SEA Trail Running Cup Celebrates Athletic Excellence and Environmental Stewardship in the Philippines

Elite Trail runners from different Southeast Asian countries take off at the very first Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup at Bontoc, Mountain Province

 Bontoc, Mountain Province– The Philippine Trail Running Association (PHILTRA) proudly hosted the Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup last June 20-23, 2024 for the first time, marking a historic moment in the stunning and rugged terrains of Bontoc, Mountain Province. This biennial event attracted about 100 elite trail runners from the SEA region and showcased the Philippines as an emerging hub for international trail running competitions and cultural tourism.

“Hosting the Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup for the first time has been an incredible honor. The energy and talent of the athletes were truly inspiring, and it was phenomenal to witness the camaraderie that blossomed between runners from across Southeast Asia,” said Tin Ferrera, VP and secretary-general of PHILTRA and Head for the Southeast Asian Trail Running Confederation.

“This event not only showcased the Philippines’ natural beauty but also demonstrated our commitment to organizing world-class sporting events. The Philippines has so much to offer the world of trail running, and we’re excited to share it on a global stage.”

The diverse lineup of races – the Long Trail (76.8KM), Short Trail (36.8KM), Mountain Classic (12KM), and the grueling Vertical Uphill – catered to various skill levels and tested the athletes’ exceptional endurance and adaptability. Each route was designed to test the runners’ physical limits while experiencing the breathtaking beauty of Bontoc.

Conquering Bontoc’s trails

Each course offered spectacular views of the Bontoc landscape, starting with a symbolic crossing of the bridge at Chico River, a run through the rice fields of Samoki Village, grasslands and the Can-eo weaving village. They passed through rice terraces carved into the mountains giving great aesthetic beauty namely, Kadchog, Guina-ang Terraces, and the massive Maligcong Rice terraces, a showcase of Filipino ingenuity and industriousness. The course featured long ascents and descents through pine forest, fire roads and a breathtaking sea of clouds in the Mountains of Gadagad Wawalitan, Kaipitan, Mount Fato, and Kupapey, the course also featured the famous 1000 steps which took them to the ancient Ganga Burial Caves and Petroglyph.  Runners passed through renowned vibrant blue soil of Kaman-utek plus other significant views along the trail. No matter what distance, runners traversed steep ascents, rocky descents, and lush forest paths, creating a truly unforgettable experience.

The running cup witnessed a fierce yet respectful competition, fostering camaraderie among Southeast Asian nations. The spirit of sportsmanship and healthy competition embodied the event’s core message of unity and cooperation among Southeast Asian countries in trail running.

Team Philippines bagged the overall championship for the Short Trail Men and Women and Long Trail Men categories followed by Team Thailand.  Team Vietnam placed third overall for the Short Trail Men while Team Philippines was the lone and overall champion for the Mountain Classic-Senior. Other countries unfortunately did not meet the necessary performance score to qualify for the team rankings.

Team Philippines’ gold tally was led by John Ray Onifa and Trisha Reyes in the Short Trail categories alongside Elizabeth Dangadang in the Long Trail Women Category. Godfrey Farnican and Raven Jay Eta also took home the gold in the Mountain Classic Senior and Junior divisions respectively.

Thailand’s Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana dominated the Long Trail Category with Larry Apolinario and Arnie Macaneras from the Philippines placing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Angelie Cabalo from the Philippines took the silver for the female category.  The Philippines dominated the Short Trail category with Romnick Tongkaling and Godwin Mirar won the silver and bronze medals for male and Christabel Martes winning the silver for female.  Yupa Saelee bags the bronze medal to complete the podium.

For VK Uphill, Yusri Nanda of Indonesia and Phitchanan Mahachot of Thailand won the gold medal for the male and female category, with Silver going to Philippines’ John Ray Onifa and Cara Dacnis and the bronze medal to Jantaraboon Kiangchaipaiphana of Thailand and Yumei Chan of Singapore.

Vietnam’s Ngoc Anh Nguyen Thi took the gold for Mountain Classic – Senior female while Vu Duc Huy took silver as Senior-Male.  Philippines’ Charlotte Muyco was silver while Samuel Bango bagged the bronze medal

While the main competition was invite-only categories, the Tawid Mountain Marathon offered a more inclusive experience. It was open to local and international runners of all skill levels to participate in three divisions: a full 42KM Marathon, a scenic 21KM Half Marathon, and a challenging 12KM Mountain Classic. All finishers of this category earned Philtra 2024 championship qualifier points and ITRA performance index points.  Top runners overall and per age categories were also given recognition.

Team Philippines bagged the overall championship for the Short Trail Men and Women and Long Trail Men categories at the Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup

Celebrating culture and nature

The SEA Trail Running Cup wasn’t just about pushing physical limits and winning medals. It was also a celebration of Bontoc’s rich heritage. Runners and spectators were treated to a guided tour showcasing the vibrant local culture, providing a deeper appreciation for the region’s unique traditions.

PHILTRA led by its VP Louie Ganayan and with the assistance of Tawid Mountain Marathon Race Organizer Roland Wangwang made sure that the entire competition is conducted safely and adhered to the Green Charter of the International Trail Running Association, ensuring the preservation of Bontoc’s natural beauty. Practices included waste reduction, recycling initiatives, and promoting eco-friendly behavior amongst participants, volunteers, and sponsors.

“We thank PHILTRA for selecting Bontoc to be the venue for the SEATRC. We hope all racers were able to enjoy the trails and appreciate the beauty of the mountains of Bontoc. As we welcomed all delegates from different parts of Southeast Asia, we hope that guests and participants will be able to promote Bontoc to your respective countries as well.” shared Wangwang who has been holding the local race Tawid Mountain Marathon in Bontoc since 2016.

Celebrating excellence and the love of the sport: Southeast Asian representatives and delegates pose during the awarding ceremony of the Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup 2024.

 PRESS RELEASE.  06.25.2024 (for inquiries, email us at info@philtra.ph)

 

 

 

A global stage for Philippine Trails

 

The success of the SEA Trail Running Cup has emboldened PHILTRA’s ambitions of seeing the event included in the prestigious Southeast Asian Games and potentially even the Olympic Games.

 

“The inaugural Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup in the Philippines has exceeded all expectations. Seeing runners from all over Southeast Asia come together and push each other to their limits was a testament to the unifying power of this sport. We are incredibly grateful to PHILTRA for their outstanding organization and commitment to showcasing the potential of this sport in the region,” said PHILTRA President Atty. James Roldan.

 

“Becoming an Olympic sport is a long process with many procedures, but ITRA is 100% supportive. We’ve spoken to World Athletics, who also want to push this forward. We are working with the Brisbane Olympic committee to aim for the 2032 Olympics”, shared ITRA President Janet Ng. “We hope all national trail running associations and athletics federations will support this effort to see our dream come true,” she added

 

The SEA Trail Running Cup marks a significant chapter in the Philippines’ sporting history, showcasing its potential as a global trail running hub. The breathtaking landscapes of the Philippines, coupled with PHILTRA’s dedication to exceptional event organization and environmental responsibility, position the country as a premier destination for international trail running competitions.

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