MANILA, Philippines – Former Milo Marathon king Julius Sermona defied bad weather to top the fourth leg of the 36th National Milo Marathon last Sunday at Angeles City.
Over 6,150 registered runners participated in the race leg as Angeles City hosted the Milo Marathon eliminations for the first time.
Sermona, a former member of the Philippine National Team, withstood the heavy downpour and finished the race with a time of 1:13:02 to lead several other runners into the National Finals on December 9 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Having won two silver medals in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter run in the Bangkok Southeast Asian Games in 2007, the 34-year-old Sermona is one of the fastest runners in this year’s finals.
In 2006, he dominated the 43-K track of the 30th Milo Marathon National Finals with a personal best time of 2:21:53.
Sermona said his training for the qualifying race will be his foundation for the finals.
“I focused on endurance training, road running, once-a-week workout, and hard training,” he said. “For the finals, I plan to increase the volume and intensity of my routine. I plan to run a few short-distance divisional races and add about 5 to 10-k to my training as well.”
“My goal is to win the finals. I want to defeat the Kenyans in the open division, which is why I hope to avoid injuries,” he added.
Quisay Alley came in second place in the men’s division with a time of 1:14:11, followed by Ryan Mendoza with a time of 1:17:32.
In the women’s division, Merdeliza Dizu stamped her class by outracing fellow veteran Geralden Selaza in the final 200 meters to top the women’s division, finishing with a time of 1:36:02.
Sealza settled for second place, clocking in at 1:37:21, followed by Marychiel Minas-Morales with a time of 1:42:04.
“Since school started this June, I have been training every day for an hour,” Dizu said. “I focus on endurance since I’m used to being a mid-distance runner.
“This is actually the first time I ran the 21-K track. I’m very happy to win,” she added.
The 19-year-old Dizu has yet to decide whether to pursue the local or open category this year.
“It depends on my coach. I am still trying to pace myself and to gauge my capabilities as a runner,” she said.
Sermona and Dizu will lead 34 other qualifiers into the 36th National Milo Marathon Finals on December 9 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.
Earlier, former three-time Milo Marathon champion Eduardo Buenavista and veteran campaigner Miscelle Gilbuena advanced to the National Finals when they topped the Tarlac City elimination leg last week.
Organizers are expecting a total of 40,000 runners, of which over 2,000 registered for the 42-K track, to participate in the Metro Manila qualifying leg on July 29 at the MOA grounds.
This marks a record-brekaing number of participants for a single race category in the history of the Milo Marathon.
The winner in the local category in the national finals will receive P150,000 for the men’s and women’s division, while P300,000 will be given to the winners in the Open category.
A bonus prize of P50,000 will be given to the runner who can break the 2:15:00 invisible time barrier and P20,000 for the runner who can break the course record of 2:18:53, set by Eduardo Buenavista in 2004.
Another P20,000 is offered to the runner who can break the 2:48:16 record of Jho-Ann Banayag, set in 2008.
The qualifying race shifts to Metro Manila on July 29 and then to Naga on August 19.