LUCENA CITY – Former MILO Queen Mary Grace delos Santos took the first step at reclaiming her throne by dominating the 39th MILO Marathon Lucena qualifiers last Sunday (August 30) at the SM City Lucena. The pride of Zamboanga managed to stay toe to toe with the top male runners, including eventual overall winner Ruel Suazo.
A member of the Philippine Air Force, delos Santos literally flew over the 21-kilometer course in a time of 1:25:19, 13 minutes ahead of defending leg champion Janice Tawagin (1:38:56) and Third Place Jeany Rose Hari (1:47:39). Delos Santos actually checked in as the Eighth overall finisher.
Suazo was last year’s 10-kilometer champion and definitely took his game to the next level. He clocked 1:13:23 to beat the challenge of Alley Quisay (1:15:29) and Nimrod Cesar (1:19:26).
Both champions went home with trophies and PHP 10,000.00. They will also lead Lucena’s team of qualifiers to the National Finals set for December 6, 2015 at the SM City Clark in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Delos Santos’ last-minute decision to sign up proved to be right and she vowed to work hard for the finale under the guidance of Coach Roy Vence, himself a six-time MILO King. Suazo meanwhile bucked an injury to seize the lead at the nine-kilometer mark and never looked back.
Over 11,200 combined runners showed up in all the distance categories, including Mayor Roderick A. Alcala and several local celebrities. Those that made the Nationals will now have a chance to represent the Philippines in the prestigious 120th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2016.
The MILO Marathon will take a break and resume on September 20 in Iloilo City, marking the start of their swing through Visayas and Mindanao. For registration and more information, contact Rommel “Jojo” Castro at (033) 333-1111 local 503, (0917) 720-0630 and (0910) 963-9401.
For hosting a qualifier for the second year in a row, selected public school pupils from Lucena and nearby areas received athletic shoes as part of the MILO Marathon’s continuing advocacy. At least 10,000 pairs are marked for distribution this year alone.
Other Winners: Richard S.L. Salano and Mcgrace Dichoso (10 kilometers), Dah Arom Ramirez and Romea Mae Balleras (five kilometers) and Bruce Christian Esguerra and Geraldine Alarva (three kilometers).