Lito Cinco

Tiring but fulfilling weekend

March 1, 2024 Lito Cinco 237 views

WHAT can be a better way to describe last weekend than tiring, exciting and fulfilling?

You see I got an invite from Mayor Mike Keon, together with colleagues Fred Nasiad from Manila Times and Bong Pedralvez from Malaya to cover the second staging of the Laoag Sand Dunes Challenge.

We left Manila on a 4 s.m. flight via Cebupac, arrived in Laoag an hour after, and went straight to Amici Hotel for some rest, then off to City Hall for a lunch meeting with the Mayor to discuss his race and other sports-related matters.

The event, which is one of its kind in the country, features 5K and 10K distance races over sand dunes, with uphill and downhill parts.

And believe me, this is no joke, I was,also here last year and all those I interviewed agreed it was difficult as their feet were sinking into the sand as they ran.

In fact, Mike describes it as the hardest, most strenuous, and the most physically demanding in the local running circuit, he should know because he joined the 5K distance last Saturday, and paid the price.

When we had lunch at his house after the race, he was complaining about his aching body and legs, so much so that he ended up not being able to go to 3 other events the following day.

But still, there were 501 participants who registered including kids, last year, there were 300 runners, for one, the prize money was good, 15K each to the 10K winners, Mapua’s Ritchie Estampador and 2019 SEA Games and 2023 Sand Dubes Challenge champion Christine Hallasgo, 10K each to 5K champions.

James Darrel Ordona and last year’s champion Joida Gagnao and same to kiddie champions Michael de la Cruz and Nathalie Faye Miguel.

Thanks to Vigan City Mayor Bonito Singson who was a big backer of the event, later this year , he and Mike will do an Ilocos Norte to Ilocos Sur as a joint project.

Mike reiterated his committment to contibue with this sports tourism event every year and promised to grow it in terms of participants.

After the race and the awarding to the winners, our triumvirate did the exciting part, the 4×4 fast drive in the sand dunes, and we all fell in love with the vehicle’s handlebars as we clung to them for dear life as we went up and down the sand dunesat top speed.But we passed up on the sandboarding challenge where you slide downhill on a board.

Actually, part of the tiring part was when Mike asked us to join him Friday afternoon on a whirlwind visit to several places to see his athletes training in different sports as he aims even higher than Laoag’s 3rd place finish in the 2023 R1AA slated April 21 to 28 in Laoag with the provincial local government headed byGov. Matthew Manotoc, son of Imee Marcos and Tommy Manotoc.

This is the big difference with Mike , he knows sports up and down, he has the passion, and he will find the time for sports, we drove around the city Friday afternoon and saw athletes in sepak

takraw, women’s futsal, badminton, dance sport, women’s volleyball, billiards, and athletics, training , in fact, the athletes, have been quartered since January and train twice a day under imported coaches, Nonoy Unso being one of them.

I believe I will be back here for the R1AA and see the action and how Mike’s athletes will perform.

After the lunch Saturday with Mike, we went to see some of the province’s top tourist attractions, including the Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, a must – see destination here, the windmills of Bangui, and all the way to the pretty Patapat Bridge in Pagudpud, then back to the city.

By 8 p.m. we were aboard a Partas de luxe bus for a 9-hour trip back to Manila, part again of the tiring part experience.

Will I do this again next year?

If Mike invites again, I sure will.

But if you think it was the end of the weekend for me, by lunch time, together with my apo Livi, I was at the Jollibee in Harbor Square for Part 2 of the Valentine’s treat for street kids that I was able to arrange with the help of many kind-hearted friends.

Part 1 was in Jollibee Orosa last February 11, and total kids for the two events was around 140 to 150.

That was the fulfilllng part of the weekend, afterwards, back to the house for the resting part, at the same time in obedience to my wife’s request that I spend some time in the house for a change.

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