BAGUIO CITY – MILO Marathon legends Eduardo “Vertek” Buenavista and Cristabel Martes gave a running clinic to their opposition in winning the tough 37th MILO Marathon Baguio Leg Sunday (November 3) at the Burnham Park. The thin mountain air and steep climbs was no match for the decorated duo who account for four MILO Marathon crowns each.
Buenavista, the reigning MILO Marathon King, got a shot to defend his crown and a fifth title this December 8 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City by breezing through the 21-kilometer course in 1:12:39. Placing a far Second was Cesar Castaneto Jr. of the University of the Cordilleras at 1:14:21 followed by last year’s leg champion Hernanie Sore of the University of Baguio in Third Place 1:19:55.
Martes, who last won the Nationals in 2009, was unchallenged at 1:31:33, 18 minutes ahead of closest pursuer Gretchen Gaye Ablaza of Benguet State University who clocked 1:49:41. Rowena Ba-a copped Third Place in 1:50:43.
A total of 35 men and two women qualified for the Nationals which will reward the winners with PHP 300,000.00 and the right to represent the Philippines at the 2014 Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris. Aside from last year, Buenavista was the MILO King in 2002, 2008 and 2010 while Martes registered a three-peat from 1999 to 2001.
His winning time may be slower than the season record of 1:11:08 set by Anthony Nerza in the Davao Leg but Buenavista remains a top favorite. The two-time Olympian is expected to engage in a battle for Filipino pride against a slew of African and other foreign runners who qualified via the Metro Manila race last July 28 or by meeting the required time in any AIMS-certified race in the last year.
Arnold Galab of Cordillera Career Development College (37:18) and Jessa Mangsat of UB (41:28) emerged the best in the 10-kilometer category while the five kilometers went to Erwin Generalao of UC (17:16) and Divina Kitongan (21:21). The three-kilometer kiddy race was won by Yussef Lokana (10:03) and Mary Grace Zamudio (12:13).
The MILO Marathon qualifiers continue next week (November 10) in Dagupan City followed by two more races in Tarlac (November 17) and Angeles (November 24). These are the last chances to snag coveted spots in what is no doubt the country’s most prestigious footrace.