146 finish Mayon ‘ultramarathon’
“I just tried it. I didn’t expect to win,” said 24-year-old Martin Balaybo after crossing the finish line of the gruelling Mayon 360° Ultramarathon here on Saturday.
Runners were given at most 15 hours to run 80 kilometers (50 miles) of the national highway across 77 villages in seven towns and three cities surrounding the world-famous Mayon Volcano.
“I used to join up to 21 kilometer races only, but not ultramarathon,” said Balaybo, a resident of Sto. Domingo town in Albay.
From the Peñaranda Park here, the field of runners fired off at 4 a.m. to the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Guinobatan, Malinao, Malilipot, Bacacay and Sto. Domingo, and the cities of Ligao and Tabaco. They were expected to be back and cross the finish line on or before 7 p.m.
The number of participants, including foreigners, swelled to 169 from last year’s 69. A total of 146 made it to the finish line on time.
Preparing for the test of endurance for only two weeks, Balaybo said thinking about his family helped motivate him to go on. “I really want to help my parents,” he said. “I constantly prayed during the run.”
Balaybo timed in at 6 hours, 47 minutes, in being the first Filipino to cross the finish line. He was third in overall ranking, after Kenyans Albert Omboga, 36, (6 hours, 33 minutes) and Eliud Kering, 26, (6 hours, 44 minutes).
In the local female category, Janette Agura of Manila finished in 8 hours, 17 minutes. Kenyan Susan Chepkwony won in the international female category with 8 hours, 41 minutes.
The winners received P30,000 in cash each.
Three participants over 60 years old joined the race. They were Vicente Caurez, 75, of Laguna; Victor Ting, 66, of Caloocan City; and Orlando Payumo, 64, of Laguna, who finished the fastest among them with 12 hours, 32 minutes.
All finishers were given a Mayon 360° T-shirt, certificate and a medal with the words, “I ran 50 miles around the circumference of the world’s most perfect coned volcano.”
More than 500 volunteers, including village officials, Army soldiers, policemen and government employees. distributed water and food at stations five km apart.
The Mayon 360° Ultramarathon was conceptualized by the Junior Chamber International Legazpi City Chapter with the help of Liga ng mga Barangay chapter in Albay, Philippine Association of Ultrarunners and the provincial government. It is part of the monthlong Magayon Festival and was recently awarded Best Tourism Event, sports category, by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines.
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