the highest peak
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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.

Koi Grey is having an outstanding come back so far!

Koi Grey is having an outstanding come back so far!

Grandmaster Richard Akol continues his busy race schedule at Mt Apo

Grandmaster Richard Akol continues his busy race schedule at Mt Apo

Also current #4 Julius Kevin Japlet will already be competing in his 4th ATM points race of the season!

Also current #4 Julius Kevin Japlet will already be competing in his 4th ATM points race of the season!

Carrie Jane Stander is leading the championship and might do so for some time this season!

Carrie Jane Stander is leading the championship and might do so for some time this season!

Onifa & Vadovicova reign in the Cordillera
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John Ray Onifa and Kristian Joergensen delivered an awesome battle at the end of the Philippines SuperTrail in the 2019 Asia Trail Master Championship, the iconic Cordillera Mountain Ultra. With just a few km of the 47km left to run till the finish in Tinongdan, Joergensen caught Onifa, who had been dominating the proceedings almost from the start. However, the Filipino still found an extra gear to outsprint Joergensen again in the last Kilometre downhill towards the suspension bridge that leads back to the main village! Onifa’s time was an amazing 5:31. Last year he came second in this race behind Harry Jones. 
Koi Grey finished in third place a bit later. The home favourite opted for a quiet start but returned to the front relentlessly. Third place is a fantastic result confirming his come back to competition once more. He could have been the new leader in the ATM Championship as well, had it not been that Anders Iza Rekakoetxea and John Ellis were next in the finish. The Manila-based Spaniard Rekakoetxea was overtaken by Koi Grey in the last few kilometres, but fourth was good enough to become the new ATM points leader! Earlier this season, he was 3rd in the 50 miles race of the 9 Dragons in Hong Kong.


John Ellis ran very well after five weeks of rest, and fifth is a strong result for him. He left Davao’s Elias Tabac and Japan’s Hisashi Kitamura behind at the end. Ellis, Kitamura and leader Rekakoetxea are scheduled to compete again in the Dalat Ultra Trail next week, the Vietnam SuperTrail in the ATM Championship.

Filipino Arnie Macaneras was brave to follow Onifa for roughly 8 km, but paid the price at the end. Macaneras, who won Fifty Mapawa last season in a time faster than Onifa’s in 2017, arrived back in Tinongdan in 8th. Miguel Lopez and Malaysian Azuan Asmuni rounded up the men’s top ten of a fantastic racing day. 

In the women’s, Veronika Vadovicova scored a highly impressive victory in 6:31. The whole morning she had a small margin over American Laura Kline. When the young Slovakian ex triathlete briefly went off course, Kline took the lead but eventually could not respond to Vadovicova when the latter caught her again. Sandi Menchi did well to finish third, even when the two western ladies proved too fast. Cheryl Navarro comes in as fourth and is the new points leader in the Asia Trail Master Championship! Navarro was second in last month’s Akyathlon. Fredlyn Alberto is fifth today, and misses just 11 points to claim that points lead. Alberto was second in the 9 Dragons 50 miles race earlier this season.

Outstanding battle between John Ray Onifa and Kristian Joergensen

Outstanding battle between John Ray Onifa and Kristian Joergensen

New face in the female championship: Veronika Vadovicova impresses in her winning run

New face in the female championship: Veronika Vadovicova impresses in her winning run

Ander Iza Rekakoetxea is the new ATM Championship leader after scoring 4th in CMU

Ander Iza Rekakoetxea is the new ATM Championship leader after scoring 4th in CMU

Cheryl Navarro finished 4th in CMU and grabs the ATM Championship lead

Cheryl Navarro finished 4th in CMU and grabs the ATM Championship lead

Cordillera Showdown: ATM championship heats up!
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It is only the fourth points race of the 2019 season but the Cordillera Mountain Ultra will heat up the championship significantly this coming Sunday. The Philippines’ SuperTrail has attracted lots of regional and intercontinental top runners to Baguio for the meanwhile classic 50k race on and around Mount Ugo. We will see a number of races-within-the race, too, and in particular the inter-filipino battle between John Ray Onifa, Elias Tabac and Koi Grey for the unofficial honour of fastest 50k trail runner in the Philippines!

