Marathon queen a plantita

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SOUTHEAST Asian Games Marathon Queen Christine Organiza Hallasgo endured three months of being away from her family in Malaybalay as she and dozens other national athletes and coaches were locked down at the PhilSports early into the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the unassuming runner who polished her running skills atop Bukidnon’s scenic mountains is now in the comfort of her home always beside her husband Wilmer and daughter Chrisxiah Mae.

With no track oval to train on, at least within running distance, and with health and safety protocols still in place, Hallasgo has found a way to ease the pressure wrought by the pandemic.

If Mary Joy Tabal, who she replaced on the SEA Games marathon throne last December, is into baking, Hallasgo is into planting. Call her one of the millions who are now called plantitas.

“Because of the lockdown, I now have more time with my family and recently, I have time to plant—it’s not only fun, but self-fulfilling and relaxing,” Hallasgo told the BusinessMirror.

Hallasgo maintains a garden in her humble home in Barangay Casisang in Malaybalay, which she planted with egg plants, okra, tomatoes, string beans, among others. In another part of the garden, she grows Rhoeo Discolor, Caladium, Welcome Plant, roses and Snake Plants.

“My collections of plants are simple. I wish I have some rare plants in my garden, but I feel happy and satisfied with what I have…it’s the relief that I get from my plants,” she said.

The relief of being high, dry and happy at home make Hallasgo smile at the experience she had at the PhilSports in Pasig City especially during the enhanced community quarantine.

“Three months of uncertainty. We couldn’t even use the oval because of protocols,” she said. “So I while the time away in my room [dormitory] looking for someone to talk to.”

With the Philippine Sports Commission and the city government of Malaybalay collaborating, Hallasgo was able to take a flight home.

Hallasgo came to prominence in the 30th SEA Games the country hosted last December when she upstaged Rio de Janeiro Olympian Tabal in winning the women’s marathon gold medal at the New Clark City, denying the Cebuana of back-to-back victories.

She is under the watchful eyes of former long distance champion Eduardo Buenavista, who himself has four SEA Games gold medals.

“I’m happy with my victory in the SEA Games. With my incentive [bonus for medalists], I was able to purchase a humble lot. It’s an investment and each time I look at the lot, I know it’s the fruit of my hard work in my sport,” she said.

But Hallasgo makes sure she puts in the kilometers as she stays in shape for the tough year ahead.

“I do 30kms a day, at times racking up 200 to 300 kms [total] in my program with coach Bertek [Buenavista’s nickname],” she said.

Like Tabal, Hallasgo is looking forward to making it to the postponed Tokyo Olympics, but like the rest of the sports world, she has to wait for the qualifiers that were moved to next year.

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