The Pilipinas Akyathlon (Philippine Skyrunning), the country’s first ever international mountain trail high altitude race, is all set on February 18 at Mt. Ugo in Itogon, Benguet.
The race; spearheaded by the Philippine Skyrunning Association (PSA), in partnership with the Department of Tourism-Cordillera (DOT-CAR), the Provincial Government of Benguet and other event sponsors; will be a 32.88 km race going up the 2150 meters above sea level summit of Mt. Ugo and back to the barangay hall of Tinongdan, Itogon.
PSA president Nina Dacanay, in a kapihan forum Wednesday hosted by DOT Regional Director Purificacion Molintas to launch the event, said that PSA, a non-stock, non-profit organization that started in January 2009, is the first of its kind here in Asia to be accredited by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF).
“For us in the PSA, our goal is to promote skyrunning as a sport, promote eco-tourism as well as an active and healthy lifestyle. The skyrunning event on Feb. 18 will also be the first official ISF certified or acknowledged event in this part of the region,” Dacanay stressed.
Dacanay also explained that it is a part of the eco-tourism thrust of the PSA to advocate carry zero-waste and the use of recyclable and reusable materials in the said event, thus they have partnered with local environmentalist group, Cordillera Conservation Thrust (CCT).
Dacanay said they have chosen to pilot the event here in Cordillera as it is very apt with the region’s mountainous terrain. Sky running by definition, is a mountain running at a minimum height or altitude of 2000 meters above sea level.
For the race course description, the almost 33km out-and-back race will start from the Barangay Hall of Tinongdan, Itogon Benguet with the first 1.7km a downhill run on paved road to the starting point of the mountain trail, in which from that point it will be mostly uphill route to the summit of Mt. Ugo before turning back to the mirror image of the route up to the barangay hall where the race starts.
The scenic route will showcase the magnificent views of surrounding mountains, including portions of Binga and Ambuklao dams and as far away as Pangasinan. It will also navigate through pine forest trails and three sitios: Cayuco, Cawayan and Lusod, which leads to vantage points where other peaks in Benguet can be seen.
Mt. Ugo is known for its annual summer climb which won last year in the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines’ (ATOP) Search for Best Tourism Event in the Philippines under the Sports, Adventure and Wellness Category – Municipal Level.(JDP/LD-PIA CAR)
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