RUNNING enthusiasts in the 37th Milo Marathon Metro Manila Qualifying Leg burst into loud cheers after setting a new record of 42,214 participants for the event.
Students from the different colleges and universities all over the Metropolis, members of various running clubs and elite runners joined the celebration on Sunday at the Mall of Asia grounds in Paay City after it exceeded the targeted 40,000 and surpassed the 38,000 participants last year.
Milo Sports Executive Andrew Neri said the big increase was due to the already higher awareness in running and the continued confidence that the annual prestigious event is now enjoying from a mere 747 runners in 1974 at the Quirino Grandstand.
“Milo marathon really is now enjoying a large followings. In fact it exceeded our target of 40,000. This is because the event being sanctioned by both the Association of International Marathons (AIMS) and the International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) enjoyed the trust of all runners in the country,” said Neri.
Some 30,000 running enthusiasts mostly from ages six-year old to 40-year old comprised the bulk of participants with 30,000 while 4,000 saw action in the 21-k category and 3,584 in the 10-km. The event bearing a theme “ Iba’t ibang hinahabol, iisang takbuhan,,” also attracted 2,580 in the premier 42.195-km race.
In the absence of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners, who were not allowed to win cash prizes in the elite 42-k division inspired Eric Panique of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental and veteran Luisa Raterta of Sta. Rosa, Laguna of winning the P50,000 men and women’s top purse respectively.
Panique said that the relatively fair weather also aided them to win the top honors.
The 30-year-old Panique timed 2:30:16.72 to rule the men’s category relegating Nike Park teammate Ireneo Raquin to second with 2:30:18.24 while Jeson Agravante settled for third with 2:41:52.80.
Both Raquin and Agravante settled for P30,000 and P20,000 cash prizes, respectively.
But Panique, a member of the Philippine national team can not represent Metro Manila in the National Finals on December 8 because he will be seeing action in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games also slated to be held in December in Myanmar.
“I’m really sorry that I cannot be in the Finals because I’ll be representing our country in the SEA Games. In fact, this Metro Manila elimination of Milo Marathon served as our qualifying for the final selection of the Team Philippines,” said Panique, who was already in his lonesome when they were approaching Buendia Intersection in Makati.
However, the first time winner Panique expressed confidence of performing well in the SEA Games because his time is no longer far from his 2:28:00 silver medal finish during the 2011 SEA Games held in Indonesia.
Raterta, a mother of three, clocked 3:14:16.89 to dominate the distaff side. She was followed by Jennylene Nobleza, who placed second in 3:23:24.82 while Geraldine Sealza was third in 3:32:37.05.
The former member of the national duathlon team Raterta was a kilometer behind a Kenyan runner before taking the solo lead while approaching C5 road in Makati City.
“I notice the Kenyan runner ahead of me was already tired so I seized the opportunity. She was not able to get near me after that and I was already alone until the finish line at the MOA,” stressed Raterta, whose husband Leo de Gayo also a marathoner, owned three tricycles as a means of livelihood.
The winners in the 42.195 National Finals will receive a whooping P300,000 in both men and women’s division of the open category and P150,000 for men and women’s division in the local category. This year’s 2013 Milo Marathon King and Queen, will also represent the country in the 2014 Paris International Marathon in France.
After the Metro Manila leg, the competition will resume in Iloilo on August 4 and will shift to Dumaguete (August 11), Tagbilaran (September 15), Cebu (September 22), Cagayan de Oro (September 29), Butuan (October 6), Davao (October 13), General Santos (October 20), Baguio (November 3), Dagupan (November 10), Tarlac (November 17), Angeles City (November 24) and the National Finals on December 8 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.