[PH Travel] Mt. Apo adventure race

Karlos Manlupig
Filipinos emerged as winners in what was — literally — a climb to the top

WINNING BROTHERS. Gerald and Cresencio Sabal, professional runners and Palarong Pambansa champions, emerged as winners in the Mt. Apo Boulder Face Challenge. Photo from Karlos Manlupig

MANILA, Philippines — A tag team of two brothers emerged as the victors of the annual Mt. Apo Boulder Face Challenge, beating 39 teams on an extremely daring race to the summit of the highest peak in the country and back to the plains of the town of Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur last April 28 to 29.

The team of Cresencio and Gerald Sabal, born in South Cotabato and are presently serving in a special service unit of the armed forces based in Manila, managed to finish the race in 15 hours, 38 minutes and 33 seconds.

The 90.22-kilometer race on the steep mountainous range requires a team to exhibit skillfulness in 4 disciplines including riding a bicycle over the rocky terrain of Mt. Apo, trekking, running, and controlling a small rubber tube in the rushing waters of the Sibulan river.

A team representing the town of Carmen, Davao del Norte won as 1st runner up followed by a team from Digos City.

“This was our first time to climb Mt. Apo and the only thing that we were thinking during the race is to survive the experience. It will make you shed tears when you face the toughness of the huge and steep boulders but you must continue moving forward,” said Cresencio Sabal.

Sabal, who is a 28-year-old 3-time champion of the 42K Milo marathon and has two Palarong Pambansa championship medals in track and field during his high school years, said that the strength of their legs after years of professional training as runners is their advantage over the other teams.

His brother is also a professional runner joining in various competitions.

The 5th Mt. Apo Boulder Race, which is on its 2nd year as an international event, is the highlight event of the Piyesta sa Kinaiyahan (Environment Festival) organized by the municipality of Sta. Cruz.

TOWERING GIANT. A huge shipping vessel passing by the Davao Gulf was dwarfed by the towering Mt. Apo. Photo from Karlos Manlupig

Composed of two runners and one logistic crew, 40 teams including 12 foreign teams joined this year’s adventure race. Foreign contenders represented teams from Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The Department of Tourism said that many of the teams representing Asian countries also have European members. 

DOT-XI Regional Director Art Boncato said that there is a marked difference in the growth of foreign participation in the race.

“In fact, only two foreign teams participated last year. We had to plead to those teams to join the race. But this year, we are glad to have 12 foreign teams who are also the best adventure racers in the world,” Boncato said.

Boncato said that the agency and the local government of Sta. Cruz is eyeing the race to become a landmark event of the country to draw more tourists in the region.

“Mt. Apo is the highest peak of the country and it is also an ancestral domain of the indigenous people and a conservation area. We want this to be an identifying event of the country. And we want to elevate this to a global level,” said Boncato.

He also said that they are optimistic that more foreign teams will be joining next year’s event.

THUMBS-UP! A foreign team who joined the 2012 Mt. Apo adventure race. Photo from Karlos Manlupig

“If the foreign teams who participated this year will give their thumbs up on our adventure race, then definitely more will come next year,” Boncato added. – Rappler.com


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