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Statement From SIM’s Race Event Manager

6 11 2009

The following is the Official Statement of the SIM’s Race Event Manager which I think, is also speaking in behalf of Chief Supt. Samuel Tucay PNP (Ret.) in order to explain the complaints of most of the runners during the counduct of the Marathon Race:

Feedback, Assessment, and Areas of Improvement of  the Subic International Marathon 

Despite the threat of an impending typhoon “Ramil” , the just concluded Subic International Marathon attracted a record number of participants. Fortunately, Typhoon “Ramil” spared all our marathon runners from a deluge.  The sun even shone brightly the next day to warm thousands who participated in the other running events.

The feedback has been mixed. Some gave praises while others gave certainly valid criticism. We take all feedback at heart because we want to constantly improve the conduct of the Subic International Marathon (SIM) until it is at par with the prestige of the Tokyo Marathon, an event similarly recognized by the Association of International Marathons and Long-Distance Runs (AIMS) of which the SIM is a listed and accredited member.

There were several firsts in the conduct of the SIM. First  of all it was conducted on the newly constructed Subic-Clark- Tarlac Expressway  (SCTEX). A four lane portion of the road was closed for public access for the first time to allow runners a breath-taking view and a pollution free environment for their Marathon. Studies have shown how detrimental it is for the health of the runners to breath polluted air when their need for oxygen is greater.

Expectedly, the closing of these lanes created pressure for the lanes for motor traffic. What was not expected was support vehicles carrying water for water stations traveling along the lanes for the motor traffic being prevented by the Expressway patrols from crossing the expressway to supply the stations.

The Expressway patrols correctly pointed out the safety issue of support vehicles doing a counterflow and the danger of being sideswiped by physically bringing jugs of water across the metal barriers between the lanes.

There was water for the runners. More than enough water was  inside the supply trucks and vans traveling during the run. Water was supplied by Pocari, Dr. Pi, and even locally bought purified water. Chuck Crisanto closely coordinated with Dr. Lim to repeatedly send vehicles laden with Dr.Pi water to supply the stations. However, the assiduous manner by which the expressway police held on to their duties may perhaps explain why some designated water stations had no water for the runners, or if they had, they were not resupplied  after the lead packs had used them.

Starting at the half-way mark there was a plan to make boiled bananas available on the stations to provide a needed boost. The bananas were actually cooked in the morning and were loaded in the vehicles of the hydration teams. Few , however, reached their intended destination.

When the Chief of the Expressway police was informed in the evening of the situation, he gave the order for his patrols to allow the hydration teams through.

For some water stations, they were resupplied when the expressway patrols bent their orders.

There are important lessons which we had to learn the hard way. One is better coordination with the Expressway patrols who also have the duty of looking after the safety of motorists affected by the marathon’s closing of several lanes. Another is a better water resupply plan for runners not in the lead pack. Earlier prepositioning of water especially after the half-marathon mark seems crucial. 

Another first of the Marathon was its late afternoon start. This was to avoid having the runners run under the burning heat of the sun, and to finish off during the cool evening. Lighting the way after dark was estimated to be supplied by the standing lights of the expressway, and where the expressway ended, by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA). During the day, electricians of the SBMA placed lights inside the tunnel which they  estimated to be pitch dark after seven p.m.

It still is unclear why along the route why some of the standing lights of the expressway had no power. The lights were tested in the morning of the run. We are still checking if the generators encountered any mechanical trouble.

Emergency measures were actually conducted. Volunteer support vehicles and race marshals parked their cars by the shoulders and opened their head lamps to serve as light beams. The tail pack benefited from the lights of the vehicles which served as the sweepers. However, the widely spaced distribution of the runners along the route ensured many would not benefit from the emergency lighting scheme.

The darkness was more pronounced when the runners ran beside the forest or on roads where even village lights were absent. It is not beyond us to conclude that the hydration teams missed seeing some of their water stations in the dark. As the runners entered Remy field, we noticed few held torch lamps or head attached flashlights. Many came unprepared for a night run. One New Yorker who has been an 18 time Ironman finisher said this experience was totally wild!

Running a Marathon is challenging enough, running a night marathon is an extra challenge which we feel  we can quickly gain competence with the lessons hard-earned.

For one thing, we feel it is necessary to have many small stand-by generators at hand. Markers should be in neon or reflective paint. Blinking cones could help, as well. The route can be lit. The lesson is to be redundant in the lighting fixtures.

For those who ran the Marathon, they may have not been aware that we had in place many safety measures.

Volunteers from REACT provided radio communication regarding the status of the run and of the runners themselves. Personnel of sponsors strewn along the route gave text updates. SBMA Ambulances  were at hand. In fact, they picked up an exhausted Kenyan female runner who collapsed along the way (She got up the next day and won in another race).  A Korean medic even attended to finishers who had cramps or hamstring problems by massaging their legs.

Volunteer Cyclists from the various cycling associations of Subic were on the road to serve as monitors. The Philippine National Police and the SBMA police enforcers sent their mobile units for escort. Perhaps, in the next conduct of the Marathon, we could borrow a helicopter from the armed forces to provide a bird’s eye view of the runners.

