BRAVING the rain, heat and terrain, grocery store worker Manolito ‘Tolitz’ Divina pulled off a hat-trick in the Clark-Miyamit 50-Miler Trail Race in Pampanga on Sunday to become the first Filipino winner of the Asia Trail Master Championship.
The unassuming 36-year old from Pateros, who was behind Thailand-based Jan Nilsen of Norway in points for the ATM championship coming into the race, won with a time of 10 hours, 21 minutes and 52 seconds.
That gave him enough points to edge out Nilsen for the overall title in a field that included competitors from Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.
“I played it smart,” said Divina who displayed his mastery of the local terrain when he overtook his main rivals on a steep climb to Checkpoint 3 at the Kilometer 26 mark of the 80.46 km course.
He further extend his lead en route to the finish.
“Sobrang hard core yung event ngayon! Sobrang pressure,” said Divina after crossing the finish line at the Clark Parade Grounds. “This race was very hard for me because there are so many participants from the elite runners of Asia.”
Indonesia’s Arief Wismoyono took second place in the race at CP5 and another Filipino, James Tellias, came in at third.
Sandi Menchi scored an upset in the women's side, besting two-time winner Majo Liao who took second place. Completing the podium was Cherry Chong of Hong Kong.
In the 60K category, Iloilo native Noy Gentoleo placed first with a time of eight hours and 51 minutes. Cordillera runners Drexen Dino and Ronald Wang came in second and third respectively. Prudence Chakas won the distance in the distaff side.