Sunday, March 29, 2015

Poliquit, Tabal Conquer ASICS LA Marathon

Fresh from their stellar victories in the 38th National MILO Marathon, Philippine Air Force member Rafael Poliquit Jr. and marathon record-holder Mary Joy Tabal completed the prestigious ASICS Los Angeles Marathon on Sunday, March 15. Poliquit and Tabal, the reigning MILO Marathon King and Queen, were pitted against over 26,000 runners from 50 states of the US and 55 countries in the world, including the top athletes from the United States, who competed in the 42K running event to qualify for the US National Team for the 2016 Olympics.

Following last year’s delegation to the Paris Marathon, the National MILO Marathon awarded both athletes with all-expenses paid trips to the ASICS LA Marathon as the Philippine delegates sponsored by MILO. The ASICS LA Marathon is one of the five largest full marathons in the United States, and one of the ten largest races in the world.

The 26-year-old Davaoeño Poliquit clocked in at 2:36:09 and ranked 27th overall in the men’s division. In the distaff side, 25-year-old Cebuana Tabal posted a time of 2:51:17 and finished 27th overall in the women’s division.

California was baked in heat on race day, but it was nothing compared to the scorching sun in the Philippines. In fact, Poliquit found the weather to be cool, and made the race very challenging. “I am not really used to colder weather. I had difficulties in breathing normally as I went along the race. I was also unable to hydrate myself well because I thought I wasn’t thirsty because of the cold,” admitted Poliquit. “I also felt that my lower limbs were starting to cramp past the 30KM mark. This was truly challenging, because the route had more uphill parts towards the second half.”

Tabal, however, found the colder weather good and used it to her advantage. “It wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t too hot, which, for me, is good for a race. The route was wide open, no vehicles, and it was safe for us to move freely, but still, it was very challenging,” shared Tabal. “I was not included amongst the group of elite runners whose gun time was ahead by ten minutes, so I had to catch up and make up for the delay. I also wanted to run alongside somebody so I can set my pace, but I could not find anyone and had to push myself and maintain a good pace until the finish line.”

“The Africans, especially the Ethiopians and Kenyans, were the fastest among the group, and it was very hard to keep stride with them. They really are made of a different caliber,” shared Poliquit. “During the start of the race, I was able to run alongside my idol, US marathoner Ryan Hall. It is one of the highlights of my first international race. I didn’t expect that I would be able to join a big international race like this. It’s a dream come true.”

Tabal admitted that she had to chase the female elite runners in the hopes of finishing with a higher rank. “I was able to keep up with best runners and I was really confident of finishing in the top 10, but I suddenly had a bad stomach and it affected my running,” said Tabal. “I had to shift to a relaxed pace in order to survive the race. The supporters along the road cheered me on, shouting “Go Baby Girl!”, and it spurred me on. I made it and it was a very wonderful and rewarding experience.”

“The ASICS LA Marathon is another accomplishment and a dream come true for me, as a runner. It’s an honor to represent the Philippines in a big international event. I would like to thank MILO for believing in us to reach the international stage. I am very grateful to my coach Philip Dueñas. I wouldn’t be here if not for his patience, effort and support,” said Tabal. “I would like to dedicate this achievement to my kababayans, especially the Cebuanos, who always give their all-out support. When I crossed the finish line, it felt like it wasn’t just me who did it, but my kababayans, the entire nation also crossed it with me.”

MILO Sports Marketing Manager Andrew Neri expressed his pride for the two athletes. “Rafael and Mary Joy have truly raised the Philippine flag high in Los Angeles, and proved once again that Filipinos are exceptional and world class. We are delighted to have provided them the platform to showcase their athletic excellence amongst the world’s best runners,” remarked MILO Sports Marketing Manager Andrew Neri.

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