New king, queen of Milo Marathon
TARLAC CITY , Philippines – Signed, sealed and delivered.
As if she needed further validation, Christine Hallasgo stamped a clearer mark on her stature as the newest Philippine marathon queen after getting the better anew of her idol-turned-rival Mary Joy Tabal in the Milo Marathon National Finals yesterday morning here.
Carrying the doubters’ murmurs on her mind after a shocking SEA Games gold medal win, Hallasgo braved the Sunday wee-hours breeze of the North and stole another crown from Tabal to put an emphatic end to the latter’s six-year reign as the Milo marathon queen.
It was a clear-as-day victory for the Malaybalay, Bukidnon native, who covered the enduring 42K race in two hours, 52 minutes and 23 seconds to clinch a monumental follow-up win to her SEA Games conquest last month when she also dethroned Tabal.
Tabal, an Olympian and decorated local and regional marathon champion, was not in her usual form in losing another one of her precious gems as she finished more than six minutes behind with a 2:58:49 time. Former champion and SEAG veteran Cristabel Martes (3:04:40) wound up for third.
“I worked hard with blood and sweat to achieve whatever I have now. I have no hard feelings on people saying that my SEAG win was pure luck but for me, I worked for all the blessings I have achieved now,” said Hallasgo.
She won the SEAG gold last Dec. 6. But in a span of just 44 days, she managed to re-energize fast and copped another victory in more convincing fashion, leaving Tabal off the dust since the start.
A large part of her domination could be attributed to her having to spend time with her family during the holidays after being away for almost a year while preparing for the SEA Games.
“I actually did not expect to win this big. I did not expect to beat my idol anew. But my family just proved to be enough inspiration for me in realizing my dream as the Philippine marathon queen, finally,” she added.
Then there’s Jerald Zabala, who seized his own moment as the newest marathon king.
Contrary to Hallasgo’s coast-to-coast win, the Cagayan de Oro pride figured in a thrilling finish as he completed a come-from-behind win in the last few meters over erswhile leader Richard Salano for the men’s 42K title vacated by the late Rafael Poliquit.
A runner-up in last year’s Laoag City edition, Zabala shrugged off his cramps midway through the race to clock 2:31:16 and beat Salano (2:13:17) by just a razor-thin margin as former titlist Jeson Agravante (2:31:55) finished third.
“It was surreal. I was already cramping in the last 10 kilometers but I braved it to stay within striking distance then I just sprinted my heart in the last meters to cross the finish line. It’s still surreal to be crowned as the new marathon king. It’s an honor,” said the national team member, who bled for just a fifth place finish last SEAG.
Meanwhile, in other events of the country’s biggest and longest footrace attended by more than 14,000 runners, the winners were Nhea-Ann Barcena (56:51, female 21K), Mark Anthony Oximar (45:43, male 21K), Merry Joy Trupa (41:45, female 10K) and James Darrel Orduna (33:33, male 10K) while Kenya’s Margaret Njugune (2:51:48) and Stephen Muranbi (2:27:18) ruled the 42K open categories.
Samantha Llesis (20:46, female 5K), Jerry Vasquez (16:30, male 5K), Wella Mae Coronado (13:30, female 3K), Darrell Johnson Bada (12:30, male 3K) also won in this year’s Milo national finale sporting a theme of “One Team. One Nation. Go Philippines!”