December 3, 2023

Cordillera pride Sandi Menchi Abahan is ready to take on both the endurance running and the ninja course of the obstacle course racing (OCR) after winning a gold medal together with her teammates in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia. 

Abahan said she wanted to be part of this year’s SEA Games that is why she joined the qualifying race for the ninja race course, which was her ticket to join the international games on May 5 to 17 in Phnom Penh.

“I’m not a ninja. I’m an endurance athlete but I was able to qualify for this event so my experience du-ring the SEA Games was that I can say it’s very humbling, I learned a lot from doing the power workouts and each obstacle,” Abahan said.

The homegrown athlete said the event pushed her out of her comfort zone as she is best known in the world of endurance racing.

In the 2019 SEAG, she won the gold medal in the five-kilometer OCR, her first medal in her first SEAG outing.

But in the 32nd SEAG, host country Cambodia did not include the five-kilometer and three-kilometer OCR, thus thrusting Abahan into the grueling ninja race course.

She said endurance running focuses on stamina while ninja focuses on obstacles, techniques, power and speed.  

A clip from the ninja competition in the SEAG showed Abahan on the starting line, negotiating the first stage against her Indonesian counterpart, who was more agile and who went ahead of her.

It was a breathtaking experience watching the two teams in a neck and neck competition where four athletes from each team finished their stages in a relay. Indonesia was obviously in the lead in spite of the team’s height difference with the country’s representatives.

But the final challenge proved that height advantage still matters as the country’s women team’s finisher Mecca Cortizano easily caught up with Indonesia’s Mudji Mulyani at the wave wall, where she easily grabbed the buzzer with her longer reach, as the Indonesian athlete caught a snag while climbing the wall.

The national squad, completed by Tess Nocyao and Mhick Tejares, won by a hairline finishing within 33.733 seconds. 

Abahan hopes that by the 33rd SEAG in 2025, the three and five-km. events will be included for her to join the individual events.

The Guinness World Record holder for the world’s highest OCR during the 2021 world OCR championship in Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, is also preparing for the OCR triple crown event set in September this year in Belgium.

The event would be in three stages: the 100-meter and three-km event, the 24-hour OCR, and the world championship, where anyone who conquers the three events would be crowned the “triple crown king and queen” of 2023. – Ofelia C. Empian