Elite runners Tabal, Zabala excel in 21K race event
Record-holding and reigning MILO Marathon Queen Mary Joy Tabal added another feather to her cap as she clinched another victory at the 38th MILO Marathon qualifying race in Butuan City, the biggest race in the city to date, with almost 10,000 runners in action on Sunday. Tabal won first place in the 21K female category, while fellow elite runner Gerald Zabala topped the ranks in the 21K male category.
Each received a cash prize of P10,000 and a trophy. In addition to the prizes, Zabala has also secured his slot in the upcoming National Finals on December 7 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Manila. Tabal, by virtue of her triumph last year, was already granted a slot for the finals. Both will join their fiercest rivals in a heated finale as they battle for the MILO Marathon King and Queen titles. As an added level of prestige to the competition, MILO will send this year’s King and Queen to the 2015 Tokyo Marathon, with trips all expenses paid.
Fresh from her record-breaking victory in the 2014 Seoul Race, Tabal clocked in at 01:20:46, just a second shy of her new best personal record of 1:19:37. It was a very comfortable race for the 25-year-old Cebuana, who finished with a gap of 12 minutes from second placer Michell Ann Aclo (01:42:30). Jenefer Paloma claimed third place (01:44:05).*
Tabby, as she is fondly known, is now looking to defend her MILO Marathon Queen crown in December. “I really want to run in the Tokyo marathon. My experience in the Paris marathon was amazing, and I want to experience running in another top international marathon. Even if it was quite tough getting acclimatized to the weather, I was able to get in to the Top 20,” shared Tabal. “Hopefully I will be named the Queen again. My coach Philip Dueñas constantly motivates me and makes sure I have the proper training, diet and recovery. I am very grateful to him.”
Having won numerous honors in both local and international races, Tabal has become a celebrity in her own right. However, she does not let the spotlight distract her, and instead, uses it to inspire others. “It’s heartwarming and humbling that a lot of people look up to me. I also get inspired by them. It makes me happy knowing that I am able to inspire others to pursue running,” said Tabal. ”My parents and my family are my biggest fans. It’s funny because when they see me in the news and newspapers, they feel like they are becoming famous, too. They are very proud of me. They also motivate and inspire me to keep on doing my best.”
In the men’s category, competition proved to be tougher, with top contender Jerald Zabala beating Bobby Tadlas only by less than a second. Zabala recorded a personal best time of 01:13:49, while second placer Bobby Tadlas posted a time of 01:14:00, and third placer Ramil Neri with a times of 01:15:09.*
Zabala, a 26-year-old hailing from Cagayan De Oro, has definitely come a long way since he started running. Though he has been an elite runner for just four years, he has been joining the MILO Marathon for 10 years already, and has been consistently qualifying for the National Finals. “This is my first time to win first place, and I’m very happy that I was also able to break my personal record,” said Zabala. “I didn’t expect to win because I wasn’t able to train properly. My wife is in Manila, so I’m the one who is taking care of our son, whose birthday is today. I dedicate my victory to him.”
Zabala has also been joining the MILO R2-APEX Running Clinics in Cagayan De Oro for three years now. “I am very grateful to Coach Jim Saret. I have been able to use everything he taught me in my training,” said Zabala. “I will continue applying what he taught me to my training for the National Finals.”
With the support of the Department of Education and the National MILO Marathon runners, MILO’s Help Gives Shoes advocacy will provide 16,000 underprivileged youth with brand new running shoes and reach the 50,000 mark this year. As MILO celebrates its 50th year, Help Give Shoes aims to make the donation to students in Yolanda-hit cities, particularly Tacloban, Ormoc, and Eastern Samar.
The remaining qualifying races will be held in Cagayan De Oro (November 9), General Santos (November 16), and Davao (November 23). The National Finals will be held on December 7 at the SM Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City.
The 38th National MILO Marathon is made possible by Timex, the Bayview Park Hotel Manila, ASICS, Lenovo, Manila Bulletin and Gatorade, along with endorsements from the Department of Education, Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee.
For more information on MILO Philippines, log on to the official website () or the MILO Philippines Facebook page (). Follow MILO on Twitter (@MiloPH) and Instagram (@MiloPhilippines).
* - results as of 19 October 2014