Don't expect to see Romeo "Romi" Garduce climbing some of the world's highest mountains—at least for now.
Nowadays, the Filipino mountaineer, who in May 19, 2006 conquered the summit of Mount Everest, is busy testing his competitive spirit on other equally physically challenging activities.
Last Valentine's Day, February 14, Romi participated in the North Face's "Thrill of the Trail" run held in Nuvali—Ayala Land's sprawling eco-community property located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
"Tropa natin ang nag-organize nung race tapos kaibigan ko rin yong sponsor. It's good kasi matagal na akong nawala sa running community," Romi, who participated in the 11K challenge, told PEP (Philippine Entertainment Portal) in an interview after the event.
Running has become popular lately, with big corporate companies taking the lead by organizing big events to encourage a healthy lifestyle as well as promote their respective brands to the buying public.
The popularity of the sport, according to Romi, is not surprising: "Napakadaling salihan, madaling i-organize and for anyone participating madali lang din kasi kailangan mo lang sapatos, damit, unlike yong ibang sports like bisiklita, ang hirap ng logistical requirements.
"Ito [running] gising ka lang then takbo ka na and you're done after an hour or so. I guess maganda din yong marami silang nakikitang role models na tumatakbo para hindi lang 'yong dating concept na strong athletes lang ang tumatakbo. Ngayon and dito sa running kahit sino puwedeng sumali, bata, matanda, payat or mataba."
AIMING ANTARCTICA. Being a mountain climber gives one utmost advantage when it comes to running long distances. This explains why a lot of mountaineers are being drawn to the activity.
"I would say 'yong advantage is more part-mindset, part-skills," Romi explains. "Kasi mas sanay ang mountaineer sa hirap ng bundok, mainit man yan, kung basa ka man at tumatakbo ka man na basa ang medyas mo. 'Yong skills, more siguro kung papaano mo basahin yong trail at papaano mo i-tackle. Halimbawa tumakbo ka sa riverbed, a lot of runners won't run that, siguro pahakbang-hakbang lang. For mountaineers they would go straight, ako lang na-enjoy ko, e."
Garduce is also quite busy promoting local sports and eco-tourism through various organized activities. His choice of sport lately is kayaking and Romi along with some of his friends are preparing for an activity next week where they intend to explore the lake surrounding Taal Volcano in Tagaytay.
"By September hopefully magka-pera ako so I can do another big expedition," confided Garduce with a huge grin.
His expedition of choice is a mountain in freezing Antarctica where he would need a budget of roughly $40,000 to make it a reality.
Romi's previous exploits had taken him to the heights of overseas mountains like those found in Nepal, China, Argentina, Russia, Alaska and Australia.
Garduce used to co-host GMA-7's late night environmental show, Born To Be Wild.