The King of the Mountain Trail Run Philippines (KOTM) series consists of five trail running events held annually in the vast Cordillera mountain range in northern Philippines.
Its home base is the town of Kayapa, in the province of Nueva Vizcaya.
It is organized by frontRUNNER Magazine (frontrunnermagph.com) under the helm of its Editor-in-Chief, Jonel Mendoza, a trail enthusiast and ultramarathoner.
KOTM was borne out of Jonel’s desire to establish a defining trail race in the Philippines that would enable him to share his admiration for the beautiful mountains and views offered by his home province. It is partly for this reason that all events in the series start in the darkness of the early morning: to give participants a chance to partake of the charming scenery along the way.
The series was formally launched on April 1, 2012 with the holding of the first Mount Ugo Marathon (MUM) and its half marathon side event. The Old Spanish Trail 60K (OST60) and Four Lakes 100K (FL100) ultramarathons were held less than two months later, on May 26-27, 2012.
In February of the following year, the pioneer edition of the Hardcore 100 Miles (H1), the longest and toughest event of the series was staged, followed by the MUM again in March, and OST60 and FL100 in May.
In 2014, another event, the Pulag 100K (P1), was opened by the organizers to give H1 aspirants a feel of the longer, 100-mile course. The P1 route is H1’s first 100 kilometers.
Since 2015, the Old Spanish Trail 60K has been shortened to approximate a more standard ultramarathon distance of 50 kilometers and the sequence of KOTM events has been modified so that the lesser distance races are scheduled earlier in the year.
The series now starts off with the Mt. Ugo Marathon (MUM) and Half Marathon in February, followed by the Old Spanish Trail 50K (OST50) and Four Lakes 100K (FL100) in April, and finally, the Pulag 100K (P1) and Hardcore 100 Miles (H1) in May.
Runners who officially complete three successive KOTM events: MUM, FL100 and H1 in one year are awarded the KOTM300 buckle.
Those who officially finish three H1 races are also recognized and automatically elevated to the KOTM Hall of Fame.
KOTM races are accredited by the International Trail Running Association (ITRA).
Since 2013, its events have also been point-earning races for the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB®) in Europe.
For the UTMB® 2017 edition, Mount Ugo Marathon 2016 has been rated 2 points, OST 50K – 3 points, Four Lakes 100K – 5 points, Pulag 100K – 5 points and Hardcore Hundred Miles – 6 points (ref: www.ultratrailmb.com).
Additionally, Hardcore Hundred Miles or H1 is the only race in Asia, aside from UTMF in Japan, that stands as a lottery entry race for Hardrock 100 Miles in the U.S.
KOTM is designed for serious runners; therefore, participants must come well-trained and well-prepared. However, despite its demands on physical and mental stamina, the event promises great rewards with panoramic views, unpolluted air, and its warm people. The set-up is austere, but the atmosphere is friendly and cheerful.
KOTM has slowly made a name for itself in the trail running community and attracts a growing number of foreign participants every year.