The host village has changed from Dalupirip to Tinongdan this year but the race course has remained 70% the same as it used to be. The long ascent and descent of Mount Ugo defines CMU and is a scene set for breathtaking trail running. On top, the mountain villages in this part of the Cordillera were hit heavily by typhoons during the wet season last year and running events like CMU are a great and necessary boost for the local community.

The list of protagonists for the race win in both the male and female category is so long we cannot name them all. Starting with the women, Baguio hero Sandi Menchi returns to CMU for the first time since winning it in 2017. She knows the trails like the back of her hand and has shown to be in good form in this early part of the year. Several other filipino women can make her life difficult, though. Cheryl Navarro comes to mind. Navarro is always a contender wherever she starts, which she illustrated only last month again with second place in the Akyathlon. It makes Navarro the likely new ATM championship leader after CMU, subject to a fine result of course. Cecile Wael, third in Akyathlon, is also on the start list but is reportedly unable to race. Maria Sepe is a southern filipino athlete who can also be expected to challenge for a podium spot, as well as local Gretchen Felipe, who won this race in 2016. Arguably the fiercest competition for Sandi Menchi will come from foreign athletes such as Laura Kline, who is flying in from the USA, and Shanghai-based Slovakian Veronika Vadovicova, who is more and more making the switch from triathlon to trail running, similar to last year’s winner Carole Fuchs, who cannot take part on Sunday.

The men’s race is bound to be action-packed with the pinoy trio of John Ray Onifa, Elias Tabac and Koi Grey squaring off against each other for the first time since they reached the top of their game. Onifa is arguably the man-to-beat, especially as he has the experience of last year when he finished second behind Harry Jones. But the four-year-younger Tabac has been hot on his heels and is familiar with Mount Ugo, too, winning last year’s Akyathlon. Koi Grey is the local hero and most experienced trail runner of the three, and completely rejuvenated of late after being out of the scene for two years. On top of it all, to spice the race up even more, they all come from different islands in the Philippines.

The three pinoys will push each other forward on Sunday. It will be needed, too, because there’s a lot of other victory contenders! Hong Kong-based Australian T8 runner John Ellis has been looking forward to CMU for a long time. Kristian Joergensen is in the best shape of his life and has done this race before, too. Tomohiro Mizukoshi will find a course and a distance that should suit him, and then he is always a dangerman. Anders Iza Rekakoetxea is a Manila-based Spaniard who is capable of causing an upset. Perhaps the biggest dark horse comes from Malaysia: Mohd Azuan Asmuni. Azmuni is a triathlete / runner who raised quite a few eyebrows last year when he defeated Mohamed Affindi by nearly half an hour in a technical 30 km trail climbathlon in Malaysia. The profile of that Mt Tahan Climbathlon is similar to CMU, albeit shorter. Still, Azmuni - who two weeks ago won the Johor Bahru Duathlon - should not have an issue with the distance and his technical skills are clearly phenomenal. For runners such as Ellis, Joergensen and also Hisashi Kitamura, 50k may actually be just a little too short for their characteristics. But who would ever bet against John Ellis?

Another race-in-the-race will be between five runners for the ATM Championship lead. Virginia’s Chris Miller tops the ranking, but John Eruel Oquino - who will be doing his 3rd of the 4 ATM races so far this season), John Ellis, Anders Iza Rekakoetxea, Hisashi Kitamura and Koi Grey all have chances to claim the lead in their second race of the season.!

We will be following all the action at CMU as usual via our social media channels, with video on facebook as well. A separate ATM Trail TV episode is also planned for Saturday evening (subject to connectivity).

