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Posted at March 29, 2022

After two years of being closed for any outdoor tourism activities, the Mount Pulag National Park opened the mountain’s trails for the Asian Qualifying leg of the Altitude Obstacle World Series by the Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation (POSF) last March 26-27, 2022.   This event is sanctioned by the World Obstacle Federation and a part of the Altitude Obstacle World Series and World’s Highest OCR Series and Championship.


Elias Tabac and Sandi Menchi Abahan ruled the Obstacle Course event with a time of 2:23:03 and 3:09:32 respectively for the 21km category, earning them slots for the Finals in Mt. Toubkal in Morocco in August 2022.  It can be noted that the two are the World Champions and Guinness World Record Holders in the 2021 Championship in Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. 


Almost ninety obstacle course athletes which includes POSF National Team members, elite runners, several PMA cadets and officers, obstacle race enthusiasts, and para-athletes joined to qualify for the World Championships to be held in Mt. Everest (Nepal) World Championships. 

The race started in Sitio Babalak located at an altitude of 2450 masl.  They had to conquer several obstacles including monkey bars, wall climb, and balance beams around the hills of Sitio Babalak followed by a race for time to the peak of Mount Pulag which brought them to an altitude of 2,926masl- Luzon’s second highest peak. On their way back to the foot of Mount Pulag heading to the finish line, exiting the mountain’s breathtaking mossy forest, the racers faced another set of obstacles including the over-under walls and rigs before racing back to the finish line. The cheers from the community and a locally weaved and crafted medal with lei and meals prepared by the community welcomed them as they cross the finish line.


Finishing second place for the 21km category were PMA Cadet Jake Matiw and National Team member Silami Apolistar-Gutang.  National Developmental Team members Andrico Mahilum and Ruffa Sorongon completed the podium.


The first day event also saw nine (9) para athletes finish the 12 kilometer running distance through the mossy forest and Mt. Pulag’s grasslands and like everyone else, the goal to finish 12 obstacles.  They have proven that nothing is impossible in conquering the sports. The inaugural World Highest Altitude Obstacles for para-athletes will also be held in Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa in March 2023.


For the shorter distance, National Team Members Mervin Guarte, Sherwin Managil, and Jeffrey Reginio dominated the podium.  On the distaff side, National Team Member Tess Nocyao and the National Team Member coach Christabel Martes battled for the championship with Tess emerging first by a few minutes; Melissa Campos completed the podium.   

The second day of the event was the first gathering of the Philippine Trail Running Association (Philtra) supported by the POSF and PSC.  World class athletes, trail running enthusiasts, and local athletes took the challenge of running twenty-one kilometers from Sitio Babalak to the peak of Mount Pulag and back. 


The race among the male competitors was won by world renowned trail ultrarunner John Ray Onifa, finishing at 2:07, followed by Kristian Joergensen (Denmark) 6 minutes after.  Randolf Gonzales, a young athlete from Rizal completed the podium 13 minutes after.  For the distaff side, Ces Wael finished first ahead by 12 minutes from her runner ups, Chantal Abiao and Irish Glorioso.  

The shorter distance category was dominated by locals of the community and seasoned Baguio-based athletes.    Police Officer from Baguio Dexter Barian won the race followed by Bokod Deputy Police Director Reynaldo Dunwan.  Fourteen-year-old Clentroy Tomas of Mt. Pulag completed the podium.  For the female category, Marjorie Bello from Baguio finished first.  She was followed by local female tour guides: Jane Yamana and Sylvia Pacliwan.   

The event was presented by the Philippine Sports Commision with an approval by the IATF and supported and endorsed by the Department of Tourism, DENR-PAMB, Mt. Pulag National Park, Municipality of Kabayan and Bokod, and the community of SItio Babalak in Barangay Bashoy. 

Race Ya served as its digital platform for registration and timing.  “On top of providing the tech solutions for the event, we also assisted the local associations of homestays, homeowners and transport group to be reachable for reservation and payment so they can offer their services to participants.”, Race Ya’s CEO shared.

The event was the first time that Mt. Pulag National Park opened for non-local visitors since the pandemic.  With the livelihood in the SItio Babalak greatly impacted by the pandemic with the closure for tourism, the sporting event was a step towards restarting tourism.  This generated jobs for the tourist guides, local homestay owners, local women who formed a cooperative to provide meals and snacks, transportation groups, craft makers, souvenir manufacturers, and a lot more. 


With face to face classes happening soon, the POSF donated handwashing sinks with water tank, projectors, printers, school supplies, and laminators to support the residents of Sitio Babalak.  The Association of Local Guides were also provided with computers, projectors, and printers.  In addition to these, a Local Guide Training will be conducted from April to June to prepare the residents for the re-opening of the Mt. Pulag National Park for tourism.  Meanwhile, to support Mt. Pulag National Park work in maintaining and protecting the park, on top of the regular environmental fees, the POSF donated handwashing sinks with tank and a portion of the registration fees.


Turnover of donations to Bgy Captain Efren Attilano, Concilor Dan Aquinsiman, Representatives from Pulag Elementary Shool, Lebeng Elementary School, Abucot Integrated Schook and Bashoy Elementary School

With its goal to bring the sports to all, the POSF and PhilTra welcomed the emergence of strong competitors from the community with fourteen (14) local athletes competing during the two-day event. Head National Coach of the Philippine Team invited a local athlete from Lusod, Ara to train with the National Team who are based in Baguio for competition preparations.

The event presented another first in the Philippines– that obstacles can be conquered even at the highest Altitude.


For one week, the kids in the SItio Babalak has the obstacle course as their playground. Tackling it easily and naturally.

“We are thrilled at the execution, engagement and results of the event”, said World Obstacle President, Ian Adamson, “The location, host community and event production were world class, and having representatives from Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas was a fitting start to the World Series.”

David Pickles noted the positive impact these events have brought to the local community of Mt. Pulag since the pandemic started, “This has brought wealth, this has brought hope, this has brought happiness and this has collected everyone together.” He is also looking forward to going back to the Philippines for another event like this. Perhaps, in another peak in the country.


Atty. Alberto Agra-POSF President, Ian Adamson-President of World Obstacle Federation and Dave Pickles- Co-Founder of World's Highest OCR

“This is a long-term partnership.  The federation’s thrust is to build better humans and we hope to do that through activities and events that challenge them to conquer the obstacles while helping other Filipinos conquer their real life obstacles; empowering the community that supports us in the sports.”  Atty. Alberto Agra, POSF President shared.





IATF approval, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, PAMB, Department of Tourism. Philippine Sports Commission, LGU of Kabayan and Bokod, Sitio Babalak in Barangay Bashoy, Mt. Pulag National Park


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