WITH almost two months of absence in running, Sandi Menchi Abahan is setting her sights on marking a new record when she competes in the 2017 Pilipinas Akyathlon which takes off at Mt. Ugo in Itogon, Benguet.

The reigning and back-to-back Akyathlon women’s champion plan to draw her best physical and mental performance in vie to claim her third straight first place stint in the event backed by the Philippine Skyrunning Association (PhilSky).

Apart from landing atop the podium, the 27-year-old Baguio City ultra-runner said she aims to deliver a rock-hard course record as well as she did in her previous appearances.

“So far physically and mentally okay naman ako [for the Akyathlon], I’m hoping to defend my title pero mas target ko na makakuha ng mas magandang time than what I am expecting,” Abahan said.

“Yun naman ang decisive goal ko now, to beat myself and have a good time.” she added.

While the organizers have reformed the former 36 kilometer uphill and downhill footrace to a three-category event (10, 25, and 42K) this year, Abahan wants to leave a resounding personal best on the track.

During her first run in 2014, the former University of the Cordilleras athlete surprised her rivals after crossing the finish line in four hours, 59 minutes, and 50 seconds before eventually breaking her own in 2015 as she improved with 4:18:05.

Abahan said she aims to keep it close to a sub-seven hour finish even with the 42K course impend her chances of losing the title.

“I will be very happy if I can get a sub seven hours,” Abahan closed.

Apart from Abahan, around 300 other running enthusiasts coming from the Philippines and other neighboring country are anticipated to gather for the event.

Also expected to join the International Skyrunning Federation sanctioned race is Itogon lass Gretchen Felipe, who placed third during the 2013 edition of Akyathlon and Bukidnon-based Helen Tacling.

Nueva Vizcaya runner Marcelino Sano-oy is also seen to join the tough men’s field while Asia Trail Master Champion Manolito Divina of Pateros and 2014 edition champion Jemarvin Cabilan of Bicol is expected to make their presence felt in the event backed by the Municipality of Itogon and the Department of Tourism in the Cordillera. (MVP)