Cebu City, Philippines, 03 December 2017 – Mary Joy Tabal is now the first woman to win the National MILO Marathon Queen crown five times in a row. The Cebuana Olympian and SEA Games gold medalist fittingly achieved this impressive feat in the National Finals at her hometown of Cebu, with thousands of Cebuanos cheering her on. Meanwhile, Davaoeño salesman Joerge Andrade is the new name in the game, winning his first MILO Marathon King title.With the theme “Magsama-sama, Tumakbo, Matuto”, the 41st National MILO Marathon National Finals in Cebu culminates 16 regional legs, all driven by values such as discipline, resilience, and determination, which runners can take with them in their journey in life. Along with the exciting race experience and good weather, around 12,000 runners from all over the Philippines also enjoyed the festive atmosphere the Queen City of the South is known for.
The route was very challenging yet enjoyable, which started at the Cebu Normal University and ended at the finish line at the Cebu City Sports Complex. Around 1,600 volunteers from Cebu helped ensure the smooth execution, safety and security of the finale.
The champions received PHP 150,000 in cash and a trophy each. Tabal received an additional PHP 200,000 for placing third in the 42K female open category. As part of their prizes, both Tabal and Andrade will be sent by MILO on all expense-paid trips to participate in an international marathon next year.
In the female division, Tabal clocked in at 2:58:01 in first place, followed by Christabel Martes (3:04:20) in second and Jho-an Villarma (3:11:26) in third. In the men’s division, Andrade topped the group with a time of 2:39:34, while Erick Panique (2:42:10) and five-time MILO Marathon King and two-time Olympian Eduardo Buenavista (2:43:34) finished second and third place, respectively.
Tabal was in tears as she crossed the finish line. This race is the most difficult one she has experienced to date, as she ran with the sad reality that her father, Rolando, is no longer with her. Rolando Tabal Sr. passed away on Saturday morning, just one day before Tabal was supposed to see him after the race. “I was training in Italy for the past few weeks and I just returned to Cebu on Tuesday. I didn’t get to see him before he passed away. I was only able to speak with him on the phone,” recalled Tabal. “Papa did not want me to lose focus and told me not to visit him anymore, and that he will just meet me after the race, as we both promised each other. He told me he will pray for me always, and he believes that I will be able to win this race.”
Tabal almost decided on not joining the final, as it was too painful for her to compete. However, she was determined to fulfill her father’s wish of her completing the race. “It was really a trying time for me, but I had to be stronger. I was 100% ready to win. I finished strongly and safely because I know my Papa was there running with me,” shared Tabal. “I know he wanted me to achieve my goal of becoming a five-time MILO Marathon Queen. I dedicate this race to my Papa. I know he will be with me in all of my races. He was the one who taught me to never give up, and I never will.”
In the male category, 24-year-old Andrade did not expect to win. In fact, he even had PHP 50 tied onto his shoelaces as transportation fare, in case he didn’t finish the race. He qualified for the finals in the General Santos leg, finishing second place in the 21K category. It is his first time to join the MILO Marathon National Finals this year, and this is only his second time to compete in the 42K category – yet the unassuming underdog clinched the top purse. “As a newcomer, I just wanted to finish the race as strongly as I could. I prepared for it the best I can. After work, I do my runs and training myself. I don’t have a coach,” said Andrade. “I persevered to do as well as I could. During the race, I was running with all the veteran elite runners – my idols – they did not even know who I am. At the 30km mark, I started leading the race, and I surprised myself by finishing first place. It’s an unexplainable feeling. I’m very happy.” This is only the beginning for Andrade, and the future is looking bright for him.
MILO Sports Marketing Manager Robbie De Vera expressed his gratitude for everyone who helped achieve the success of the 41st National MILO Marathon season, and pride for the runners. “We at MILO would like to thank our organizers, the local governments, and all the volunteers who have contributed to our triumph in inspiring more Filipinos to run and achieve an active and healthy lifestyle,” said De Vera. “We are proud of all of our runners, and we hope they take with them the values they have learned through this journey in life. Maraming salamat po and we look forward to seeing you again next year at the starting line!”
The National MILO Marathon is not only a breeding ground for local talents but also a program that empowers children nationwide. For the past six years, the National MILO Marathon’s Help Give Shoes advocacy, in partnership with the Department of Education, has inspired 70,000 aspiring athletes to fulfill their dreams by donating brand new pairs of running shoes. This year, the Help Give Shoes advocacy will be donating 6,000 pairs to underprivileged school children.
The 41st National MILO Marathon is endorsed by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Department of Education, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, and the International Association of Athletics Federations – Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. The National MILO Marathon is in partnership with Salonpas, and supported by Cebu Grand Hotel, Garmin, Hisense, Manila Bulletin, Maynilad.
For more information on MILO Philippines, log on to the official website (http://www.milo.com.ph) or the MILO Philippines Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ milo.ph). Follow MILO on Twitter (@MiloPH) and Instagram (@MiloPhilippines).