Monday, February 23, 2009

One race to be happy about

The results of the Milo Marathon regional elimination race in General Santos City yesterday, February 22, are out.

Mindanao finally has qualifiers for the 33rd National Milo Marathon finals by way of a local race. The top four finishers in the men's category finished below the 1:15:00 qualifying time. The top two women finishers also beat 1:35:00. That's five qualifiers in a single race!

Junel Boncit of Tagum ruled the men's race in a repeat of his victory over last year's field, completing the 21k course in 1:11:11. Elmer Bartolo finished in second place with a time of 1:13:11 and Brian Lupo took third in 1:13:44.

On the distaff side, Monalisa Ambasa exacted sweet revenge from former National Milo Marathon queen Estela Mamac Diaz of Davao City who ruined her bid for a sixth straight victory in General Santos last year. It was a very close race between the two with Ambasa edging out Diaz by a mere two seconds. Monalisa turned in a 1:31:13 to Estela's 1:31:15. Both left Cynthia Jaro a distant third in 1:40:42.

With runners from Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Davao already assured of their berths in the finals, it was sweet victory for North Cotabato to have Gilbert Maluyo of Kidapawan City barge into the list of early qualifiers with his fourth place finish in General Santos in 1:14:37.

I talked to Gilbert one early morning a week before the race. He was finishing his training run while I was just starting mine. I reminded him of the 1:15:00 qualifying time. Gilbert, a machinist, was working full time in a local machine shop to help support his family and he had to sneak in early runs in preparing for the General Santos City race. When he told me he did 1:16 in last year's elimination race, I said he can be assured of a 1:15 or less this year so long as he prepared enough.

I often saw Gilbert running the hilly Kidapawan City terrain in his usually fast tempo pace and disappear from my sight within seconds. I had no doubt that he could do better than 1:15 in the relatively flat General Santos City race course. He proved me right.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Looking forward to national qualifiers in the GenSan Milo Marathon elims

The 33rd Milo Marathon General Santos City regional elimination race fires off at the country's tuna capital early tomorrow, February 22, and this time around we may finally have Mindanaon runners making it to the national finals in Manila by winning a local race.

Both defending champions in last year's male and female categories are reportedly joining the race - Junel Boncit of Tagum, Davao del Norte and Estela Mamac-Diaz of Davao City.

Boncit ruled last year's race with a finishing time of 1:08:05, way faster than the 1:15:00 qualifying time set for this year. In fact, last year's results show all top 4 runners finishing in less than 1:15:00. Elmer Bartolo came in second at 1:08:40, Rafael Poliquit was third in 1:12:47, and Noel Espina was in fourth place with 1:13:01.

On the distaff side, Diaz recorded a fast 1:24:05, again way below this year's 1:35:00 qualifying time for women. Second placer Monaliza Ambasa (1:26:47) and third placer Merlie Edullantes (1:33:35) also finished with times below 1:35:00.

Given the relatively flat terrain of General Santos City, fast results below this year's qualifying times are really very possible tomorrow. More than that, both Boncit and Mamac are strong runners.

In Kidapawan City in 2006, both Boncit and Diaz ruled the regional elimination race of the 30th edition of the Milo Marathon. Boncit led the men's field with a time of 1:19:37 while Diaz finished unchallenged in 1:41.14.

Boncit, who decided to run in Kidapawan City then to avoid the tough competition in Davao, discovered that running in this place I call home in the foothills of Mt. Apo was not that easy either.

“Mahirap pala ang course dito dahil paglabas mo, pababa ang daan at pagbalik mo paakyat naman (The course here is difficult because you start off going downhill but it's all uphill on the way back)," Boncit was quoted as saying.

If Boncit's time in the tough Kidapawan City 21k course then was that fast, there can be no doubt that he can run much faster in General Santos. So with Estela.

To both of them, good luck!

(Photo from shows Estela Mamac-Diaz at the finish of the 32nd Milo Marathon regional elimination race in General Santos City last year)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Races, two. Qualifiers, zero.

Iligan City hosted the second Milo Marathon regional elimination race in Mindanao last Sunday.

It was a race not devoid of drama and human interest, as most Milo regional races are.

News reports say eventual winner Roger Sawin-ay of Lantapan, Bukidnon raced his heart out to pocket the P10,000 cash prize and relieved himself of the prospect of "returning to his home province on foot." Sawin-ay left Lantapan with P700 in his wallet. He used P500 to pay for his lodging.

While Sawin-ay's winning time of 1:15:10 earned him a big payday, it wasn't fast enough for a slot in the Milo Marathon National Finals. Jeffrey Sotto, who was edged by Sawin-ay at the finish, clocked 1:15:21, while third placer Edgar Lapastigue posted a time of 1:19:59.

