Name: Ernesto Sales III
Age: 27 years old
Nationality: Filipino
Profession: Brand Buying Coordinator, Splash (Landmark Group)

When did you start mountain running? What has made it your passion?
I started mountain here in the UAE last year. It became my passion because in that short period of time I fell in love with the beauty of mountains, challenges that it brings and facing those challenges has kept me coming back to the mountains over and over again.

How would you describe the treks/runs that you have done in this short yet significant time?
My journey in this discipline is a vivid one considering that I have just been doing this for little more than a year. The most memorable so fartrek or run I made was in Oman and most of the time I am training in the Ras al Khaimah mountains mainly; Wadi Shawka, Wadi Ghalilah and Wadi Litibah.

Which has been your most memorable race and why?
The most memorable one was the Wadi Bih, Oman Ultramarathon race in which we ran 72km and climbed more than 1000m high. It was the toughest race I experienced in bad weather. We started at 4:30am with a temperature of 11ºC and as we went higher, the temperature dropped down to 5 ºC, and then it started to rain. It was the best experience because I like challenges. More the challenge, greater the fun!

What does your training involve?
I run at least 50-80km on flat roads during the week with a cross-training involving weight training and tempo speed sessions at least twice a week combined with proper diet and sleep.

How challenging is mountain running to you? How have you kept yourself motivated despite these challenges?
I’ve tried a lot of extreme sports and trail running/mountain running is one of the top of my list. If ever I feel like giving up, I always think of one quote:
“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life even more interesting” by Joshua J. Marine.

How do you intend to take your enthusiasm further?
I am training for the ultramarathon 72km at Wadi Bih, a mountain of Oman and 100km in Hajar mountains of RAK next year. Since I love to challenge myself and experience the beauty of mountains, I’m aiming for the next level races like the UTMB – Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc(UTMB is a race of Ultra-Trail World Tour).

How has mountain running changed you as a person?
Running the mountain trails is like achieving our life goals. You will never know what’s ahead of you. There is neither exact distance nor altitude. There will be ups and downs but when you reach the peak, the view is rewarding.

How interesting do you find UAE as a place for mountain running?
The UAE interests me a lot because UAE mountains are a different level compared to other mountains in other countries. UAE Mountains are like 90% rocks and it is not easy to survive the steep and rolling stones.

According to you, why and how should people get into mountain running?
Scaling something higher than yourself with your own two feet is like a personal trophy for your morale. It can make you stronger and fit in every way that you won’t imagine to be possible. All you will need is a pair of shoes, comfortable clothing and a bag with food and water. It goes without saying that fitness is primary for mountain running too. Set your schedule and level of training depending on your fitness level. Invest and buy the gears that are needed. Train in navigation and Mountain safety – Find a mountain and enjoy! ■

Words by: Bandana Jain
Photos by: Supplied