This is the second edition of PlLIPINAS AKYATHLON®: The Philippine International SKYRACE™ held last 09 February 2013 at Mt. Ugo. Brgy. Tinogdan, Itogon Benguet.
I like this race for several reasons:
Race Course - Fantastic view of the mountain ranges. Pine trees and fresh air. Well-marked course. Worth the travel.
Distance - Not too long nor short. What it lacks as an ultra it makes up for the elevation. In fact, the effort one puts into to finish this race is akin to a 50K. Challenging in a way.
Organization - Professional and well-done. The selection of venue for pre-race briefing was better than last year. Food was tasty and healthy I must say. So over all, it felt like I was in an international race. It was indeed.
Community Support - I have been harping on its importance that to have a successful and enduring race, one has to have the community support and sympathy. This one is a good example. The local folks came out to cheer us on. Kids were there too. I met some kids running uphills on my way back and I told them to train well so they can join the race someday. That put a smile across their face.
Volunteers - They were very supportive and well-trained in their own right. They knew how to treat the runners as far as their needs were concerned. Heck, even the unassuming Brgy Captain of Tinogdan was along the uphill road leading to the Finish line manning a small water station with radio on his hand. Excellent!
So congratulations to PSA. Job well done! Keep it up please. I'll shall return next year.
My only comment for improvement is the need to improve on the food selection in aid station. I understand patronizing local supplies but international runners' special needs (gels, sports drinks, etc.) should be met as well. Official race shirt has improved but the quality of the textile can be improved further. Speakers during the pre-race briefing and race proper should be reminded that there are international runners and thus ought to speak in full English (I know they can) so they can understand. Peace!
Just some side inputs. My goals coming into the race were: 1) a new PR, and 2) grab the 1st place age-group category for 40-49.
The first one was met with success. 5:40 this time compared to last year of 5:48 given that this year's edition was longer by 2kms. Of course, my time is slow and thus nothing to brag about. I attribute this to fatigue from my training for the past weeks leading to this race. No taper for Akyathlon as I treated this as training run. As I was ascending, I could feel the lethargy and it took me more than 1 hour before my body cooperated. But by then, I had lost so much time. It was only during the descent (my strength) that I gained some lead time and overtook some runners (from 30ish to 20ish position). This race drilled into my mind the importance of tapering which is exactly what I am going to do for H1. I had done the hard work and it's just a matter of execution on race day.
Second goal was not met. From 2nd place last year, I was demoted to 3rd place. The first placer's time was 5:20ish I think which is doable. So no worries. I did not come into this race expecting more. Just the experience of one good race in our own backyard and of course, the valuable training.
In hindsight, I learned a lot during the race for my goal event - H1 next week (yay, can't believe it'll be next week already!). We don't stop learning, do we? That is even how many races we have done so far. Only fools say otherwise.
Lastly, I read the innocuous bantering in FB about who are the bets. Frankly, I don't mind and am not bothered at all. I mean come race day, I have bigger things to worry about for H1. One is the sheer distance. 100 miles folks is still 100 miles. No matter how one looks at it, it is still long. Elevation is another. My golly, 10,000 meters (higher than UTMB!) is no joke and if one has not put in the proper training for this specifically not having "mountain in one's legs", I don't know where your legs will turn into marshmallows. As I wont to say, respect the distance! Weather is another factor to contend with. It can be very difficult up there especially in Mt. Pulag. We were there while on a training run it was raining at the summit. It was nasty. Of course, there is the possibility, no make it the probability of running two (2) nights in a row. I had been there during UTMB where, during the 2nd night, I saw runners in front of me just literally dropped on their knees half-asleep and laid on the trail unmindful of hypothermia . Nasty scenario also. There is likewise the probability of running alone for several hours (given the small number of participants) in some of the remote places not seeing a single human being and if one has not wrapped his mind around or trained for it, I don't know.
All of the above will be compensated however by the beauty of the place, warmth of the people, support of the volunteers, camaraderie with some of the crazy ultrarunners, good stewardship of RD Jonel and cool crisp weather. So the mindset of the runner coming into the race can be likened to a tourist checking out a place. Only he has to check it out on foot (yeah, 100 miles at that) and within a cut-off time. That should be easy to take in.
One thing is for certain, this race will humble (even more) us all.
Jon (100% ready in all aspects to finish? the race)
Some folks I know who also placed in their age group are Mia Constantino, Majo Liao, Berns Tan (1st) and Jade Lee (3rd), who else?