Race Report: PCTR Headlands 50 Miles

28 07 2010

7:00 AM July 17, 2010 @ Marin Headlands, Golden Gate Recreation Area, San Francisco, California   

Having experienced finishing a 50K Trail Run at Bulldog 50K two years ago, I was already planning to experience a 50-mile run or 100K trail run in any of the trail races in California. Mt Disappointment 50-Mile or Lake Tahoe 50-Mile Runs were my choices but they did not materialize due to schedule problems. After this year’s BDM 102, I decided to train for the 34th MILO Marathon Manila Elimination and plan to immediately proceed to the US to use my newly renewed US Visa which is good for another 10 years. So, the choice was to register for the PCTR Headlands 50-Mile Run, barely two weeks after the July 4th MILO Marathon. Lake Tahoe 50-Mile Run’s registration was already closed as early as March this year. I paid Eighty Dollars ($80.00) for the said run and my participation was sealed!   

PCTR Headlands 50-Mile + Marathon Logo By Rick Gaston

Plan & Objective   

The plan is to be able to build-up ultra distance runs in the United States in the 50K, 50-mile, and 100K runs for record purposes so as to be able to qualify to join a 100-mile mountain trail runs in the future. I guess, Boston Marathon Qualifying plans is put on hold while I am trying my best to focus on ultra trail runs and make a 100-mile run as one of the most important items in my “bucket list”. It is like saying that for a President of the Philippine Association of Ultrarunners (PAU) to be credible and example to its members, he should be able to, at least, finish a 100-mile mountain trail race. Unlike those “clowns” who head our sports federations who could not even practice their sports they are leading. How can you expect these “clowns” to lead and win for us some medals in the Olympics if they could not even feel how our elite athletes train with their blood, sweat, and tears? I rest my case! 


Basically, my preparation for this race was geared towards my training for the 34th MILO Marathon Manila Eliminations. But two months before the marathon race, I tried to start training towards the “Brown Mountain” and looked for trails to run into. It started with once a week routine until I was able to do twice and then three times a week. I was satisfied how my legs adjusted to the rigors of mountain trail running for those months. Such trail running made me stronger and faster as validated during my oval track interval runs two weeks before the marathon race day where I was able to register an average pace in my Yasso 800s workout at 3:45 mins which could be translated to 3:45 hours in a marathon race. But the environmental condition with severe hot temperature and humid condition on race day derailed my plans and target time to finish the marathon race within the finish time I desired . But knowing that I will be running in a colder place with an average temperature of 12-14 degrees Centigrade or 54-60 degrees Fahrenheit, I know my training for the marathon and for the 50-mile run was still intact. My MILO Marathon became as my tempo run for this 50-miler run!   

Pre-Race Preparations   

The most basic thing to do in a ultra trail run is to recon the actual route by running into it. So, two days after my arrival in the US, I went to the Marin Headlands for the first time and tried to trace the route with a piece of paper where I wrote the description and directions of the race. I was alone running on those rocky, hard & sun-baked, and dusty trails until I was able to run a distance of almost 16 miles/25 kilometers. However, I realized I was lost but I was glad I was able to cover such distance and have a feel of the environment and my bearing in the said area. After reaching the Tennessee Valley Trailhead, I went into the Miwok Trail instead of turning left, running along an asphalt road towards the Tennessee Valley Beach. I went on a reverse mode of the race until I reached the asphalt road of Tennessee Valley Road after coming down from the Coyote Ridge Trail and the Coastal Dirt Trail. From there, I saw a single track trail which was full of bushes that goes to a steep uphill directly towards the Wolfe Ridge Trail and from here I was back to the Coastal Trail and back where I started at the Parking Lot of Rodeo Beach. I enjoyed bushwhacking along that steep one-track trail but I had to stop once in awhile to see the different colors of flowers from the wild plants along the trail.   

On this recon run, I was using my TNF Hedgehog BOA shoes which was very good in my downhill runs in steep and rocky portions of the trails but they are heavier and bulkier than my TNF Arnuva 50 BOA. Aside from using my white long-sleeved Patagonia Shirt, I was also wearing my Jeju Ultramarathon windbreaker as my outside garment. I was wearing my 9-Trail Patagonia Shorts where I stocked 3 Natural Valley Crunch Bars and 3 GUs inside its zippered pockets. It was windy and cold during my first recon run. It took me more time to brisk walk and take pictures as I was astounded and impressed on the scenery of the place whenever I was on top and along the ridges of the mountains!   

