Tarlac City—Southeast Asian Games. marathon gold medalist Christine Hallasgo is still riding high after yet another conquest at her sport, this time at the National Milo Marathon Finals Sunday here.
Clocking in at under three hours, Hallasgo ruled the 42-KM centerpiece event with relative ease at a personal best 02:52:23, close to six minutes faster than defending Milo Marathon Queen Mary Joy Tabal (2:58:49) who came in second.
Hallasgo seems to find the elements in Tarlac favorable to her steady rise towards marathon superstardom as the result comes at the heels of a similar upset win for the Bukidnon-based runner when she denied Tabal back-to-back SEAG golds in December at the New Clark City.
Hallasgo may introspect that she has now dethroned six-time defending Milo Marathon champ Tabal, a feat which does not come without qualms for the 28-year-old mother.
“Wala naman ako sama ng loob sa mga tao, pero masakit din sa damdamin na dahil sabi ng iba tsamba daw (SEAG gold),” Hallasgo said in a chat with scribes after the event.
“Kung ano man ang achievement na nagawa ko, nag-perform ako at pinaghirapan ko talaga. Lahat ng hirap tiniis ko, lalo na ’yung mawalay sa pamilya. Pinapangrap ko lang ito dati, ngayon nakamit ko na,” Hallasgo added as her triumph at the 43rd NMM was sweet vindication enough to prove doubters wrong and substantiate her recent run of excellent form as no fluke.
Trust us, the numbers don’t lie.
Hallasgo’s time of 2:52:23 is four minutes faster than her SEAG mark of 2:56:56 and she did this a mere month and half after her gold at the NCC.
And just like when she surprised everybody at the SEA Games, she too, did not expect a repeat over her Cebuana idol-turned-healthy rival Tabal.
“Hindi ko expected matalo ‘yung idol kong si Joy Tabal. Naging positibo lang pananaw ko,” she said as she bared that after the race, Tabal congratulated her and even posed for a pic, saying that there’s no real animosity between them as being portrayed by some netizens, something that she has no control of.
She did, however, took control in the last 13 kilometers of the race, breaking away from Tabal and conquering the route which composed of uphills and downhills.
“Sanay din naman ako sa klima na malamig, at parehas lang ang (terrain) gaya doon sa Bukidnon na pinag-trainingan ko,” said Hallasgo, who is looking to book a ticket to the Olympics this year should she qualify for a spot in Tokyo.
And she may get this chance because apart from the cool P150,000 cash prize from MILO, she is handed the chance to compete in an international event, eyed within Asia as per PATAFA’s Ed Kho.
Meanwhile, in the men’s track, it only took a single second to separate Jerald Zabala (2:31:16) and second-placer Richard Salano (2:31:17). Both men entered the final curve neck-and-neck but it was Zabala, the eventual and first time MILO Marathon King, who conquered the pack.
“Hindi ako natakot sa takbo, mas natakot ako kase ang daming tao (sa press room),” he said.
Coincidentally, both Hallasgo and Zabala are from Mindanao and both train under the tutelage of two-time Olympian and five-time MILO Marathon King Eduardo Buenavista.
“Sabi nga sa akin (ni Ed Buenavista) kunin ko time niya. Sabi ko, madami pa ako kainin na bigas mga limang kilo pa!” exclaimed Zabala.
This year’s MILO Marathon National leg attracted over 14,000 participants and is the first finals’ leg to be held in Tarlac City, which serves as one of the main highlights of the city’s Kaisa festival.