CAGAYAN DE Oro City – Past champions showed the way in claiming the final slots at the 39th MILO Marathon qualifiers last Sunday (November 22) at the Centrio Mall. All that’s left is the final showdown of all the Philippines’ running elite in the National Finals on December 6, 2016 at the SM City Clark in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Running coach Arnold Unabia of Tangub City gave the estimated 11,900-strong field a neat lesson as he completed the almost flat 21-kilometer course in 1:15:27. Coming in a close Second Place was 2014 Butuan City champion Jerald Zabala (1:15:40) followed by Third Place Bryan Quiamco (1:15:50).
The 37-year old Unabia was last season’s General Santos champion. Ironically, defending Cagayan de Oro leg champion Juneil Languido opted to compete and won this year’s General Santos last October 18.
A notable finisher was three-time MILO King Cresenciano Sabal who wound up at Ninth Place with a clocking of 1:21:22. Sabal ruled the country’s premier road race in 2005, 2007 and 2009 and will now aim for a fourth crown at the Nationals.
In the distaff side, Christine Hallasgo of retained her title with a time of 1:28:25. Taking Second Place Michelle Ann Sampang (1:39:41) was followed by Ailene Tolentino (1:45:35).
Hallasgo had to juggle her training schedule with her studies and internship as she will soon be completing her Public Administration degree from Bukidnon State University. It was a good day for the family as her sister Esterlita Organiza ruled the 10-kilometer side event.
Both 21-kilometer champions took home trophies and PHP 10,000.00. The MILO King and Queen will be sent to no less than the 120th Boston Marathon, arguably the ultimate race for all runners as far as prestige and tradition is concerned.
Selected public school pupils from Cagayan de Oro and nearby areas received new athletic shoes from MILO as part of the race’s long-term advocacy as they aim to build champions. Perhaps one of these children will follow in the powerful strides of reigning MILO King and Queen Rafael Poliquit and Mary Joy Tabal.
Other Winners: Christian Jude Sandinao and Esterlita Organiza (10 kilometers), John Michael Largo and Emalyn Taypin (five kilometers) and Renson Lopez and Ynah Ybanez (three kilometers).