What If…?

What if there is death of a runner during a road/trail race in the Philippines?

During our Summer Training in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City in 1971 while I was a first year cadet of the Philippine Military Academy (and about to become a sophomore), two of my classmates died while they were about to finish a 10-km road race. The reason for their death was due to “heat stroke” as there were no water stations along the route and worse, the race started late in the morning when the sun was up already on the horizon. The worse conditions of my classmates were compounded when the medical personnel at the camp’s hospital did not know how to cure or treat them as they showed symptoms of “heat stroke”.

I did not know if there was a thorough investigation conducted by my Tactical Officers and Commandant of Cadets at that time after the said incident. I really wanted to find out from the records of the Philippine Military Academy if there was any investigation conducted on the death of my classmates when I had the opportunity to be assigned there as the Head of the Intelligence and Security Department. But because of more pressing work that time (after the EDSA Revolt of 1986) and many security incidents that happened in the Academy, I was not able to have the time to deal on this case.

I could still relate in details what really happened to my two classmates on the day of the race as I was one of the roving “water boys” along the route. Maybe, I could write about my two classmates’ (Cadets Dollente & Llorono) ordeal as I saw them when they were suffering from “heat stroke” during the race and recall also the irresponsible acts and ignorance of the medical personnel who tried to cure and bring their body systems to normal condition. But that will be another story!

Let me go back to the topic on hand. Let me post this question and try to suggest or predict the reaction or action of everybody or the public. What if there is a death of a runner during or after a road race in the Philippines? Such death might be caused by “heat stroke”, “heart failure” of a runner, or an accident with any vehicle crossing the runners’ route, or due to anything you can think of. 

The following will be my predictions of actions to be made by the Race Organizer and by the public:

1. As the Race Organizer and/or Race Director, he will see to it that he had done his best to give the outmost attention to the victim or runner by making sure that he would be brought immediately to the nearest hospital. If death to the runner occurs, he will say that he does not have any liability to the person because the runner signed a “waiver”. End of the story with regards to the responsibility of the RO/RD of the race!

2. Runner-Bloggers will have one or two weeks writing about the said incident.

3. The death incident will surely land on the Front Pages of broadsheets and not in the Sports Pages. It will also appear at TV PATROL, SAKSI, SOCO (?), and maybe, (who knows?) at ANC’s STRICTLY POLITICS & Carandang’s Reports (?).

4. A Senator or Congressman will deliver a “privilege speech” at the Senate/House of Representatives and maybe, just maybe, condeming the runner for not training properly, lambasting on the Road Organizer for not providing enough water and water cups to the runners and for the responsibility of scheduling a road race during hotter/summer months, and others..

5. This will end up with a Senate Hearing in “Aid of Legislation” and come up with a Bill to oversee the conduct of Road Races in the country. Of course, this investigation will be a nice “exposure” to those who have intentions of being elected to a higher office or for “name recall” purposes. (Note: I am not sure if I will be (again!) invited to these Senate & Congressional hearings as a Resource Person! ha! ha! ha!)

6. The running community will come up with a “Run For A Cause” to support the bereaved family of the runner. Or the running community will donate their share of some support to the family and children of the runner. Who knows his kids might be given educational scholarship and even employment by supportive corporations who have runners as their owners/executives? Better if the bereaved family will be made as guests at the noon time program “Wowowee”!

7. A “smart” Road Organizer or Corporate Sponsor might come up with a Road Race annually to honor the death of the runner and the proceeds will go to the Charity or Foundation in the name of the dead runner.

8. I am sure lesser number of runners will be joining the road races for some time but it will pick-up again after few months.

9. One of the Streets at The Fort will be named after the dead runner.

10. This incident will be a “wake-up call” to all Race Organizers to improve their services to the running community and not from the complaints, critiques and rants from the runner-bloggers.

11. A Blog will be created by a runner in the name of the dead runner to remind beginners and other runners to train properly and for the race organizers to provide the necessary logistical services and support to the running community during races.

12. Every road race will be made to have an insurance policy to cover every runner in a race or an enterprising insurance company will open an insurance policy plan exclusively for runners.

The items I mentioned above are my personal predictions or you might call my personal opinion just in case we have a death of a runner now that running is very popular in the country. I may be corny and sarcastic about this issue but we have to deal with such reality as many runners, whether they are beginners. competitors and even elite athletes have died in the past in the United States and other countries (to include an author of a running book that inspired more of the Americans to run in the 70s & 80s). Our Race Organizers/Race Directors will never learn their lessons and their logistics “lapses” to the runners not until something of catastrophic incident will happen to the running community during our weekly races.

Now, let me hear your views about this issue.

11 thoughts on “What If…?

  1. miraclecello

    Good suggestion on insurance. As you know we lost members and associates in my club last year during a climb-related activity.

    In all our training climbs, aside from the waivers and medical certificate requirements all trainees are required to buy insurance for each climb, while members are offered the option of getting one.

    The premium does not cost much, about 100 pesos for an overnight sortie. I would imagine race organisers can adopt this scheme as well. To compensate, they can dispense with those ugly singlets to keep the entrance fees constant.


    1. kingofpots

      you are right, those t-shirts/race shirts in 5K/10K/15K & 20K races are not good. it’s about time that our race organizers should be forward-looking in terms of improving the quality of their services to the runners. that is the very reason why we don’t ask them to account to us where our registration fees are being spent. thanks, lakay cecille


  2. gingerbreadrunning

    I agree Sir Jovie, race organizers should give more usable freebies to those running. I mean, sometimes the singlets and shirts aren’t even wearable. Is this short of saying that once more, we fall painfully short in churning something on a world-class leveI? I mean, instead of nominal freebies, why not insurance as mentioned earlier? Fatalities are a remote happenstance, put there’s still the distinct possibility that it could happen. Just my two cents!




    1. kingofpots

      i just hope this thing will not happen most especially now that runners are already smart to research on different sources on how to train properly. sometimes, your worst enemy is yourself..maraming matitigas ang ulo sa atin.


  3. A group Insurance for fun runs can cost as little as 8 pesos only and be covered for the whole race day. Small cost for added protection. But it is best for RO/RD to be proactive and make sure such instances will NEVER happen in our races.


  4. Pingback: Death! « Bald Runner

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