MULTI-TITLED runner Mary Joy Tabal makes a much-awaited comeback in marathon after more than three-year hiatus.

The pride of Cebu flew to Japan for the Tokyo Marathon, one of the world's top marathon races, which is slated on Sunday, March 5, 2023, for her first 42-kilometer race since December 2019.

Tabal had a long break owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which halted regular races in the Philippines and abroad for a couple of years since the outbreak in early part of 2020.

In 2022, she married her partner in January, got pregnant and gave birth to their first child.

She is returning with added motivation and purpose and that is to represent running moms and be a figure of an empowered woman as the nation celebrates the contribution of women to the society in the National Women's Month.

"Representing women in sports who are now into motherhood," Tabal bared to SunStar Cebu her goal for the upcoming race.

Tabal knows that she needs to shake off the rust from the long break.

"There's no bigger expectation, this is a comeback race for me and I'm grateful to be in Tokyo Marathon and my goal is to finish," she said. "I'm happy that I'm given the opportunity by Asics to join this race which is one of my dream marathons and also one of the six world major marathons."

The 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medalist is taking it one step at a time.

"We focused on long runs, low slow distance for me to lose weight before the race," she said. "There's no intervals yet, nor speed workouts and build or peak training. It's purely base preparation."

Tabal's long-term goal is to get back to her top form, and the Tokyo Marathon is part of that step. (RSC)