VETERANS Eric Panique and Luisa Raterta proved they are still a force to reckon with as they ruled the men and women’s division on Sunday in the 39th Milo Marathon Metro Manila Qualifying Leg at the SM Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.
The 32-year-old Panique of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental finished the 42-kilometer race in 2:37:43 to lead some 62 qualifiers into the National Finals on December 6 at the Clark Field in Angeles City.
Raterta, the 33-year mother of three children, likewise timed 3:10:35to dominate the distaff side. Both Panique and Raterta brought home P50,000 cash and a trophy each for their winning fate.
“I really practice hard for this event because I want to qualify for the National Finals. At least the weather was fair and that helped me win the race,” said Panique in Filipino, who won the NCR leg for the second time. The first was in 2012.
He was with a bunch of six runners in the early stages of the race and just found an opportunity to overtake Mario Maglinao in the last two kilometers.
Maglinao settled for second in 2:39:45 while Rene Desuyo wound up third with a clocking of 2:45:54.
The Sta. Rosa, Laguna-native Raterta immediately took the upperhand at the burst of the starting gun and she never looked back until the finish line, relegating Criselyn Jaro to second with a time of 3:25:02 and April Rose Diaz to third place in 3:34:02.
“Maganda ang umpisa ko kaya tinutuloy-tuloy ko na. Wala naman akong na-encounter na problema all-throughout. Siguro dahil preparado talaga ako para sa competition na ito,” stressed Raterta, whose best finish in the National Finals was runner-up in 2013.
Milo sports executive Andrew Neri said that a total of 34,305 runners including children, students, aspiring athletes and professionals took part in the competition that made the annual event, one of the biggest footrace in the country.
Besides the P300,000 top prize, the men and women’s champion in the National Finals will see action in an all-expense paid trip to the prestigious 2016 Boston Marathon in the US, according to Neri.
Gregg Vincent Osorio timed 1:14:11, while Victorina Calma posted 1:46:43 to pocket the P10,000 prize each in the 21-k category. The Kenyans, however, led by Eliud Kering dominated the men’s 10-k division.
Jhanine Mansueto topped the women’s 10-k contest and won P5,000.
After the NCR leg, the 18-leg qualifying race will shift to Calapan, Mindoro on Aug. 2, followed by the Lipa City elimination on Aug. 9 and Naga City on Aug. 16. The Lucena leg will be on Aug. 30, while the Visayas legs will start in Iloilo City on Sept. 20, Bacolod (Sept. 27), Tagbilaran (Oct. 4), Cebu (Oct. 11), General Santos (Oct. 18).
The Mindanao elims will be in Davao City on Nov. 8, Butuan (Nov. 15) and Cagayan de Oro (Nov. 22).