ANGELES CITY, July 22, 2012: Not even the bad weather could stop former MILO Marathon King Julius Sermona and Merdeliza Dizu from topping the fourth leg of the 36th National MILO Marathon held Sunday. Over 6,150 registered runners participated in the race leg, as Angeles City hosted the MILO Marathon elims for the first time.
Sermona, a former member of the Philippine National Team, defied the heavy downpour and crafted a time of 1:13:02 to lead several other runners into the National Finals on December 9 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City. Having won two silver medals in the 5,000-m and 10,000-m run in the Bangkok Southeast Asian Games in 2007, the 34-year-old Sermona is one of the fastest runners in this year’s Finals. He established his personal best of 2:21:53 when he dominated the 42-k track of the 30th MILO Marathon National Finals in 2006.
Sermona claims that training for the qualifying race is his foundation for the finals. “I focused on endurance training, road running, a once-a-week work out, and hard training,” he said. “For the finals, I plan to increase the volume and intensity of my routine. I plan to run a few short-distance divisional races and add about 5 to 10-k to my training as well.”
“My goal is to win the finals. I want to defeat the Kenyans in the open division, which is why I hope to avoid injuries,” he added.
Completing the top three cast in the men’s 21-k category are Quisay Alley with 1:14:11 in second place and Ryan Mendoza with 1:17:32 in third place.
Not to be outdone, Merdeliza Dizu stamped class when she outraced fellow veteran Geralden Sealza in the final 200 meters to top the women’s division. Sealza settled for second place with a clocking of 1:37:21, followed by Marychiel Minas-Morales with a time of 1:42:04.
“Since school started this June, I have been training everyday for an hour. I focus on endurance since I’m used to being a mid-distance runner,” said Dizu. “This is actually the first time I ran the 21-k track. I’m very happy to win.”
The 19–year old Dizu added that she has yet to decide whether to pursue the local or open category this year. “It depends on my coach. I am still trying to pace myself and to gauge my capabilities as a runner.”
Both Sermona and Dizu will lead 34 other qualifiers into the 36th National MILO Marathon Finals on December 9 at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) ground in Pasay City. Earlier, former three-time National MILO Marathon King Eduardo Buenavista (1:13:29) and veteran Miscelle Gilbuena (1:37:29) advanced to the National Finals when they topped the Tarlac City elimination leg last week.
Organizers are expecting a total of 40,000 runners, of which over 2,000 runners registered for the 42-k track, to participate in the Metro Manila qualifying leg on July 29 at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) ground in Pasay City. This marks a record-breaking number of participants for a single race category in the history of MILO Marathon.
The winner in the local category of the 36th MILO Marathon National Finals will receive P 150,000 for the men and women’s division, respectively, while a sum of P300,000 will be given to the winners in the Open category. A bonus prize of P50,000 will also be accorded to the runner who can break the 2:15:00 invisible barrier and P20,000 for the male runner who can break the 2:18:53 course record set by Eduardo Buenavista in 2004. Another P20,000 is also offered to the female runner who can break the 2:48:16 record of Jho-Ann Banayag in 2008. National race technical director Rio de la Cruz said that for a foreign runner to qualify in the National Finals, he or she must provide proof of finish in any sanctioned or accredited races by the Association of International Marathons (AIMS) for at least one year before the race day.
To further MILO’s vision to inspire and equip underprivileged school children to excel in sports and in life, MILO’s “Help Give Shoes” advocacy program, which is now on its third year of staging, will provide 10,000 pairs of shoes to children nationwide. In Angeles City, five schools received shoes through the advocacy program, including Angeles Elementary School, Cutud Elementary School, Teodoro P. Tinio Elementary School, Belen Homesite Elementary School and Abelardo Tinio Elementary School.
After the Angeles City Leg, the qualifying race will shift to Metro Manila on July 29, Naga on Aug. 19, San Pablo, Laguna on Sept. 2, Lipa, Batangas on Sept. 16, Puerto Princesa, Palawan on Sept. 23, Tagbilaran on Sept. 30, Cebu on Oct. 7, Bacolod on Oct. 14, Iloilo on Oct. 28, Gen. Santos on Nov. 4, Davao on Nov. 11, Butuan on Nov. 18 and Cagayan de Oro City on No. 25. The 36th MILO Marathon National Finals is slated on December 9 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasig City.
The 36th National MILO Marathon is made possible by Timex, the Bayview Park Hotel Manila and Reebok, along with partnerships with the Department of Education and the Philippine Olympic Committee. For more information on the race and its advocacy, visit the MILO marathon website or access the MILO Philippines fanpage on Facebook. Follow MILO on Twitter (@MILOPH).