CAPAS, TARLAC — When Mary Joy Tabal crossed the finish line at around 9:05 in the morning, she tried to lift her willowy arms up in the air. However, her body just decided to collapse on the ground.
After a rigorous three-hour run, the heat and the fatigue caught up with her. Tabal had to be stretchered off the NCC Athletic Center field.
“I was heat-exhausted po. I was cramping all over po,” shared the 30-year-old Cebuana of that moment, which was reminiscent of what happened to her in Rio back in 2016.
Tabal was dethroned by compatriot Christine Hallasgo as the marathon queen of the region, after clocking in at two hours, 58 minutes, and 48 seconds — a minute and seven seconds behind the eventual champion.
The race was neck-and-neck between Tabal, Hallasgo, and Indonesia’s Odekta Haibaho. That is, up until the final 12-kilometers of the 42-long race.
During that stretch, the heat reached a peak of 31-degrees. The three runners who felt it the worst were Tabal and Haibaho, as the latter could not finish the race despite being so close to the finish line.
“Tumigil siya dito nung papasok na,” Tabal shared about the Indonesian.
“Sa sarili ko, I was running fourth and I just wanted to finish the race safe pero unknowingly nag-second ako.”
Seeing this, Tabal hopes that the organizers decided to have an earlier start time, since the race’s gun start popped at exactly six ‘o clock.
“I think it will be more competitive siguro kung we started earlier. Everyone was so exhausted,” said Tabal.
“In the emergency room earlier, I heard someone cry and shout. Me also, I was shouting. Sa kabilang kwarto din, someone was screaming. So everyone were so exhausted but then it is part of the race. Everyone was going all out, giving all their best for the gold.”
It was not sourgraping in Tabal’s part as she was proud that her rookie had her crowning moment.
“I’m happy for Christine since this is her first SEA Games appearance. I’m also happy and proud that we made it first and second. Definitely, I’m most happy that we all made it safe. Everyone gave their best and I’m so proud of all the girls because we are all giving our best talaga,” she said.
“It makes me happy to win second and Christine made it first.”
Moreover, there’s no point for her to cry over spilled milk, since she only has a few months left to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“No rest for me. I’m trying to defend my title in the Milo Marathon. Then Tokyo marathon next March.”