ILOILO CITY – History was made at the 40th MILO Marathon National Finals last Sunday (December 4) as Mary Joy Tabal became the first athlete to win the event four years in a row. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympian breasted the tape at the Iloilo Convention Center in a record time of 2:47:49.
Bacolod City’s Jeson Agravante likewise made history as he used a final sprint to the finish to shock the favorites and take home his first MILO Marathon King trophy in 2:35:13. His fellow runners from Negros Occidental joined him at the podium with Maclin Sadia of Cadiz City coming in a close Second Place at 2:35:22 and 2006 MILO Marathon King Julius Sermona of Himamaylan City in Third Place at 2:37:27.
Tabal achieved her four-peat at the expense of four-time MILO Queen Cristabel Martes who checked in at a distant 3:10:11 and Third Placer Lizanne Abella at 3:14:27. The Cebuana dynamo is now tied with Martes and is one more victory away from matching the five crowns won by Arsenia Sagaray from 1992 to 1994 and 1996 and 1997.
Agravante earned his ticket to Iloilo by topping the regional qualifier held in Dumaguete City last October 2. Before that, his claim to fame was winning the Metro Manila 42.195-kilometer qualifier in 2012.
Both Agravante and Tabal will carry the country’s colors at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon on May 28, 2017. The said race claims to be Canada’s fastest marathon and holds a special memory for Tabal as the venue where she qualified for the Olympics earlier this year.
A trio of Kenyans dominated the Open Category led by Josphat Kiptanui Too Chobei in 2:22:13 who nosed out former MILO King James Tallam (2:22:17) and Julius Kiprotich (2:22:27). Their compatriot Elizabeth Chepkanan Rumokol won the Women’s Open in 2:41:55 ahead of Tabal and Martes.
It was Tallam’s triumph in 2011 that prompted organizers to award separate prizes for foreigners (Open) and Filipinos (Local) starting in 2012 thus rendering Tallam as the only non-Filipino MILO Marathon King. Chobei and Rumokol pocketed PHP 300,000.00 each plus trophies.
Tabal was the day’s biggest winner with PHP 250,000.00 for placing second in the Open, PHP 150,000.00 for ruling the Local category and an additional PHP 50,000.00 for breaking her own MILO Marathon record of 2:48:00 set during the start of her reign in 2013 for a grand total of PHP 450,000.00 plus the foreign trip and trophy. Aside from running again in Ottawa, she is aiming for a gold medal at the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia this August.
With another successful season in the books, fans and athletes can look forward to the 41st season of the Philippines’ most prestigious running event. The MILO Marathon will also continue its advocacy of donating athletic shoes to poor but deserving public school pupils in partnership with the Department of Education with 10,000 pairs marked for distribution this year.
Other winners: Joseph Mururi and Alexandra Dumaran (21 kilometers Open), Jero Matheus Jaro and Alexandra Dumaran (21 kilometers Local), Alden Doronilla and Thea Anne Bagaforo (10 kilometers), Axel Catalbas and Kim Villaruz (five kilometers), and Kim Patrick Corsino and Lowellie Ann Basco (three kilometers).