(from milo.com.ph)

 As the hour struck five in the afternoon yesterday, I asked permission from my bureau chief to leave the office and make my way to the North Greenhills Clubhouse for the 33rd Milo National Finals Carboloading dinner and distribution of race packs.

After the kick off eliminations in Dipolog and Subic on February 8 of this year for a total of 26 elimination stages and 200,000 runners from all over the country and all walks of life, 235 qualifiers (169 from the Manila stage) will vie for top honors on October 11 in the country’s oldest marathon event.

The ride from Malate to Greenhills took a little over an hour so by the time I got to the venue, Bald Runner Jovie-san was already wrapping up his talk. I came just in time to hear him say that the Philippines has a huge potential for producing Olympic champions like Kenya.

I looked around and I couldn’t remember being in a room, or a hall for that matter, filled with people who who all looked very fit! I felt very fortunate to say the least to be a part of the group, knowing that I just barely qualified and that the provincial qualifiers had a strict time barrier of 1:15 for men and 1:35 for women for the 21k qualifying runs.

(from milo.com.ph)

It was also nice to meet and talk to Tigerboy Junrox and other runners, some I only get to see as they would make their way at the turn-around points way, way ahead of me in the races that I have joined. In fact when I was lining up for the buffet dinner, I asked one runner to stay ahead of me as I’m used to that position everytime we would join the same race.

It was an evening filled with good food, fun games, pleasant conversations with other runners, and surprises (the whole event was a surprise for me as I didn’t even know there would be a qualifiers’ dinner when I signed up for my first Milo full marathon this year). Very exciting to note, too, that chip timing will be used for the first time in the race.

Two more days before my first Milo finals. I’m sure I’ll have problems sleeping the night before trying to contain my excitement!