ILOILO CITY – After a three-week break, the 39th MILO Marathon resumed its search for the Philippines’ top runners with the successful holding of the Iloilo qualifying races Sunday (September 20) at the Iloilo Sports Complex. First-time winners Romulo Balinas and Lorena Blanco bested the field that produced a total of 46 male and four female qualifiers to the National Finals set for December 6 at the SM City Clark in Angeles, Pampanga.
Balinas battled cramps to submit a winning time of 1:17:13 to defeat runner-ups Bennis Murillo (1:18:04) and last year’s Puerto Princesa champion Norlan Warizal (1:19:20). Balinas, a graduate of the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City, took home PHP 10,000.00 and a trophy.
In the distaff side, the master runners taught the youngsters a neat lesson. Champion Blanco clocked 1:47:55 followed by Mellanay Rojas (1:52:06) and running coach Merlz Lumagbas (1:52:28) to complete a romp of runners aged 40 years and over.
Balinas, Blanco and the other qualifiers now look forward to the Nationals that will be offering a record prize pot this year to the winners. More importantly, the MILO King and Queen will be the official Philippine representatives to the 120th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2016 in the United States.
No less than Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog joined the over 17,000 runners as a competitor in the five-kilometer category. His Vice Mayor Jose S. Espinosa III fired the starting gun.
The MILO Marathon continues its tour of the Visayas with another qualifying race next week in Bacolod City. For more information and registration, please contact Franklin Echevarria at (0922) 861-0393.
As part of the race’s advocacy, poor but deserving public school pupils from Iloilo will receive brand new athletic shoes. A portion of the runners’ registrations fees will go a long way to fund the program held in coordination with the Department of Education.
Other Winners: Ed Mark Galapin and Thea Anne Bagaforo (10 kilometers), Romnick Dago and Jessa Mie Sustituedo (five kilometers) and Joshua Jay Beramo and Glyza Cerujano (three kilometers).