By Mark Manez
Pasay City - The country's leading chocolate drink MILO officially launched its 42nd reincarnation of the National Milo Marathon at the Conrad Manila function hall Thursday morning.
The country's biggest and longest running footrace continues its advocacy of highlighting character-forming lessons that participants will learn after. With its ongoing theme "Magsama-sama, Tumakbo, Matuto", Milo is strengthening in upholding values for runners throughout.
With close to 150,000 runners, it is also one of the biggest-drawn marathon events, not only in the country, but also in the Southeast Asian region as well.
"We are pushing for an active and healthy lifestyle for the youth, and as part of an advocacy of encouraging children more into sports," said Nestle Philippines Business Unit Manager and Vice president Willie de Ocampo.
"The 42nd National Milo Marathon continues to center on the life lessons that runners can learn and take with them beyond the finish line," Lester Castillo, Milo Philippines Sports Executive stated. "We are committed to delivering an inspiriong season as we highlight the values of discipline, resilience, and determination to help our runners be molded into true champions."
The 11-leg marathon will kick off its festivities in Urdaneta, Pangasinan on July 15, with the Metro Manila leg schedule on July 29 at the SM Mall of Asia Grounds. Eight other qualifiers will also kick off within the five month period leading to the much-awaited National Finals in Laoag City on December 9.
Reigning MILO Marathon king Jeorge Andrade and five-time queen Mary Joy Tabal will go head to head with the top contenders to defend their titles with hopes of bagging this year's top prize.
The final race also culminates Ilocos Norte's year-long celebration of its bicentennial which kicked off earlier this year.
"Ilocos Norte and the City of Laoag have given their full support for National Milo Marathon so it's all systems go for the preparation of the National Finals," said Faivo Bartolome, Run Rio local race organizer. We believe that this will be a new and exciting experience as the finale will highlight Laoag's vibrant culture that runners can appreciate. We lok forward to welcoming MILO and all the participants to celebrate Laoag's significant milestone with us."
Also, during the media launch, Milo, in cooperation with the Department of Education thru Undersecretary Tonisito Umali launched Champ Camp which will target 500,000 children into different sports disciplines.
In addition, 1,500 shoes will be donated to deserving school children all over the country and 2,500 basketballs for deserving schools as part of its continuing legacy of building champions and boosting encouragement to children in getting into sports.
Aside from the cash prizes and trophy at stake, Tag Heuer, the event's official time keeper will also give away watches for the champions, and participation to the Incheon International Half Marathon slated mid-2019.
The winning time also in the national finals will also be listed as qualifying time for potential contenders in next year's Southeast Asian Games.
Also present at the media launch were PATAFA President Philip Ella Juico, Secretary General Nonoy Unso, Athletics director Edward Co, Coaches Jim and Toni Saret of Fit Fil, and celebrity runner Solenn Heusaff.