‘Kid runner’ takes pros, crowd by surprise

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Sunday, August 3, 2014


THE finish line at the Cobra Ironman 70.3 has been witness to several dramas of the finishers of the most intense triathlon to ever hit Cebu.

There were those exuding utmost joy for finishing the hardest physical challenge of their lives. There were those who pushed their selves to the limit that some collapsed and had to be taken out on a gurney. There were tears, some in joy, some in disbelief.

There was love, too, when Cesario Silvestre Gacoscosim proposed to his girlfriend right after crossing the finish line.

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And then there was Mary Joy Tabal, whose small frame, all 4’11” of herself, surprised everyone when she suddenly bolted towards the finish line at the time when all the men’s open podium winners were finishing the race.

She screamed when she crossed the finish line and then laughed when she shared her experience. Tabal anchored Team Roro to winning the mixed relay title, where she teamed up with Kieth Ocampo, a University of San Carlos varsity swimmer and Mayor Pinpin Uy of Dipolog.

“I had a good laugh when someone pointed at me and told me, ‘Pwede man lagi bata mu-apil sa lumba? And in the second loop I was still running as fast as my legs could carry me, one said, ‘Kusog lagi gihapon nang bataa, abi nako muhinay na.’”

These people obviously did not know that the kid they were pointing at set the Milo marathon record last year.

She finished ahead of the women’s pro winners. She was, of course, just racing in the relay but this did not stop the foreign participants, including third-placer Belinda Granger, from praising her performance.

At the ice bath, she approached Tabal and told her, “You are fast. I was thinking to myself ‘who is that little girl flying through the course?”

Granger told Tabal that she had to check the body mark to see if she was racing in the individual race and heaved a sigh of relief when she found out she was racing in the relay.

“I told her that I was just doing the relay and racing on fresh legs but she told me anyway that I should consider getting into triathlon for good,” said Tabal.

Team Roro finished in 4:20:50 minutes to win the mixed relay event.

Meanwhile, despite the bad road condition, Fred Uytengsu of Sunrive Events Inc., the event organizer said the event turn out well, despite some reported bike problems along the race route

However, whether or not Sunrise Events Inc. will extend the contract with Cebu for another year, remains to be seen.

“Cebu has always been a wonderful host. I have been concerned about the road conditions and I have expressed those concerns. And we understand that the timing of the renovations did not coincide with the race so we had to alter the race course.

However, for us to decide whether or not we will have the 2015 edition here, will depend if we get reassurance that that this will be rectified so we will have bigger and smoother roads, then we will return,” said Uytengsu.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 04, 2014.

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