A DREAM UNFOLDING AT THE TDS-UTMB IN 2017

“Everything was hurting, I was very sleepy.  It shocked me mentally when I realized that there were still several shorter and steep climbs to tackle at the last stretch of the TDS-UTMB.  I took a nap, I couldn’t remember how many times I did.  At the last Aid Station, I opened my eyes and a female runner told me, “Let’s go, we are almost there.  It was LIZZY HAWKER!  The female long distance running legend, a world champion, a UTMB champion including during her first attempt in 2005; one of the female runners who have inspired me.  It all felt like a dream, I teared several times realizing that I am actually here, and I am about to finish the TDS-UTMB.”, Sandi recalls and shares her TDS-UTMB experience.

Sandi finished the TDS-UTMB in August 2017 as the 21st female, third Asian and the first Southeast Asian in a race that is dominated by Americans and Europeans.  It’s her first time to race outside Asia.  TDS is a race that is not for the faint of heart with the most technical course in the 119k distance at 7200m elevation gain.

For Sandi, the race in itself started, even before she toed the finish line.  But she pushed further, her dreams became a community’s dream.  The community gathered in 2017 during GRiT: An all-female trail run held to raise funds to support Sandi’s training and racing needs, several people has rallied and helped for her to get an approved visa, everyone followed, prayed and cheered her as we see the Philippine flag side by side other countries in the race leaderboard.

“After getting that push from Lizzy, I tried to recover and pushed whatever was left physically and mentally.  It was painful at the last 8 kilometers as we were going down, I pushed hard to possibly gain more leads in the female category but the competition was really tough.  I knew I gave my best and have seen how a far a Filipino can go in this race, and I hope this could be the first of many.  I look forward to being better than my performance in TDS or any other international race if given another chance.  It was great to be there and know that finally a flag of the Philippines is displayed in a trail running leaderboard.”

WHO IS SANDI MENCHI?

Hers is a dream to become a champion – to strive for excellence with steadfast resilience and to be bigger than herself by empowering and inspiring women to be audacious with their dreams.

Sandi Menchi is a natural-born athlete. Growing up she has been proficient in badminton, softball, and taekwondo, just to name a few.

In high school, she joined her first 5-kilometer run to gain extra points and grades.  Her top 8 overall finish landed her a spot in the school varsity and a coveted scholarship. Since then, Sandi has proven her worth as an exemplary student while working hard as an athlete.

Having faced several tournaments and races, Sandi’s mantra in excelling has been simple, “Each step has taught me that I can always go further by moving forward, by pushing myself to keep going beyond my limits.”

As a school track and field varsity athlete, she always topped the Cordillera Administrative Region meet but failed to get the podium at the national level.  After graduating from college in 2013, she was hungry for the win.  “I always have in mind that maybe I can do better. I just kept on running and running has become a part of who I am,” said Sandi.

She consistently trained and just kept running, joining road races from short distances, half marathons all the way to the whole 42km distance.

In May 2013, she joined her first trail 50K ultramarathon at The North Face race in Baguio. Fortunately, she bagged the second fastest female spot. That was the first step of her continuous podium finishes in trail running.  “I was happy to have finished and discovered the sports of trail ultrarunning in that race.  This is a sport where I can further challenge myself amidst a community of fellow nature-loving athletes and supportive fellows.  Everyone was saying that I did well and that inspired me to do better than the best I have done.  I have set my mind in doing it again.” 

She pushed herself to train harder, faster, and stronger. In a few months, she won the 26km run of MF42 and was the second overall finisher among strong male and female runners.

In 2014, as promised to herself, she did the TNF 50km. This time, she won the top female fastest finisher and was in the top five overall finisher. She raced with 26km race of the MF 42 again and finished first overall!  “I have dreamt to be a Champion in these races and that dream made me explore further how I can be better through hardwork and perseverance.  It was not about winning, it was about striving to win against my best today.” 

Sandi’s first two years in trail running has shown a remarkable performance.  She was fortunate to have a chance to join an international race for free in October 2014.  The International Skyathlon Race in Kota Kinabalu saw Sandi finishing as first female in the Asian Skyrunning Circuit and fourth overall female.  “The support of the Filipino community, the cheers and the encouraging words I got humbled me.  It made me realize that I am doing this for something bigger than me, something bigger than my aspiration for excellence.  I was a few steps closer to the podium then.  Perhaps, I can still do better.  It is a question I did not only ask myself but also promised to find out the next edition, which was 2016.  And I did…..”  As Sandi finishes the 2016 International Skyathlon, she knew she was crossing the finish line not as Sandi Menchi but as a Filipino athlete who dreamed to be better than her best for those who believed and aspired with her.  It marked the start of Sandi’s quest ….

