MANILA, Philippines – Milo Marathon King Joerge Andrade proved his athletic mettle abroad as he emerged victorious in his first-ever international 42K race at the Borneo International Marathon on Sunday in Kota Kinabalu.
With his feat, Andrade becomes the second Filipino to win Borneo's flagship marathon after Noel Tillor, a Milo Marathon regular from Cebu. Tillor had won the 42K race's open division in 2016.
The BIM stint was Andrade's grand prize for winning the 41st National Milo Marathon finals in 2017, as part of Milo's commitment of nourishing athletes' ambitions to compete internationally.
Andrade finished the marathon with a time of 2:54:14, topping local and international runners in the men's open division, including competitors from Kenya, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia.
He maintained a two-kilometer lead against his opponents throughout the stretch of the race. But in the final two kilometers before the finish line, Andrade got a close call as he was only 400-meters shy of being outpaced by his closest competitor, Noah Kutung Chepsergon of Kenya, who finished second with the time of 02:55:26.
The uphill route in the 28th and 38th km marks also proved to be challenging, but Andrade did not frail and was determined to finish the race strong.
"I had a hard time when I reached the uphill slopes, add to that are my coughs and colds which made it extra difficult for me to focus," said Andrade. "But I just pushed myself and did not mind all the pains so that I can move further."
The 25-year-old was overwhelmed with joy at his achievement when he finally reached the finish line.
"I never thought that I would win, especially against a Kenyan runner because all I think of was to do my best in this race. I am so happy that I succeeded this," he said.
As early as now, Andrade is already looking to defend his Milo Marathon King crown in the next national finals in Laoag.
"I'll start my training in July, and I'll work harder this time," he vowed.
As the winner of the Borneo International Marathon, Andrade receives a cash prize of MYR1,200 (approx. P15,700), a medal, and a Suunto GPS smart watch.
"I am very thankful to everyone and to Milo who have supported me in this journey. This feat is something that I will treasure for a long time," he said.
Milo and PATAFA held a send-off for Andrade last Thursday before the race. Andrade will return to Manila on Monday, this time with a new feather on his cap.
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