Extreme challenge: Thai, Filipino runners conquer grueling SEA trail run

Rob Andrew Dongiapon

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Extreme challenge: Thai, Filipino runners conquer grueling SEA trail run

CHAMP. Philippine bet John Ray Onifa crosses the finish line of the men’s short trail event of the 1st Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup.


Overcoming a steep course and humid weather, top bets from the Philippines and Thailand rule the 1st Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup in Bontoc 

BONTOC, Philippines – Despite the punishing course and extreme heat, Jantaraboon “Super Jake” Kiangchaipaiphana conquered the long trail event of the 1st Southeast Asian Trail Running Cup in the Mountain Province here on Sunday, June 23. 

Kiangchaipaiphana finished the 77-kilometer long trail, the main event of the three-day competition, after 11 hours and 4.08 minutes, ahead of Filipinos Larry Apolinario (11:37.25) and Arnie Macarenas (11:49.10), who copped silver and bronze medals, respectively. 

“I’m happy to at least give one gold medal to Thailand,” Kiangchaipaiphana said. 

“Because of the heat, I slowed my pace a lot. I initially targeted about 10 hours [for this], so this was not part of my expectations,” he said of the grueling race that started at 3 am. 

Macarenas led in the first two hours, before Apolinario and Kiangchaipaiphana took turns with the lead. 

“The heat really affected me. The first 40 kilometers, I felt fine since it was a bit cold. After about 11 am., I felt sluggish,” said Apolinario in Filipino after he was rushed to the hospital following the race. 

On the distaff side, Baguio native Elizabeth Dangadang clocked 13:38.51 to top the women’s long trail, similarly surviving the unpredictable weather in the terrain. 

“One of the most challenging part is the weather. It felt like the heat was three times than usual. Usually, it is cold on the moutnain, but today, the sun was really scorching,” said Dangadang in Filipino. 

In the men’s short trail event, John Ray Onifa topped the category, finishing at 4:46.26, followed by fellow Philippine bets Romnick Tungcaling (4:55.35) and Godwin Mirar (4:55.51). 

Onifa also rued the iffy weather at the mountains, pointing out the area’s humidity in the early morning, which caused some parts of the land to be slippery. 

“The course was very difficult since it was very steep and humid at the time of my run,” said Onifa, who was the 2023 Asia Trail Master champion. 

Trisha Reyes also brought a gold medal for the Philippine team in the women’s short trail, finishing at 6:58.31, outlasting fellow Filipino Cristabel Martes (7:02.10). 

Reyes started the race at sixth, but clawed her way to the top to seal the Filipinos’ 1-2 finish. 

“After the second aid station, I told myself that I need to pick myself up,” Reyes said. 

“I never doubted any one in the Philippine team. They are really strong athletes.” –

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