Joanna Plumbley is Talking Trail Running

Earlier this month England's Joanna Plumbley was the first woman to cross the finish line of MF 42, short for Myamit Falls Marathon, a race in the Philippines that serves as a warm-up for the upcoming main event of the season: Clark-Myamit Falls 50 miles. That race will be organised already for the fifth time on 22 November, and is of course a points-scoring race in the Asia Trail Master series. But MF 42 is no walk in the park neither: Plumbley required 6h15' to cover the distance, 17 minutes quicker than second place Maricar Hiponia. 

With her victory in the bag, and CM 50 coming up, Joanna Plumbley is an excellent guest for our new 'Talking Trail Running'  interview series. Talking Trail Running will be published on our Asia Trail Master website on a regular basis, each episode with a different runner in the spotlight. A few weeks ago, we already focused on China's Yang Longfei. Join our RSS feed below to get notified when there's new material being published, and if you have any suggestions post them to or on our facebook discussion page

Q: First, about yourself, what brings you to the Philippines?

oanna Plumbley: I am out here with work. I work for Thales Australia and we are putting in a new Air Traffic Management system across 42 sites in the Philippines. It’s a big project so it keeps me pretty busy

Q: When and why did you decide to take part in  a trail running competition?

have been a runner for a long time – both on and off road- but here in the Philippines the trail running has just been the best way to see some of themore remote and beautiful locations that the Philippines has

Q: Where do you come from in England, and was running part of your upbringing as a child and teenager?

Running was not really part of my upbringing at all. I got into running when I joined the army reserves in my early twenties – I started from nothing but quickly became addicted

Q: How is life in Manila as an English woman? 

ot! But super friendly and some really beautiful locations – I hate the manila smog and traffic but when you get out of the city there is so much to explore – I love it

Q: What sort of training do you do to become a race winning trail runner?

I run as much as I can – less now I live in the city but I still try

Q: Have you ever run a road marathon (42.195km) and what was your time?

I have run many- my best time was in Belfast (Ireland) where I ran 3 hours 26 minutes.

Q: Do you have a specific objective in trail running, or you just wish to run for fun?

Mainly for fun – but I always love a new challenge– and there are still so many places in the world that I can explore. I love the feeling of accomplishing something I wasn’t sure I could finish- that is always the drive. Placing or winning is just a bonus if it ever happens – never the goal!

Q: Do you have any sports heroes? If yes, who and what is so special about him / her?

Many- from the world of triathlon Chrissie Wellington, and basically all the long distance cyclists (particularly the English ones – Bradley Wiggins/Chris Froome etc) The Tour de France is one of theultimate endurance races and I admire all of the participants

Q: What is your view on trail running in the Philippines and do you see differences with similar events in the UK?

It can be very different out here. You really never deal with really hot conditions in the UK so that is one major difference. We do have to deal with the cold though – ice and snow haven’t been a problem out here! In general the trails are muchtougher out here – steeper and less established.. I think in the UK the endurance running scene is more limited to a hardcore set of dedicated runers. I love the way that in the Philipines many ‘slower’ and less experienced runners also take on these tough courses and manage to complete them

Q: Dealing with the heat is a key aspect for elite trail running. How do you cope with it? Do you drink a lot during races? 

As an English runner I am NOT used to heat but I have adapted really well – it’s a strength for me out here. I don’t need to drink too muchso I haven’t had many problems. I love not shivering on the start line or freezing in mists and blizzards.

Q: Have you ever taken part in a race in another country, and did you feel any difference compared to racing in the Philippines?

I have raced in several countries, including the Himalayan 100 in India. Every race is different but again the main difference in the Philippines is the mass participation – even with the ridiculously early start times you have here!

Q: Are you aware of ITRA? Would you argue it a good thing that the IAAF, via ITRA, is trying to streamline the sport of trail running via new regulations and guidelines-to-follow? 

I am not really aware – but certainly interested

Q: Many trail running races in Asia have large to enormous levels of elevation gain. Is that your cup of tea, or would you rather see races that have more 'runnable'  courses?

I have found the severity ofthe runs out here a bit frustrating. A ‘challenge’ is great- but it's nice to get to really run as well. (The MF42 was excellent in that respect)

Q: What do you think about the Asia Trail Master series? Could this be a goal for your 2016 campaign? 

Certainly- I have only just started learning about it but the races look amazing. Time to start saving for some racecations!

Joanna Plumbley at the finish of MF 42 on 4 October 2015. 

Joanna Plumbley at the finish of MF 42 on 4 October 2015. 

Joanna Plumbley in the middle with CM50 & MF 42 race director Jon Lacanlale on her left. 

Joanna Plumbley in the middle with CM50 & MF 42 race director Jon Lacanlale on her left.