Local runners Manolito Divina and Maria Josephine Liao both became the first double winners of the increasingly popular Clark-Miyamit Falls 50 miles (80.5 km) trail race on Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines. With the famous Pinatubo volcano in the background, Divina and Liao both arrived solo at the finish in Clark after a great day of running in splendid weather conditions.
Trail running in the Philippines is witnessing a boom as in so many other Asian countries, and CM 50, as the event is commonly called, has managed to grow along thanks to the expertise and enthusiasm of race director Jon Lacanlale, himself an ultra runner pur sang with several 100 milers on his record already. Lacanlale was one of the very first to join the Asia Trail Master series last year and it brought his main event to the attention of the entire Asian running community. Travellers were not disappointed as CM 50 hit bull’s-eye with a great race course and a delightful atmosphere at the event arena.
Manolito Divina started as one of the top favourites in the men’s race, of course, following last year’s victory. The bigger question was: how much faster can he run? Well, his opponents must have been shocked to learn that the answer to that was…. one full hour! Certainly, the great running conditions and the experience from last year helped Divina to achieve the new course record of 9 hours 22 min 52 s , but it’s still an amazing accomplishment.
Norway’s Jan Nilsen had travelled to Clark to swallow the frustrating DNF at Bromo Tengger Semeru Ultra in Indonesia two weeks earlier, and had to settle again for a runner-up position. Nilsen was second, half an hour behind Divina, having also finished third at Borneo 100 TMBT late August. A great run by James Telias brought him the third step on the podium in 10 h 22 min, edging out Mark Koi Grey, who had won the preparatory MF 42 race in early October over a shorter version of this race course. Just imagine: the entire podium ran faster than the previous course record!
Divina had not scored any Asia Trail Master points prior to CM 50, but Jan Nilsen moved up to fifth place in the ranking thanks to his second place. Also, Switzerland’s Daniel Mayes ran himself into 7th place in the ranking, following up on his 4th place in Sri Lanka’s Wild Elephant Trail early in the year.
Maria Josephine Liao was not to be beaten in the women’s competition. She won the race 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 race, she had to recognise that the double distance is still different.
She wasn’t the only woman to steal the show. Meredith Edwards from the USA managed to win the shorter 60 km race in 8 h 11 min, which may not say much, but she actually beat all the men on this distance! It must be quite unique in the global sport of distance running that a woman crosses the finish line ahead of all the men. Edwards is of course very experienced and has scored top 10 at UTMB in Chamonix, yet it remains an achievement. One could wonder why she did not aim for the 50 miles main event.
The 6th edition of Clark-Miyamit Falls is expected to take place again on the third weekend of November 2016.