Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

Rafael Poliquit, The Master


I have decided to compose all my articles for my friend the Late Great Rafael Poliquit, who passed away in early 2019.

Poliquit was also a member of Run For Change, a program made to help athletes by Atty. Eric Pasion. I found an interview I did with Rafael back in 2017.


Rafael Poliquit dies

Tragically Philippine Sports has lost one of its greats.

Triple Milo Marathon King Rafael Poliquit is popularly known as Master Endurance. Passed away from subdural empyema.

Rafael Poliquit passed away on Thursday afternoon after being in a coma for the past few days at the V. Luna Medical Center in Quezon City.

He was 30 years old. According to, subdural empyema

“is a collection of pus between the dura mater and the underlying arachnoid mater.”

Meeting Rafael Poliquit

I first met Rafael back in 2013, when he joined our Run For Change Team Managed by Eric Pasion. Seeing the guy’s results at UAAP, and he was imposing and upcoming over 5,000 and 10,000 meters. I later found out Rafa was an upcoming star in Philippine Athletics and had the previous December taken the Bronze in the 2012 ASEAN University Games (he beat Future 2015, and 2017 SEA Games Marathon Champion Soh Rui Yong in that race).

I took an instant liking to the humble and very positive attitude of  Rafael Poliquit. And he was extremely well-mannered. At that time, Rafael Poliquit was being coached by Rosito Andaya. A man who a lot misunderstood, but Rafael Poliquit had the utmost respect of his coach. 

Rafael Poliquit was one of the last products of famed long-distance coach Rosito Andaya at Far Eastern University.

In 2014, Andaya said: “He is not as talented as ( marathon king Eduardo) Buenavista but he is intelligent and willing to work. So I used those traits and made him undergo surging drills and improve other aspects like strength.”

You see, Rafael Poliquit was not blessed with speed or a huge amount of natural talent. But the very clever Andaya molded him by applying surge tactics to be able to outsmart faster opponents. It worked quite the charm. 

What made Rafael stand out for me was when I was managing the Weekly Relays. I hitched a ride back on the UP Bus, and Rafa had the same idea. I was seated next to him. On the way home, he told me about his struggles and how he had gotten to where he was today because of his firm faith. It was there I got to know the story of the Boy from Tagum who dreamed of representing the Philippines one day. I asked him, ‘Why do you refer to yourself as Master Endurance.’

Rafa responded with, it’s not so much I refer to myself as Master Endurance, but I use that to inspire everyone to Master Endurance. We spent a few hours honestly talking on that bus, and it was the first of many exciting conversations in the Summer of 2013 over several months, which I felt built into a friendship of mutual respect. 

The thing I liked about him most is not just how he had powerful willpower. When he said he was going to do something, he gave it everything. And even though he failed many times and went through many hardships being an athlete, he still got up and put himself through the hard work again. He was a top guy, and he did his utmost to inspire others to be the best they could be positive.

Milo Marathon King

Rafael finally got the big break he deserved when he crowned himself Milo Marathon King for the first time in 2014.

Beating all the highly fancied favorites.

This performance and his PB earned him a nomination for the 2014 SEA Games.

I sat in the panel with the coaches and PATAFA management to decide on the 2015 SEA Games team while I was with the PSC.

It came to the decision that Eduardo Buenavista would go to the SEA Games had failed to qualify in 2015.

Then the coaches voted in Rafael Poliquit over Panique with a huge majority.

SEA Games Disappointment

Rafael Poliquit lined up at the 2015 SEA Games Marathon in June in the early morning. As I recall, it was heavily raining and a wet course. It was a confusing loop course with cones scattered everywhere. I waited in the stadium as the men started coming the times due to the confusing course being considerably slower. Soh Rui Yong came in first around 2h35. But Rafael Poliquit was nowhere to be seen. I later was informed by Coach Ojon Artiaga he had collapsed and had been taken to the possible. He had made it this far only to collapse. For most athletes, they may have called it quit there. But not Rafael Poliquit.

Champion Again

He fought his way back to defend his Milo Marathon title in 2015, proving his win was not a fluke. I left the selection consultation of PATAFA nearer the end of 2015. While I was in the province, I heard that Rafael Poliquit had been removed after losing his Milo title in 2016. The removal sent  Rafael Poliquit into somewhat of a Limbo.