1st Recon Run

It took me 4 hours to finish this recon run and familiarization of the place. I was surprised that only my shirt and bandanas were damped with my sweat and had never reached my shorts and my legs. I was surprised also that I did not feel any sore or pain on my legs for those immediate adjustments on the running surface I was used to. It appears that the weather condition plays a lot in determining the outcome of the race to evey runner.   

After some recovery runs and the usual road runs to maintain my fitness level for about 4 days, I was back again at the Marin Headlands for another recon run with the objective to run the remaining trails where the race will go through. Actually, I was successful in tracing all the trails until I completed the whole loop of the original 25-mile route of the race which I completed in almost 6 hours to include those pit stops, photo-ops, and brisk walking. I finished at the Rodeo Beach Bridge instead of coming back from where I started. Instead of wearing a windbreaker, I decided to wear a long-sleeved technical shirt and my TNF running shorts which are thin and light. At this point, I knew I have acclimatized already with the weather condition of the place.   

On this 2nd recon run, I took some easy time to see the scenery most especially when I was at the peak of the Marincello Trail. The views are amazing to behold and they are priceless! Once I reached the SCA Trail, the views of the Golden Gate, Vista Point and the whole of San Francisco Bay was also nice that it took me some time to freeze and look around the views all around me! However, the wind coming from the sea was so strong that I tried my best to go against it as I passed along the SCA Trail. After the Rodeo Valley Trail, it was another “bushswacking” experience when I finally ran along the single-track of Conzelman Trail until I reached the Bunker Road and went into the Lagoon Trail up to the sands of Rodeo Beach. I was able to run the whole one loop of the old course which is equivalent to 25 miles!   

Race Route (2 Loops For The 50-Mile Run)

Few days before D-Day, I received an e-mail from the Race Organizer about the change of the race route and I wonder why the route did not reach the end at the Rodea Beach passing along the SCA and Conzelman Trails. I wonder where the rest of the trails will pass through after these trails were not available and indicated at the new map directions. But I was confident that the race route will finally end up with the correct distance of 50 miles. (Note: Runners who were equipped with Garmin watch would say after the race that the actual distance covered by all the 50-mile runners was 52.3 miles!)

Race Day   

I was at the Starting Area at least one hour before the scheduled start at 7:00 AM. The Rodeo Beach was windy and cold and I saw a number of runners lining up in two lines to get their race bibs. One line is for the 50-miler and the other one was for the marathon trail distance run. The processing of runners at the assembly area/starting line was very simple and you don’t see see any signages or tarpaulins that indicate that there is a race to be held at the Marin Headlands. All you have to do is give your name, the staff look for your name in a master list where your race number is listed and then give your race number and then pick at least 4 pieces of safety pin in a small box placed on top of the table and you are done! No envelops, no race singlet, no piece of paper for instructions/maps/rules & regulations, and nothing fancy! Very simple but efficient. 

Lining Up For Our Race Bibs

Simple But Efficient

After fixing my things and pinning my race bib on my trail shorts, I had some photo-ops with the rest of the runners lining up and busy doing their own things and the happenings at the assembly area. I was expecting to see some Filipino faces among the crowd but I could see some Chinese, Latino-looking ladies, and most are “whites”. What I see as very common to everybody are the smiles on the faces of each runner and they seem to be relaxed and composed. You don’t hear any loud conversation or thrash talks except for the loud sounds coming from the waves of the sea! I did not see anybody who was doing their warm-up jog or stretching. After some photo-ops, I opted to get inside the car to prevent myself from freezing from the cold wind coming from the sea.  

Taking It Easy Before The Start Of The Race

Starting Area   

In a short notice the Race Director holding a bullhorn announced to the crowd that the race will start in ten minutes and he asked all the runners to gather at the starting line which was indicated with only two orange cones placed on each side of the road. Immediately the RD explained the route and gave  some reasons why the race route will not be passing and ending along the Rodeo Beach because of some constructions along the trails and asphalted roads at the area. The marathon distance runners would first run along the asphalted roads of Marin Headlands before going up towards the Coastal Trail and will do only one loop of the course. But for us on the 50-mile run, we will be going directly to the Coastal Trail but have to do two loops of the course.   