Sandi Menchi will try to win CMU again after 2016

Sandi Menchi will try to win CMU again after 2016

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Retolado and Fontanella surprising winners Akyathlon
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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.

Awesome win by Helmer Retolado

Awesome win by Helmer Retolado

Jenny-Vi Fontanella is another great newcomer on the trails in the Philippines

Jenny-Vi Fontanella is another great newcomer on the trails in the Philippines

American Chris Miller did the double Tahura-Akyathlon with good results and is the new points leader

American Chris Miller did the double Tahura-Akyathlon with good results and is the new points leader

John Eruel Oquino is one of the strongmen who doubled up 9 Dragons 50 miles and Akyathlon

John Eruel Oquino is one of the strongmen who doubled up 9 Dragons 50 miles and Akyathlon

Also Kent and Carrie-Jane Stander did the double and puts Carrie-Jane in the ATM points lead

Also Kent and Carrie-Jane Stander did the double and puts Carrie-Jane in the ATM points lead

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Akyathlon: local heroes vs new faces
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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.

After several top placings in ATM races, tomorrow finally the big win for Al Telias?

After several top placings in ATM races, tomorrow finally the big win for Al Telias?

Majo Liao is a favourite to repeat last year’s victory in the Akyathlon

Majo Liao is a favourite to repeat last year’s victory in the Akyathlon

Carrie-Jane Stander won Ijen 70 last season: she and husband Kent are doubling 9D + Akyathlon

Carrie-Jane Stander won Ijen 70 last season: she and husband Kent are doubling 9D + Akyathlon

CM50: first points race victory for Joergensen!
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After five podium places - including two at CM50 Ultra - Kristian Joergensen has won his first ever Asia Trail Master points race last weekend. In Clark, the Philippines-based Dane was clearly the strongest in the 8th edition of CM50 Ultra, finishing more than 40 minutes ahead of Japan’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi. The Tokyo runner therefore lost 50 important championship points, which unfortunately has put him out of contention for this year’s ATM championship title. Mizukoshi is highly likely to end the season in third, although a top result at Izu Trail Journey could still propel him ahead of Salva Rambla. For Joergensen it was his third ATM race of the year after scoring second places in Rizal Mountain Run and Borneo TMBT Ultra.

Triple CM50 winner Manolito Divina was also in the mix early on in the race, which started at nighttime. But the 2016 ATM champion is still chasing his best form after taking many months off running. ‘Tolitz’ slowed down in the second half of the race. Carlo Chiong and Joseph Gentileo kept the Filipino honours high in the men’s race with a third and fourth place ahead of Spain’s Ander Iza Rekakoetxea. To note was the excellent performance of 2-star Grandmaster Aleksis Capili. A big fan of CM50, Capili produced his fastest run to date and came in as eighth, but having Rekakoetxea within his sight!

In the women’s race we had an unexpected winner, Cheryl Navarro. Insiders had noted she could finish close as, after all, she won the 60km B-race of CM50 a year ago. As it happened, Navarro was a lot quicker than the rest and even finished inside the overall top ten. Let’s see if she will feature more often in other ATM points races next season! Malaysia’s Jassica Lintanga continued her fine form of this season with another podium placing as second. Lintanga also jumps into the top five of the ATM Championship. The final step on the podium was for Cecile Wael. Aggy Sabanal did not have her best race last weekend and had to be content with 8th place. It means Sabanal stays third behind Sri Wahyuni in the ATM championship. She has another chance to get second in Izu Trail Journey in 2 weeks.

