Tabal recounts how MILO Marathon led her to international success
MANILA, Philippines - “Sa MILO ako una nangarap maging champion!”
These are the words of Cebuano Mary Joy Tabal, the first Filipino Olympian female marathoner. She is also the first ever straight 4-time national women’s champion ruling the race since 2013 and earning the right to become the Milo Marathon Queen.
“I am hoping that I can defend my title this year if there is no conflict in the schedules,” said Tabal on Thursday, July 13, which is her 27th birthday today.
Should Tabal be able to do so, it will be the first time that Cebuanos will witness Tabal try to defend her Milo national title as the 41st National Milo Marathon National Finals will be held in Cebu City on December 3.
This is the third time that Milo will be holding the Marathon National Finals outside Metro Manila. The first time was in Angeles, Pampanga in 2015 in Iloilo last year.
Milo Philippines Sports Executive Robbie De Vera said at the official opening of this year's Milo Marathon at the I'M Hotel in Makati City that they have decided to rotate the hosting of the Marathon National Finals to other key cities because they have observed for the past years that it is hard to mount a national marathon in Manila during December because of all the activities for the Christmas holidays.
“Tinuod, dream jud na nako mahimong Milo Marathon Queen, pero una ato kay dream nako mahimong isa sa top marathoners sa Pinas pero ga sugod paman ko, so pag 2009 1st ko ne join ug Milo diha sa Cebu pero 5km pako ato,” said Tabal, who is currently in Switzerland training for the upcoming 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia.
(It’s true, I really dreamed of becoming a Milo Marathon Queen but first I dreamed of becoming one of the top runners in the Philippines but I was just starting then. So, I first joined Milo in 2009 there in Cebu but only in the 5K.)
Tabal finished in 6th place then and told her coach, John Philip Dueñas, that she didn’t want to join the 5k anymore because she was 20 years old then but she got beaten by kids.
In 2010, Tabal joined the 21K run, and in her first try ruled the Milo regional eliminations and qualified for the national finals.
“Wala pa unta to sa plan na mag 42K ko that year kay mao palang pag start nako sa long, so coach Philip came up with a good plan na kay ni qualify man jud ko sa finals, so the goal was just to finish the 42K with dagan and lakaw kay I never finished a 42K sa amoa training going to the finals, ang amoa lang na mag enjoy and mahuman lang namo ang 42K ato,” said Tabal.
(My joining a 42K race was not in the plan that year because I just started in the long distance, so coach Philip came up with a good plan already because I qualified for the finals. So the goal was just to finish the 42K by running and walking because I never finished a 42K in our training going to the finals. We just wanted to enjoy and finished the 42K.)
However, during the race day, Tabal said her condition changed and she ran all the way to a third place finish in her first Milo Marathon National Finals. She then finished in the same place in 2011 and 2012.
Dueñas came up with another training plan and in 2013, Tabal finally won the 42K women’s title. Not only did she do it for the first time but she also broke the existing Milo Marathon record posted by Jhoan Banayag when she clocked 2:48.
It was also the first time that Milo started sending the men’s and women’s champion to race in international competitions, allowing her to compete in the Paris Marathon.
“So for me, right time jud to nako, timing, sakto sa plano,” said Tabal.
(So for me, it was really the right time for me, it fit the plan.)
Last year, Tabal broke her 2:48 when she crossed the finish line in 2:47.49.
It was also via the Milo Marathon that Tabal qualified for the 2015 SEAG in Singapore wherein she clinched silver.
41st National Milo Marathon National Finals
This year’s Milo marathon will have kickoff its 16-leg regional eliminations this Sunday, July 16, in Urdaneta City.
This will be the first time that Urdaneta will host a leg along with Laoag City and Roxas City. Other regional leg eliminations will be in Pasay, Angeles, Tarlac, Naga City, Lucena, Lipa, Tagbilaran, Iloilo, General Santos, Davao, Butuan and Cagayan.
Also for the first time this year, age-group categories will be held in the 42K.
Milo Marathon National Finals organizer Ricky Ballesteros said that a representative from Association of International Marathons and International Races with the assistance of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) will visit Cebu on August 21 and 22 to check on the route and to sanction the event.
Ballesteros said that they have a lot of routes in mind but are certain the race will kickoff at the Osmeña Boulevard in front of the Cebu Normal University (CNU) and end inside the Cebu City Sports Center.
“We will make the route attractive to runners passing by historical and cultural places in Cebu. It is going to be a festive run,” said Ballesteros. – Rappler.com