Poliquit, Tabal defend MILO Marathon King and Queen crowns in Pampanga

Defending MILO Marathon King Rafael Poliquit and MILO Marathon Queen Mary Joy Tabal successfully held on to their crowns in the National Finals of the 39th National MILO Marathon held in Angeles, Pampanga on Sunday, as they beat fierce opposition in the 42K centrepiece event. Almost 14,100 happy runners enjoyed the scenic route, and despite the challenge brought about by the rain, the race was very safe and successful.

Tabal set a record of being the first Filipina to achieve three consecutive MILO Marathon Queen titles, while Poliquit clinched his second consecutive MILO Marathon King title. The champions received PHP 150,000 in cash and a trophy each. Tabal received an additional PHP 250,000 for placing second in the 42K female open category. Both will also be sent by MILO to the USA on all-expense paid trips to represent the Philippines in the prestigious 2016 Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathon.

It was a tight race at the top, with back-to-back champion Poliquit finishing first with a time of 02:36:12, relegating rival Juneil Languido to second place with a time of 02:36:21. Maclin Sadia (02:37:43) followed in third. Poliquit, who was last year’s surprise winner, shared that being able to defend his title is definitely special. “It’s such a blessing to win my second title in a row,” said the 26-year-old Tagum City native. “I can’t explain the feeling. I’m proud because all of the hardships and the challenges I faced during my preparations are worth it.”

In the distaff side, three-time MILO Marathon Queen Tabal ruled with a time of 02:48:24, with Mary Grace Delos Santos (03:02:21) and Christabel Martes (03:02:29) placing second and third, respectively. Tabal shared that she was under so much pressure coming into the race, because everyone was expecting her to win again. “I couldn’t help but cry when I crossed the finish line,” said the 26-year-old Cebuana. “I’m so happy and relieved. I wouldn’t have achieved this without the help, prayers and support of my family, friends, and my coach Philip Duenas.”

Kenyan runners dominated the 42K open category, with James Tallam (02:20:10) leading the male category, followed by Josphat Kiptanui (02:20:49) and Julius Keprotich Seurei (02:21:54). In the female category, Elizabeth Rumokol (02:43:45) led the ranks, with Mary Joy Tabal (02:48:24) and Margaret Wangui Njuguna (02:49:32) completing the top three. Runners of all ages joined in the 3K, 5K, 10K and 21K divisions, and well-known personalities, including Yayo Aguila, Ara Mina and JC Parker, also joined in the grand finale.

MILO Sports Executive Andrew Neri expressed his heartfelt gratitude for another amazing marathon season. “We at MILO would like to thank all of our partners who supported us at the 39th National MILO Marathon. Today’s successful race is testament to our runners’ passion and dedication to move forward in their champion journey,” said Neri. “Next year is the 40th year of the MILO Marathon, and we would like to invite everyone to join us in celebrating this very important milestone. Congratulations to all and see you next year!”

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