A non-Filipino won the National MILO Marathon for the first time in the event’s illustrious 37-year history.
Kenya’s James Tallam sprinted his way into the record books early Sunday morning by winning the prestigious 42-kilometer race held for the first time at the SM Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.
The 24-year old Tallam, who has spent eight months in the country, kept his pace for most of the race before separating himself in the latter part to secure his breakthrough victory.
Tallam clocked in at two hours, 28 minutes and two seconds to earn the top prize of P300,000 despite nursing a calf injury he sustained during training.
“I just maintained my speed for the first 30 kilometers before pulling away,” said Tallam, who topped the race that began coursed from MOA to Taguig City and back.
This added Tallam’s list of wins in Asia that includes races in Taiwan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Earlier this year, he won the Metro Manila leg to qualify for the event.
It was total dominance by Kenyans as Tallam was joined by seven compatriots in the top ten.
Willy Rotich finished second, 27 seconds behind Tallam. Abraham Missos came in third at 2:29:27 while David Kipkoech Kipsang was fourth at 2:31:05.
Unheralded runners Jeson Agravante and Irinio Raquin were the only Filipinos who made the top ten. The former finished in fifth with 2:34.30 while the latter made it at 2:34:52.
Rounding out the list are Kenyans Benjamin Kipkazi (2:38:39), Douglas Mwiti (2:39:44), Eliud Kiprugut Kering (2:40:31) and Josphat Kiptanui (2:43:02).
National team veteran and three-time champion Eduardo Buenavista was dethroned after failing to complete the race.
Mary Grace delos Santos kept local supremacy in the women’s division with a time of two hours, 53 minutes and seven seconds.
For Delos Santos, who finished second in the Camsur Marathon last September, it was redemption after being denied a spot in the Southeast Asian Games held recently in Palembang, Indonesia.
“Blessing in disguise na rin na hindi ako makasama sa SEA Games dahil siguro may iba pang purpose na nakalaan para sa akin,” said delos Santos, who will use her P300,000 purse to buy land in her hometown of Zamboanga.
Two-time winner Jho-An Banayag took second place honors at 2:55:08 while Mary Joy Tabal finished third at 3:01:41. Defending champion Flordeliza Donos settled for fourth place at 3:06:05.
In other results, Kenyan Alex Melly won the men’s 21-kilometer category at one hour, 11 minutes and 41 seconds while Nhea Ann Barcena took the women’s crown at 1:35:41.
Tuwei Samson and Juan Jeruto won their respective divisions in the 10-kilometer race. Samson took the men’s title at 31 minutes and 45 seconds while Jeruto bagged the women’s title at 40 minutes and 27 seconds.
NCAA standout Mervin Guarte of San Sebastian took the 5-kilometer race at 15 minutes and 33 seconds with Josephine Mendoza winning the female division at 19 minutes and 24 seconds.
Kimm Sayrio dela Cruz, an 11-year-old from the Malabon Athletics Club, captured the 3-kilometer category at 10 minutes and five seconds even as Lovely Rica Moreno of San Jose Academy took the women’s championship at 11 minutes and 48 seconds.
Race organizers said that over 23,000 people participated in the 35th edition of the event.