Race Director In Action

Runners At The Starting Line

Coastal Trail   

The first trail that you hit once your run from the Starting Line is the Coastail Trail where it is a mixture of asphalt road, single trail road, and winding stairs of big rocks and wood/small logs. It has a distance of almost 3.2 kilometers and it ascends to about 900-1,000 feet at its peak. This is the first trail that will test the early effort of the runner whether he wants to be sucked up with the pace of the stronger runners or be conservative to brisk walk up to the peak. The flats are limited to the bunkers at Battery Townsley and its dark tunnel which is about 100 yards!   

Coastal Trail From Rodeo Beach

The race started at exactly 7:00 AM with a simple countdown from 10 to zero and a command of “GO”. From where I was standing at the back of the runners, I started to brisk walk while the faster runners started to jog and run up to the peak of the first mountain of the Coastal Trail. As I looked on my back, I could see that I was one of the few who were lagging behind. The race strategy was to brisk walk on the steep uphill portions and slowly jog or run on the peak flats and downhill parts of the route. Runners formed a single-file along the rocky one-track trails and along the winding wooden stairs of Coastal Trail. Once I reached the peak of Coastal Trail, the runners created some distance with one another. The route goes to the Wolfe Ridge Trail which is a descending route made of hard/sun-baked trail and some portions of loose soil mixed with small rocks. I was using my TNF Arnuva 50 BOA which I know it has the traction that could hold me from getting any slide or fall on the dowhill run. The descending Wolfe Ridge Trail has a distance of 1.2 kilometers and it seems to be short but on your way back to the Coastal Trail, this part of the route is often considered as “hardest and killer” part before you finish one loop or finish the race.   

Uphill Climb at Coastal Trail

I Was Walking With This Group Towards The Coastal Trail

Wolfe Ridge Trail & Old Springs Trail   

Wolfe Ridge Trail is a descending trail from the peak of the Coastal Trail. Some parts of it are too steep that you should control your footing as you might slide from the steep nature of the trail. However, on our way back to complete one loop, this part is the hardest part of the course. If you are good in downhill running this part is where you could gain some speed to even up your brisk walking towards the peak. The trail is about 1.2 kilometers before entering to a small portion of Miwok Trail. The small portion of Miwok Trail is relatively flat until it reaches the intersection towards the Old Springs Trail.   

Downhill View of The Wolfe Ridge Trail

Uphill View Of The Wolfe Ridge Trail

The Old Springs Trail is memorable with only two things that I observed along the route—the wooden bridges or wooden planks along the trail and there is a part where there is a continuous flow of water from a small pipe with two plastic pales full of water. The trail has some switchbacks and has a general flat course until it goes downhill towards the Miwok Livery where horses could be rented for horseback riding along the differet trails of Marin Headlands. The trail ends at the Tennessee Valley Trailhead where the 1st Aid Station is located. This AS will be the busiest AS for the whole race as each of the 50-mile runners has to pass it for six (6) times! I reached the Tennessee Valley Trail Head AS in 52:30 minutes. I had my Nathan bottle refilled with sports drinks and grabbed some cuts of beef jerky and went to the Rest Room to pee.   

Old Springs Trail & Wooden Bridges

Wood Planks/Bridges On The Old Springs Trail

Dripping Water @ Old Springs Trail

A View of the Tennessee Valley Aid Station Area/Miwok Livery from the Old Springs Trail

In about 3  minutes, I was back on the road, running along the asphalted road of Tennessee Valley Road going to the beach. I popped out my 1st GU and started to eat one bar of Nature Valley Crunch Bar. After almost 2 kilometers,  I turned right towards the Coastal Dirt Road and run for another kilometer before it splits to the Pirates Cove Trail. This part is another uphill climb where I could see the tougher runners still running towards the peak of a trail. As we reached the peak of the Pirates Cove Trail, we started to descend towards another short stairs that has woods as stoppers and later leveled up into a one-track trail where all the runners started to “bushswhack” those shrubs and grasses that cover the trail. I learned that I was already running along the Coastal Dirt Trail which is already a part of the Pacific Coast Trail that connects up to the boundary of Oregon for another 480+ miles. We descended towards the Muir Beach Fire Gate where the 2nd Aid Station was located. At this point, I was at the 7.9-mile point of the race and had my Nathan Bottle refilled with sports drinks. After eating some slice of beer jerky and stashing another cut in my pocket, I started to run back uphill to the Coastal Dirt Trail which finally connects to the Coyote Ridge Trail.   

