BOSTON, MA – The Philippines’ Mary Joy Tabal and Rafael Poliquit churned out worthy performances at the conclusion of the 120th Boston Marathon Monday (April 18). Both runners earned the right to represent the country after topping the 39th MILO Marathon National Finals last December in Angeles City, Pampanga.
The three-time MILO Queen Tabal raised eyebrows by finishing 21st in the Elite Female Category. However, her clocking of 2:49:01 was not enough to book a slot in the coming Rio de Janeiro Olympics and join hurdler Eric Cray as the second Filipino bet in Athletics.
The Olympic qualifying standard for the Women’s Marathon is 2:42:00. Tabal’s personal best is 2:48:00 set two years ago when she won the 38th MILO Nationals.
Cramps at the 25-kilometer mark greatly affected her chances of meeting her target time. An obviously dejected Tabal took consolation in the fact that she did not quit and finished the race, arguably one of the toughest and most prestigious in the world.
Another positive note is that Tabal emerged as the fourth best Asian runner behind a trio of Japanese entries. Despite the setback, she still harbours hopes of making the trip to Rio this August via another qualifying race.
Poliquit checked in at 2:47:16, good for 323rd in the Elite Male Category. Although much slower than his winning time of 2:36:12 last December, Poliquit remains upbeat of his achievement because joining and completing the Boston Marathon has boosted his self-confidence for his future events.
Unfamiliarity with the weather and the terrain nearly forced Poliquit to drop out but he decided to slow down his pace in the second half of the race just to have a decent finish. Boston is notorious for its “Heartbreak Hills” that could make or break the next champions.
Ethiopia scored a podium sweep with Lemi Berhanu Hayle taking top honors with a time 2:12:45. He was followed by countrymen Lelisa Desisa (2:13:32) and Yemane Adhane Tsegay (2:14:02).
It was the same story in the distaff side with Ethiopian ladies Atsede Baysa (2:29:19) and Tirfi Tsegaye (2:30:03) grabbing the top two spots. Kenya’s Joyce Chepkirui prevented a sweep by salvaging Third Place in 2:30:50.
Aside from Tabal and Poliquit, 13 other Filipinos plus an undetermined number of Filipino-Americans participated and finished this year’s race. A total of 26,639 runners from 79 countries and territories finished.
The reigning MILO King and Queen can now look forward to defending their crowns later this year. The first of 13 regional qualifying races will fire off this July in Dagupan City and will culminate with the 40th MILO Marathon National Finals in Iloilo City on December 4.