Survivor of 200-K Trail Run in Bhutan-A A +A
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
FIVE-FOOT-one Maria Theresa Segala Villanueva, still single at 43, and a Supervising Accounts Management Specialist at the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) in Makati, stood tall in Bhutan as the only Filipino and female Asian invited to join the 200K Trail Run known as “Bhutan’s Last Secret” on June 2-7, 2013 and by the grace of God, able to finish it.
Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom in the Central Himalayas entrenched between India, China and Nepal, is famous for its amazing architecture and lately, as the country with the highest “gross national happiness” score in the world.
The international race was organized by Global Limits headed by Stefan Betzelt of Germany. Thirty-six runners worldwide, that included 11 ladies, were invited based on their track records via the social media, (face book in the case of Mayette as the organizers preferred a mountain climber who can run and not a runner who can climb) , to “ navigate” a torturous mountain trail in six stages. Each stage was tackled within the day, 1st day- 32K, 2nd day- 29K, 3rd day- 28K, 4th day – 37K, 5th day- 52K and last day- 22K, with the runners passing through breathtaking landscapes and finishing at the country’s most famous monastery, Taktshang Dzong, perched on a cliff 3,120 feet above the Paro Valley, the Taktshang Goemba, aka “The Tiger’s Nest”.
“It was an incredibly tough race,” says Mayette, who started running seriously only four years ago and whose only experience in track events was during her college P.E. classes. “My first love was really mountain - climbing and part of the regimen to develop my stamina was through running. Unfortunately on Day 1, I executed a bad move going down the slippery trail which affected my left knee. It was then a struggle each day as I ran with a swollen knee and foot blisters. Thanks to the medic group. They put icepack on my left knee after every stage plus a dose of pain relievers. And worse, the weather conditions added more to our woes. It was raining most of the time and the trails were super muddy. And, we still have to contend with leeches in the mountains.”
When two participants from the USA and Denmark decided to quit at Day 3, Global Limits’ head Stefan encouraged Mayette with his inspiring pep talk : “Maria, make your country proud. “ On the final day, Pepe, a committee member from Spain manning the checkpoint, reminded her: “Maria, it’s the last 4K to the finish line . . . very steep uphill… and you have two hours to get there.”
After a Bhutan medic put a bandage on her left knee, Mayette mustered all her remaining strength to achieve her goal. “Thank God, I made it in one hour and 30 minutes ‘, she exclaimed. She was proudly hugged by Stefan at the finish line who said, “Amazing Maria, you are one tough lady.”
Mayette flew to Bhutan via Bangkok on May 30, 2013. She hails from Meycauayan, Bulacan, the fourth of eight children. An honor student since her elementary days, she was a dean’s lister at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila,with an Accounting degree in 1990. She earned her MBA degree from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in 1997. She transferred to PDIC after a two-year stint at the Bureau of Internal Revenue in 1994.
Aside from running with co-members in the Team Ekek Running Club, Mayette is a member of the Ayala Mountaineering Club. She also loves target shooting, cross-stitching, singing and dancing after a strenuous day at the office in charge of disbursements for closed banks; or on field work as member of the take-over pool for closed banks.
But ultra-running is her passion, as she practically spent a sizeable amount from her salary just to join races out of Metro Manila. And recently with her achievement in Bhutan, she was made honorary member of the Cebu Ultra-runners Club and was invited to join the 100-kilometer Run in Cebu on July 27, 2013.
Yes, Mayette is not only amazing but a tough lady that our country can be proud of.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 03, 2013.