Unheralded Kidapawan native Gilbert Maluyo stamped class by beating a Kenyan runner in the men’s division while Rhodah Chepkirui stood firm all-throughout to rule the distaff side last Sunday in the penultimate leg of the 35th National MILO Marathon in General Santos City.
The 30-year-old machine operator Maluyo timed 1:14:54 to relegate David Kipoech Kipsang of Kenya to third place, while Chepkirui also of Kenya registered 1:27:40 to lead a total of 14 age group qualifiers into the Grand Finals on Dec. 11 at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City.
Early bet Kipsang further compounded his woes when Elmer Bartolo of Holy Trinity College gave his all in the final kilometers to settle for second with a clocking of 1:14:56—a mere two seconds after Maluyo. Kipsang finished third in 1:15:16 followed by a City Hall employee, Royle Mariano in 1:24:23 and Family Country Hotel’s Jelbirt Gomera who settled at fifth in 1:27:34.
“I was trailing behind the Kenyan runner (Kipsang) until 9 kms into the race when I overtook him. I led at the turning point and went head to head this time with Elmer Bartolo. It was a very tight race until the very end,” said Maluyo.
Maluyo almost could not believe his victory as he was initially intimidated by the presence of a Kenyan runner and had little training. Maluyo shares, “It was a challenge for me to balance work and training and I had to wake up at 4:30 am to do a long run before I headed to work. Add to that, I was nervous because I have been hearing about Kenyans ruling races in Mindanao and Visayas,” Maluyo added.
Jerome Dela Rosa completed the top 10 cast with 1:27:39 for sixth, Rodolfo Villanueva at seventh in 1:30:38, followed by Paul Andrew Paradela (1:30:42), Francisco Veroy (1:31:29) and Diosdado Munar Sr. (1:31:52).
It was a different story on the women’s side as 24-year-old Kenyan runner Chepkirui led from start to finish outpacing last year’s National MILO Marathon Batangas leg titlist Maricel Maquilan who fell to second in 1:32:06.
“I found the race easy, I was alone from start to finish. Thankfully there were no strong local competitors and I was able to reach my goal to earn a slot in the finals,” said Chepkirui, who has been in the country for a month.
Completing the top five were April Rose Diaz who settled at third in 1:34:42, followed by Maria Estela Diaz (1:49:40) and Joan Natividad (2:08:04).
But the biggest casualty in the 21-k race was former three-time National MILO Marathon champion Cresenciano Sabal, who was unable to finish the race because of a foot injury. He is said to participate in the final Davao leg on Sunday for a final swing to clutch a spot at the finals.
The General Santos leg likewise produced a total of 500 pairs of shoes for selected students of General Santos City High School, Dadiangas South Elementary School, HN Cahilsot Central Elementary School, Ireneo Santiago High School and Balunto Elementary School as part of the National MILO Marathon’s ‘Help Give Shoes’ Advocacy.
More than 400 runners from the previous 17-leg elimination races all over the country have already earned slots at the National finals, which offers P300,000 cash prize to the winners in both the elite men and women’s 42.195-km class.
After the 16th leg, the nationwide search for the best runner in the country, will head for its final stop on Sunday in Davao City. On the run-up to the Manila Finals, the National MILO Marathon also announces it is already open for registration for 3k, 5k, 10k and 21k race categories through Manila Race organizer RunRio. Interested participants can log on to www.milo.com.ph for online registration.
Meanwhile, here is a photo of Bariles and three of his friends who finished the 5K race of the 35th MILO National Marathon last Sunday along with him. Kaya niyo yan?