LOS ANGELES – The Philippines’ Rafael Poliquit and Mary Joy Tabal put the country on the world running map by submitting very impressive performances in the Asics Los Angeles Marathon last Sunday (March 15). The official Filipino delegates and reigning MILO Marathon King and Queen matched strides with the 26,000-strong field that included elite runners from all across the United States and 55 other countries.
Poliquit of Tagum City and the Philippine Air Force clocked 2:36:09 to finish 27th overall in the Men’s Division. Tabal, the current MILO Marathon record holder from Cebu City checked in at 2:51:17 which was also good for 27th overall in the Women’s Division.
Since the first timers were not classified along with the elite runners, both Poliquit and Tabal had to start in later waves 10 minutes after the first starting gun thus forcing them to play catch up. Still, Poliquit’s effort was enough to top the Men’s 25-29 age group while Tabal was the runner-up in the Women’s 25-29.
Kenya’s Daniel Kiprop Limo took the overall championship at 2:10:36. He was followed almost two minutes later by countryman Lani Rutto (2:12:43) who edged out Jared Ward of Utah (2:12:56) in a close battle for runner-up honors.
It was a sweep for Kenya as Ogla Jerono Kimaiyo was crowned the fastest woman at 2:34:10 but not before an intense three-cornered sprint to the finish. Coming in 22 ticks behind at Second Place was Natalya Puchkova of Russia (2:34:32) while Third Place went to Blake Russell of California (2:34:57).
The 42.195-kilometer race started at Dodgers Stadium and passed through downtown LA onwards to famous places like Hollywood and Beverly Hills. The finish line was at Santa Monica with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.
This marks the second year in a row that the champions of the National MILO Marathon were sent to an overseas race as part of their prize. In 2014, Tabal and Eduardo “Vertek” Buenavista competed at the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris.
Accompanying the pair was MILO Marathon race director Coach Rio de la Cruz. This time, the team opted to arrive early in Los Angeles to acclimatize and it paid dividends.
MILO’s Andrew Q. Neri was quick to congratulate the duo. “We are delighted to have provided them the platform to showcase their athletic excellence amongst the world’s best runners,” he said.
The 39th season of the MILO Marathon will open this June with the first of several regional qualifying races. For sure, another foreign trip is in the works for National champions that will be determined on December 6 in Angeles City, Pampanga marking the first time the grand finale will be held outside of Metro Manila.
MILO will continue its advocacy of donating brand new athletic shoes to poor but deserving public schoolchildren. Over 200,000 runners are expected to sign up for the various MILO Marathon races with each runner donating a portion of the registration fees to the cause.