ERIC Panique ended his run of frustration by ruling the Metro Manila eliminations of the 39th National Milo Marathon on Sunday.
The 32-year old father of two was a perennial finalist but never a winner in the country's longest-running foot race until he beat Mario Maglinao with a clocking of two hours, 37 minutes and 44 seconds.
Maglinao came in second in 2:39:47 and Rene Desuyo crossed the line at 2:45:57 in third.
Panique now turns his sights on the national finals, where he was second in 2009 and 2012.
“Since 2005 nasa Finals na ako palagi pero hindi ako nagcha-champion,” said the native of EB Magalona, Negros Occidental. “Pinaghandaan ko talaga ito eh (mabuti)."
In the distaff side, Luisa Raterta, fired up after failing to compete in the Manila leg of the nationwide eliminations owing to illness, won with a time of 3:10:36, besting Criselyn Jaro (3:25:03) and April Rose Diaz (3:34:02).
“Kasi sa Manila leg talaga ako tumatakbo talaga sa elimination,” said the runner from Tagapo, Sta. Rosa, Laguna. “Last year ‘di ako nakasali sa elimination kasi kaka-training ko nagkasakit ako, trangkaso.”
“Pinagplanuhan ko talaga, sabi ko umpisa pa lang bibilisan ko na para ‘di na sila makahabol,” added Raterta, 33.
Panique and Raterta won P50,000 each and got the chance to be the Milo Marathon King and Queen in the national finals where places in the prestigious Boston Marathon will also be at stake.
Although Panique and Raterta were all smiles during the post-run interview, they admitted that the new course was quite a challenge for them.
The organizers were forced to reroute the course this year due to road works being done on roads in the vicinity of the Mall of Asia concert grounds leading to Buendia in Makati and the Pasong Tamo area and back.
“Nakakapanibago kasi ang daming paliku-liko,” said Raterta of the new course, which stretched from the MOA concert grounds to Philippine International Convention Center to Luneta and back.
Running coach and race organizer Rio dela Cruz explained the change.
“May construction kasi eh, ang sabi sa amin sa April ang start (ng construction pero) every month namo-move. So we had no choice kung hindi gumawa na ng final route,” said dela Cruz.