Veteran Ramie Lacson stole the thunder from the fancied Allan Ballester on his way to topping the men’s division Sunday even as diminutive Jenismyll Mabunga ruled the women’s race in the centerpiece 21k event in the Naga leg of the 34th National Milo Marathon.
The 34-year-old Lacson clocked a personal-best 1 hour 13 minutes and five seconds to stun the former national team standout Ballester, who finished the race in 1:15:14.
Allan Latoja wound up third by clocking 1:18:15.
“I’m just happy to finish the race with my best time,” said Lacson, a building maintenance worker, who also claimed second place in the Legazpi City leg last year.
The winner of the 5k race in the national finals last year, Mabunga reigned supreme the women’s race in convincing fashion.
Her clocking of 1:30:32 is more than 20 minutes faster than that of second placer Janice Caritas (1:51:33) and third placer Joan Pallones (1:57:08).
The top eight in both the men and women’s divisions in the Naga leg qualified for the national finals in Manila on Dec. 12.
“I know it’s going to be tough (seeing action in the national finals) but I will be ready,” said the 18-year-old Mabunga, who hails from Lucena City.
The Naga race drew 7,725 participants, a marked improvement from the 5,000 runners who competed last year.
As part of the Milo Marathon sports advocacy, the company donated 160 pairs of shoes to Teodora Moscoso Elementary School in Naga City.
In Iloilo last week, Rene Desuyo topped the men’s race in 1:14:28 and towed 33 others to the finals. The 25-year-old Desuyo placed fifth in last year’s national finals.