FORMER University of Mindanao (UM) standout Corporal Jho-An Banayag Villarma, who was enduring a plantar injury, finished third in the women's 21K event of the TNI International Marathon 2018 Inter-Armed Forces/Police in Lombok, Indonesia, on Sunday, November 4.
The 36-year-old mother of five-year-old John Reyan clocked a total of one hour, 37 minutes and 50.4 seconds while Kenyan runner Chemutai Immaculaig timed 1:20:52.7 to clinch the title. Indonesian bet Endah Eka registered 1:36.33 to grab the second spot.
Manila-based Villarma, born in Mapawa, Maragusan, Compostela Valley Province, however, said her best time in 21K during her peak years was 1:18.00.
"Nalipay ko Ma'am ug nagpasalamat kay God kay unexpected jod nko na mahuman ang race kay tungod may injury ko sa plantar. Start pa lang ramdam na nako ang sakit pero nung nasa last six kilometers sabi ko banatan na nako ni bahala unsay makaya sa akoang tiil (I'm happy and thankful to God that I finished the race despite my plantar injury. I was feeling the pain from the start but in the finals six kilometers I told myself I would go all out regardless of how fast my plantar injury could take me)," she told SunStar Davao in a Facebook interview Sunday evening.
Thus, the 2009 Laos Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist caught up with the frontrunners. "Mao naabutan nako og nag third ko, fighting spirit lang (I finished third due to my fighting spirit)."
Villarma, who had been with the national track and field team for almost 12 years, competed in the race for the first time.
She wanted to still play in the national team but she could no longer meet the standard time and her work as a soldier is demanding.
There are more races that she could join after the Indonesia event but Villarma said she would focus on healing her injury first before competing again.
Pursuing her running while in the army service, she said, is a daunting task.
"Makapag-ensayo lang kami ng focus kapag may papel na approve kami pwedeng makaensayo sa labas pero kung wala hind kami maka-focus. Any time on call kami.
Inuuna kasi ang duties, pag may time makasingit mag-training pero wala rin kasi pagod ang lawas (body)," she added.
Villarma copped a bronze in the 2007 Thailand SEA Games and placed fourth in the 2005 Philippines and 2011 Indonesia SEA Games.
She recently was a runner-up in the elimination of the National Milo Marathon, 32K champion in the Run with Me, Great Run champion and bronze medalist in the AFP-PNP Olympics.
Meanwhile, Rafael Poliquit, Jr. placed fourth in the men's 21K with a time of 1:13:11.3 while Cyrus Kipkemboi Mutai (1:05:03) emerged champion.