|taken during one of his trainings in Baguio|
Josiah Outruns the Country’s Elite Runners
The first-ever International Skyrace in the Philippines has just been concluded. And Josiah Ballagan awed everybody with his very strong performance! The event was a 33-km out and back run in Mt Ugo in Itogon, Benguet last Saturday (February 18).
Josiah finished fifth overall and second among locals with a time of 4:05:40. The Kenyans ruled the race with Chirchir Jackson finishing with a time of 3:42:36 and compatriot Eliud Kprugut Kering finishing after 3:46:08. A local runner from Bicol, Mario Maglinao came in 3rd with 3:59:46 who was followed by the Malaysian Saffrey Sumping with 4:01:14. But the very strong uphill runner Josiah was the third to reach the summit (behind the two Kenyans).
And here are the records of the top finishers:
Chirchir Jackson ruled this year’s 42km Condura Skyway Marathon. Eliud Kering finished first in the 2011 TNF100 100K event in Camsur. Mario Maglinao topped last year’s 21K Nathan Ridge Run in Tagaytay Highlands. Saffrey Sumping finished 6th last year in one of the world’s toughest skyrunning events—The Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon which was participated in by the world’s best skyrunners including Kilian Jornet of Spain (who topped last year’s event). The 17-year-old Josiah started competing last year, finishing 4th in the 50K event of the TNF100 in CamSur and 8th in the 21K Merrell Adventure Run in San Mateo, Rizal.
And I ‘m sure you’ll want to know who were behind the first five. Marcelo Bautista came in 6th and Joel Bengtay came in just seven seconds behind Bautista. Bautista and Bengtay were first and second respectively in last year’s Pilipinas Akyathlon in Baguio. They were also 2nd and 1st (respectively) in the Baguio City 50K Ultramarathon in 2011. In the 100K event of TNF100, Bengtay was 2nd in 2010 and 5th in 2011. Marcelo Bautista was also 2nd in last year’s Hungduan Akyathlon. Thumbie Remigio finished 16th and Leo Oracion in the 40th spot. I also have to mention a friend Mark Bryan ‘Koi’ Grey who finished 36th.
Behind the Scenes
|taken in last year's TNF100 in Camsur|
I registered myself in the skyrace last year but I was assigned to a job here in Cebu earlier this year so I just transferred my registration to Josiah instead of registering him separately. I had promised to run with him during the event as moral support. Ten days before the competition I wrote a petition e-mail to the LGU of Benguet asking for a good pair of shoes for Josiah but the message took a long time to reach the office of the governor. The governor’s donation (shoes) would arrive 2 days after the race (today). So on February 14th I had to send my old Columbia Walla Walla to Baguio via LBC. They were the same shoes he used in the TNF100 and in the Merrell Adventure Run. They couldn’t establish good traction anymore and the leather upper had gotten brittle. A day before the race, Josiah sent me an SMS saying ‘Ser kakapalan ko na ang mukha ko. Pahingi naman po ng Php700 para sa pagkain at pamasahe’. He lacked all the support an athlete should have. His father was attending to his mother at the hospital during the race. He was competing alongside the elites all by himself. After 4 hours of running the 17km trail of Osmena Peaks in Cebu (Mantalungon-Badian), I turned on my phone and there the message was! ‘Sir tapos ko na po ang race. I was fifth’. And I was like ‘Lupit mo! 17k lang tong sa akin naunahan mo pa ako sa 33K mo?! Sino nakatalo sayo’. ‘Yung dalawang Kenyan at isang taga Bicol tapos yung Malaysian. Nandito din sila Leo Oracion.’ ‘Ui! May camera ka ba jan? Papicture ka kasama si Oracion!’.He went on to tell me that his toes bled because his feet had grown bigger than the shoes could fit. But we’re thankful that other than that, he didn’t suffer any serious injury.
I just got off the phone with him. He still had that positive energy and humility. I have never been this happy for someone else before! I believe in this kid. He actually just got a special permit to join the race because he is just 17. There is a bright future for this kid! So I am appealing to all my friends! If you love me and if you believe in what I believe in, help me send Josiah to this year’s Mt Kinabalu International Climbathon in October. Let’s all help put the Philippine flag in international skyraces. Your support won’t help a blind man see or cancer patient live a longer life. But it will realize a dream!
|Race results courtesy of Philippine Skyrunning Association|
For more stories about Josiah click the link below
For more stories on Pilipinas Akyathlon click the links below