AGELESS Eduardo Buenavista showed the true heart of a champion as he ruled the 40th National Milo Marathon Metro Manila Qualifying Leg on Sunday at the Mall of Asia ground in Pasay City.
The comebacking 37-year-old Buenavista, who was sidelined for two years due to left tendon injury, crossed the finish line unchallenged with a time of two hours, 45 minutes and 33 seconds.
Some nine minutes away was another veteran Cresenciano Sabal with a clocking of 2:54:20 and Roger Denolo finished third in 2:54:53 and Mohammad Sherwin Managil for fourth in 2:57:25.
“I just came from injury. I was recuperating for two years. That’s why my body is in top condition but my time is still slow,” said the two-time Olympian from Sto. Nino, South Cotabato in Filipino.
Buenavista, who represented the country in the 3,000-meter steeplechase event in the 2000 Olympiad in Sydney, Australia and in the men’s marathon event in the 2004 Athens Olympics, started the 42.195-km. race with a lot of excitement, leading the pack from start to finish and did not give up the lead until the finish line.
“My goal now is to challenge reigning Milo national champion Rafael Poliquit. I will also try to break my own Milo national record of 2:18:53. There’s still a lot time to accomplish that fate. I will just keep on practicing,” added Buanavista.
Completing the top 10 finishers were Argel Joseph Mendoza with a time of 2:58:24 for fifth, Carlito Fantilaga at sixth with 2:59:52, Joseph Somera at seventh with 3:00:03, Arsenio Uminga at eighth with 3:01:04, Nelson Eligram at ninth with 3:03:49 and Jojie Daga-as at 10th with 3:04:12.
But not to be outdone, many-time Metro Manila Leg titlist Luisa Raterta reaffirmed her supremacy by topping the women’s division with a clocking of 3:14:57. She was challenged by also many-time national champion Jhoann Banayag all throughout the race. But determination propelled her to top of the field of more than two thousand in the rather humid day.
Banayag settled for second in 3:17:44, while Cinderella Lorenzon finished third in 3:20:00 followed by Rowena Ba-a (3:39:04), Silamie Apolistar-Gutang (3:47:28), Melanie Malihan (3:49:48), Rena Gilos (3:58:14), Marychiek Morales (4:13:04), Daphne Rose Codilla (4:14:13) and Valerie Tauli (4:15:52).
“It’s a good weather today that’s why I have a good finiash. I did not mind the presence of many-time champion Jho-ann. I knew she is good and fast, but what I did was to run and win the race,” said the 35-year-old Raterta, who secured her fourth Metro Manila eliminations title. Her best finish so far in the national finals was second in 2013.
Buenavista and Raterta brought home the top prize of P50,000 each while Sabal and Banayag claimed the P30,000 second prize and P20,000 each for third placers Denolo and Lorenzo.
Both Buenavista and Raterta promised to give defending national champions Rafael Poliquit and Rio Olympics-bound Mary Joy Tabal a tough battle in the national finals on December 4 in Iloilo City.
“I want to win my first national finals title. Mary Joy is fast but I know I have the chance, I just need to practice hard),” added Raterta.