Despite the difficulties experienced by all of the runners, none of them was exposed to the danger of being sideswiped by a vehicle. All finishers were properly documented , their time recorded and quickly given their medals upon crossing the finish line. The recognition of the top winners in the male and female division were promptly held at 9:00 p.m. in the evening.

 The Subic International Marathon is about the runner and not the sponsors. Our sponsors allow us to have the means to create a running event which otherwise simple runners cannot afford. The low entry fee of the runners was subsidized. Gen. Sam Tucay did not want the entry fee as a barrier for anyone who wants to run. 

More importantly , the Subic International Marathon story is about the people who volunteered their resources and efforts in so many ways. No runner has the means to repay their generosity.

One criticism we had this year was that the free beer for all finishers was missing. Mea Culpa. Anyone who finishes a Marathon is a winner who truly deserves a cold beer or drink to celebrate.

We profusely apologize for all those who have been inconvenienced in one way or another in the birth pains of the Subic International Marathon.

This year we counted 100 foreign participants. Next year,  running clubs from Korea, Sri Lanka, and the U.S. West Coast will send their teams. Part of the success of the run is the friendship it creates among all who are interested in sports, health, fitness, and love of our country.

We thank all who have sent their comments, feedbacks, and gave both solicited and unsolicited pieces of advise. We promise to do better.

Adi de los Reyes (sgd)

Events Manager

Thanks, Adi for having the “balls” to come up with this statement. I hope my readers will understand your predicament and limitations. However, let me have the following suggestions to the Race Event Manager and to the Race Director:

1. Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse—I told to Adi De Los Reyes about this suggestion to conduct a “test run” or “rehearsal run” with a group of runners, at least one or two months before the D-Day in order to apply what is in the written plan and find out and anticipate problems to occur during the race. All the personnel involved, to include the highway patrols and the volunteers, should be present. If you want excellence in whatever you do, you have to rehearse and practice to perfection. We, as runners, also train for excellence and perfection in the way we run on race day and there is no reason why the RO and the Race Event Manager could not practice also their services to the runners.

2. Lots of PNP Personnel—I suggest you use one-half of the strength of the police cadets and police personnel as your “work force” to act as your route marshals, water aid personnel, assistance to the highway patrol, light dome operators, or people manning the generators along the way or maybe “holders” of lanterns along the route or maybe “chearers”. There is no need to make “hakot” to the PNP personnel to show that you have a lot of runners for your Marathon Race. There is no need to make “paporma” to your sponsors at the Starting Line showing that you have a record-breaking number of starters but along the way, you have “cheaters” and “whiners’ and worst, you have “thieves” of runners’ supply of water, food, and other “freebies”. If you have prepared boiled bananas, water supply, and chocolate bites on the road, how come most of the runners did not see these items being given by the volunteers. It’s either they were purposely not given or simply “stolen” by unscrupulous people.

3. Unfunded “Cash Prize” Checks—Not because somebody among the winners received the wrong amount of check, it does not mean that you have to direct the bank to suspend all the encashment of the issued checks. If there is a problem with a single check, do not make a “sweeping” directive for the bank to stale all the checks given as prizes to all the winners. The bottomline is, don’t issue a bank check without any fund because it reflects on the image of the Major Sponsor of the Event.

4. Ask the “Hardcore” Team—If you want a truckload of ice cold beer, better ask the “Hardcore” Team. If you are lucky, the “Hings” group would also support you with Ice Cream that goes with the Ice Cold Beer! You can only have this combination of “goodies” at the Finish Line of the MASTERS Run.

5. Start Planning NOW!—For an International Marathon to perform well in all its administrative and operational aspects, you have to start planning NOW for the 2010 edition. Written Plans with Nice Drawings and Powerpoint Presentations are nothing if there is Lack of Implementation. I am also a Race Director and I know what I am talking about. Let us give what the runners should deserve in a road race.

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12 responses

6 11 2009
miraclecello

The first, and only sentence of the statement should have been, “We fucked up, sorry.” Passing the blame to the expressway police was lame — why stage the marathon on the toll road in the first place if you do not have control of the route?

The Metro Pacific group — which runs Smart, PLDT, NLEX, Maynilad, and now Meralco, among others — has tabled a bid to take over the operation of SCTEX. At least, if that deal pushes through, they won’t have the tollways police to blame anymore next time around.

6 11 2009
markhernz

I agree that event had good points. Also, nothing’s ever perfect, and I agree with the lesson learned that contingency plans should be in place. What I’m surprised is mentioning that the runners came “unprepared”? It may have been my first full marathon, but I do know that when you join one, you’re there to worry about running, not thinking of your own provisions. I still believe that a well planned marathon would not have the need for the runner to have a support team, I feel that the perfect marathon is when the runner can just focus on running the course. Although, that of course would be perfect, which is something we’re still quite far from (although I did get to experience a half marathon event that came close to it).

6 11 2009
dhenztm

I think the letter was an explanation, not an apology. They said they had prepared but since a lot of runners didn’t see any of this it’s as good as none at all. So are they pointing fingers at the tollway police? I think if they had made a good understanding with all their stakeholders reasonable requests won’t be denied.

