Among the ten runners from six countries across Asia who will be participating in the North Pole Marathon 2018 on April 9 this year is a Filipino cancer survivor and multi-sport athlete, Luisito “Louie” Sangalang.
The marathon is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the “Northernmost Marathon on Earth,” where participants are set to traverse the 42-kilometer path with an average temperature of -30 degrees centigrade. In support of Sangalang’s endeavor, the Philippine arm of FWD insurance—the marathon’s title sponsor—launched the “Blaze a Trail in the Arctic” campaign.
Diagnosed with cancer of the appendix when he was 21, Sangalang turned to sports and engaged himself in mixed-martial arts, boxing, and triathlons. With his conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle, Sangalang has been in remission since 2000, and now intends to embrace this experience of a lifetime.
“I want to inspire my fellow Filipinos with my story. This is why I’m running. I want them to feel empowered, that despite the many challenges that life throws, you can come back better and stronger with the right attitude,” Sangalang said.
Sangalang is the second Filipino to participate in the North Pole Marathon. In April last year, real estate mogul and husband of first Pinay Antarctic Ice Marathon finisher Maggie Wilson, Victor Consunji, was the first Pinoy to have endured such a race.
Asked about his expectations, Sangalang said that the race course will be physically, mentally, and emotionally tough, as certain variables come into play: the distance, climate, and isolation. To help him, FWD Philippines assembled the FWD North Pole Squad, which aims to holistically prepare him for the marathon.
“The Squad is composed of triathlon icon Ani De Leon-Brown, who will collaborate with Coach Ige (Lopez) for my physical preparedness; mountain climber Romi Garduce for insights on surviving extreme condition; Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan and her son Benjamin for emotional support and motivation; and Sam YG, who will help keep the rigorous training lighthearted and fun,” Sangalang shared.
Sangalang added that in order for him to achieve optimal results in spite of doing the preparations in a tropical country, he will undergo three phases of training: the first is to build mileage so he is comfortable running the full distance; the second is to do trail runs so he can manage the slippery and snowy terrain; and finally to run on a treadmill inside an industrial freezer that will simulate the North Pole weather conditions.
All throughout the process, FWD assured Sangalang of their reinforcement.
“As a brand that continues to change the way people feel about insurance, we believe that insurance should be a source of empowerment, and not constraint. It should instill optimism and confidence, not fear and worry. Being covered with FWD, Louie is more confident than ever in conquering the North Pole Marathon and doing the things that excites him with no worries,” FWD official spokesperson Roche Vandenberghe said.
Sangalang also does meditation exercises and listens to motivational speeches. As a cancer survivor, he must have learned many ways to deal with pressure, “The North Pole Marathon is an excellent opportunity to test my limits. I want to prove that the age of 40 is not the end of the road.”
Sangalang’s perspective about the race is in line with FWD’s vision, according to Peter Grimes, President and Chief-Executive-Officer of FWD Life Philippines. Grimes also considers the North Pole Marathon as a unique platform to empower people to overcome extreme challenges, to pursue their aspirations without worries, and to ignite their passion for life-enriching experiences.
“He’s a cancer survivor, but instead of settling to a more guarded lifestyle, he used this experience as motivation to start living life to the fullest. We believe that with FWD’s vision and Louie’s story, we can inspire people to live life without any hesitation,” added Vandenberghe.
Sangalang will be joined by other representatives from other countries where FWD operates: Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan.