Defending national champions Rafael Poliquit and Mary Joy Tabal successfully retained their crowns in the 39th Milo Marathon National finals on Sunday at Angeles City in Pampanga.
Poliquit finished the 42-kilometer full marathon event with a time of two hours, 36 minutes and 12 seconds, beating Juneil Languido (02:36:21) and Maclin Sadia (02:37:43), who finished second and third, respectively.
“Blessing na makuha ko ang second title ko in a row. Hindi ko ma-explain ‘yung nararamdaman ko [It’s such a blessing to win my second title in a row, I can’t explain the feeling]. I’m proud because all of the hardships and the challenges I faced during my preparations are worth it,” said Poliquit after claiming his second straight title.
Tabal, meanwhile, claimed her third consecutive Milo marathon crown via an impressive 2:48:24 time record. She ran past second placer Mary Grace Delos Santos (03:02:21), and third placer and former champion Christabel Martes (03:02:29).
“Sobrang saya ko [I am so happy]. I wouldn’t have achieved this without the help, prayers and support of my family, friends, and my coach Philip Duenas,” Tabal said.
Tabal joins Martes and Arsenia Sagaray in the list of runners who won three straight crowns in the annual event organized by Milo.
Sagaray won in 1992, 1993, 1994 while Martes topped the 1999, 2000, 2001 editions of the race.
In the 42k open category, Kenyan James Tallam (2:20:10), Josphat Kiptanui (02:20:49) and Julius Keprotich Seurei (02:21:54) dominated the men’s division while Elizabeth Rumokol (02:43:45), Tabal (02:48:24) and Margaret Wangui Njuguna (02:49:32) were the top three finishers in the women’s class
Over 14,000 runners joined this year’s national finals supported by Timex, Bayview Park Hotel Manila, Asics, Smart, Subaru, Hisense, Salonpas and Department of Education.
Besides the cash prizes, Tabal and Poliquit earned the right to represent the country in the 2016 Boston Marathon in the US with Milo shouldering all the expenses.
Milo Marathon is an annual race started in 1974. It is open to amateur and professional runners and considered as the grandest national running event attracting thousands of runners in the country.
The event is sanctioned Association of International Marathons and International Association of Athletics Federations.