22 hours before she finished first at the 41st National Milo Marathon, her dad had passed away from a heart attack.
2017 Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Mary Joy Tabal came home from her training in Italy on November 29 and had hoped to meet with her father. However, her father insisted that she train hard for the National Milo Marathon instead, and even promised her that he would watch her race.
She assured her, telling her on November 29, “Humana kung unsa man gani ang imong nasugdan, ipadayon.” (Finish whatever you have started, continue with it.) Tabal never knew that would be their last conversation.
On the 41st National Milo Marathon, Tabal broke down in tears, finally consenting to feeling the immensity of emotions she had suppressed the whole time.
This is because 22 hours before her race, her father, Rolando Sr., passed away due to a heart attack. It was a bittersweet time for Tabal, who won the Milo Marathon for the 5th time.
Upon reaching the finish line and breaking her record, Mary Joy could not help but break down and fall on the ground. Her sobs were uncontrollable and her grief, inconsolable.
She went home right after the race and placed her medal on her father’s casket. “This is dedicated to my father,” she said in the same interview.
In August of 2017, 28-year-old Tabal, won the first gold medal for the Philippines at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games marathon in Putrajaya, completing the race with a time of 2:48:26, well ahead of her competitors.
She is the first Filipino marathon runner to qualify for the Olympics, which she has done by running a time of 2:43:29 in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in 2016.