Manolito Divina returns in UT Mapawa this Sunday!
The Philippines' running ace Manolito Divina returns to the Asia Trail Master scene this weekend at the Ultra Trail Mapawa race on Mindanao Island. A 50km race with about 2400 metres of elevation gain that should suit him well to regain the top spot in the Asia Trail Master ranking. Divina would equal the points achieved by Jan Nilsen (1600), but in the latest direct confrontation between the two in an ATM points race (Malaysia Eco 100) the Pinoy star won and Nilsen DNF'd. Still, nothing will be decided for the championship this weekend as the two will clash again next month at CM 50 Ultra, and will even face stern opposition from other Asian top runners in that race as well. This weekend, what counts for Divina in the Mapawa race is to win and get the maximum available points (500).
UT Mapawa is a popular event that has been on the Mindanao trail programme for a few years, but it is the first time the organisers are opening up the event to a wider and more international audience. In fact, the 50 km trail route is new this year and therefore references to the previous editions are not very significant. The race takes place in a Nature Park, about half an hour's drive outside the local city hub of Cagayan de Oro in the northwest of Mindanao. The course is quite technical with lots of single trails, and there's four official mountain climbs and five water streams on the itinerary. It does take some time to travel to Cagayan from outside the Philippines, but it will be a rewarding experience.
Manolito Divina should not expect a training run, however, as there are more strong trail runners on the list of starters. Aldean Lim was third in the Cordillera Mountain Ultra, for example, and Thumbie Remigio returns after some time off due to injury. Never count him out!
In the women's a lot of attention will go to the performance of Majo Liao, only three weeks after the grueling 100k of the MesaStila 5 Peaks Challenge in Indonesia. Majo was one of only three women to complete that race run in very difficult conditions. Now back on more familiar territory, she starts the Mapawa 50 as the favourite. A victory on Sunday would push her up to second place in the Asia Trail Master championship, behind Tahira Najmunisaa.
All the participants on the 50k will not only be rewarded with the standard finisher points and performance points for the ATM championship ranking, but will also receive a gift from our sponsor Simple Hydration!