Cheryl Bihag

The Lone Pinay Ranger at CAMBODIA 2012 – The Ancient Khmer Path Multi-Stage Race

By the time this post is published, Cheryl Bihag might be enjoying the scenery of Cambodia or cursing the gruesome ordeal she had and has to go thru for the 6-day multistage race, CAMBODIA 2012 – The Ancient Khmer Path. The actual race started last Monday, November 19, 2012, and will end this Saturday. (You can follow her race from her facebook album where she chronicled her journey to this race, click here >>.)

Cheryl Bihag, only Philippine representative at CAMBODIA 2012 - The Ancient Khmer Path

Cheryl Bihag, in purple top
Photo by Global Limits

It’s a self-support race, which means they have to bring their own resources, limited to 10kg/person which is already good for the entire race. They cannot get supplies from outside. And to make it more challenging, she is the only Filipino in the said race, and a woman for that.

Cheryl Bihag's race preparation to CAMBODIA 2012 - The Ancient Khmer Path

Photo from Cheryl Bihag

This is not the first time that Cheryl joined international races as being the only Philippine participant. Just last month, she was also the alone Pinoy participant of the 100KM of TNF Singapore.

cheryl bihag at TNF SG 100km

Photo by Running Shots

I came to know about Cheryl Bihag through her blog, Curly Climber. It is always refreshing to read her mountain adventures. So I associate her more of as mountain climber than a runner. But probably what makes her more interesting is she is flexible — from running to climbing mountain, trail, to road races.

I saw her in person for the first time at the “I Shall Return Ultramarathon” at Leyte. And, just like as her all the images you can see in her blog and facebook, she is quite a sunshine in real life.

Cheryl Bihag at 3rd Mt. Pinatubo 50K Ultra Trail Challenge

3rd Mt. Pinatubo 50K Ultra Trail Challenge
Photo from Tong Pascua Photography

Cheryl Bihag at Run United Philippine Marathon

at Run United Philippine Marathon
Photo by Kit Elma Photography

When I learned that she would be joining the CAMBODIA 2012 – The Ancient Khmer Path, and the only Filipina to be in that race, I asked her if I could make a short post about her. This would be our way of showing support to her, and to all other Filipinos who were/are joining international competitions on their own and mostly unheard of, as probably they are not as selling as showbiz gossip and political drama. Though, most of this kind of people are self-motivated and do not need ala Manny Pacquiao welcome-home grand parade, a little cheer won’t hurt.

So from the tiny corner of Visayas (to which her hometown happens to be located too), following is a reposted short Q & A of Cheryl Bihag from the Global Limits, the race organizer, as our CHEER to Cheryl. Read on, and be inspired.

Can you présent yourself?
I am Cheryl Bihag, 39 years old from the Philippines. I am into hiking and mountaineering year 2000, since then I have been active on outdoor sports, adding rock climbing and running/trail running/skyruninng on my activities. I have climbed and run the highest peak in South East Asia, Mt. Kinabalu year 2011, summitted Mt. Kilimanjaro in year 2009 and attempted to summit Mt. Aconcagua year 2011.

What is your story as a runner?
I never thought I will learn to love running or ultra running at all. I grew up thinking running is not for me for I do not have body build of a runner. Until year 2000 I was forced to do running as part of a basic mountaineering course. Since then I started running short distance. For the longest time the longest distance that I run was 21km, until February of last year (2011) inspired by my running friends, I decided to take a longer distance, the full marathon. Two months after was my debut to ultra running, a 100km trail run. As of today, I have run 5 full road marathon including that of a high altitude marathon in La-Ultra, 5 50/60/80km distance road races, 5 100km ultra trail runs and 1 110km road race.

Why and after waht are you running?
At first I thought running will be the best the best way for me to keep physically fit. But after sometime, I realized running is even beyond the physical, it becomes the way of life. It gives me peace of mind, and I am in contact to myself when I am running. And it gives me so much joy being one with nature as well.

How did you hear about the race in Cambodia?
Through your website, while my friend was searching for a possible race in Cambodia that we come to know about the race.

What do you expect from this adventure?
This is my very first multi staged race. Even if I have been running ultra races, I expect this to be tough just like my other race. But even if i twill be tough, I hope to overcome all the challenges. I hope the race to be organized even if it is a self support race and I hope to make new friends along the way. My deciding factor of joining the race is the fact that I will be able to see the beauty of Cambodia, so I hope to be passing by the ruins and landmarks. I hope signages and markers well be visible as well, I always get scared to get lost.

How do you train for this race ?
I am a climber and a runner. So if I am not running I am climbing/hiking with heavy load on my pack.

Favorite sweet – dessert during this kind of race ?
Candies and chocolate bars, fudge bar

Do you take something spécial with you, a favorite object ?
My rosary bids and medalion

Can you share one « tip » or « secret » you have for this kind of race ?
This is my very first multi staged race, so I am just thinking of keeping things one day at a time. As always I think of expecting the best but also be prepared for the worst.

What is your favorite quote ?
Keep dreaming. Never give up. Just believe.



(Note: I had a short Q & A of her, just days before she would fly to Cambodia. But I decided to use the one from Global Limits as it has more meat; since the one I made with her was in a rush as I don’t want to bother her much as she could be busy with her preparation.)

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