Where he would battle his way through depression and, at times, question whether he wanted to continue in this sport. It was sometime in 2018 that Rafael Poliquit contacted SEA Games Champion Soh, Rui Yong.


Soh Rui Yong and the Return of the Master

This was an impressive character for an athlete to have the humility to ask his rival for help. Rafa had a very open mind, which is very rare these days. Soh’s coaching help helped Rafa get back on track. He told me of his utmost respect for his good friend Soh and utmost belief Soh would get him back on track in several FB Conversations.

Rafa did just that in 2018 he claimed his third and last Milo Marathon title and ran a 2h28.27 PB. Breaking his best from several years ago. And qualifying for the 2019 SEA Games. Rafael  Poliquit was even prepared to put aside 200,000 pesos of his winning to train in America for the SEA Games if no one would sponsor him.

It is so sad to see that Rafael Poliquit, who was in the best shape of his life, could, in short time, pass away so quickly before his 30th Birthday. And it shows us how precious and delicate life is.  You were a class act and a Bloody Legend, Rafa. I know that no write-up will ever express how much you meant to the Philippine Track and Field History. RIP Master Endurance until we meet again.


“Suh Rui Yong said: ‘Drop the hammer in the last 7 kilomteters,'” recalled Poliquit. “So I did that, and ‘di ko napansin pa-finish na pala ako. Akala ko may isang lap pa ako kasi nasa oval na ako, hindi pa talaga ako nag-sprint, kaya pa talaga. Nag-finish ako na fresh na fresh. First time ko mag-finish na ganito ang kondisyon.”


Rafael Poliquit now qualifies for his second SEA Games after collapsing from dehydration in Singapore in 2015.

Rafael Poliquit finished behind Kenyans David Kipsang (2:20.29), Stephen Mugambi (2:22.20), and Joackim Kemboi (2:27.45)

  • aSEA Landscape

    ATHLETICS – Team Singapore’s Soh Rui Yong won Gold followed by Agus Prayogo (INA) with Silver and Muhaizar Mohamad (MAS) with Bronze at 29th SEA Games Men’s Marathon Finals at Putrajaya, Malaysia on 19 Aug 2017 (Photo by Dyan Tjhia / SportSG)

    Rafael Poliquit’s time ranks him 6th in South East Asia for 2018, nearly wrapped up.

  • Thai-Kiwi Tony Payne ranks first with his Southeast Asian Record of 2:16.56. Payne, the favorite for the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines next year, is 9 seconds clear of  2013-2015 SEA Games Champion Soh Roi Yong 2:25.05.

    Rafael Poliquit’s mark of 2:28.47 was a big improvement on his 2:32.29 PB from 2014. However, to make the Top 10 of the All-Time lists, he needs to break 2:25.16, a mark held by the late Jimmy dela Torre.

    Beating the National Team Athletes

    Aswell as Poliquit, who is not currently a member of the national team. Unheralded Jerald Zabala landed silver in 2:31.25, which ranks him 9th in South East Asia this year. Poliquit and Zabala finished ahead of National 10K Champion Richard Salano 2:33.17 and former Milo Champion Jeson Agravante 2:33.42, both national team members.

Joy Tabal remembers marathoner Rafael Poliquit: ‘He was a fighter’

Master Endurance Poliquit, Incheon Half Marathon

Oct 4, 2016

Master Endurance Poliquit
Coach Rene Herrera with Rafael Poliquit

Milo Marathon double champion Rafael, ‘Master Endurance’ Poliquit, participated in the Incheon Standard Marathon. In the Half Marathon distance 21k.

Poliquit is also the first Filipino to wear the Brooks Hyperion shoe.

From FB:

It’s not a Personal Best (PB) nor Season Best (SB); now I learned going out fast is not good forme did 6:05 in the first 2km, which supposed to do in the last 2 km. I did my best to keep close to the lead pack; the pace was too fast as they start injecting the pace around 3:05mins per km; after the 2km mark, I found myself fading past the 10km mark in 32:28 mins that were 32 seconds fast as my target 33 mins.

At 11km, one Korean ahead of me and another Korean closed me from behind, and we ran side by side until 15km; the two Korean felt that I was dizzy and fading through the effort in the first half of the race.