Kristian Joergensen dominated the CM50 race this year

Kristian Joergensen dominated the CM50 race this year

Fifty Mapawa: local runners again top the sheets!
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Jonathan Pido has won the inaugural 50 miles of the Fifty Mapawa event in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao, Philippines, two years after taking the 50k crown of the same event. Pido had to dig deep, however, as his compatriot Carlo Chiong was less than a minute behind in second place. Both of them were a class apart on the major rollercoaster that is Fifty Mapawa. Established names Kyle Antolin and, especially, Tomohiro Mizukoshi, had to settle for third and fourth place respectively more than one hour behind. Mizukoshi therefore improves his total points tally for the Asia Trail Master Championship, but it isn’t enough to leap ahead of points leader Alessandro Sherpa.

It is not the first time that local runners top the results sheet here in Mapawa. Runners from the south of the Philippines are rapidly making a name for themselves in the Asia Trail Master circuit and beyond.

The 50k race illustrated that fact even more when Arnie Macaneras broke the course record set last year by John Ray Onifa by 3 minutes to win in 6:59:48. Macaneras is from Davao and known as a road runner. Clearly his trail skills are not bad neither as Fifty Mapawa is a technical trail course. Macaneras was unchallenged, yet Spain’s Ander Iza Rekakoetxea and Germany’s Franz Bellot were not slow either. The women’s 50k race was won by Jennifer Quia, who beat Gennifer Bonita and Aggy Sabanal. The latter makes a good move in the ATM Championship, but it will become tough to end the year on the championship podium. Still, Sabanal is just early twenties and certainly one of the discoveries of the season. Majo Liao in the end did not take part in the Mapawa race.

We are looking forward to seeing all those new names back on the ATM tour soon!

Fifty Mapawa: Mizukoshi continues the Sherpa Chase
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After the Thailand blockbuster weekend, the action on the Asia Trail Master circuit continues in Philippines this weekend. Fifty Mapawa is the new name of the Cagayan de Oro event in Mindanao, the second points race on the large southern island of the Philippines after Mt Apo Sky Race last April. Not only the name has changed for this popular race in the Mapawa Nature Reserve, there’s also a new 50 Miles course on the programme alongside the traditional 50k. As this addition came late, it was decided that both the 50 miles and the 50k will be recognised as A-points races for the Asia Trail Master Championship, meaning the winners of each will walk home with 500 points in the bag. Of course, it also means that the field of participants is split up in two and competition will be less dense.

It takes a long time to travel to Cagayan de Oro, but Japan’s Tomohiro Mizukoshi has a mission after his recent inaugural race victory in Plataran X Trail Bali. The Tokyo runner from Roppongi has been an active bee this season and his good string of performances have placed him among the top runners in the Asia Trail Master Championship. Now that he also won a race, and nobody else is really dominant this season, Mizukoshi finds himself in second place, just 110 points shy of championship leader Alessandro Sherpa. The Japanese has already finished 8 points races this season, so is currently trying to eliminate his worst race results under the five-best-count system of our championship. Plataran X Trail gave him the boost, and Fifty Mapawa could propel him into the championship lead this weekend, if he wins the 50 miles race he signed up for. Mizukoshi’s fifth-best result in the ATM books is 6th place in Echigo Country Trail, which gave him 350 points. Only a win in Mapawa (500 points) can put him ahead of the Italian, as a second place equals 450 championship points. That’s a difference of 100, and he needs 110 to overtake Sherpa’s 2300 total.

Obviously, Mizukoshi won’t be running alone and this is a very challenging rollercoaster course that may not be his preferred terrain. Local runner Jonathan Pido won the 50k at Mapawa two years ago and could be his main contender, alongside Kyle Antolin. Fifty Mapawa is the race where in recent years a lot of local talent was discovered, so it will be interesting to see if history repeats itself this weekend in that respect.

In the 50k race most of the attention will go to the female competition. Two of Philippines’ leading ladies will be squaring off against each other for the first time since Cordillera Mountain Ultra earlier this year: Aggy Sabanal and Majo Liao. Sabanal still the new kid on the block, Liao the established front runner with international pedigree. For a long time this season, Sabanal seemed to be a true challenger for the ATM title, but things went quiet after Mt Apo and in Vietnam Mountain Marathon she had to DNF feeling unwell. Today Sabanal ranks sixth. However, a strong result in Cagayan de Oro can put her back on track for a high finish in the championship, which would set her up for some good opportunities in the next season. The same applies for Majo Liao, now 8th in the ranking. The race between them will be exciting as on paper the Mapawa course should appeal to both runners.