Coastal Dirt Road from Tennessee Valley Asphalt Road

To Muir Beach Fire Gate & PC Trail Towards The Boundary of Oregon State

Uphill Climb at Coastal Dirt Road

Downhill To Muir Beach Fire Gate & 2nd Aid Station & Turn-around Point

Coyote Ridge Trail

Awesome!!! (Picture Taken During My 2nd Recon Run @ Coyote Ridge Trail)

At every Aid Station I made sure to eat some slices of beer jerky because I know it is a source of protein and salt. A slice of beef jerky would stay long in my mouth as if it is a “bubble gum’ and use my sports drinks to wash it away from my mouth to my throat. Before reaching the peak of the Coyote Ridge Trail, I was at the back, about 3 feet away, from two runners and I was able to hear what they were talking about. One runner is from Texas who is a triathlete and the other one is from one of the cities of California. We were brisk walking and they were asking each other what is the cut-off time and then suddenly both of them turned their heads on me. I told them that the cut-off time is 15 hours and I later joined their conversation. We introduced each other and found out that we are all first-timers for the 50-mile race!  One of our conversations went this way: 

Tall Guy (From California): Are you from San Francisco?   

Bald Runner: No, I am from the Philippines!   

Short Guy (From Texas): Did you come here for this race?   

BR: No, I have a business deal here in California to negotiate. (Liar!)   

Tall Guy: I am….. ( forgot the name and the Texan guy also gave his name)…What is your name?   

BR: Just call me the Bald Runner. In my country, the runners there call me BR…Bald Runner!   

In unison the two guys removed their running caps from their heads to show that they are also bald!   

Tall Guy: We are the Bald Runner Trio!!!   

And all of us laughed. But these guys are younger than me by at least 15 years!   

We ran together on the wide portions of Coyote Ridge Trail and ran on a single file along the Miwok Trail Cut-Off until we were back to the Tennessee Valley Aid Station. I separated from them as I went to the Rest Room to pee (for the 2nd time). When I went out of the Rest Room, as I approached the Aid Station, I saw Rick Gaston and shouted his name and he was surprised to see me. While talking to him and having some photo-ops, I had my bottle refilled with sports drinks. I had another chance to eat some melon and water melon dipped with salt and stashed some beef jerky into my pockets. After refilling my bottle, it was time to go again and left Rick at the AS.   

The Tall & Short Guys were left behind at the AS as I went to run on the next trail which is Marincello Trail. I started to brisk walk for the entire trail which has a distance of 2.3 kilometers and has a total ascent of almost 900 feet. Halfway along this trail, I joined a lady runner who is about my age as she was jogging uphill while I was brisk walking.   

Lady Runner: Look at the incoming runner, he is the one leadig the race. ( We were meeting the top runners on their downhill run towards AS #1)   

BR: Wow! He’s fast and very young!   

Lady Runner: Are you running the 50-miler?   

BR: Yes   

Lady Runner: You are crazy!   

BR: Yes, I am crazy, the same with the other 50-mile runners. How about you?  

Lady Runner: I am running the marathon and after one loop and I am done. You are fast in your walking.   

BR: Ok..Thanks..good luck! (I was able to pass her as she started to brisk walk)

Uphill View of Marincello Trail

Nice View On Top Of Marincello Trail

Downhill View of Bobcat Trail

And I went ahead of her by making my brisk walk faster. In a few minutes of continous brisk walking, I reached the peak of Marincello Trail and in a few meters, it meets Bobcat Trail. I started to run again as soon as it flattened at Marincello Trail and all the way along the Bobcat Trail which is almost a steady and gradual downhill towards the Rodeo Valley Trail. As I turned left at the Rodeo Valley Trail, the trail was still flat until I veered right as I crossed a small wooden bridge towards the 3rd Aid Station. It was another chance to refill my bottle with sports drinks and popped out my 2nd GU. The 3rd AS was the turn-around point and it was time to go uphill to Bobcat Trail. I had more time to brisk walk along Bobcat Trail until I reached the peak of Marincello Trail. It was a fast run downhill along Marincello Trail until I reached the Tennessee Valley Aid Station for the 3rd time. At this point I am supposed to have run 21 miles and I still have 4 miles to go to reach the starting area for my first loop.   