He made a move and left me; then I found myself again alone 17km. Matty Davy caught me seriously keeping his own pace around 3:19-3:20/km even though I felt empty in my tank, I knew I could handle the pace of 3:20 until the finish line then I made a move I was closed to Matt behind that moment in 17km mark I knew I would smash my SB 1:11:08 held in Condura if I will maintain the pace suddenly at 19km mark I felt what we so-called stomach cramps that forced me to slow down in the last 2km and finish the race with unofficial time 1:12:23,

Matt closed to the two Korean ahead of us and finished at 1:10:48 seconds. However, the top 3 were dominated by African Countries: 1st Kenya, 2nd Ethiopia, 3rd Kenya.

Ps. I learned if I maintain my pace at 3:20 pace, I would easily smash the season-best and
even have my Personal best. Not annoyed with my time; it’s a competition. I give my ultimate best, and that is the most important. Thank you for all your support, guys. Next, run Milo Marathon Finals in 2 months and 2 days in counting.

On the Trail of the Master: Pinoyathletics Interviews Rafael Poliquit

Pinoyathletics interviews The Master of Endurance. Rafael Poliquit. Hailing from Davao and one of the last great athletes of the late Rosito Andaya.

Poliquit was a UAAP Standout in 5000m and 10000m. His meteoric rise saw him become the 2014 and 2015 Milo Marathon Champion. However, in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore. 

The Master collapsed, unable to finish the race, his dreams of SEA Games glory gone. Later that year, he was axed from the team.  Despite this, he bears no ill will towards the PATAFA

Although life has been tough for Poliquit, he has some hope of a comeback in 2018. 

One of the great characteristics of the Sport. You can tell by sitting down with Rafael Poliquit that he lives and breathes the sport of road running, and you will struggle to find few truly as very passionate and emotional about what exactly it means to them.

PA:  ok, man

let us start
interview with Rafael Poliquit, former double milo marathon champion
u can answer in Tagalog or English, whatever ur comfortable with
Master: Tagalog

PA: Question 1: Mr. Poliquit, what has the master been up to after he was no longer part of the national team?

Master:  Sa ngayun nahihirapan akong e manage ang training ko dahil sa nature ng work ko bilang isang membro ng Philippine Air Force, ang pagtetraining kasi ng 42.195km (Marathon) ay napakabigat kung gustohin koman manalo at makapag laro sa SEA games 2019 sa tingin ko 20% lang ang chance yan tlaga ang aim ko this moment since matagal ng hindi nakapag medal ang Pilipinas sa Marathon sa tingin ko naman may ibubuga pa ako sa Marathon wrong timing lang tlaga ako sa mga training program nung napasok ako Sa national team 2014 tinanggal nila ako bago palang ako nun walang isang taon tinanggal nila ako hindi kopa na addopt ang bagong style ng training, 2015 nakabalik ako sa National team bago na naman ang coach ko bagong program na naman so yung style sa training panibago na naman nag sisimula na naman akong nag adopt nun tapos low performance na naman everytime na ma out ako sa time bumabalik na naman ang strenght ko, mahalaga talaga ang consistency ang marathon training hindi nakukuha sa isang taon yan lalo pat bago ang training program iba ang marathon pag sinabi mo tlagang pang intrrnational level ang daming demand most specially yung time. Kaya sa oras ako nahihirapan ngayun lalo pat nasa service ako ng Ating Bansa.
PA: So the Fans can hope to see the Master back in Marathons come 2018?
MASTER: 50/50 minsan naiisip ko mag resign nalang sa work ko para mag focus sa Marathon for 2019


ok, my next question is this
2) we saw the rapid rise of the master in the 2 marathons leading into the 2015 SEA Games. But things did not go so well in the 2015 SEA Games with a DNF. Can you share with us all what happened and what you learned from this?
MASTER: For 2015 there is two reason for Electrolytes Anomaly and heat exhaustion.

PA: if u could go back and do it differently

would u and what would u have done instead
MASTER: Of course, most will land to medal; that’s my ultimate goal
PA: 3) recently, added the late Rosito Andaya to track and field legends. Through the years, Andaya produced many great athletes, including Jimmy Dela Torre and Hermann Suizo, former sea games champion. To you, how much does it mean to be one of the last athletes to be mentored by Andaya? and what did you learn from him as your coach?


