Rivalries will run deep among the country’s top qualifiers as they race against competitive foreign talent in the men’s and women’s division races. Last year, MILO Marathon Queen Mary Grace de los Santos crashed foreign competition and led a cast of Filipina runners towards a 1-2-3 finish, while MILO Marathon King James Tallam led Kenyan and Ethiopian runners to a massive 1-2-3-4 finish in the men’s division race, sparking a heated rivalry among local veterans.
This year, former MILO Marathon Kings and Queens return to reassert their dominance on their home soil. MILO Marathon Kings Julius Sermona (1:13:02, Angeles), Cresenciano Sabal (1:13:55, Cagayan de Oro) and Eduardo Buenavista (1:13:29, Tarlac) are among strong contenders in the 42K men’s division race.
According to three-time champion Sabal, winning the National Finals will go beyond the coveted crown and offer a sense of nationalistic pride. “Local runners are not the only ones running for the title. Foreign runners who have already made their mark in Philippine races will make a tremendous effort to win. This poses a big challenge for the Filipino athletic community. The National Finals will be a venue through which we can extend the Filipino reign in our own soil,” he said.
The 42K women’s division race will also see a thrilling battle as former MILO Marathon Queens Cristabel Martes (1:34:46, Baguio), Jho-An Banayag (3:02:20, Manila 42K) and Flordilisa Donos (1:26:52, Davao) pursue their fifth, third and second MILO Marathon crown, respectively.
Among formidable foreign forces in the men’s category run are Albert Omboga (2:46:04, Manila 42K), Willy Rotich (2:51:36, Manila 42K) and Jackson Chirchir (2:45:09, Manila 42K). Last year’s fifth placer and fastest Filipino runner Jeson Agravante (2:39:59, Manila 42K) and Eric Panique (Bacolod) are also determined to make a comeback at this year’s finale.
To accommodate the growing support of foreign runners, the MILO Marathon National Finals will have two race categories for the 42K and 21K runners. Overseas and local participants can compete and win in the Open category run, and the awards will be given to the top 3 finishers. Only the top 10 Filipino runners will be recognized and awarded in the Local category run. Male and female division champions will each receive P 300,000 from the Open category run, and P 150,000 from the Local category run.
Bonus prizes will also be given to local runners, with P 50,000 for the first runner who breaks the 2:15:00 invisible time barrier, P 20,000 for the first male runner who breaks the 2:18:53 course record set by Eduardo Buenavista, and P 20,000 for the first female runner who breaks the 2:48:16 record set by Jho-An Banayag.
***“The roster of qualifiers for the National Finals presents a truly engaging and action-packed race on Sunday. MILO will continue to discover true champions across the nation and inspire Filipinos to imbibe the values of remarkable athletes. We are moving towards a new era of Philippine sports, and we are en route to realizing our vision of developing promising athletes through the MILO Marathon.” ` Andrew Neri, MILO Sports Executive
***The 36th MILO Marathon National Finals is slated on December 9 at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds in Pasay City. The 36th MILO Marathon is made possible by Timex, the Bayview Park Hotel Manila, SM Mall of Asia and Reebok, along with partnerships with the Department of Education and the Philippine Olympic Committee. The race is organized by RunRio, Inc.
About the National MILO Marathon