Rio Olympian Tabal rules 21-km in Ottawa Marathon


OTTAWA, Canada – One year after becoming the first Filipino to run the marathon in the Olympics, Mary Joy Tabal again made history by emerging as the winner of the 21-kilometer half marathon in the 2017 Ottawa Marathon last Sunday.

Tabal clocked in an official time of 1:16:29, and was at 00:35:43 through the halfway point. She not only crossed the finish line first, Tabal also broke the nine-year-old Philippine record held by Mercedita Manipol-Fetalvero in a 21-km race of 1:18:45, set in February 2008.

“I felt very, very happy, because I got to break the Philippine half-marathon record, and I finished first overall female,” Tabal said. “I got to get my goal and I made our country proud.”

“When the race started, I didn’t bother to look at my watch, so I won’t be pressured or discouraged,” she said of her mindset. “I just told myself to just run the fastest I can.”

The 27-year-old Cebuana surpassed the time set by last year’s winner, Arianne Raby of Canada, who finished with a time of 1:18:20. She also set a new personal best after previously running 1:19:36 in a 2015 event in Singapore.

Tabal managed to complete her feat even after feeling pain in her left leg at the 16-km mark.

“I tolerated it and just kept on pushing,” she said. “Sabi ko sa sarili ko while running, ‘This is my chance to try and test what I can do, or ano ‘yung kaya kong gawin sa sarili ko’.”

The win comes shortly before Tabal competes in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this August. She trained intensively with elite runners from Uganda and members of Italy’s national team in Siena, Italy, to prepare for the Ottawa event.

“It’s a trial run for me before the SEA Games,” she said. “As early as now, gusto kong makita ‘yung performance ko sa half marathon.”

This was Tabal’s second time to run in the Ottawa Marathon. In 2016, she made history by placing eighth in the full marathon with a time of 2:43:29, thus earning for herself a spot in the Rio Olympics.

“I just have to believe in myself, to believe in my coaches, and to trust in God because I know He sent me here for a good purpose,” she said.

Tabal will return to Italy to further train after her win in Ottawa, where she will embark in a two-month camp ahead of the SEA Games.

Aside from Tabal, Philippines’ Jeson Agravante also ran his first international full marathon and finished with a time of 2:57:00.

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