SEAG discard, Kenyans rule 35th Milo Marathon
MANILA, Philippines—For the past six months, Mary Grace delos Santos has religiously trained in Baguio City in a bid to make it to the national team.
She was bypassed by the Philippine team to the Southeast Asian Games, but her no-nonsense attitude and hard work paid off Sunday at the 35th National Milo Marathon at the SM Mall of Asia grounds.
The 24-year-old from Zamboanga captured her first national title in the women’s 42K division, easily besting a strong field that included SEA Games campaigner and two-time champion Jho-An Banayag.
“I was frustrated when I didn’t make the SEA Games because I really wanted to represent the country,” the lithe delos Santos said. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. There is no assurance of food and allowances when you are just part of the training pool.”
Mentored by marathon legend Roy Vence, Delos Santos—also the top Filipino finisher in the 2nd Camsur Marathon last September—clocked 2 hours 53 minutes and 7 seconds to win the title with Banayag, bucking an injured leg, finishing 2 minutes and 1 second behind.
Mary Joy Tabal settled for third (3:01:41) while last year’s champion Flordeliza Doños clocked 3:06:05 for fourth.
Delos Santos said she will use part of her P300,000 prize to buy a parcel of land in her hometown in Zamboanga.
Under overcast skies, Kenyan James Tallam became the first foreigner to win the men’s 42K, leading a 1-2-3-4 finish by Africans in a race that will be remembered more for the failure of Filipino big guns like Eduardo Buenavista, Cresenciano Sabal and Eric Panique to put up a challenge.
Tallam, a businessman from Eldoret, took the lead at the 30K mark from compatriot Willy Rotich on his way to clocking 2:28.02. Rotch wound up second just 27 seconds behind Tallam, while Abraham Missos (2:29:27) and David Kipsang (2:31:05) finished third and fourth, respectively.
Buenavista, a three-time winner; Panique, the SEA Games silver medalist; and Cresenciano Sabal were present at the starting line but did not finish the race, according to race organizer Rio Dela Cruz.
In their absence, Iloilo leg champion Jeson Agravante carried the fight for Filipinos, ending up fifth. The 23-year-old from Silay City clocked 2:34:30. Irineo Raquin was the other Filipino landing in the top 10 as his time of 2:34:10 proved enough for sixth spot.
Rest of top 10 in the men’s division: Benjamin Kepkazi (2:38:39), Douglas Mwiti (2:39:44), Eliud Kering (2:40:31) and Josphat Kiptanui (2:43:02).