Down to the Wire: 37th MILO Marathon to hold National Finals this Sunday
Country’s finest runners compete for crown and trip to 2014 Paris Marathon
In photo: 37th MILO Marathon National Finals Route Map
Manila, Philippines, 3 December 2013 – Final preparations are underway for the 37th MILO Marathon National Finals on December 8 at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds in Pasay City. With more than 35,000 runners expected to join the country’s premier footrace this Sunday, organizers are upbeat on surpassing the 230,000 target headcount set at the start of the season.
To culminate the 17-race event, some of the nation’s finest athletes will settle the score at the 42K finish line in a final bid for the coveted MILO Marathon crown, the Php 300,000 top purse, and the chance to represent the country at the 2014 Paris Marathon. Given the higher stakes, MILO hopes to inspire and motivate more local athletes – both elite and aspiring runners – to push their limits and embody the resilience, strength, and excellence Filipinos are known for.
According to Rio dela Cruz, national race director, 663 runners qualified for the finals, of which 44 beat the cut-off time and earned the all-expenses paid trip to Manila. “Last year, we had 486 qualifiers with 38 complementary trips. This is a clear indication that the level of competition is higher this year,” said dela Cruz.
The Road to the Finale
MILO kicked off the exciting marathon season in Puerto Princesa on July 7, where Isidro Vildosola, an eight-year Philippine Paralympic delegate, finished fifth in the men’s 21K event and qualified for the finale. The race then advanced to Lipa, Naga, San Pablo, and Manila, which posted the highest number of participants at a single race with 42,412 runners. Spectators in the Philippine capital also witnessed a thrilling showdown between Eric Panique and Irineo Raquin, which ended with Panique outpacing the latter runner at the finish line by a mere 17 milliseconds.
The MILO Marathon then met the wet season head on in Iloilo, Dumaguete, and Tagbilaran, where the heavy rains and strong wind failed to dampen the runners’ spirits and only strengthened their fervor for victory. The following Cebu leg saw training partners John Philip Duenas and Mary Joy Tabal pull off a tandem win over other competitors, providing a fitting end to the marathon’s Visayan run.
The race resumed in Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Davao, and General Santos, before making its journey up north to Baguio City, where two of the best runners in the Philippines, Eduardo Buenavista and Cristabel Martes, made a stellar comeback and showed spectators and contenders alike how they both won four National MILO Marathon titles.
The last three qualifying races of the season took place in Dagupan, Tarlac, and Angeles, with members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines dominating the competition and two mid-distance runners topping more experienced race contenders.
Speed runs in the blood
This season, the National MILO Marathon was dominated by two strong, athletic dynasties courtesy of the Sabal brothers and the Jaro sisters. The Sabals’ bid for the national title began with Gerald’s victory in Lipa City and was strengthened by three-time MILO Marathon King Cresenciano’s powerful finish in San Pablo and Elmer’s third-place win in Tarlac.
Cynthia and Criselyn Jaro also cemented their family’s reputation as a force in the sport when they posted a spectacular one-two finish in Davao City, while running alongside younger sisters Dymie Rose and Cecel. Another Jaro lady, Cellie Rose, competed in the following General Santos race and also qualified for the finale.
Reigning MILO Marathon Queen Mary Grace delos Santos is also expected to make an appearance at the National Finals, as well as 2006 MILO Marathon King Julius Sermona, 2010 MILO Marathon Queen Flordeliza Donos, last season’s third 42K male Filipino finisher Jeson Agravante, and fourth and fifth 42K distaff finishers Mary Joy Tabal and Jennylyn Nobleza.
“This year has seen an excellent mix of young and seasoned talents in the sport. College students in their early 20s are pitting their skills against marathon greats like Buenavista, Sabal, and Panique, who have decades’ worth of experience. This is definitely going to be an interesting race,” added dela Cruz.
The starting pistol will set the clock ticking for participants of the 42K run at 3:00AM, 21K run at 4:30AM, 10K run at 5:00AM, 5K run at 5:30AM and the 3K run at 5:30AM. The starting line will be adjacent to the finish line at the Seaside Boulevard (corner Coral Way and Macapagal Boulevard) of SM MOA.
“Filipinos are finally getting recognized around the world for our athletic abilities, particularly in boxing courtesy of Manny Pacquiao and in basketball after Gilas Pilipinas’ second-place finish in FIBA Asia. It’s high time that we show the world how capable we are on the race track as well. Everyone competing for the title on Sunday is already a champion in their own right, and we are looking forward to finding out which of these champions will carry the flag in Paris next year,” said Andrew Neri, MILO Sports Executives.
The 37th MILO Marathon National Finals will be made possible by Timex, the Bayview Park Hotel Manila, Reebok, SMART, Gatorade, Sennheiser, and SM Mall of Asia, along with endorsements from the Department of Education, Philippine Sports Commission 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).