Ilonggos’ Mt. Kinabalu climbathon experience

Constant running, mountaineering, cycling and other fitness activities have prepared four Ilonggos for the hardest climb of their lives, the 26th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon held last Oct. 14, 2012 at the Mt. Kinabalu Park, Sabah in Malaysian Borneo.
Jun Ramirez, 37; Rocky Go, 37; Jeffrey Natividad, 26; and Johnny Young, 53 or Team Iloilo Skyrunning ran against top runners from various countries in order to gather points to become the series’ world champion.
Rocky Go, Jeffrey Natividad, Johnny Young,
Jun Ramirez after the race

Ramirez, a university research associate and outdoor sports enthusiast narrated that he had cramps on his right leg after eight kilometers of running uphill. Then, two kilometers before the finish line, he experienced slight hypoglycemia.
“My vision started to get blurry and my legs are like rubber already.  But I kept on, praying that there will be a store along the way.  And what a blessing! I saw a mini grocery store around 700 meters before the finish line. Good thing I pocketed a 50 Ringgit bill in my compression leggings. I bought a drumstick chocolate ice cream to replace the lost sugar. After a few meters of walking while eating, I started to run again to the finish line. That was the longest two kilometers I’ve ever run! It took me 22 minutes to finish the last two kilometers uphill,” Ramirez narrated.
Natividad, a freelance web designer who started running since June 2011 and who goes to the gym, runs and bikes every week, narrated that it was his first time to run that he got cramps. But a fellow runner stopped and helped him massage and stretch his leg.
Rocky Go, number 057 during the race

Like Ramirez, he also experienced slight hypoglycemia. “I waited for some runners to pass by and I asked for some food or anything to replace the lost sugar in my body. One Singaporean runner gave me half of her power bar and in about five minutes, I was able to recover and finish the race. To my surprise, at the finish line, there's a tent full of runners lying on stretchers with IVs (dextrose) on them. It’s really the toughest race for me,” he said.
Ramirez said the team members know each other through running. “We took part in fun runs and running competitions in Iloilo. We bump into each other along the road or at the Iloilo Sports Complex during trainings.  And by word of mouth, and through Facebook, I learned that Jeffrey, Johnny and Rocky are also joining the race. And we decided to form the Iloilo Skyrunning. We are the first four members,” he said.
Young, despite being the oldest among the four at 53 years of age, remains strong and agile. He’s a sportsman who plays basketball, tennis and golf; he goes running, scuba diving, swimming, works out at the gym and he’s a motorcycle and big bike rider.
The Mt. Kinabalu climbathon provided thrill for this first-timer.
Ramirez is a first-timer in the said climbathon, too but he has joined trail runs which also involved running up and down a mountain.
He said that his co-members at the Iloilo Mountaineering Club climbed Mt. Kinabalu in November 2011 and they encouraged him to do the same.
Ramirez is also into caving, rock climbing, running, swimming and cycling. He is also into Frisbee, being a member of the Ultimate Club of Iloilo Team.
Natividad also runs on trails. “But it’s different when running to the top of the mountain with high altitude and cold temperature,” he said.
To succeed in the climbathon, the group prepared themselves mentally and physically.
“I did trail runs in Barangay Igcabugao in Igbaras town and from Poblacion to Barangays Bucari and Camandag in the town of Leon,” Ramirez said.
“I also joined the trail running competitions in Cebu, the Columbia Eco-Trail Runs. I also made sure I got enough sleep,” he said.
He admitted that working and at the same time, training, is quite tough.
“During trainings, I conditioned my mind and my heart that I can do it and God will give the strength and courage for me to finish the race,” he said.
Natividad said the same prayer for a strong heart and mind.
“The will to finish the race is much more effective than the energy food that you take. Of course, we still need them together with the physical training.”
For Natividad, the right food consists of fruits like bananas, apples, pears, papayas and mangoes every morning and evening “to load my body with potassium and other nutrients needed for the run.”
Natividad also banks on the power of preparation. “Never underestimate the race. I was not able to anticipate that the trail is very hard and wasn’t able to prepare enough food and energy gels that caused me my slight hypoglycemia,” he said.
He ran at least 10 kilometers at the Iloilo Sports Complex on weekends and at least five kilometers three times during weekdays.
Young, on the other hand, did not have enough time to prepare because of his hectic schedule, but he successfully finished the race because he was armed with years of training and a positive mindset.
Indeed, “When all parts of your body are already giving in to the physical challenge, it is the mind that will keep you going,” Ramirez said. “Believe in the power of the mind.”
After the challenges that these guys have faced, are they going to do it again?
“Yes,” they chorused.
Ramirez said there will be a new route next year. “It’s going to be a challenge and adventure,” he said.
Add to that, the next race will be an opportunity for the team to correct their mistakes, hopefully without any cramps and hypoglycemia anymore.* (Nov. 22, The News Today)

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