Tomohiro Mizukoshi is 110 points shy of Alessandro Sherpa, but can come closer this weekend

Tomohiro Mizukoshi is 110 points shy of Alessandro Sherpa, but can come closer this weekend

Majo Liao returns to action this weekend and is the favourite on the 50k course

Majo Liao returns to action this weekend and is the favourite on the 50k course

Fifty Mapawa is a continuous up & down rollercoaster

Fifty Mapawa is a continuous up & down rollercoaster

Successful introduction to Mt Talinis Mountain Marathon
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The inaugural edition of the Mt Talinis Mountain Marathon, a 2019 Asia Trail Master Candidate Race, was a success with participants applauding the organising team of established trail runner Rhodel Sarande for the course and technical management. Mt Talinis is one of the highest volcanic mountains in the Philippines at an altitude of nearly 2000m above sea level. It is located roughly 20km from Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental, a province located in the Central Visayas. It was the first time an ATM labeled race took place in this part of the Philippines.

The climb of Mount Talinis is quite foresty, often foggy and has several mountain and crater lakes. The region has a very rich biodiversity but unfortunately also suffers from illegal logging - one of the reasons this event has been put up with support from local authorities, who like to drive up regional eco tourism and create alternative revenue streams for the communities. Runners had to dig deep into jungle forest - as images by Eskapo Mountaineers below show - during the ascent. The main race was indeed very technical over a length of 50 km.

Fastest runner was Joseph Gentileo, a known athlete on the ATM circuit. His findings were described in an interview linked below. He finished in 9:46, roughly 15 minutes ahead of Carlo Choing. The male podium was completed by Jomar Buclay in 10:39. The women’s race saw Zha Malana take the victory in 14:40. She was followed by Maria Luisa Jaugan and Lyra Valles.

Race Director Rhodel Sarande has confirmed the event will take place on the same weekend in 2019, i.e. 5/6 October 2019. Following the positive feedback we are also happy to lift the option and develop the Mount Talinis Mountain Marathon as a new points race in the 2019 Asia Trail Master Championship series. More details on next year’s event will become available in due course.

LINKS:

Press article about race winner Joseph Gentileo.

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Video trailer of Mt Talinis Mountain Marathon


Fifty Mapawa now also offers 50 miles!
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As announced some time ago, the second Mindanao points race in the 2018 Asia Trail Master Championship series has decided to upgrade its flagship race to a 50 miles distance. Trail Fifty Mapawa thus not only gets a new name (the event used to be called Ultra Trail Mapawa) but also a new face.

Trail Fifty Mapawa will now criss cross the entire Mapawa Nature Reserve, as you can see on the map below. The new 50 miles race is arguably also the biggest roller coaster you can find, as the trails go up and down continuously to reach an elevation gain of over 4500 hm. Asia Trail Master Championship and points chasers should be aware that the “old” 50 km race remains on the event programme as well. Moreover, it has been decided that - this year - the ATM points allocation will be the same for both 50 miles and 50 km distances. Winners on both distances will thus score 500 points.

Last year at Mapawa we witnessed the emergence of John Ray Onifa, who took the measure of 2016 ATM Champion Manolito Divina. It was also the race where current young female protagonist Aggy Sabanal appeared on the ATM scene for the first time. Aggy finished third and this season has built on that performance to become a race winner at Rizal and Mt Apo. One of the most popular running events on Mindanao Island, Trail Fifty Mapawa in Cagayan de Oro not only has an extraordinary profile, it also every year gives us a glimpse of new trail talents.

Registration remains open and is convenient via raceyaya.

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