EDUARDO Buenavista and Mary Grace delos Santos head the local runners vying for honors, while Kenya’s James Tallam is back to defend his title in the 26th Milo Marathon National finals on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.
Buenavista, national champion in 2010 and winner of this year’s Tarlac eliminations, will be joined by other former Milo marathon champions including Julius Sermona and Cresenciano Sabal.
Seeking back-to-back titles is Tallam, while other Kenyans looking to steal the show include Abraham Missos, Albert Omboga, Wily Rotich and Jackson Chirchir.
Aside from Delos Santos, other runners to watch in the distaff side are former Milo titlists Cristabel Martes, Jho-An Banayag and Floridisa Donos.
“Sunday finals will be action-packed,” said Milo Sports Executive Andrew Neri in Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s UN Ave.
For the first time, the event will have separate categories for international and local runners in the 42K and 21K races.
“That is to motivate Filipino runners to give their all in the competition and just be content of playing second fiddle to the foreign runners,” said Neri, who was joined by Milo consultant Pat Goc-Ong, Milo deputy sports executive Robbie de Vera and race director Rio dela Cruz in the session backed by Shakey’s, PAGCOR and Smart.
De Vera also announced that 1,000 pairs of rubber shoes will be given to selected elementary school students as part of Milo’s “Help Give Shoes” campaign that is now on its second year.
Over 20,000 runners are vying in Sunday’s Milo Marathon championships.
The 42-kilometer race fires off at 3 a.m., followed by the shorter races.