I totally agree with your points Sir Jovie, especially with #1 and #2. I’m sure they wouldn’t run out of volunteers had they invited runners for a test run and foresaw flaws with their plan. As for the PNP Personnel I think some of them showed bad conducts during the race and are bad influences to other runners especially the first time marathon-ers.

It’s another one of those forgive and forget moments that organizers are invoking from runners. Let us hope that they really learned their lessons and not take runners for granted.

6 11 2009
greencursor

jovie,

the higher they fly, the harder they fall. the organizers must have been internalizing and celebrating already the success of the SIM that they failed to see the obvious.

you have given them your suggestions, and yet these were not heeded. some know-it-all guys out there must have told themselves, “nah, that ain’t going to happen. we know better.” but, they did! they then started looking at each other. so, the next thing they did was to find a convenient scapegoat. end of the story.

nestor

6 11 2009
kingofpots

when i was passing by market! market!, i saw a condo building being constructed with the following big words written infront of the construction site: DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME, PLAN AHEAD. the people behind this SIM should have followed this statement, however, their plans fucked up!

6 11 2009
speedsterbikster

i hate to be rude, but honestly, i experienced and saw a lot of their shortcomings in the race and some of the explanations that the organizer gave here is just plain bull….he even mentioned having a helicopter next time??? in a night race that’s pitch black in some parts of the course??? how the hell will they see the runners from above??? i think they wont even be able to tell what bib number the runner is so i think they cannot really monitor or account each runner well. i think that’s useless. also, i beg to differ with the statement “nobody was exposed to the danger of being sideswiped by a vehicle…” i myself saw an oncoming vehicle who almost hit the cones and got inside the lane where we were running, we had to scramble to the side of the road in surprise. no need for helicopters or other fancy stuff…just make sure the runners are safe while running and provide the basic needs of water, some food, liniment or medicines, and a well lit course. a plain sorry from them and a promise to do better next time would have been better….

7 11 2009
gailcons

This is unacceptable! I had friends in that race and I know of 3 people who fainted due to dehydration…and they came “prepared” with hydration flasks! They f*cked up and they didn’t have the balls to admit it! Contrary to what they mentioned above “the feedback has been mixed”. Of course not! Every person I know who ran the full mary complained. Even an acquaintance who just flew from Sanfo to participate in the SIM was pissed! He tweeted “The SIM was the most dangerous race he had every participated in. I will not be coming back”. I wonder who they’ll blame if someone actually perished in this race…

7 11 2009
runma777

@##$%^$%&$%@#$%#$%&^%$&*$%# organizer !

i would suggest we right a letter to all the sponsor of this event all our grievance and recommend to them the not to support the this kind of organizer (panay porma lang)…. attached are all the complaints from threads, blogs and written love letter of the participants.

this is unacceptable “the runners came unprepared” what the @#$%^%$#@#$ talaga?

7 11 2009
argonautquest

I pity the organizers for their irresponsibility… Shame on them…

7 11 2009
bards

one thing i observed about the SIM personnel was that they didnt seem to have someone monitoring what was happening otherwise they would have made an immediate solution to get the van with the water at km28 to back track to Dinalupihan and not just wait for runners who can reach them.

when/if i get invited to a runners/bloggers launch one of the things I will ask now is WHO WE GONNA CALL IF WE HAVE A REPEAT OF THE SMART-SUBIC FIASCO?

10 11 2009
wawewee

there are just so many things about the sim that galls me. and one of these would be this letter.

about the only thing that should be coming out from this organizer is ‘we are very sorry–there was not enough water, not enough food, not enough lights–no excuses! we endangered your lives, we disrespected the amount of time and effort you took in training for this run. sorry for the overly long letter that used the long-winded tactic to try to bullshit our way out of this royal mess we created. sorry for the disingenous tale about the kenyan woman who was rescued by their ambulance and yet raced the following day. see, nothing serious? sorry for the OTHER disingenous tale about the New Yorker who thought the whole thing was wild—ang cute, dba? sorry for insulting you yet again with that beer thing—as if you were too dim, too stupid to know we were trying to be chummy with us in the hopes we would forget the horrid mess you created for us.

sorry for insulting your intelligence by talking about that tucay guy like he did running a favor with his hakot mentality that made this race a logistical nightmare among other things. color coded bibs that meant nothing as everyone could turn around anytime, anywhere! no marshals to call them on it. *unfuckingbelievable* for the half marathon, we were running 20 min late (surprise surprise!) and tucay goes onstage and says ‘will the (one million) runners go to the other side of the finish line. ‘ thus, making sure we would be 20 more minutes late. ang galing. eat bulaga.

and you had the gall to call this an international marathon?! standards were so low, they really didn’t exist. like i said, *unfuckingbelievable*

it’s been 2 weeks now

26 11 2009
GrandPiano

GrandPiano…

Hello 😉 Thanks heaps for this indeed!… if anyone else has anything, it would be much appreciated. Great website Super Piano Links http://www.en.Grand-Pianos.org Enjoy!…

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