I dont blame anybody i just want to share my side that being a marathoner is Not easy it is a long long course before you reach the finish line
Buddy, let us continue next time I have work pa. 
PA: Ok, sure, thanks 


PA: 3) recently, added the late Rosito Andaya to track and field legends. Through the years, Andaya produced many great athletes, including Jimmy Dela Torre and Hermann Suizo, former sea games champion. To you, how much does it mean to be one of the last athletes to be mentored by Andaya? and what did you learn from him as your coach?
MASTER: Coach Andaya is legendary in athletic coaching. I don’t see any Filipino could replace him with regards to coaching in Athletics. He produces a lot of champions. He knows how to choose an ideal athlete. Lahat halos ng recruited Nya ay naging malakas sa athletics maliban naoang dun sa mga quitter. Coach Andaya mold me so much before kami magkahiwalay marami akong technique na nakuha sa kanya meron syang style na wala ang iba kakaiba syang coach a brilliant coach ika nga. Isa sa hindi ko makakalimutan na paulit ulit nyang sinasabi ay ang “principle of adaptation” ito ang pinaka base nya sa training, if you will handle the rigid training if you do not adopt on it, you will be left behind and eliminated.


On a side note, I believe Andaya taught you to surge tactics
in mid-race
as he knew u lacked speed
so he applied pace tactics
MASTER: Yes, exactly
Have you heard about soh Rui yong?
PA: What about him
MASTER: He is not good at speed. Rather his good at pace.

PA: He is not a medal contender in 5k and 10k

at sea games level
MASTER: Before, he is just 32.26
PA: I mean, a guy like Agus Prayogo or the Vietnamese guy has a huge advantage


MASTER: But when he left Singapore and trained in the USA, he got a PB of 31.15


yeah, but still 31.15 is not a 29
like Prayogo
MASTER: But they are just beaten by rui


so I get what u say he lacks speed
race tactics


I can do 31
Because I got a PB of 32.02
Close to 31
The only train in ultra
By that time


next, we ask.


What are our plans for 2018?


Im thingking to resign my job
To focus marathon
But I don’t have any support when I left my job.
That’s my main problem.


It’s a struggle because when ur in the AFP, if ur, not a national team, there is little time to train, right???
In AFP, what sort of duties do u have right now?


Oh very big
I handle 600+ cadet Soldiers.
As instructor
are u an officer
oh ok
an instructor
MASTER:  Airman second class or A2C
PA: ok, so how much training or km are u getting in a week right now?


I just run once a day for about 40t0 1hour


I did not even manage to jot down the mileage.
Most prob 60km a week
Before 200km a week
Or 210km
PA: so is there a chance we could see the master back to try and reclaim his title in 2018


I am waiting for my order bound for Villamor to train for the upcoming national open and AFP Olympics; that’s my time to train well.
I hope it will release in early Feb so that I could do a 42km milo elimination in July 2018
PA: in 2017 The Master ran 2h35.18 this was below the 2h37.10 bronze mark of the 2015 SEA Games. However they say the 711 run at beggining of the year wasnt sanctioned by the PATAFA.
MASTER: They should have me back


But bearing this in mind regardless. The Master was still the fastest man in 2017


In the Philippines for the whole year.
and only won the Milo Marathon in a rather slow 2h39

MASTER: They don’t want to accept me as a legit common.  I have more guts left. 

Before I will fade in my age
I am just 28 years old. 
PA: if the PATAFA had sent u t sea games 2017, how do u think u would have fared
MASTER: MY PB IS 2.32.26. Me, if I was given a chance, I will go for a medal


u mentioned the national open, which will be held in Ilagan in 2018 in April
would u be looking at the 10k?
MASTER: Just part of training for my 42km in July (NCR Leg Milo Marathon Qualifier)




back to Milo Marathon
a win for a fellow Davao athlete (Jheorge Andrade); what can u say 
MASTER: He deserves that no comment; even I got a surprise for him


By Andrew Pirie

Andrew was elected Vice President of the Association of Track and Field Statisticians in 2020 after being a member for 7 years. He has worked as a PSC Consultant and Research Assistant from 2013-2015, Consultant, and Sprint Coach at Zamboanga Sports Academy from 2015-2017. And Currently is Consultant Coach with VMUF 2021- Current editor and chief of, and has recently done consultancy work for Ayala Corp evaluating the Track and Field Program. Coaches Sprints, Middle and Jump events he is  Level 3 Athletics Australia Coaching Certification in Sprints and Hurdles. Currently working towards a Masters Degree in Education. He can be contacted on [email protected] You can find more information on Coaching here

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