Last July 31, 2016, thousands of runners made their way to MOA to participate in the Metro Manila leg of the National Milo Marathon which is the only leg that has a full marathon qualifying distance. Now on its 40th year, National Milo Marathon remains to be one of the country’s longest running and prestigious one.
Aside from the National Milo Finals in December, this is where one can get the much coveted Milo “platito” medal for running the 42.195k distance within the sub 6 medal cut-off.
Not Your Ordinary Running Event
In most 10k, 21k and 42k runs here, everyone who manages to finish the distance gets a medal, no matter how fast or slow you ran it as long as you’ve finished it. Well, this doesn’t go the same with Milo events. Here you’re required to finish the distance within a certain time in order for you to get one.
This aims to bring out the best in the runners as they strive to do better. Yes, you’ve got to work for it.
I think this is one race event where most runners show up ready to at least make it to cut-off or to even try to qualify for the Milo finals in their age group.
It’s not an easy time to meet the qualifying time and needs a lot of training to achieve. Either that, or you wait for a few more years to get older to make the qualifying time easier to achieve.
Checking in for the 42k distance was done slightly differently this year. A stub on the bib was torn off and the bib stamped by the marshals before entering the pen. When a bottleneck started forming, they skipped the stamping part.
This being my 3rd year of participating in the Milo Marathon Elims, it has always been a strong start with the elites and fast runners up front. This was expected as everyone runs to meet a certain time. It takes a lot of discipline to try not to get carried away with the strong runners and their fast pace. So strong were they that I only noticed runners walking after the 1st u-turn at Luneta.
It was the same one two years ago. Last years’ was different as it didn’t go far off into BGC and did the Roxas stretch twice instead. I think most who ran last years Milo would agree when I say last years’ route was easier. Most of those who ended with good finish times last year, didn’t so in this one.
Hydration, Portalets, Marshals, Etc.
As this was organized by RunRio, hydration stations were overflowing with cold water, Gatorade and ice except for the last 2 to 3 hydration stations near MOA to the finish line that ran out of cups or hydration as these were situated in the shared route with the 21k’ers. 2 stations if I’m not mistaken had bananas.
There were used sponges I saw on the road heading back to MOA. I can’t recall seeing sponges along the 42k route (or maybe I just failed to notice).
Marshals were well positioned to manage the traffic for the runners crossing the busy roads.
There were portalets every now and then along the route and lots more at the activity area. Lots as in lots as the one I used post run hadn’t even been used yet.
It was nice that they also provided Dressing Tents at that activity area for you to change your soaked clothes, if only there were curtains inside where you could really get undressed to change. Better too, if the tent entrance didn’t keep flying open with the wind for everyone outside to see the runners dressing inside.
My marathon strategy was a 5k run all the way warm-up followed by run-walk interval of 2 minutes: 3o seconds. Honestly, I’d have to say this was a TOUGH one. The graph of my zones pretty much says it all.
Never try anything new on race day
I didn’t quite follow this rule as this was the 1st time I decided to half my GU packs taking half a serving every 5km. Useful? I guess it was as it distributed the energy I needed throughout the distance even giving me a second wind and even third and fourth during the 2nd half of the distance. Although, I still feel that I still need to find more ways to sustain the energy left for the 2nd half. Rice?
The last few kilometers as always feels like never ending. Every time I’d look at the side of the road, it was a screaming invitation for me to sit down and rest, but I couldn’t. Every second counted and I had to talk to myself that I could take extra walk breaks, but should not stop completely. I was in auto pilot mode and felt really light headed. At that point, if you probably threw me a math question, I wouldn’t be able to answer. Oh, wait! Even if I wasn’t running a marathon, I still probably wouldn’t be able to answer.
I stopped at every hydration station from Buendia going back to MOA. When I reached the last 2-3 hydration stations near MOA, the cups were either used up, there was no more water or they were already packing up as these were situated along a shared route with the 21k. Huhuhu… All that was left was foams scattered along the road.
Having gained more running friends through the years, my 3rd Milo Marathon gave me a sense of being part of the running community. Every few meters or so, there would be a familiar face I’d see and it felt good to know that I wasn’t alone… suffering. 😀
Kidding. These people gave an extra boost to my running.
The Last Stretch to Finish Line
As we made a last right turn, there were two streets to run on. At the end of the right street was the Finish line arc. We were directed to take the one on the left that had a crowd of people in green at the end.
It sure didn’t look like a finish line and I had myself asking another runner if that indeed was the finish line or if we had to make a u-turn to the other side where the huge finish line arc was.
Turns out it was indeed the finish line and I couldn’t be more relieved to run the last few steps to the blue timing mat.
I look up to check my finish time…like, where on earth is the clock?!? They had placed a smaller clock in the middle where runners from behind would have a hard time seeing it.
Happy, that I still finished managed to do a sub 5.
Not fast enough to qualify, but hey, who’s complaining? I never really did aim to qualify even if all I needed was to shave off 4 minutes from my current marathon PR. Sounds easy, but, ask any long distance runner and they’d know how 4 minutes would seem like 44 minutes when you’re running a long distance. I didn’t want to push it either. I didn’t want to end up as a Milo casualty 2016 statistic.
This is what most of my runner friends also said when they knew a PR or their dream to qualify was next to impossible already. I’m glad that most runners now know when it’s time to let go off a dream to live to run another day.
Speaking of casualties, there’s only 1 incident I heard of. No, no one died, Thank God.
Ready to challenge yourself for a time pressured marathon? Then, you have to give Milo Marathon a try. See you at Milo 41st? 🤔
Photo Credits: Active Pinas • Running Jack Lens • Pinoy Fitness • Road Eaters Running Club • Photo-Ops • Lakbay Buhay • RuN anD ShooT •
Chip time: 4:53:55
Overall Ranking: 594/2097