MANILA, Philippines -- Rivalries will run deep among the country’s top qualifiers as they race against competitive foreign talent in the upcoming 36th Milo Marathon National finals this Sunday.
Organizers expect at least 200,000 runners joining the nationwide marathon event, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds in Pasay City.
Last year, Milo “Marathon Queen” Mary Grace de los Santos crashed foreign competition and led a cast of Filipina runners towards a 1-2-3 finish, while Milo
“Marathon King” James Tallam led Kenyan and Ethiopian runners to a massive 1-2-3-4 finish in the men’s division race, sparking a heated rivalry among local veterans.
In this year’s edition of the run, Julius Sermona (1:13:02, Angeles), Cresenciano Sabal (1:13:55, Cagayan de Oro) and Eduardo Buenavista (1:13:29, Tarlac) are returning to reassert their dominance on their home soil.
According to three-time champion Sabal, winning the National Finals will go beyond the coveted crown and offer a sense of nationalistic pride.
“Local runners are not the only ones running for the title. Foreign runners who have already made their mark in Philippine races will make a tremendous effort to win. This poses a big challenge for the Filipino athletic community. The National Finals will be a venue through which we can extend the Filipino reign in our own soil,” he said.
The 42K women’s division race will also see an interesting battle as former run queens Cristabel Martes (1:34:46, Baguio), Jho-An Banayag (3:02:20, Manila 42K) and Flordilisa Donos (1:26:52, Davao) pursue their fifth, third and second Milo Marathon crown, respectively.
Among formidable foreign runners joining the men’s category are Albert Omboga (2:46:04, Manila 42K), Willy Rotich (2:51:36, Manila 42K) and Jackson Chirchir (2:45:09, Manila 42K).
Last year’s fifth placer and fastest Filipino runner Jeson Agravante (2:39:59, Manila 42K) and Eric Panique (Bacolod) are also determined to make a comeback at this year’s finale.
To accommodate the growing support of foreign runners, the Milo Marathon National Finals will have two race categories for the 42K and 21K runners.
Overseas and local participants can compete and win in the Open category run, and the awards will be given to the top three finishers.
Only the top 10 Filipino runners will be recognized and awarded in the Local category run.
Male and female division champions will each receive P300,000 from the Open category run, and P 150,000 from the Local category run.
Bonus prizes will also be given to local runners, with P50,000 for the first runner who breaks the 2:15:00 invisible time barrier, P 20,000 for the first male runner who breaks the 2:18:53 course record set by Eduardo Buenavista, and P20,000 for the first female runner who breaks the 2:48:16 record set by Jho-An Banayag.
“The roster of qualifiers for the National Finals presents a truly engaging and action-packed race on Sunday. Milo will continue to discover true champions across the nation and inspire Filipinos to imbibe the values of remarkable athletes,” said Milo sports executive Andrew Neri.