PASAY CITY – Marathon legend Eduardo “Vertek” Buenavista churned out another memorable performance by ruling the 40th MILO Marathon Metro Manila qualifying race in devastating fashion over a long-time rival last Sunday (July 31) at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. In the distaff side, Luisa Raterta added another trophy to her MILO collection by successfully defending her title.
Buenavista, the pride of South Cotabato, breasted the 42.195-kilometer tape in a time of 2:45:34, almost nine minutes ahead of Crescenciano Sabal, another multiple MILO Marathon King who finished in 2:54:20. A close third was Roger Denolo 33 seconds later at 2:54:53.
The battle between the two icons easily was easily the highlight of the race, which offers slots to the National Finals set for December 4 in Iloilo City. Buenavista and Sabal have accounted for eight of the 12 titles between 2002 and 2013 with Buenavista winning in five (2002, 2008, 2010 and 2012-2013) and Sabal winning three (2005, 2007 and 2009).
“I wanted to test my injury if I can go for the full marathon,” said Buenavista. In previous seasons, he would opt to qualify via the 21-kilometer regional races.
Laguna’s Raterta followed up her victory a year ago and now aims for a better showing in the Iloilo Nationals. She clocked 3:15:00 to best back-to-back MILO Queen Jho-An Banayag (2005 and 2006) who came in at 3:17:47 followed by Cindy Lorenzo at 3:20:03.
The Metro Manila race has been Raterta’s private preserve with another championship in 2013. Last year, she withdrew from the Nationals held in Angeles City due to complications from a motorcycle accident on the week of the race.
The champions pocketed PHP 50,000.00 each on top of trophies and prizes from sponsors. As much as PHP 300,000.00 will be awarded to the MILO King and Queen in Iloilo plus the chance to compete in an overseas marathon in 2017.
Both of Sunday’s winners take pride that they will soon be passing the mantle to their children who also made waves in the side events. Leonalyn Raterta took Second Place in the Women’s five-kilometer category while Eduard Josh Buenavista finished in Seventh Place among Men for the same distance.
Aside from the centerpiece full marathon, runners may also earn tickets to Iloilo via the 21-kilometer category. Jujet de Asis and Nhea Ann Barcena topped the field as the notables opted to run 42.195 kilometers.
Meanwhile, Team Kenya dominated the 10-kilometer category with Rek Juochurchur leading a podium sweep in the Men’s Division while Susan Jemutai was tops in the Female Division. Also tasting gold were Kelvin Capangpangan and Jie Anne Calis for five kilometers and Wendelle Paincillo and Trisha Mae Loverita for the three-kilometer race for kids aged 12 years and under.
In the Cheerleading Competition, the City University of Pasay emerged best in the College Division. The Eagle Squad is a perennial contender in the annual National Athletic Association of Schools, Colleges and University (NAASCU) Cheerleading Competition.
Race Director Coach Rio de la Cruz noted the increase in attendance, especially in the 10 kilometers wherein they offered finisher medals for the first time. Marathon finishers were also awarded bath towels aside from the traditional medals and shirts, an idea Coach Rio attributes to MILO Sports Executive Andrew Neri.
More Nationals slots will be available next week when the MILO Marathon returns to Batangas City on August 7. In previous years, Lipa City was the host venue of the province’s qualifier.