5 Pinoys join 170-km Mont-Blanc race
FIVE Filipino trail runners set off Friday in Chamonix, France, for one of the world’s toughest endurance foot races—a 170-kilometer run through three countries, France, Italy and Switzerland—scaling heights of close to 2,500 meters on some of the most rugged terrain of the Alps.
Triathlon coach Miguel Antonio Lopez, George Javier, Roland Wangwang, Xerxis Tan and Mia Constantino will attempt to tackle valleys, glaciers and summits of the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a single-stage mountain marathon considered the toughest foot race in Europe. It will have a total elevation gain of almost 10,000 meters above sea level.
The race, which started at midnight Friday (Manila time), is expected to last from two to three days. It started in Chamonix in France, heading to Italy and Switzerland before finishing back in Chamonix. Lopez, the delegation leader, said the course is a famous hiking loop called the Tour du Mont-Blanc, which usually takes seven to 10 days of hiking. The field of close to 2,300 will try to cover the ultra trail run within the cutoff time of 46 hours and 30 minutes. The winner is expected to cross the finish line in 20 hours.
Lopez, 38, is a multi-sport coach and was triathlon coach of the year in 2013. He is also a mountaineer, trail runner and owner of the multi-sport apparel business called Transition One. This will be his first 100-miler.
Javier, also 38, is a printing businessman from Los Baños who started as a trail runner in 2012. He has run several trail races, including 100-milers.
Wangwang, 29, is a registered nurse from Bontoc and race organizer of the Tawid Mountain Marathon set Sept. 13. He has run long-distance races but this will be his first 100-miler.
The 27-year-old Constantino is the youngest and only female member of the group. She is aiming to be the first Filipina to finish the race. She is currently a student in Canada.
Tan is another Canada-based trail runner and has done several trail races in the Philippines, including the TNF 100 in Baguio.
According to its website, the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is “a mountain race, with numerous passages in high altitude, in difficult weather conditions (night, wind, cold, rain or snow), that needs a very good training, adapted equipment and a real capacity of personal autonomy.”
Last year, a total of 2,434 runners started the race and only 1,578 finished. It was won by Francois D’Haene of France in 20 hours, 11 minutes and 44 seconds. Rory Bosio of the United States completed a back-to-back victory in the women’s division in 23:23:20. The race was first held in 2003 and has gained increasing popularity since.