Sunday, October 11, 2015

39th National MILO Marathon Bacolod

Philippine Navy member Rene Herrera and full time runner Jennylyn Nobleza led the pack at the Bacolod leg of the 39th National MILO Marathon on Sunday. The country’s most prestigious footrace saw 10,400 runners answer the starting gun in the festive streets of the City of Smiles.

Being NMM regulars for years, Herrera and Nobleza used their experience to their advantage to clinch the top spots of the 21K centerpiece event. In the men’s division, Herrera clocked in at 01:14:12, relegating Maclin Sadia (01:15:04) to second place and Jason Agravante (01:16:41) to third place.

Herrera, a five time SEA Games gold medalist, represented the Philippines in Athletics at the 2012 London Olympics and made his debut at the 5000 metres race. He has been running since he was in high school, and started joining the MILO Marathon in 1996. In 2001, the 36-year-old Guimaras native won first place in the 42K event of the MILO Marathon Manila leg. He also joined Coach Jim Saret as an assistant coach in the MILO R2-APEX Running Clinics last year, helping fellow runners prepare for marathons. “The lessons in the MILO R2 running clinics also helped me improve my performance in running,” shared Herrera. “My experience as a coach was also a learning experience for me, and to this day, I use all the techniques I gained from the clinics as I prepare for running events, especially the MILO Marathon.”

In the distaff side, Nobleza posted a time of 01:34:23, besting her rivals Stephanie Cadosale (01:38:15) and Helen Ison (01:46:32) who followed in second and third place, respectively.

Nobleza, a 28-year-old from Negros Occidental, started her foray into running by leisurely jogging with her best friend who encouraged her to join races. She then realized her potential and pursued her passion for running. In 2014, she won second place in the 42K event in the Manila leg of the MILO Marathon, but she was unable to join the National Finals. This year, she is determined on training well for the grand finale in December. “I feel like I’ve lost a chance to prove myself, since I didn’t join the finals last year,” said Nobleza. “Hopefully, with the right training and focus, I will able to secure a good finish.”

Meanwhile, eight promising young athletes from Education and Training Center and School 1 swept the top ranks in the 3K female race category. Under the mentorship of one of the team’s coaches, Frank Echevarria, the girls from ETCS-1 took eight out of ten gold medals of the 3K race. This is the first time the triathlon group competed in the National MILO Marathon. “Our girls follow a strict training regimen,” Coach Frank said. “As a first-time contender of the MILO Marathon, they really put their hearts on this one so they can compete at their best,” he continued. The young girls do a full-week schedule of workouts, long runs, cycling and swimming. Most of the budding champions of ETCS-1 are on their seventh grade of high school, and for them, being an athlete has been an integral part of their development as students. “As young as they are, they are physically fit and mentally sound because of sports,” Coach Frank reiterated. “The values they get from sports allowed them to be better in academics as well,” he said.

The National MILO Marathon is not only a breeding ground for local talents but also a program that empowers underserved children nationwide. With the support of the Department of Education and the National MILO Marathon runners, MILO’s Help Gives Shoes advocacy will provide 10,000 underprivileged youth with brand new running shoes this year. MILO is working with DepEd in the selection of deserving public school student beneficiaries.

The race will resume in Tagbilaran (October 4), before heading to Cebu (October 11), General Santos (October 18), Davao (November 8), Butuan (November 15), and Cagayan De Oro (November 22). The National Finals will be held on December 6 in Angeles, Pampanga.

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