Tabal, Poliquit advance to SEA Games after MILO Marathon coronation

Philip Matel on Dec 09, 2018 11:14 AM
Tabal, Poliquit advance to SEA Games after MILO Marathon win
Mary Joy Tabal and Rafael Poliquit emerge as the monarchs of the 42nd Annual MILO Marathon.

LAOAG CITY -- The province was not just about to celebrate its bicentennial, but also a reconfirmation of a Philippine sporting dynasty.

Marathon runner Mary Joy Tabal once again emerged as the Queen of the National MILO Marathon by annexing her sixth straight title in the 42nd edition of the annual event here.

The Olympian and the 2017 South East Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist bested her opponents by clocking in at 2:56:31 in the 42-kilometer endurance event which started at the Laoag Centennial Arena and ended at the nearby Pres. Ferdinand E. Marcos Memorial Stadium.

The Cebu native edged out compatriots two-time SEA Games gold medalist Christabel Martes and Metro Manila champion Christine Hallasgo to be crowned the MILO Marathon Queen.

Tabal endured her share of setbacks, already cramping up in the left leg at the 15-kilometer mark, and got hampered by the dark pre-dawn surroundings.

Silver-medalist Martes crossed the finish line at 2:59:39 while bronze-medalist winner Hallasgo ended at 3:06:16.

"I’m very happy because I finished the race safe and injury-free so this is a continuous process for me and coach in preparation for next year and going to SEA Games 2019," the Philippines' marathon queen said.

Rafael Poliquit meanwhile emerged as the king of the men's division, finishing the endurance event at 2:28:47, taking home his third title, eclipsing his former personal best of 2:32:00.

The Army-trained Poliquit previously won back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 15. 

Poliquit already knew he had it in wraps by the homestretch, taking advice from two-time SEA Games gold medalist Singaporean Guillaume Soh Rui Yong.

"Sabi niya ay 'manage the pace every five kilometers, not exceeding 18 minutes.' So I did that. 18 minutes until the 35th kilometer. Pagdating ng 35th kilometer, yung time target na 2:06, na-advance pa ako sa 2:04, relaxed na relaxed. Ang plan talaga namin last 7 kilometers. Sabi ni Suh Rui Yong, 'drop the hammer in the last seven kilometers," the three-time champion shared. 

Jerald Zabala came in two-and-a half minutes later (2:31:25), while UAAP Season 77 MVP Richard Salaño finished after running for 2:33:17.

Last year's champion Jeson Agravante narrowly missed a spot in the podium, as he finished 25 seconds behind Salaño at 2:33:42.

With this, Poliquit will be the frontrunner along with Tabal in representing the nation's tricolors next year, not only in the SEA Games, but also in a half-marathon in either Korea or Spain this March in preparation for the biennial meet, as announced by the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) representative Edward Co. 

Co added that as host country, the Philippines will may field in three representatives for the SEA Games marathon, with the two slots up for grabs either through the PATAFA-sanctioned MILO Marathon or an International Association of Athletic Federation event abroad. 

Tabal and Poliquit also go home richer as the duo also takes home a grand total of ₱150,000 for their exploits.

More than 7,000 participants showcased their endurance and determination in a chilly morning for the coveted crown, the earliest race starting at 3:00 a.m., and the latest at 5:35.

Throughout the hours-long affair, the elite runners were treated to a lush and scenic view throughout Laoag, one of the oldest settlements in the North, having been established in 1580. 

In the run, the athletes traversed through some famous tourist attractions such as the over 400-year old St. William's Cathedral and the adjacent Sinking Bell Tower, and famed government buildings such as the Ilocos Norte Capitol and the City Hall.

Also not to be missed was the famed Laoag Sand Dunes, the 85-sq. km. attraction frequented by the adventurous just outside the Laoag International Airport, and the Fort Ilocandia resort hotel and casino.

Romnick Dago (men's, 1:10:12) and Aileen Tolentino (women's, 1:30:51) meanwhile emerged victorious in the 21-kilometer category, while Gilbert Laido (men's, 34:04), and Macrose Dichoso (women's, 43:38) took home the top prize in the 10-kilometer division.

Rounding out the champions of the five-kilometer and three-kilometer classifications were Aris Africa (men's, 18:49) and Mary Anne Crishelle Perez (women's, 22:54) in the former, while Geriz Coralde (men's, 12:04), and Jenny Agustin (women's, 13:04) won the latter, respectively.

In the open category, Kenya swept the men's and women's division, with David Kipsang taking home the gold after finishing the quickest at 2:20:29, besting fellow countrymen Stephen Mugambi (2:22:20), and Joackim Kemboi (2:27:45).

Margaret Njuguna (2:50:50) had the quickest time in the women's division, besting Tabal and Martes.

More than just the win, the popular chocolate drink brand will be donating 2,500 basketballs and 1,500 pairs of running shoes to underprivileged public schools around the archipelago as part of their Help Give shoes initiative, with Cabeza and Shamrock Elementary Schools being the recipients in the capital of Ilocos Norte.


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