There was no problem running along the ascending portions of the Old Springs Trail and the flatter portions of Miwok Trail but the challenge was to reach the top of the Wolfe Ridge Trail as it is the steepest portion of my way back to the Coastal Trail and Hill #88. From the peak of the Coastal Trail everything was downhill and I was able to complete my first loop in 5:38+ hours.   

At the starting area I ate one serving of oatmeal, boiled egg, fried slice of SPAM, one piece of Choc-Nut, and drank ice-cold Gatorade. I refilled my stash of GU Gels in my pockets to include my supply of Crunch Bars. I changed my Dry Max socks with another type of running socks with the same brand. I spent almost 10 minutes in the process and I feel that I can finish another loop for a sub-12-hour finish.  

Second Loop  

I left the Starting Line for my second loop with a prevailing elapsed time of 5:48+. I made a plan to finish the whole race in less than 12 hours and try to be faster in brisk walking in uphill climbs and faster running in the downhill parts of the course. I was already alone in going up to the Coastal Trail and made some steady progress in reaching its peak. Running along the descending parts of Wolfe Ridge Trail had been easy and comfortable and soon enough, I was able to reach the Old Springs Trail.  

I had to stop at the Tenessee Valley Trailhead for another pit stop at its Aid Station before going to the Coastal Dirt Trail. As I ran along the asphalted road of Tennessee Valley Trail, I was able to pass one of male runner who was busy eating some food while he was brisk walking. As I turned right to the Coastal Dirt Trail Road, I was greeted by a family of four who were hiking down the trail and I greeted them with a hand wave, a smile, and a greetings of “Good Afternoon”. As I went up the Coyote Ridge Trail towards the Muir Beach, I joined an old ultrarunner whom they call as “Buzz” and a young runner who was wearing cotton shorts and shirts. The two “white” runners were talking about some topics related to the Western States 100-Mile Run and I listened to them intently. It appeared that the older runner were giving some advise to the younger runner on how to finish the WS 100 Race. I was able to pick up some good advises while I was listening to their conversation. I also joined in their conversation by telling them that I have plans of training for the WS 100 in the future and I told them that I need more exposure in ultrarunning events in the USA.  

Along the Coastal Dirt Trail, two tall “white” runners tried to overtake us and we let them pass us. However, as we reached the downhill part that goes to the Muir Beach Fire Gate and AS #2, I increased my pace and left “Buzz” and the younger runner and later, was able to overtake the two tall guys whom we gave some room for them to pass us at the single-track trails of Coastal Dirt Trail. As soon as I reached the AS #2, I requested the volunteers to have my bottle filled up with sports drinks; picked-up some melon cuts and dipped them to a plate of salt; and drank some cups of Coke! I did not spend so much time at the AS and left the place immediately. While I was going up towards the Coyote Ridge Trail, I met “Buzz”, the young cotton-dressed runner, and the two tall guys who were going to AS #2.  

I maintained my brisk walking on the steep portions of the Coyote Ridge Trail until it levelled off towards the Miwok Trail Cut-Off. From here, I was already alone where I could not see anybody infront and not minding who is trailing me on my back. As I was about to finish running along the Miwok Trail, I saw two ladies infront of me. I recharged at the Tenessee Valley Trailhead AS with Seven-Up with slice of melon dipped in salt and refilled my bottle.  

As I charged to the uphill climb of Marincello Trail, the two ladies were ahead of me by 5 meters. I tried to increase my pace in brisk walking but I was surprised that I could not gain some distance to get nearer to them and try to engage some conversation with them. I was thinking if my pace in brisk walking was too slow as I tried my best to increase the turn-over of my feet on the ground. The truth is that, these two ladies gained another 5 meters distance from me. Before we reached the peak of Marincello Trail, the two ladies were already leading me with about 10 meters!  

I made my move and ran the downhill part of Bobcat Trail and passed the two ladies and gained a distance from them. I was able to overtake one or two runners along the Bobcat Trail but more runners were already going back to the finish line as I met them going up along Bobcat Trail. Before reaching the Rodeo Valley Trail, I stopped by on the side of the road and looked for some cover for me to pee. While relieving myself, I saw a guy who passed me and he was looking at me. He must be trailing me and making me as his “target”!  