Sawin-ay's winning time was in fact slower by 04 seconds than Raul Lamprea's winning time of 1:15:06. in the Dipolog City elimination race the other Sunday.

There's still a blank list of Mindanaon male runners who are going the finals by way of a Mindanao elimination race. Male runners need to finish in 1:15:00 to qualify for the Manila finals.

The top women finishers in Iligan City didn't do any better either.

Cecile Faith Topia topped the distaff side in 1:40:56. Melyn May Canamo came in second in 1:51:14. The women's qualifying criteria for the national finals is 1:35:00.

Another male Mindanaon runner made it to the finals, though, by way of the Batangas City elimination race held simultaneously with the one in Iligan. Gerald Sabal, brother of two-time Milo Marathon king Cresenciano Sabal who is from Sultan Kudarat, crossed the finish line in 1:12:25, two seconds behind Alquin Bolivar to claim second place.

Maricel Maquilan of Polomolok, South Cotabato also assured herself of a finals berth after topping the women's race in Batangas City in 1:29:37. Ellen Tolentino of Cagayan de Oro City came in a distant second at 1:37:43. Ellen won't be doing the finals this year.

Back on home soil, General Santos City is all set for its own elimination race this Sunday, February 22. Will a Mindanaon runner finally meet that men's 1:15:00 or women's 1:35:00 qualifying mark and get to run the Milo Marathon National Finals by way of a local qualifying race?

We'll see.

Men champion Roger Sawin-ay and women winner Cecile Faith Topia display their trophies after winning the Iligan leg of the 33rd National Milo Marathon. Also in photo are, from left, John Montalvan, Milo sports coordinator for North Mindanao, Nestle AVP and Milo events sports executive Pat Goc-ong, Vice Mayor Henry Dy, Iligan City Mayor Lawrence Cruz, Miss Iligan Ingred Baulete and national race director Rudy Biscocho.Photo from

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winners, yes. Qualifiers, no.

Mindanao still has to have a local male runner qualifying for the 33rd National Milo Marathon by way of a local elimination race.

That's how it is after the individual finishing times of the winners in the men's division of the first Mindanao qualifying race in Dipolog City last Sunday, February 8, fell short of the set qualifying time.

Raul Lamprea led the top three finishers with a time of 1:15.06. Mohammad Sherwin Managil registered 1:15.14 for second place and Cipriane John Topia clocked 1:15.29 to grab third. All their finishing times failed to break the qualifying time of 1:15.00.

That being the case, no male Mindanaon running in a Mindanao elimination race has yet made it to the list of the cream of Philippine running that would compete in the country's longest running and most prestigious long distance foot race. Cris Sabal is a Mindanaon from Sultan Kudarat, and is already assured of a slot in the finals with his 1:09.42 finish in the 21K course in the Subic elimination race last Sunday. But again, he qualified by way of the Subic race which was held simultaneously with the one in Dipolog.

The regional elimination race moves to Iligan City this Sunday, February 15. Perhaps by then, we would have Mindanaon male runners from among the 7,000 registered runners who would make it to the list of national finalists by winning a race on home soil.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

The game is a-foot!

This Sunday, February 8, the first of a series of elimination races for the 33rd National Milo Marathon reels off in Dipolog and Subic.

Local runners will again have a full schedule training and racing in these events. That includes the lesser mortals like us who are content to bask in a personal best finish in the middle, or even at the back, of the pack.

After Dipolog and Subic, Iligan and Batangas are next in line on February 15. General Santos and Palawan are set on February 22.

A four-month lull comes before the action takes place again in Manila and Cebu on July 5, Davao and Tarlac on July 12, Butuan and Santiago on July 19, Cagayan de Oro and Laoag on July 26, Tacloban and San Fernando on August 2, Tagbilaran and Baguio on August 9, Roxas and Dagupan on August 16, Iloilo and Legaspi on August 23, Bacolod and Naga on August 30 and Dumaguete and San Pablo on September 6.

For Mindanao, a total of 6 races are scheduled. That's quite a lot to choose from for those who seek to experience racing in a city or locale other than their own. I personally prefer running in Davao or General Santos for practical reasons like these two being closer to home and thus being less expensive and cumbersome to go to. But there is always the lure of being able to do each one of these races in the same year. I can only wish.

Whether it is Davao, General Santos, far Dipolog, distant Butuan or exciting Iligan, one thing is sure. It will be another running experience to savor. We won't be running anymore if we don't find it that way, would we?

(photo courtesy of