By: Glendale G. Rosal January 07,2018 - 09:56 PM

Cebuana Olympian Mary Joy Tabal (second from left) joins 3k winning runners Jessel Ochia (left most), Krizha Danica and Earle Navidad after the PSC-Sinulog Fun Run at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

Top runners of PSC-Sinulog Fun Run excited with training under Tabal’s coach

University of San Carlos (USC) runner Geneicel Saballa is a big fan of Cebuana Olympian Mary Joy Tabal.

The 19-year-old runner from Minglanilla looks up to Tabal, the pride of Barangay Guba, Cebu City who is a five-time National Milo Marathon women’s champion, Southeast Asian (SEA) Games women’s marathon gold medalist, and the first Filipina marathoner to compete in the Olympics.

Saballa hopes that someday, she, too, could achieve what Tabal has accomplished in her decorated running career.

She took a step closer to that goal when she won the 10-kilometer race of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Sinulog Fun Run yesterday at the Cebu City Sports Center (CCSC).

Saballa clocked 42 minutes and 25.14 seconds to win the 10k race.

With the win, Saballa, along with the 59 other male and female runners who finished in the top 10 of three distances of the fun run, gained a free 12-weekend training under renowned running coach John Philip Dueñas, the trainer of Tabal.

This will be a huge boost for someone who is aiming to be like Tabal.

“I am a big fan of ate Joy (Tabal) and I want to follow her footsteps,” said Saballa, a third year student taking up Bachelor of Science in Education at USC. “I will do my best during the training sessions with coach Philip. I am excited to learn [the] things he [taught] ate Joy.”

The top ten male and female runners of the three distances (see separate table) in this running event will be trained by Dueñas to prepare for the PSC

Visayas Open finale in August in Iloilo City. They will compete against the winners of other Visayas Open running events in Negros and Iloilo.

The Sinulog Fun Run served as the Cebu City leg.

The three distances were divided into three age groups with the 3k featuring 12-under runners, 5k composed of 16-under runners, and the 10k made up of 22-under runners. There was also a separate open category for the three distances which was not part of the Visayas Open.

Also earning free training with Dueñas is University of Cebu’s (UC) Prince Joey Lee, who topped the men’s 10k (22-under) race by clocking 33:37.78.

The 21-year-old graduating computer engineering student who is also one of Spectrum Runners Club’s ace runner, said he wants to learn from Dueñas even if he has his own training program.

“I am very happy that I qualified for the Iloilo race because one of my goals is to become a member of the national team,” said the runner from Toledo City.

“This kind of running event encourages a lot of young runners like me to strive harder. I hope this will continue for a long time.”

Meanwhile, Dueñas said the free training under the PSC will start either March or April at the CCSC. He said he will first assess each participant’s skills so he can provide them with specific training programs that they will use on a daily basis.

“I have to apply the same training that I did with Joy (Tabal) because all of the winning runners I assume have the basic fundamentals of running.

They are already on the competitive level,” said Dueñas.

Since he is a licensed PSC national coach, Dueñas will also apply for PSC’s training program and combine it with his own.

Tabal, for her part, is excited to see the runners start training with Dueñas, her trainer since 2009.

“I am hoping that the winning runners of this race will continue to train hard until they become successful. I will be around during the training sessions to motivate them,” said Tabal.

PSC commissioner Ramon Fernandez was elated with the results of the fun run and hopes this will help the PSC’s mission to find the next Mary Joy Tabal.

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