After relieving myself, I immediately resumed my running and tried to overtake the guy. I finally caught him while he was eating and refilling his bottles at the AS #3. I did my “rituals” at the AS and immediately left the place after asking the volunteers on the remaining distance before we could reach the finish line. The old lady at the AS told me that I still have 8 miles to go—4 miles up to the Tennessee Valley Trailhead AS and another 4 miles towards the Finish Line.  

I mentally computed my target time of arrival or finish as I had 9:45+ hour elapsed time when I reached the AS #3. I told to myself that I can finish 8 miles (12+kilometers) in two hours and I was confident that I could finish the race in less than 12 hours. I told to myself also to keep on moving but I had to slow down once I feel any pain on my legs. Having made my goal to finish the remaining miles in the race in two hours, I immediately left the AS ahead of the guy who passed me while I was relieving myself.  

I really ran hard on the uphill climb of Bobcat Trail but have to revert back to brisk walking on the steeper portions of the said trail. As soon as I reached the peak of Marincello Trail, I saw a lady runner about 500 meters slowly running down the trail. I increased my pace on my downhill surge and was able to overtake her and made a considerable distance from her. But I need to refill my bottles with sports drinks that I decided to visit the Tennessee Valley Trailhead AS for the last time.  

It was a quick stop but when I was running towards the uphill portion of the Old Springs Trail, the lady runner whom I overtook at the downhill part of Marincello Trail was already ahead of me by 10 meters. From the Old Springs Trail and Wolfe Ridge Trail, it was “cat and mouse” run between the two of us as I trailed her on those trails. The guy who overtook me while I was peeing at the Bobcat Trail was also on my tail trying to gain distance over me about 500 meters behind me at the Old Springs Trail. The lady runner ahead of me was “pressured” and I think she got tired while I tried to “push” her pace on the difficult parts of the Wolfe Ridge Trail.  

Before I reached the highest peak of the Coastal Trail, the lady runner, made a hand signal to pass her and another group of three runners allowed me to pass them, too! I was still strong and my legs did not give me any problems as I reached the highest peak of the Coastal Trail and the last problem is to be able to run those winding wooden stairs and rocky one-track trail without any fall or misstep before reaching the Battery Townsley tunnels and the downhill asphalted road towards the finish line.  

While running down the asphalted road of the Coastal Trail, nobody was trailing me and made an easy run towards the Finish Line. I crossed the finish line in 12:10:36 hours and I was happy to finish the race. I ranked #56 among the 90 finishers from the 126 starters. I was ranked #6 in my age category and I was very happy to have finished the race without any “issues” during the race and any injury! I was not able to attain my objective of finishing the race in less than 12 hours but I was happy and contented on the overall result of my capability to run such a challenging mountain trail run.

A Few Yards To The Finish Line

PCT Run Staff & Race Director Looking At Me Before Reaching the Finish Line

Passing The Finish Line

The Only Tent/Booth At The Race Start/Finish Area

I can only say that I had fun and good memories in this run. There is really a different kind of enjoyment and satisfaction that I felt during and after finishing the race. Even though the race was long, hard, and very challenging, there is something in ultra mountain trail running that keeps you coming back for more in order to test your ability in endurance and find out what you are made of. This is the feeling that I could not get from finishing marathon and lesser-distance races along the roads. I could not express the feelings and the emotions that I have gone through with my runs along the mountain trails of Marin Headlands.  

Dusty Legs & Dirty Shoes

Memorable Prize...Headlands 50 Finisher's Shirt

I guess, I need to prepare and train some more and experience the good feelings and experience in mountain trail running. Hopefully, 2011 MIWOK 100K would be the next one.  

I’ll be back to Marin Headlands!!!

For more details and description of the PCTR’s Headlands 50, please visit http://pctrailruns.com/event.aspx?dtid=5654.

(Note: If you reached this part and read the whole Race Report, you have finished one of my “ultra posts” in this blog. It is just fair that you finished reading this post in 15 minutes or more while it took me 12+ hours to finish the race and another 10 days to write and edit this post. I hope you enjoyed my story on the said race.)

