Repeat winners in Luzon trail race 

Fording one of the many streams that snake across the lahar fields left by the Pinatubo volcano.

By Kris Van de Velde

Fording one of the many streams that snake across the lahar fields left by the Pinatubo volcano.
Fording one of the many streams that snake across the lahar fields left by the Pinatubo volcano.

On November 22, 2015, local runners Manolito Divina and Maria Josephine Liao both became the first double winners of the Clark-Myamit Falls 50 miles trail race on Luzon, the largest and most populous island of the Philippines.

Manolito Divina started as one of the favourites in the Men’s race, following last year’s victory, and the big question was: ‘How much faster can he run?’  His opponents must have been shocked to learn that the answer to that proved to be one full hour, with great running conditions and Divina’s previous experience helping him to a new course record of 9:22:52.

Norway’s Jan Nilsen travelled to Clark wanting to put the frustration of a DNF at the Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra in Indonesia two weeks earlier behind him, and finished half-an-hour behind Divina in second position. A great run by James Telias lifted him to third on the podium, an hour behind Divinaand just edging out Mark ‘Koi’ Grey, who had won the preparatory MF42 (that’s 42km, or 26 miles) race in early October over a shorter version of this course. In short, the entire podium ran faster than the previous course record!

Divina hadn’t scored any Asia Trail Master points prior to CM50, but Jan Nilsen’s finish moved him up to fifth place in the series’ ranking.

In the Women’s, Maria Josephine Liao won ahead of Silamie Apolistar and Joanna Plumbley from England. Plumbley had won the preparatory marathon in October, but just like Koi Grey in the Men’s, found the doubled distance a different proposition.

It was Meredith Edwards from the US who stole the show though. Competing in the shorter 60km race, she won in 8:11, beating all the men too over this distance! Edwards is very experienced and has scored a top 10 finish at UTMB in Chamonix, but the achievement did leave some wondering why she did not aim for the 50-mile main event.