By Glendale G. Rosal November 30,2017

Tabal to bank on familiarity with Cebu’s roads in bid to win fifth straight Milo crown

Cebuana Olympian and Southeast Asian Games women’s marathon gold medalist Mary Joy Tabal will take advantage of her familiarity with Cebu’s roads as she goes for a fifth straight title in the 41st National Milo Marathon Grand Finals this Sunday.

The Nationals which is, held in Cebu for the first time, starts in front the Cebu Normal University (CNU) campus along Osmeña Boulevard and will finish at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

Even though the route was changed recently, the 28-year-old, four-peat champion in the women’s marathon category will still have some sort of advantage since she has virtually raced in almost every route Cebu has to offer.

“After I arrived in Cebu on Monday from Italy, I immediately scouted the route. I’m quite familiar with the route because I am from here. But I have to make sure for the safety and critical areas like junctions and intersections and also (in) passing through churches because it’s a Sunday morning,” said Tabal in the press conference of the foot race yesterday at the Cebu Grand Hotel.

“[The route is] quite challenging because there are a lot of turns — uphill and downhill areas. But hopefully I can finish strong,” said Tabal, , who is looking to become a five-peat champion in the women’s marathon category of the Milo Marathon grand finals,

The 42-kilometer route was supposed to include the South Coastal Road at the South Road Properties, but it was changed recently because of a memorandum from the Cebu City government that spares the SRP and the CSCR from running events due to the ongoing underpass construction along N. Bacalso Avenue.

Tabal is eyeing to surpass her Milo Marathon record that she logged last year in Iloilo City.

She is the current record holder of the women’s marathon category with record time of 2:47.53.

“My first goal is to defend my title. Second is to break the record. But we can’t predict the time of the race because there are different routes every year. But I will make sure that I can defend my title,” added Tabal, who trained for more than a month in Tuscany, Italy for this race.

“My edge over my fellow competitors is that I am very familiar with the route and the roads in Cebu,” she said.

Joining Tabal in the press conference were Milo Sports Executive Robbie de Vera, National Organizer Ricky Ballesteros, RunRio’s Andrew Neri and Cebu City Councilor Gerry Guardo.

According to Tabal, the Milo Marathon holds a special place in her heart.

“I still compete in the Milo Marathon because this is where I started dreaming to become a champion,” said Tabal, the first Filipina to qualify for women’s marathon in the Olympics.

Her noted rivals in the upcoming race include former national team member Cristabel Martes, Ruffa Sorongon and Sandra Sollano.

The men’s side will feature the likes of many time champion Eduardo Buenavista, Eric Panique and last year’s champion Jeson Agravante.

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