Mary Joy Tabal

Last Updated on April 15, 2023 by Andrew Pirie

  • Mary Joy Tabal

Mary Joy Tabal 2015-2019

Mary Joy Tabal – Biography

Mary Joy Tabal won the first gold medal for the Philippines in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in the women’s Marathon on Saturday morning in this city south of Kuala Lumpur. (photo by Ali vicoy)


Performance Profile:

  • Half Marathon: 1:16.28 (National Record)
  • Marathon: 2:43.31 (National Record)

    Mary Joy Tabal
    Mary Joy Tabal


Mary Joy Tabal Achievements to Date:

  • PNG Champion 2013 5000m
  • 6x Milo Marathon Champion 2013-2018
  • SEA Games Silver 2015 Marathon
  • Olympian 2016 Marathon
  • National Record Holder Half and Full Marathon
  • SEA Games Gold 2017 Marathon
  • SEA Games Silver 2019 Marathon
  • Events: Marathon


Mary Joy Tabal
Mary Joy Tabal


Sino Si Mary Joy Tabal

Mary Joy Tabal from the island of Cebu. From a poor mountain family. Mary Joy Tabal used her road-running earnings to pay her siblings through school.

At college, she was only an average 59-second 400m runner. But, her life would change forever when Triathlete Philip Duenas approached her to move up to the Marathon.

Such a big jump came as a shock early on for Mary Joy Tabal. Who collapsed in her first 10,000m race.

Two years later, she burst onto the Milo Marathon Champion scene in 2013, dethroning then back-to-back Milo Champion Mary Grace Delos Santos. Mary Joy Tabal went on to win 2014, 2015, and 2016 editions.

She was making it four in a row

At the 2015 SEA Games, Mary Joy Tabal took the silver in challenging wet conditions. In 2016 she broke the famous national Philippine Record of two Time SEA Games Champion, the legendary Christabel Martes.

In the process, she qualified for the Rio Olympic Games. And became the First woman from the Philippines to participate in the Olympic Games.

Moto race essentially helped her; she trained in Japan and then Italy, with her sponsors’ help.

Mary Joy Tabal and Philip Duenas also give back to the sport by providing a grass-roots program that assists kids similar to Joy from low-income families around Cebu.



DECEMBER 20, 2020

Once, the country’s marathon queen, Mary Joy Tabal, is now doubtful of her chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next year.

The 31-year-old long-distance specialist from Cebu said making it to the Summer Games seems impossible as all races that offer ranking points have been moved to the last quarter of 2021 due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tabal used to be the country’s brightest gem in a road battle.

She ruled the Milo Marathon’s national finals for four straight years from 2013 to 2018 before seeing action in the prestigious Boston Marathon, where she finished a respectable 20th.

Then, she pulled off a shocker after clocking two hours and 43:29 in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon to punch a ticket to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, formally crowning herself as the country’s best long-distance runner.

Although she lost the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games to Christine Hallasgo, sideliners still consider her a strong force with enough training and international exposure.

But the pandemic shattered her plans.

With no training and competition, Tabal had no choice but to accept the possibility of missing her return flight to the Olympics.


“It’s really impossible now,” the petite runner told Daily Tribune in a telephone conversation.

“The only chance I could make it to the Olympics is by increasing my ranking. But I couldn’t do it because this pandemic postponed all competitions I was supposed to join.”


The Olympic qualifying mark for the women’s Marathon is set at 2:29:30.

On the other hand, Tabal’s personal best is set at 2:43:29, more than 10 minutes short of advancing to the Summer Games.

But she is not alone.

Hallasgo also admitted that she had reached the end of her road to the Olympics in a previous statement.

She said she struggled to develop a solid training program after the track oval in her province in Bukidnon had been shut down due to the pandemic.


“I do not have proper training and, also, there is a rise of Covid cases in our place so it’s really hard to train under these circumstances,” Hallasgo, who got stranded in her dorm inside the Philsports compound for few months, said.

“I am not saying that it’s impossible to compete in the Olympics, but given this situation, I am getting doubtful.”


Still, the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) refuses to raise the white flag on Hallasgo’s chances.

PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico said he would be sending Hallasgo to the Taipei Marathon in March in a bid to snatch an Olympic berth.

“We will try our very best,” Juico said, adding that his athletes should go full blast in their training by January.

Meanwhile, Tabal said with the Olympics no longer on her radar; she would shift her focus on regaining her lost throne when Vietnam hosts the SEA Games in November.

“Now, my focus is on the SEA Games,” she said.

“I really want to regain the gold medal there.”

Regarding Juice’s statement and belief in Hallasgo’s qualifying

We need to look clearly at the Facts when it comes to bonus slots.

There are 80 slots for the Olympics. And as of December 20, 2020, 75 of those slots are taken already by athletes who have already run below the 2h29.30 qualifying standard. 

From December 1 to 20, 9 new athletes ran under 2h29.30 from around the world. The qualifying is until June 29, 2020.

So the only way to qualify for the Women’s Marathon in the Olympics is by hitting the 2h29.30 bonus slots are only available if the 80 places are not all filled, which they surely will be.

Tabby Joins the Military

DON’T be surprised if you see a champion marathoner staffing the deck of a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) ship patrolling the country’s waters.

Rio Olympian Mary Joy Tabal was pinned with a Lieutenant Commander of the PCG Auxiliary (PCGA) on her shoulders in solemn ceremonies at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel in Cebu on Thursday.


“I will be working as Operations Officer, but the official announcement of our assignment will be on  December 5,” said Mary Joy Tabal, 31, winner of the women’s marathon gold medal at the 2017 Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games. “They [PCGA] just accepted me officially in advance.”


