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UTMB: Igorot Runner Crosses the Finish Line

Roland Wangwang had never been to Chamonix, France, before, so his reaction to seeing a portion of the Western Alps for the first time is almost unreal that took his breath away. Touching down at the airport in Geneva, when he first saw Mont Blanc is so exciting but also scary at the same time. A 28-year-old nurse and an ultrarunner from Bontoc, Mountain Province, who has not been accustomed to the climate and high steep mountains in the Alps region, proved his strength and endurance. For Roland, the call of the high-ranging mountains and awe-inspiring views to run the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), a painstaking 104-mile trail running race that circumnavigates the most extensive mountain range in Western Europe. It’s a difficult hard course with more than 66,000 combined feet of elevation, considered by many to be the most challenging and ultra-distance event in the world. It's the highlight of the week that annually celebrates the pinnacle of trail running amid the rugged mountains and breathtaking scenery in parts of France, Italy, and Switzerland. But for the two Filipinos: Roland Wangwang and triathlon coach Miguel Lopez who crossed the finish line together on Sunday, August 31st, like so many other hardy runners from around the world, was attracted precisely by the sheer magnitude of that challenge. The mountains, the terrain, the steepness of the trails. Everything is more extensive and towering in the Alps compared to the mountains in the Cordilleras or anywhere else in North America. Learning from our lone runner from the Cordillera who proudly made it to the finish line, this is the marathon in modern society. This is not all about competing or winning. This call of the wild—namely running freakishly long races through dangerous mountain ranges is a great trial for those who like to challenge their physical endurance and mental and emotional limits. Congratulations Pinoy team, for making it happen in the history of Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB)! Mabuhay kayo!!! **************************************************************************** Very special thanks to our kailian: Bambi Chakas, and their family, who warmly accommodated Roland Wangwang during his stay in Geneva, Switzerland, while touring and conditioning himself before the UTMB course. To our kakailians in France who welcomed him in their humble abode during his two days visit to Paris: Emilia and Icel Soriano. And to all the IFA- Igorot in France Association members who made themselves available to tour him around the city of Paris, thank you! Merci beaucoup! IYAMAN ay chachama! By: Fargo Bcn

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