Abahan defends title in 29th Mt. Kinabalu

BAGUIO City’s female runner Sandi Menchi Abahan returned with style and flair after reclaiming the women’s elite title at the close of the 29th Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon in Sabah, Malaysia October 16.

The 27-year-old former University of the Cordilleras varsity after the cancellation of last year’s competition clocking two hours, 58 minutes, and 48 seconds.

Despite the callous weather, the reigning TheNorthFace100-Philippines women’s champion enjoyed a 12-minute advantage against second placer Viola Kimeli of Kenya who crossed the finish line with 3:11:42, followed by Malaysian Tahira Muhammad with a 3:22:22 after the 26-kilometer out and back trail race.

This will be the young Cordilleran’s second women’s title for the Malaysian tiff, cruising with a solid 6:15:12 when the former 36-kilometer mountain summit sprint was held two years ago.

In 2015, the Sabah Tourism Office cancelled the event after damages on the mountain trail were caused by an earthquake June of the same year.

“Nag-bago po yung race route this year. We raced to the summit of Mt. Kinabalu pero since sira pa yung dating route due to the earthquake and masama yung weather the turning point was placed down at Labanrata, the next point before the peak,” Abahan said.

The feat came a blessing in disguise as the former Baguio City High School athlete was still recovering from an injury the same month last year.

“Winning this time ay sobrang hindi pa rin ako makapaniwala, thankful lang ng sobra kay Lord,” said Abahan adding she still looks forward to joining the race next year.

In the men’s elite division, Malaysia’s Safrey Sumping was declared champion with 2:21:33 alongside compatriot Wincenbert Lapius in second with 2:22:58, succeeded by John Kipkonir Rutro of Kenya with 2:28:23.

Abahan’s Filipino counterpart, Jemarvin Cabilan of Bicol fell just seconds short for a podium finish crossing the line at 2:29:13.

“Thankful rin ako sa mga sponsors who helped me. Maxie Polly Bangsilan, Dr. JP Leung, Melan Marquez, Che Alberto, Geoffrey Perez, and the City Government of Baguio,” Ahaban closed.

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