Finding joy in running into the  mountains of Bontoc

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Weeks and days have passed since the Am-among Trail Run on September 30, 2018, to culminate the celebration of the 110th Bontoc Foundation Day and 14th Am-among Festival.

Yet, the foot trails left by the runners who circumnavigated the villages of Bontoc still offers the same ambiance to locals and tourists who dared to run to the mountains and hills and be with nature.

Perhaps, it is because mountain trail running has become a new trend of outdoor adventure not only to the foreign tourists who love to visit the rugged and mountainous terrain in the Cordilleras. Locals too are starting to get hook in getting out on the trails with their families and friends to unwind and relax.

Every now and then, there are locals who follow the same track starting in the central Bontoc going up the mountain trails no matter how their legs ache. It is because the villages of the capital town offer natural wonders, which are a sight to behold.

The Birth of Am-among Trail Run

Elated of the huge crowd of local and foreign mountain trail runners who came in Bontoc  to join the first Am-among Trail Run in 2017, which was organized by the Bontoc Municipal Government in partnership with the Tawid Mountain Marathon (TTM),   and recognizing the benefit of running to one’s health at the same time the bonuses it offers to a runner in appreciating nature; Mayor Franklin Odsey voiced that a mountain trail run will be part of the activities in celebration of the 110th Bontoc Founding Anniversary and 14th Am-among Festival in September.

The Am-among Trail Run 2018

The second Am-among Trail Run came into fruition as 115 Bontoc locals and mountain trail running enthusiasts from nearby municipalities in Mountain Province and neighboring provinces signed up for the run.

Of the total, 49 registered in the 22 Kilometer with three registrants who did  not start; 54 in the 12 Kilometer with five individuals who did not participate; and 52 in the six Kilometer with six who did not show up.

Thus, early morning of September 30, the participants put on their running shoes and started at the new Bontoc Municipal Capitol grounds.

The race offers scenes such as rice terraces, plateau, ridges, and other breath-taking landscapes.

According to Elizabeth Farnican of the Municipal Tourism Office, participants in the six Kilometer were toured to Chata overlooking the capital town Bontoc and tunnel (“usok”), and a view of the Kadchog Rice Terraces.

In the 12 Kilometer, mountain trail runners passed by Chata, Kissing Rock and Mt. Fato; while participants in the 22 Kilometer enjoyed a bird’s eye view at Chata overlooking the central Bontoc, climbed Mt. Fato and Mt. Kupapey, and passed by the Maligcong Rice Terraces.

In the six Kilometer under the Male Category, Zendrac Dave Fagsao emerged as the champion as he only took 42 minutes to complete the set distance. Anthony Fawagan came in 1st Place, Rogerson Sacyaten- 2nd Place, Vican Farnican- 3rd Place, and Sydney Ing-inga -4th Place.

Aura Parongong bested the other runners making her the champion in the six Kilometer – Female Category. Marilou Pacyaan came in 1st Place, Juralee Gallardo landed in 2nd Place, Izzy Cheska Paydowan ranked 3rd Place, and Tanny Fe Sokoken made it to 4th Place.

For the Age Category Champions in the six Kilometer, these were awarded to runners who did not make it to the Top 5 but came first under their age brackets when Top 5 were filled –in. Jemaine Baaten is the champion under the six to 15 years old category; Warlin Dogui-is is the champion in the 16 to 30 years old bracket, and Janet Fachafad is the winner in the 31 to 45 years old category.

For the 12 Kilometer –Male Category, Vinson Ramos is the champion, Remuel Agpawon came in 1st Place, Waynerick Lazaro landed in 2nd Place, Aldrin Balinggao got the 3rd Place, and Godfrey Farnican ranked 4th Place.

In the 12 Kilometer under the Female Category, Roxanne Roxas was the first to arrive at the Finish Line making her the champion.  Other runners who made it to the Top 5 are Charmaine Pablo- 1st Place, Gawani Gaungen- 2nd Place, Vanessa Ngallawen- 3rd Place, and Zarah Marie Maddul- 4th Place.

The champions in the Age Category in the 12 Kilometer are Michael Langaoan, Jr., Carlos Afidchao and Gener Gansuen under the six to 15 years old, 16 to 30 years old and 31 to 45 years old, respectively.

For the 22 Kilometer – Male Category, Charlie Guzman ran the fastest that made him the champion. Other winners are George Gonzales – 1st Place, Jephunneh Anengyao- 2nd Place, Chester Nicod-am- 3rd Place, and Jarret Jesco Ospig- 4th Place.

In the 22 Kilometer- Female Category, Flore Marie Khensay was the first to arrive at the Finish Line that made her the champion. Marcelina Ongan came in 1st Place, Fe Singlot ranked 2nd Place, Sharon May Paydowan landed in 3rd Place, and Johanna Gail Bustarde made it to 4th Place. Romel Fecha is the champion in the 22 Kilometer under the 31-45 years old age category.

Special Awards were also given to five-year old John Tracy Patayec as the youngest runner, and 65-year old Paula Acofo as the oldest runner. Patayek joined the six Kilometer while Acofo signed up for the 22 Kilometer, and both of them made it to the Finish Line.

The champion in every Kilometer distance for the male and female categories received a cash prize of P3, 000.00, sash and a “ling-ling-o” necklace; the 1st Place received P2, 000.00 cash prize and a gong with an accent of inabel pendant; 2nd Place received P1, 000.00 cash prize and a gong with an accent of inabel pendant; 3rd Place and 4th Place received P500.00 each and a gong with an accent of inabel pendant.

Working and running together from start to finish

The Am-among Trail Run 2018 does not only focus on letting the participants run along the mountains, but also to promote various tourism destinations within the locality.

Thus, part of the registration fee of the participants will be used for the production and installation of tourist spots signage.

The Municipal Tourism Office, as the organizer of the Am-among Trail Run 2018 expressed their gratitude to all the participants and everyone who supported and offered their time, efforts and resources that led to the success of the run.

The officials under the leadership of Bontoc Mayor Franklin Odsey who gave their all-out support and appropriated budget for the cash prizes of the winners and other logistics needed; Municipal Health Office (MHO)/ Rural Health Unit (RHU) headed by Municipal Health Officer Dr. Diga Kay Gomez; Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) led by MDRRM Officer Johanna Padaen; Bontoc Municipal Police Station (MPS) headed by PSI Faith Ayan Igualdo; Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office; other employees of the Bontoc LGU; Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO); Bontoc General Hospital (BoGH) through Dr. Carol Yawan; Municipal Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP); Bontoc Municipal Fire Station;  Bontoc Municipal Traffic Enforcers and Volunteers Organization (BMTEVO); SPORTSCOM; Maligcong local guides; Sangguniang Kabataan members; Barangay officials of Bontoc Ili and Poblacion; and the sponsors to include the Bontoc Business Circle Incorporated (BBCI), Roxan Roxas and JM Enterprise.

Gaining Friends and Earning Experience in Running

The Am-among Trail Run 2018 is not only a competition of who ran the fastest. To the participants, it opened new windows of opportunities. It gave them a valued time to run with their friends, families, and colleagues along the mountain trails and hills of Bontoc. It gave them the chances to meet and get to know other runners too, who now become their friends. It gave them treasured memories of laughter and stories they shared with fellow runners.

As one of the participants shared, “It does not matter if you are the first or last. What matter is that you finished the race and shared it with a friend.”

Truly, the joy may not only come from the successes one achieves on the road or trail but from the experiences the runner encounters.

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