MARY Joy Tabal may not be in town to celebrate the festival of Sr. Sto Niño but she hopes to make up for her absence by dedicating her run to the child Jesus.
The Cebuana pride will be out of Cebu as she guns for an unprecedented seventh straight title in the Milo Marathon National Finals in Clark City on Jan. 19, 2020, the same day as the Sinulog Festival in Cebu.
“I may not be in Cebu next Sunday but I will dedicate the race to Sto. Niño. It’s my offering to Him and my way of celebrating the Sinulog Festival,” said Tabal, who’s a long-time devotee of the child Jesus.
The Sinulog Festival is celebrated every third Sunday of January. The event involves religious and cultural activities and even sports with the Cebu Marathon taking center stage on Sunday, Jan. 12.
Fresh from her Southeast Asian (SEA) Games stint, Tabal has left no stone unturned for her title defense in the Milo Marathon, where she will be facing the reigning SEA Games gold medalist Christine Hallasgo.
Marathon fans will be treated with an exciting rematch between two of the country’s top marathoners after the fellow Bisdaks went toe-to-toe in the SEA Games in December last year in the New Clark City. Hallasgo of Malaybalay, Bukidnon got the upper hand on their previous encounter, dethroning Tabal in the women’s 42-kilometer race. Tabal settled for a silver medal finish.
Though Tabal and Hallasgo are the heavy favorites to win the crown, the other contenders who qualified in regional races can’t be counted out.
The Milo Marathon staged qualifiers in Manila, Subic, Lingayen, Lucena, Batangas City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, General Santos City, Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City. The winners in the regional legs are competing in the culminating event.
In the previous national finals, Tabal secured her sixth straight crown after clocking in 2 hours, 56 minutes and 31 seconds in Laoag City. (RSC)