CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– Arnold Unabia and Christine Hallasgo proved their mettle as they clinched the top spots of the 21K centrepiece events in the 39th National MILO Marathon Cagayan De Oro leg. Around 11,900 runners conquered the exciting challenge of a new race route on the streets of the city dubbed as the Gateway to Mindanao. The Cagayan de Oro leg is the last qualifying race this season, with the National Finals slated to be held on December 6 in Angeles Pampanga.
Unabia and Hallasgo each took home the top prize of P10,000 in cash and a trophy; and earned their slots to the National MILO Marathon Finals where they will meet the nation’s elite runners in a heated race to claim the MILO Marathon King and Queen titles.
To provide another level of prestige to the competition and incentive for the runners, this year’s King and Queen will be sent by MILO to the USA on all-expense paid trips, for a chance to run in the prestigious 2016 Boston Marathon.
It was a tight race in the men’s division, with only seconds separating the top three finishers. Unabia came out on top with a time of 01:15:27, followed closely by Jerald Zabala (01:15:40) in second place and Bryan Quiamco (01:15:50) in third place.
In the distaff side, Hallasgo dominated with a time of 01:28:25. Michelle Ann Sampang (01:39:41) and Ailene Tolentino (01:45:35) finished in second and third place, respectively.
Unabia has quite a number of feats to his name. Since first joining the MILO Marathon in 1997, the 37-year-old Misamis Oriental native has already won five qualifying legs to date, winning two in General Santos and three in Cagayan De Oro.
Unabia is an athletics coach in Tangub City who trains elementary and high school students, and out of school youth. He also trains MILO marathon runners and MILO Little Olympics student-athletes.
“I was not able to focus that much on my training because I was busy coaching my students for the MILO Little Olympics National Finals held in October. I train with them, but of course, preparing for the 21K event is different, so I also train on my own every week,” he shared.
“Coaching these kids is my way of giving back and helping them. They kids can also use sports to help them in opening up opportunities in school, like scholarships. They have very bright futures in sports.”
Hallasgo is also a returning champion to Cagayan De Oro, claiming back-to-back wins in the city for two years straight. The 22-year-old Public Administration student from Bukidnon has to balance her time between her studies and work, as she is also an intern at the Department of Agrarian Reform.“I have to wake up extra early and budget my time so I can train every morning before going to school or work,” shared Hallasgo. She also trains with her running group, the Malaybalay Runners, and her sister and brother, who also joined the race.
The passion for running and winning surely runs in the family, with her sister Estelita Organiza placing first in the 10K event, and brother Ricky Organiza placing second in 3K event. “I’m happy to see my siblings excel in the sport. I am truly proud of them,” added Hallasgo.
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 National Finals will be held on December 6 in Angeles, Pampanga.
The 39th National MILO Marathon is made possible by Timex, the Bayview Park Hotel Manila, ASICS, Smart and Maynilad, along with endorsements from the Department of Education, Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee. PNA