WANDERLUST | Bongao hosts its first Ultramarathon race

ALMOST 200 hardcore runners from across the country found a new course to test their stamina and endurance: Bongao in the province of Tawi-Tawi, the country’s southwesternmost territory.

The province’s capital played host to the first Bongao Ultramarathon last Juy 2, Saturday, a race that took the runners around the paved coastal and mountain highways of the town including an ascent to the province’s highest peak, Bud Bongao, at 422 meters above sea level.  An ultramarathon or ultra distance or ultra running is any footrace longer than the traditional marathon length of 42.195 kilometres.

ZAMBOANGA runners came in full force

“We know that through sports and tourism, we will not only give people the opportunity to see the beauty and experience how peaceful Bongao is, we can also stir economic activies for the peace-loving citizens of Bongao. We are truly very thankful to our partners and stakeholders for the success of the event,“ said the town’s young leader, Mayor Jimuel S. Que, who also took part in the race. The race is a project of the Municipality of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Provincial Tourism Office and Gawad Kalinga’s Kusina ng Kalinga.

Bongao Ultramarathon, which has a 15K, 25K and 50K courses, also benefited the municapality’s less fortunate young residents.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds of the race will go to the feeding of public school children in Tawi-Tawi for at least one school year through Gawad Kalinga’s Kusina ng Kalinga program,” said race director Dan Requejo Bercasio of The Great Filipino Race.

Bercasio also said that the race is a unique opportunity to discover one of the country’s most beautiful islands.

 “We want to hold our events in places that are rarely visited by people. Our objective is to reconnect Filipinos. When people hear about Tawi-Tawi, there are so many misconceptions about the place that’s why we decided to hold it here to prove them wrong,” he added.

The Great Filipino Race is also planning to hold races in Maguindanao, Sulu and Bukidnon in the near future.

 “We hope to have a bigger Ultramarathon next year. Rest assured that we will strengthen our promotion of the event as well as Bongao as a sports tourism destination. We will also create tour packages to make your journey more convenient and memorable,” said Department of Tourism in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao secretary Ayesha Mangudadatu Dilangalen to the runners.

The top runners of the Bongao Ultramarathon Age Category are: 29 years old and below – Female: Catherine Millan, Male: Jonel Bechayda; 30 to 39 years old – Female: Mary Joanne Lim, Male: Oliver Angeles; 40 to 49 years old – Jessibel Casamis, Male: Roderick Salih; 50 and up: Maktadir “Thadz” Absara.

For the 50K race, the winners are as follows: 2nd place – Mary Ann Beth Kong and Ma. Elena Cuario, clocking in at 6 hours 46 minutes; 3rd – Jovene Torribio, clocking in at 4 hours 52 minutes ; 2nd – Marianito Ramirez, Jr., clocking in at 4 hours 38 minutes; Champion: Anthony Delima, clocking in at 4 hours 36 minutes.

A day after the race, the Ultramarathon runners from Metro Manila, Iloilo, Zamboanga, Isabela province and other areas in the country were treated to an island hopping to some of Bonga’s famous attractions, such as the vast sand bar of Panampangan and the island of Simunul, site of the first mosque built in the Philippines, dating back to 1380 when Islam was first introduced in the Philippines.

The Bongao Ultramarathon is part of the municipality’s 59th founding anniversary celebration.

Posted in Lifestyle