PCGA Commander Chester Sumalinog inducted  Mary Joy Tabal as the highest-ranked Auxiliarist in her batch. The PCGA primarily supports the PCG in the conduct of its functions. It is a volunteer organization.

Tabal said joining the PCGA was a calling.


“I never expected myself to join the PCGA, but I knew that to grow, I have to serve the country,” she said. “I also want to constantly inspire others to emulate any act of patriotism and service to our country.”


“I want to continue to challenge myself, never to stop learning and to be able to embody the values that sports have taught me inside and outside the sports field,” she added.

Tabal underwent training to achieve her rank.


“The training wasn’t that hard—one whole day of indoctrination,  orientation, and basic Coast Guard protocols, marching, salute, and how do we work and partner with PCG,” she said.


The military service is no alien to Mary Joy Tabal.

Her longtime partner, Hector Dan Jimenez, is a lieutenant junior grade at the Philippine Navy.

At the same time, her late father, Rolando Tabal,  served in the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine National Police.

“As a child, I grew up admiring men in uniform. People who serve the country, putting their lives in danger to maintain peace and safety,” Tabal said. I saw how the service molded my Papa Lando to be a responsible father us.”



Mary Joy Tabal goes into the SEA Games as a strong contender; her main challenge will come from the young girl from Vietnam who took bronze last SEA Games.

Who has run 2:45 vs. Tabal 2:43? Unfortunately, Olympian Jane Vongvoratchoti of Thailand, who has a PB of 2:40, will not be joining.

Mary Joy Tabal  Marathon 2h43.31 Scotia Bank, Ottawa, Canada Phi Record Olympic Qualifier

Tabby Selling Muffins (July 2020)


2020 Unlucky Mary Joy Tabal Eyes Ottawa

Mary Joy Tabal is eyeing suiting up in the 2020 Ottawa Marathon. And canceled her last shot for qualifying in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After three international races due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

The Hong Kong Marathon, Seoul Marathon, and Tokyo Marathons. All major qualifying races for the Summer Games were affected by the virus in Wuhan, China. Leaving Mary Joy Tabal with only one race left—the Ottawa Marathon in May.

“I’m still thinking of joining this race. Right now my chances of qualifying are very low,” the 2016 Rio Olympian told SunStar Cebu.

Full Article Here

Mary Joy Tabal is left with only one race to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

By: Mars G. Alison – CDN Digital Correspondent|February 25, 2020 – 03:30 PM
CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Philippines’ first Filipino female long-distance runner in the Olympics, Mary Joy Tabal of Cebu, is left with only one race to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

This was after and informed her on Tuesday morning, February 25, 2020. Her third race prospect for qualifying, the 2020 Seoul Marathon, has also canceled its international elite division. Due to the massive outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in South Korea.

Full Article Here

Mary Joy Tabal loses the chance to compete abroad.

February 23, 2020

CEBUANA marathoner Mary Joy Tabal was hit with a massive blow after two of her races abroad got canceled due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) outbreak.

The 30-year-old runner was supposed to join the Standard Chartered Marathon in Hongkong and the 2020 Tokyo Marathon to earn enough points for the Tokyo Olympics.


Tabby running out of Time

February 9, 2020

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Mary Joy Tabal’s chances of qualifying for this July’s 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, are running out.

And canceled two of the international races she was planning to join to earn points to rack up her world rankings and qualify for the Olympics.

The Hong Kong Standard Chartered, which was supposed to happen last February 9, was canceled by the organizers due to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

Also, Mary Joy Tabal, was the country’s first female long-distance runner in the Olympics. Will no longer be joining the Tokyo Marathon. Which is one of the six major world marathons slated for March 1. Because Asics, one of her major sponsors, is canceling its participation due to the increasing number of people in Japan infected with COVID-19.


Loader Loading...
EAD Logo Taking too long?

Reload Reload document
| Open Open in new tab

Asics Pulls Mary Joy Tabal out of Tokyo Marathon

Although the Tokyo Marathon organizers have not canceled the race entirely, Asics has decided not to send their athletes to the event.

“We believe that the health of our athletes and guests are much important and will not take the risk of sending everyone at this moment since there is a rising number of affected NCOV in the region,” stated a missive that Tabal received from Asics.

“There are only a few good races or accredited races here in Asia that will fall on the 1st and 2nd quarter of the year. The next problem is to look for races outside Asia but aside from asking them to let you have free entry, you will need to process a visa before you can book tickets,” said Tabal.

Hong Kong runs a Gold label race while the Tokyo Marathon is one of the six major world marathons, and both would have given her points to pad her Olympic chances before she competes again in Canada.

“Yes, to earn points from these accredited races to increase my world ranking because the 2:29.30 qualifying time is suicidal,” said Tabal.

Relying on Points

Aside from getting the qualifying Time set for the Tokyo Olympics. Other ways to qualify are to finish in the top 10 insignificant world marathons or the top 5 among Gold Label marathons.

The third option is through the world rankings. Wherein a runner has to run more accredited marathons or half marathons to earn points and climb up the world rankings.

Mary Joy Tabal currently holds the Philippine record for both full and half marathons.

For the full Marathon, she holds the Time of two hours, 43 minutes, and 31 seconds (2:43:31). She clocked in the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon back in 2016, which qualified her for her first Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

For the half marathon, she has a time of 1:16:28. Which she set in the 2017 edition of the Scotia Bank Ottawa Half Marathon in Canada.

Known for her resiliency, Mary Joy Tabal is not about to give up on her Tokyo Olympics 2020 dream.

“I am doing all the best to look for these accredited races and have to send emails on my own, waiting for them to accept me last minute,” said Tabal. She added that “I will take any opportunity coming, thus my training continues.”

Read more:



You cannot copy content of this page