More than 150 runners answered the starting gun in the 1st Mayon Trail Run- a 5 kilometer fun run and an 18 kilometer foot race which had the runners negotiating man-made and natural obstacles including climbing a hill, fording a river and navigating sandy trails laden with volcanic debris.
The one of a kind race held last October 19, 2008 was organized by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Legazpi and North Face and is part of an ongoing awareness campaign against gobal warming. The runners who came from all over the archipelago from as far as Cotabato, Davao, Cebu, Laguna, Metro Manila and from the Bicol region competed for the honor of being the first Mayon Trail Run King aside from winning P30,000 for the Champion, P20,000 for second and P15,000 for third on top of North Face products as additional incentives. The highest placed woman runner earns an additional P5,000.
Eighty eight runners- 78 male and 10 female with a good number of them holders of national and international titles took part in the 18 km foot race and they admitted it was one of the most grueling and unusual race they had participated in. The race started from the Penaranda Park infront of the Albay Capitol Building then to the top of Lignon Hill, crossing the Yawa river towards the lava front via the Bonga gulley and made a u-turn back to the top of Lignon Hill.
In the end, Elmer Sabal of Cotabato City was crowned as the 1st Mayon Trail Run King with a time of 1:09:30 followed by SEA Games gold medalist Allan Ballester who came in second at 1:10:08. Elmer’s brother- Cresenciano Sabal salvaged third place with a time of 1:10:35.
In the distaff side, Leszl Lumindas Gitarueles came in first (1:32:26); Merlita Arias was second (1:45:07) and Ellen Tolentino was third (1:49:08). In an interview, Gitarueles, 34, said she is a fitness instructor from Cebu and said she participated in the Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia) International Climatron and was fourth. She also placed fifth in the Hongkong Chartered Marathon. Merlita Arias, 34 also from Cebu said she’s a PE Teacher and is the first Filipina to represent the country in Sky Running where she finished 6th in the Multi-International Runner. She admitted she is no stranger to Albay having participated and won first in the 21 kilometer race during the 2005 Magayon Festival.
MTR Project Chairman and JCI Legazpi Vice-President Yves Eli Yu said that the Mayon Trail Run will now be a yearly event and took the opportunity to thank the City Government of Legazpi who is in-charge of the Legazpi Port Fiesta and the Ibalong Festival; the Provincial Government of Albay, CIRCA, Smart, Pacific Mall and councilor Cerilo “Celoy” Chan for their support and cooperation in making the inaugural Mayon Trail Run a resounding success.
He added that the Mayon Trail Run was conceptualized to promote awareness of Climate Change. The runners experienced first-hand the effects of global warming which had greatly affected Albay province with the two successive super typhoons that hit Albay and the Bicol region in 2006. He added that he was jubilant that the MTR took place a day after 10 lawmakers from Asia, Africa, Europe and South America signed the “Manila Declaration on Climate Change” which calls on rich nations to create a global fund to help lessen disaster risks brought about by rising sea temperatures. The 5 page document called “The Manila Call for Action of Parliamentarians on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation” was signed at the close of a two day meeting in Makati City.
Yves Yu concluded that events like the Mayon Trail Run (MTR) will be a big step toward Global Warming awareness. Provincial Tourism Officer Joe Briones, on the other hand said that the Mayon Trail Run could draw a new breed of tourists looking for ecotourism and adventure sports.