PASAY CITY – It was like 2013 all over again as Eric Panique and Luisa Raterta emerged as the overall winners in the centerpiece 42.195-kilometer category of the 39th MILO Marathon Metro Manila qualifiers last Sunday (July 26) at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. Easily the biggest and grandest of all the weekly regional qualifying races, Sunday’s event attracted a total of 34,305 entries in all distance categories.
Panique stamped his class with a winning time of 2:37:44. Coming in at a distant Second Place was 2014 Naga leg champion Mario Maglinao (2:39:47) followed by Rene Desuyo (2:45:57).
“I hope to do well and try to win in the National Finals,” said Panique who will invest part of his PHP 50,000.00 purse in a sugarcane business back home in Himamaylan City, Negros Occidental for the future of his two young sons. The National Finals will be held on December 6, 2015 at the SM City Clark in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Raterta had an easy time to clock 3:10:36, a shade under 15 minutes ahead of Second Place Criselyn Jaro (3:25:03) of Davao City and last year’s Lipa Leg champion. April Rose Diaz took Third Place in 3:34:02.
Aside from her win, Raterta was more proud of her 13-year old daughter Leonalyn taking Third Place in the five-kilometer category. The younger Raterta was also a consistent winner in the three-kilometer kiddy race for those aged 12 and under in previous MILO events.
Two years ago, it was Panique and Raterta who hogged the headlines in the same race. Raterta made last year’s National Finals after topping the Lipa Leg while Panique earned his ticket by winning in Iloilo.
Equally competitive was the 21-kilometer category wherein runners could also earn trips to the Nationals. Gregg Vincent Osorio bagged top honors in a fast 1:14:13 followed by Nelson Elejeran (1:19:11) and James Kevin Cruz (1:19:30).
Senior runners dominated the distaff side led by Atty. Victorina Calma (1:46:47) followed by Celma Hitalia (1:52:25) and Charlotte Garana (1:55:19). Calma, Hitalia and two others among the Top Six finishers were aged 40 years and above and all four were the only qualifiers outshining their much younger opposition.
A total of 203 men and nine women qualified from the 42.195-kilometer participants. The four females from the 21 kilometers will be joined by 46 males.
The number of qualifiers marked a decrease from last season but Race Director Coach Rio de la Cruz offered a quick explanation. “The elite runners are now choosing their races as it is advisable that one must ideally run no more than two full marathons in a year.”
Coach Rio also explained that a planned public works project along Gil Puyat Avenue forced organizers to discard the traditional ascent and descent on the Kalayaan Flyover going to and from Bonifacio Global City in favor of a second loop on Roxas Boulevard from Gil Puyat to NAIA Road. Despite the revision, the new course was certified and compliant with Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) standards.
“We are very thankful for the good weather,” said MILO’s Andrew Q. Neri. For the past week, Metro Manila had been beset by rainy weather, including a heavy downpour on the eve of the race.
The cast for the National Finals has more than doubled to 405 qualifiers. All of them will shoot for the right to be the official Philippine representatives to the 120th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2016 in the United States.
Next week, the MILO Marathon tour visits another city for the first time with the staging of a qualifier in Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro. For registration and more information, please contact Renel Medina at (0918) 547-4402 and (0917) 272-9534.
Other Winners: Eliud Kering and Jhanine Mansueto (10 kilometers), Kevin Capangpangan and Feiza Jane Lenton (five kilometers), Modrick Cuyom and Rayya Gwen Abellar (three kilometers).