RAFAEL Poliquit and Mary Joy Tabal ruled their respective divisions in the 38th National Milo Marathon Finals on a gloomy Saturday morning at the Mall of Asia grounds.
Poliquit, 25, finished with a time of two hours, 32 minutes and 29 seconds to snatch the crown from back-to-back winner Eduardo Buenavista, who came in second at 2:33:56. Erinio Raquin came in third in 2:35:50.
The native of Tagum City, Davao said he himself was surprised by his win since his buildup was ruined when the race was postponed from a week ago due to typhoon 'Ruby.'
In fact, Poliquit said he had already planned to forego the race.
“Hindi ko ine-expect na mananalo ako kasi dapat igi-give up ko na itong Finals,” said the Airman Second Class. “Kasi na postpone, alangan na ako kasi sa conditioning ko, wala na sa tama.”
“Pero nag-split timing tactics na lang ako para maka-survive,” he added. “Hindi ko na inisip na mag-place after the race tinarget ko na lang na maka one hour 16 minutes sa first 21K tapos one hour 16 minutes naman sa next 21K.
"Nanalo naman so merry Christmas.”
Poliquit pulled away in the last 10 kilometers as he outlasted the more experienced Buenavista, who is a five-time Milo Marathon champion.
“Pinaghandaan ko ‘yung last 10K doon ako nag-pull away, binuntutan ko lang siya (Buenavista) sa first 32K, pinakiramdaman ko lang siya kasi beterano na siya, rookie ako. Pero may problema daw siya sa paa niya kaya rin siguro ganoon,” he said.
In the distaff side, Tabal reigned supreme for the second successive year with a time of 2:51:55 - well below her best of 2:48:00 which she set in last year’s national finals.
“Hindi ako masyadong satisfied,” said Tabal. “Kasi malaki ang expectation ko sa sarili ko.”
Like Poliquit, Tabal, who finished the Paris Marathon last year in 2:57:28, revealed she too was not in top shape as she was prepared to run on December 7, the supposed date of the Finals race.
“Kundisyon na ako last week pa compared ngayon so nagbago na siya,” she said.
Kenyan Rose Nyangacha (2:47:33) was the only one to finish ahead of Tabal, who came in before Immaculate Chemutai, also from Kenya (2:52:49).
Tabal beat former champions Christabel Martes (3:03:49) and Mary Grace delos Santos (3:05:34).
Poliquit and Tabal, however, will no longer be able to compete in the Tokyo Marathon as planned as registration for the race was closed as early as October.
Milo Sports executive Andrew Neri said that they failed to get slots to the Tokyo Marathon as the prestigious foot race needs specific names of the participants.
Neri said organizers will find another international race for the Milo Marathon King and Queen to compete in.
“We cannot get slots na blank lang, kasi they want us to confirm the names (of the partcicipants) by October eh we cannot give them yet kasi hindi pa tapos ang Milo Marathon finals,” said Neri.
“We are working on LA Marathon but it’s not confirmed yet. But providing international competition (for the winners) will push through,” added Neri.