I am not…

23 07 2010

1. A “real” runner. There is no such thing as a “real” runner, you are simply called a “runner” if you have finished any road race where you registered, period!

2. Your “personal coach”. I am your “guide” and try to “walk the talk” about running, so to speak.

3. Your “PR or advertiser”. I don’t advertise any road race except for the BDM 102/151 and PAU Races. Let the takbo.ph do it’s job. I don’t also advertise any particular brand of running shoes and apparel. I only write about what I am using and wearing during my training and races.

4. A perfect Race Organizer/Race Director. I still have to learn a lot by participating in international running events.

5. A “running expert” who completed formal studies in sports science, medicine, and physiology. But having completed such studies does not mean that you are an “expert’ in running even if you have not experienced finishing a marathon race. After almost 40 years of running, I am still learning from my experiences in my training and races. Lots of marathon and ultra distance finishes still don’t make me as a “running expert”.

6.  Against high cost of registration fees. Nobody is forcing you to join the races anyway. This is a democratic country. Pay your registration fees, run & enjoy the race, get your award/certificate/medal, and don’t “whine” about fees. Finishing a race is not for “bragging rights” or FB status purposes. Did anybody of you complain when you paid your registrations fees for your NYC Marathon or SC Hongkong/Singapore Marathon?

7. Against Race Organizers. There is a big difference between a “reponsible” Race Organizer from a “profit-oriented” one. But there is a big possibility that both could combine. “Responsible” Race Organizers are the ones who are seasoned runners who can relate to the hardships of a runner to finish the race. These ROs are the ones who can anticipate the needs of the runners and make sure that the last runner reaches the finish line. The “profit-oriented” ones, aside for obvious reasons, could be identified by their body-built—-they are fat, have protruding bellys and sometimes, old (like me!) and young alike, and you have not seen them run in a road race!  And if you see them run in road races, they are not for their personal PRs but they simply want to finish the race within the cut-off time. They could have been the most experienced ROs/RDs that the country could offer but they usually commit mistakes/lapses in every race that they conduct.

8. Against Corporate Sponsors. You can donate, in kind or in cash, or do some services if you want to sponsor or support my races. But please, don’t tell me what to do about my race.

9. For Awards and Recognition. You can have the distinction of being the most visited blog or recipient of a Blog Award or the most popular runner in the country and I think you deserve such recognition. I just want to simply go on with my advocacy to inform everybody that running is healthy and it is a way of life.

10. A politician or make my runs for political, social, and economic causes. You have a lot of government, semi-government and private entities whose job is to help solve poverty, give opportunities to other people and cure diseases. If you want to run because you want to construct a school or library, I don’t believe you! This is the job of the Departments of Education and Local Governments and they have the budget to implement it. This is the same to other causes and fund-raising benefits where your “cause” is the specific function of a particular Department of the government. 

11. Selective in my running blogs or topics. If there is something wrong about the race like deaths, casualties, cheating, and mistakes/lapses of Race Organizers/Race Directors, I will not hesitate to publish them in this blog as long as I am a participant in the said race in question. This is the best way to provide feedback and evaluate each race with the end-view of improving future races.

12. Lastly, I am not impressed on the quantity/number of runners joining our road races when the Race Organizer could not provide a good quality support services. I could not understand why there seems to be a “contest” on the number of participants in every road race. One says, they have 28,000 runners, another says that they are planning to have 110,000 runners. What is their objective? Is it to impress other countries, for the Guinnes World of Records, for profit, or for publication purposes? We should remember that our streets/roads are too narrow and runners compete with other vehicles for space. If what I’ve heard is correct, our main roads can only accommodate at least 8, 000 runners and if the ROs/RDs know this information, they should not push their luck in coming up with a bigger number of runners than the required volume/capacity of our roads.

Teaser: Headlands 50 + Marathon

21 07 2010

7:00 AM July 17, 2010 @ Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California (USA)

The lure of mountain trail running had been planted in my mind when I had my recon run barely two weeks before I participated in the Bulldog 50K Mountain Trail Run in Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas, California in August 2008. Since then, my visits to the United States/California would include trail runs in Mt Wilson, Griffith Park Mountains & Elysian Park in Los Angeles, California. I found enjoyment and fun plodding my feet along the trails where the scenery is beautiful, the air quality is clean and unadulterated, and the dirt & dust that cling on my running legs are simply nice to see and wash off after my workout.

