LEGAZPI CITY?Even as it remains rumbling and restive, Mayon Volcano on Sunday attracted almost 250 sports enthusiasts from all over the country in a 21-kilometer trail run, which had the world?s most perfect cone as its backdrop.
Mayon Trail Run International is part of the month-long Ibalong Festival celebration in this city.
For four hours, participants of the trail run trekked from hill to hill, and passed right through the lava gully of the Philippine?s most active volcano.
Alquin Bolivar, 24, a member of the Philippine Army, was the first one to reach the finish line set in Ligñon Hill.
What made him survive running uphill, downhill, and through a rocky terrain was building momentum at a slow but steady pace.
?My style was not to overtake the front runner very early in the race.?
Bolivar?s win was not easy. The race required participants to climb up two steep hills while running. In between the hill climbs was the ascent to the lava front in Bonga gully, one of the main gullies of Mayon Volcano.
Luisa Yambao-Raterta, who won first place in the Special Prize for Females Category, said she felt happy while running although she had to negotiate the rough terrain along the trail, especially at the Bonga gully leading to the lava front.
?The way to the lava front is very sandy, and full of pebbles and boulders,? Raterta, who is from Sta. Rosa, Laguna, said.
She fell to the ground twice. The first was during the uphill climb in Barangay Estanza, and the second was while she was traversing the way to the lava front. But she did not give up.
?Running is good for the health, especially the heart.?
Rainer Fuchsluger, 34, country manager of Reuters Limited, who participated in the trail run for the first time, said he joined not to win the race but for personal fulfillment.
?Everyone was running like crazy. Everyone was running at their peak [speeds]. But while I was running, I took some time off to look at the very beautiful scenery, and to look at beautiful Mayon Volcano, especially from the lava front trail,? said Fuchsluger. ?Legazpi is a beautiful city with a lot of potentials, especially in terms of tourism.?
Mayor Noel Rosal said one of the objectives of the trail run was to promote the tourist attractions in the city, which are found along the trail, especially Mount Mayon.
?We started the trail run last year and we intend to do it again next year, hopefully with more participants,? Rosal said.
Vicente Caurez, this year?s most senior participant, said he would join again next year.
?I ran because I want to tell people, especially young persons, that you can do things if you mean it, and that it pays to believe in one?s capabilities,? said Caurez, 72.
He said in his case, his age was never a hindrance in joining running competitions.
Caurez completed the race less than 30 minutes below the expected time for every participant to finish it.
The hardest part of the race was the downhill climb because footwork must be properly calculated, or a runner would end up hurting his leg or foot from fall or slip, according to him.
The trail run was conceptualized by the Junior Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Legazpi City and funded by the city government.
Sponsors of the project are the Inquirer, Bandera, The North Face, City of Legazpi, Provincial Government of Albay, Circa, Gatorade and Pacific Mall.
Yves Eli Yu of the JCI-Legazpi, project chair of the trail run, said the race was also meant to rediscover the tourism potentials of areas in the city devastated by effects of climate change, including those that were damaged by Supertyphoon ?Reming? in 2006.
?We want people to know that areas in the city earlier considered as danger zones, such as the flanks of Mayon Volcano and its lava front, could be turned into tourist attractions from being wastelands.