Local runners capture 50-mile run around Mt. Mayon crown during Daragang Magayon Festival

Two Albayano marathoners hit the finish line first, 30 minutes apart each other, to bag the top runners crown in the first Mayon 360° 50-mile (80-km) run around the circumference of Mt. Mayon.

This was staged Saturday as among the outdoor sports spectaculars of the ongoing Albay’s Daragang Magayon Festival.

Mario Maglinaw of Barangay Rizal, this city, clocked 6:10:59 to capture the top slot of the race whose starting gun was fired at 4 a.m. at the Peñaranda Park here.

Second placer Martin Balaybo of Barangay Bical, Sto. Domingo, Albay, registered a running time of 6:41:39, over three minutes ahead of Kenyan Elijahu Kipruto who placed third by clocking 6:44:07.

Over a hundred runners responded to the starting gun but only about 80 made it to the finish line. “It was a grueling test of speed and endurance. The distance was so punishing although the route was all good roads,” Maglinaw said after crossing the finish line at past 10 a.m., also at the Peñaranda Park.

Organized as among the month-long festival’s sport highlights by the Legazpi Chapter of the Junior Chamber (Jaycees) International and the Liga ng mga Barangay, Albay Chapter, the race was sanctioned by the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners.

Sponsored by the Albay provincial government, Gov. Joey Salceda and the Daragang Magayon Festival 2013 committee, the Mayon 360º Run was the first of its kind in the province and the entire Bicol region in terms of distance and race route, provincial board member Joseph Philip Lee, the Liga federation president, said.

“It is a historic run as none so far has registered a record in completely running the 50-mile distance around the entire circumference of the famous Mt. Mayon that stands 2,463 meters over three cities and six municipalities of Albay,” Lee said.

Starting from the Peñaranda Park in front of the City Hall and Provincial Capitol here, the run went through 77 barangays near the foot of the volcano.

To highlight Albay’s tourist destinations along the race route, water and aid stations for the runners were set up in leading attractions such as in Daraga town, the home to historical Cagsawa Ruins where one can see the picturesque view of the entire edifice of the volcano with the protruding belfry of Cagsawa church at the foreground.

The next water station was in Camalig town, the home to the popular Albayano dish--pinangat. The town is a good site for heritage tour for having the most number of Spanish houses in the province.

Next was in Guinobatan, the hometown of local hero, Gen. Simeon Ola, the last Albayano general to surrender to the American troops during the Filipino-American war.

Three water stations were also set up in Ligao City that is famous for its Kawa-Kawa Hill where pilgrims scale its 236-meter elevation during Holy Week to meditate in its Stations of the Cross featuring life-sized statues.

Next was in Barangay Buang, Tabaco City, at the junction leading to the Mayon Skyline Park nestled on the slope of the volcano at 2,500-foot elevation.

Another water station was in Barangay Quinastillohan of the same city that is site of Vera Falls, with a clear cascading water in the middle of the verdant forest of Mt. Malinao.

The 10th and 11th water and aid stations were at the Tabaco City proper where one of the two churches in Albay that are registered in the National Historical Institute as a National Heritage Site--the St. John the Baptist Church--stands.

Malilipot town, known for being home to abaca twine “lubid” makers, was next followed by Sto. Domingo, the home of the popular Albayano composer, Potenciano Gregorio, who composed the world-known Bicolano love song Sarung Banggi.

Sto. Domingo is also frequently visited by tourists and vacationers for its black sand beaches resorts located at Barangay Kalayukai.

The last two water and aid stations was in this city-one in Barangay Rawis, the Bicol regional government center, and the other, at the city proper, the province's trade, business and education center.

The Mayon 360º is only among the various rare sports events to be highlighted in the 2013 Daragang Magayon Festival that refers to the province’s mythical legend of Daragang Magayon (beautiful lady) from where Mt. Mayon derived its name.

Among the many others are the “Five Peak in One Summer Climb,” which will feature mountaineering of five local peaks--Mts. Malinao, Masaraga, Manaet, Manito and Mayon--and the local version of Amazing Race, which will mark the launch of the Green Zone of Bicol tourism centered on the newly formed Catanduanes-Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (CALMASOR) cluster in promotion strategy.