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Chasing your passion and dreams in trails

Amazing stories of Filipinos who excel and made their name in the fields of sports, music, politics, beauty pageants and the entertainment industry surface every year. From young to old, expert to newbie, they all have their stories that inspire others to pursue their dreams.
Sometimes, we just have to look around and come to know that some of them are from our place whom we meet along the sidewalks of the street, coffee shops, and gatherings.
Running does not come naturally to a lot of people. Running can really be hard work, but it can also be one of the more rewarding activities. The joy may not come only from the victories one achieves on the road or trail, but from the experiences the runner encounters. Here is a story that perhaps will motivate you to continue to lace up your running shoes each day, and possibly find a great cause of your own.
Growing up in the small town of Bontoc, Mountain Province where one needs not to go far for an adventure, Roland Wangwang has a deep interest in the outdoors. “I am a nature lover. I love to run along the mountain trails. I regularly bike and trek, but along with these joys I also had the unhealthy habit of smoking and drinking,” he admitted. Roland shared that he enjoys getting out on the trails with his friends to unwind and relax. To join in mountain- and trail-running competitions was not in his to-do lists. Before he knew it, he signed up for the 22km trail run in the age category of the Pilipinas Akyathlon in Tuba Benguet in 2011. Being a newbie in a gruelling endurance challenge, Roland did not expect to land in second place. Since then, there was no turning back for this young runner. It was a start of a whole new way of life to him.
Amazed and motivated that it was possible to accomplish such a feat, Roland made up his mind to join other running events. He is aware that there are no shortcuts, there will be obstacles, there will be critics, and there will be mistakes. He persevered, despite the challenge to manage his time in his work as a permanent nurse at the Bontoc General Hospital, time for his family, and for his training.
Roland shared that he run along the mountain trails during his free time. No matter how his legs ached, his heart yearned for more. He fell in love with running, and the trails he runs provide the bonuses of sight-seeing and appreciating the beauty of the place where he grew up. He eventually did away with the smoking, and now only drinks occasionally. Roland also realized that if he was to pursue his running journey, he needs to surround himself with people who share the same passion. That was the time that he became part of the Philippine Skyrunning Association (PhilSky). As a member of PhilSky, he was grateful for the opportunity to train with fellow runners.
His perseverance and commitment to prepare himself for other running events paid off. His taste of victories in different local, national and international running events followed.
Roland fondly recalls that his running journey is like a dream come true. He narrated that in 2011, mountain runners around the world convened for the 25th Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon and climbed the majestic Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia. It was his first overseas competition and he crossed the finish line of the 22km race. In the same year, he finished the 100km TNF Camsur in Camarines Sur, the 16km 1st Radar MTB Race and the 12km Columbia Ecotrail Run in Camp John Hay, Baguio City.
This runner did not stop running even as he grew older. In 2012 t0 2015, he finished all the races and landed spots in the local, national and international running events he signed up in. As he run faster, he made his name in this field and eventually became a Salomon Philippines Brand Ambassador in February 2014.
Roland’s most recent feat and most successful performance is when he competed in the gruelling Ultra Trail Du Mont Blanc (UTMB). A 170 km race circumnavigating the roof tops of Europe, the Mont Blanc run goes through the trails of France, Italy and Switzerland. He reminisced that it was the most amazing and uplifting experience of his life. “One with nature and one with my body. I felt peace. Reaching the top of the mountain, the three-day stay on the mountain was so worth it,” he said with a smile.
Besides personal exhilaration, running has opened new opportunities for him. He meets new friends, he has the chance to travel to different places; he has new adventure stories to share, and he became a better person. “Through this sport, I learned the meaning of humility. It changed me to be a better person than before and I am still on the road to better myself,” Roland humbly says.
Hoping to encourage more of the locals to lace up their running shoes, Roland together with the couple Billy and Merry Kaith “Kim Yao” Regaspi who share the same passion of biking, mountaineering and trail running formed a team in Bontoc, the Tawid Multi- sports Group. They get to train with fellow and aspiring runners who have common dreams.. They help each other achieve their goals, pulling each other to the right track, sharing the knowledge and skills they gained.
It has been four years now since Roland put on his pair of shoes and started to run along mountain trails. Yet, his passion in this sport did not fade as he still looks forward to joining more competitions. “I run while I still can. I will explore this so called life while I still can, I will go beyond my limits while I still can, this I do as I only live once,” the 29-year old bachelor shared.
This faith he unselfishly shared when he delivered his inspirational speech in front of the thousand athletes during the 2015 Provincial Athletic Meet in October. “Commit yourselves on what you want to be. Do not settle for less. Life may be hard, but achieving one’s goal can be done. With patience and determination, believe me, you can do it too,” was his parting words.
These words of encouragement is not only for those who are striving in the field of sports, but to everyone as we all have our passions and dreams. A passion and a dream which we may have shared to someone or kept among ourselves. What is important is we persevere in chasing our dreams so that when we look back, we have no regrets in our deathbed. // Alpine L. Killa

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