By: Glendale G. Rosal December 08,2018 - 10:44 PM

Race mode is on for the country’s “Marathon Queen” Mary Joy Tabal who sets her sights on extending her reign for the sixth straight year in today’s 42nd National Milo Marathon grand finals in the city of Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

The 29-year-old Tabal from Barangay Guba, Cebu City, told Cebu Daily News that she is very satisfied with her training in Cebu City for this major race where she is the 42k women’s defending champion for five straight years.

The Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) gold medalist said that she feels great and very excited for a historic sixth title.

“I feel great with a small amount of anxiety and excitement because I am at this situation again where I have to put myself on race mode, it is kind of intense but I am totally excited,” said the Cebuana Olympian.

Tabal is the first Filipino marathoner to win the Milo Marathon grand finals for five straight years.

Last year she etched that historic feat, a day after her father, Rolando, died.

Today, she will go up against fellow Filipina elite runners in Christabel Martes, Louise Raterta and Christine Hallasgo for the coveted women’s marathon title.

Aside from the multi-titled marathoners, she will also go up against Ruffa Sorongon, Stephanie Cadosale and Cinderella Lorenzo.

“I feel a bit tense but I am very excited because I know to myself that I had enough training and I fully trust the training program that I had for this race,” added Tabal.

Tabal, the defending champion of the women’s marathon of the SEA Games, considered the race today crucial since the Milo Marathon King and Queen will be selected to represent the Philippines for next year’s SEA Games that will be held in Clark, Olongapo.

“I am physically ready because I met all the requirements during my training camp, but I am some kind of emotional right now because of some external factors but I have to set myself to be conditioned because 42k is not an easy run, it’s a long way to the finish line. I need to focus and I need to study those external factors such as the race course, the hydration available, the weather and other factors that will arise during the race,” Tabal said.

Should the Milo King and Queen also win the open category, they will pocket an additional P150,000.

An invisible time barrier is also set for the race, and if the King and Queen are able to break this, an extra P100,000 will be awarded to them.

A P50,000 bonus will also be rewarded to the first runner who breaks the men’s course record of 2:18:53 posted by Eduardo Buenavista or the women’s course record of 2:48:00 of Tabal.

A whopping total of P450,000 awaits the champions.

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