THE JOURNEY CONTINUES

“Running has brought me here, I have to keep going and keep pushing because each step could not only move me and my performance upwards.  Each push can move the people who believe in me to believe that a female Filipino can do it, that she can do it, that we can do it…”

For Sandi Menchi Abahan, running is a journey, as long as her feet shall take her to her vision.

Help Sandi with her journey, here is how you can support:

Join GRiT: Register.RaceYaya.com

Shop:          Shop.RaceYaya.com –  10% of the net proceeds goes to RaceYaya Athletes Support Fund

Email:        Contact Sandi via [email protected]

Achievements from 2012-2018:

Sandi Menchi C. Abahan

27 yrs old. Single

Residence: Baguio City, Philippines

Ethnicity: Barlig and Ifugao

Athletic Background:

Track and Field Varsity from High school to College

Trail Runner, Ultramarathoner, Triathlete

Educational Background:

BSED Graduate University of the Cordilleras

2012

Soleus 22km – Champion

 

2013

Tarayem 42km – Champion

Baguio Benguet Marathon 42km – Champion

LUUM 42km – Champion

Mayon 360 80km – Second Runner Up

TNF 50km 2- First Runner Up

Ku Ika ika 42km – Champion

5150 Triathlon (standard distance) – Champion (Age Category)

Subic Marathon 42km – First Runner Up

Radar Run 5miles – Champion

 

2014

Cebu Marathon 42km – First Runner Up

Pilipinas Akyathlon 36km – Champion

Run to the Clouds 50km – Champion

KOTM 42km – Champion

Spider Trail 21km – Champion

TNF 50km – Champion

Strawberry Marathon 25km – Champion

Pilipinas Duathlon 3rd Leg – Champion

Milo Elimination- Baguio Leg 21km – First Runner Up

Mayon Triathlon (standard) – Champion (Age Category)

MF42- 26km – Champion

Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon 33km – Champion (Asian Circuit)

– Fourth Overall

A100- Hundred Islands Duathlon – Champion

Radar Run 5miles – Champion

 

2015

Takbong Amianan 21km – Champion

Pilipinas Akyathlon 36km – Champion

Ku ika ika 21km – First Runner Up

CMM Mt. Pulag 42km – Champion

Alaska Family 3km Run – Champion

Baguio Day Run 10km – Champion

Tawid Mountain Marathon 21km – Champion

JanXP Duathlon – Champion

Bataan Triathlon (standard) – Champion (Age Category)

Tri NOAH (standard) – Champion (Elite Category)

Baguio Triathlon – Champion (Open)

 

2016

Sta Fe Trail run 21km – Champion

Takbong Amianan 21km – Champion

Ku ika ika 42km – First Runner Up

PMA Triathlon – Champion (Open)

Mt. Ugo Marathon KOTM 42km – Champion

Tri La Union (LUECO) – Champion (elite cat)

Old Spanish trail 50km – Champion

The North Face 100km – Champion

UP Mountaineers 12k Trail Run – Champion

Tri United 1 Standard Distance – Champion

Tri United 2 Standard Distance – First Runner Up

Milo Elimination 21km – First Runner Up

Tawid Mountan Marathon Trail Run (42km) – Champion

Cardimax 50km- First Runner Up

Climbathon, Kotakinabalu Malaysia (26km)- Champion

Tri United 3 half distance – First Runner Up

Clark Miyamit Falls Trail Ultra CM50 Miles(80km) – Champion

The North Face Hong Kong 100km – First Runner Up

 

2017

Rizal Mountain Run (30km)- Champion

Pilipinas Akyathlon, Sky running (42km) – Champion

Tri United 1 Standard Distance – Champion

Cordillera Mountain Ultra (50km) – Champion

Sungai Menyala Forest Trail Ultra, Port Dickson, Malaysia

(50km) – Champion

Rough N Tough (35K) – Champion

TDS-UTMB, Chamonix France, 21st Place Female

Kota Kinabalu International Skyrunning Championship :  Female Champion

Ultra Trail Mapawa 50K Female Champion

MSIG HongKong, December 2107  6th place

 

2018

9 Dragons HongKong – 50K Female Champion and 6th overall

Sungai Menyala Festival – Female Champion and 6th Overall

 

 

 

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