The organizers of the Cebu Elimination Race of the 38th National Milo Marathon have once again set the standards higher among the event’s qualifying races nationwide with a total of 26,736 runners taking to the streets early Sunday morning.
This broke the record number of participants that the Cebu leg posted 10 years ago in 2004 which was 25,000.
Such is the trust that the Milo Marathon officials have on the organizers that the Cebu leg is allowed to have that many participants.
“Hindi kami basta-basta nag-a-add ng participants if the organizers cannot handle it,” said Milo Sports executive Andrew Neri during the press conference last Friday held at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).
Neri was joined by national race director Rio dela Cruz and Ricky Ballesteros, who heads the organizing committee for the Cebu leg.
According to Dela Cruz, the number of participants for the Cebu leg have allowed the Milo Marathon to surpass its target number of participants for the entire event this year with still four more elimination races to be held in Butuan, Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and Davao before the national finals on December 7.
Dela Cruz said they have targeted 165,000 but with the Cebu leg, the number of participants have already gone up to more or less 167,000.
In last year’s Milo Marathon, the Cebu leg was named as the biggest regional qualifying and the best organized race.
Neri has commended Ballesteros and his team for their consistency in raising the bar in organizing the event, which Neri said is what they have exactly asked for in an organizer.
This year, Ballesteros said more than a thousand personnel comprised of police, barangay tanods, medics and volunteer marshals will be deployed to ensure the safety of all participants, which is a priority in all Milo races.
There will be a total of 14 water stations, two medical stations and five music stations which will be blaring hip-hop music to put fun into the race.
For the first time in the event’s history, runners now have an insurance while those wanting to join the 21K distance were required to submit a medical certificate duly signed by a physician within two months before the race.
Neri said that this move is to keep the Milo Marathon at par with other international races and to set it apart from other run races in the country.
Should a participant not be able to present a medical certificate, organizers can downgrade his/her race to the lesser distances or refund him/her if they have already paid the registration fee.
Aside from the 21K, other distances in the race are 10K, 5K and the 3K. Of the close to 27,000 participants, 25,000 will be racing in the 5K.
The race will start infront of the Cebu Normal University along Osmena Blvd. and end at the CCSC with the 21K reaching as far as Mandaue City. Roads will be closed along the race route (Check out photo of race map for guidance)
All participants will be released in 11 to 12 waves with each wave to consist between 1,500 to 2,000 runners. This is done to manage and control the crowd and to make sure that all participants are safe and secured.
The 21K participants will be released at 4:30 a.m. with the cut-off time set 2 ½ hours later; the 10K at 5 a.m. with the cut-off time set an hour and a half later and the 5K and 3K participants to be released at 5:30 a.m. with the official cut-off time set an hour later.
Only duly registered participants will be allowed on the race route except for the 3K.
The 21K is also only open to Filipinos as the distance will serve as the qualifying race for the 42K national finals slated for December 7 in Manila.
Qualifying time for the men participants is set at one hour and 15 minutes while for the women, it is one hour and 35 minutes. Or, a runner may also qualify by breaching the time set for specific age brackets.
Neri revealed that next year, the national finals will be held outside Manila to drum up more interest for the event.
The sports executive, however, refused to name the new venue but said that Cebu has been considered as one of the choices.
The top male and female winners in the national finals will get to compete in the Tokyo Marathon, Asia’s biggest race to date.
To add to the fun of the event, local organizers have cooked side events such as the Biggest School Delegation Competition, Inter-School Running Competition and the Cheer Dance Competition.
Cash, trophies, plaques and sports equipment await winners.
Ballesteros said they are hoping to wrap up the event between 8 a.m. to 9 a.m.