MANILA - As expected, runners from Kenya asserted their dominance over the locals with a 1-2 finish in the Metro Manila elimination of the 34th Milo Marathon yesterday at the Luneta park.

Kenyan Abraham Missos outraced compatriot Willy Tanui in the last 400 meters to rule the men’s division of the 42-km race in 2:39:43 to pocket the P50,000 top prize.

Despite feeling a little pain in his right leg due to an injury he suffered in Thailand two months ago, the 6’3” Tanui managed to finish second with a time of 2:44.43.

Tanui also topped the men’s division of the Cebu City Marathon last January.

However, running enthusiasts remain hopeful Pinoys will still dominate the final race as Missos’s time was seven minutes slower than Crescenciano Sabal’s 2:32.54 run last year.

The country’s top runners, Allan Ballester and Eduardo Buenavista, did not join the race.

Buenavista also hold the RP record of 2:19.

“We have a good day today. The weather is good and I hope I can win again in the Finals in November,” said Missos, who broke away from the six-man lead pack in the last 26 kilometers.

Modesto Madalang was the best Filipino finisher with a time of 2:46.51, which was just enough for third and P20,000. Alley Quisay settled for fourth (2:50.02) and Joel Benglay was fifth with a time of 2:55.3.

Ninth best

In the distaff side, the Filipina runners proved they are not afraid of the Kenyans after organizers opened the annual race for the first time to foreigners.

Kenya’s Susan Chepkwany could only settle for the ninth spot and Luisa Raterta of Sta. Rosa, Laguna ruled the event with a time of 3:28.41. Joanne Manangat (3:31.29) finished second and Geraldine Sealza (3:37.50) was third.

“We have to prove we are still the best in our country. And this win is very necessary for me because We have just bought a house last month and I need this P50,000 prize to pay for it,” said Raterta, whose victory was her first biggest so far since joining the race in 2004.

Librada Tamson (3:45.52) and Mila Paje (3:50.14) closed out the top five.

“We really prepared for this race because we knew the Kenyans are here and we don’t want to be relegated to the sideline. I think, we are still better than them if we just have enough preparation,” said Raterta, a mother of three.

Some 20,000 runners from the different schools and clubs answered the starting gun, which organizers hope can be duplicated in the other 17 regional eliminations throughout the country.