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.