But at the back of my mind, I want to experience and finish the “ultimate” mountain trail race distance of 100 miles (160 kilometers) in the United States. It could be in San Diego, San Francisco, Texas, Vermont, Leadville, Pacific Crest, Arizona, Oregon, or in any of the 100-miler races available where I could participate. But first, I need to train and prepare for it. So, I started to research on how these runners, who finished 100-milers. prepared for their races. I found out that these runners took them years (yes, minimum of two years) to prepare and train for these challenging trail races by starting from lesser-distance races to marathon trail races, then up to 50Ks, then 50-milers, 100K runs, and finally confident to finish a 100-miler trail run. However,  in-between these races, they spent a lot of positive attitude, patience, determination, discipline, balance, moderation, and focus (and of course, lots of money!)  It does not mean also that these runners only finish one or two of the lesser-distance ultra races before they jump in to participate in 100-miler races. They join lots of these trail run races (< than 100-mile) before they embark on 100-mile races.

This is the reason why I was always running towards “Brown Mountain” for the past months and considered the last 34th MILO Marathon Manila Elimination Race as part of my preparation for something “bigger” in my Race Calendar for the year. I think my preparations paid off and I am satisfied that I finished the Headlands 50-Mile Mountain Trail Run with a time of 12:10:35 hours and ranked #56 among the 89 Finishers, without any “issues” during the race and any injury. I was ranked #6 out of the 12 finishers in my age category of 50-59 years old. The race has a cut-off time of 15 hours. I heard almost 120 runners started the 50-mile distance run. The course elevation of the whole race has a total ascent/descent of 11,040 feet (which is considered as “very basic” among the toughest guys (elite) in ultra trail  running).

80K+ & Half-Day of Running Were Dedicated To Remus & Alexander

10 Seconds Before The Start!

Rick Was Surprised When I Saw Him at Mile #12 (Courtesy of Rick Gaston)

Final Push Towards Rodeo Beach ( I thought I was Tony Krupicka in his dash to win the 2010 Miwok 100K at this point along the Coastal Trail! Ha! Ha! Ha!)

My Race Report of this race will be posted soon! It will be a detailed report where the reader will be “transported” to the actual place where the race happened with the hope that one or two of my readers will be inspired to experience what it takes to run the trails of Marin Headlands.

For the meantime, good luck to those Pinoy runners who are joining the San Francisco Marathon this coming Sunday. If you have time, visit the Marin Headlands and see for yourself the mountain trails around the place. Have fun!

Weakest Link

19 07 2010

My Observations and Insights on Running and Heatstroke:

1. In the summer of 1971, two of my classmates died due to heatstroke after participating in a 10K run in Fort Magsaysay, Palayan City (Nueva Ecija) as a “fun run” with the Special Forces of the Philippine Army where you don’t see any Water Aid Station along the route. The race started late in the morning as most of my classmates finished under the heat of the sun. I saw with my own eyes while two of my classmates convulsed and crawled on the edge of the road, few kilometers from the finish line until they were picked up by the Camp Hospital’s Ambulance. Four of my classmates were evacuated at the Fort Magsaysay Hospital but the two of them were able to recover after a day of rest at the hospital. One of my classmates won the “fun run” as he had been a seasoned runner before he entered the Academy.

2. I saw how my two classmates convulsed and sedated inside the hospital. After a few hours, one of them died. On the following day, the remaining serious patient was transported to V. Luna Medical Center using the Ambulance but after his arrival in Manila, my second classmate died also. The doctors and medical staff at the hospital informed our Tactical Officers that our classmates died due to heatstroke! I don’t have any information if the said incident was fully investigated by the Philippine Military Academy and AFP authorities then. However, my deceased classmates were brought by the PMA authorities in their respective places/towns and they were buried with full military honors and their respective parents received death benefits due to a dead soldier/officer of the AFP. Case closed!

3. Two of my classmates who recovered with the case of heatstroke on that fatal day in the summer of 1971 were very lucky. One of them retired from the PNP two years ago as a two-star General/Police Director while the other one was dismissed when we were on our second year due to failure in Academics but had pursued/finished his College studies, worked in one of the telecommunication firms and now resides in the United States with his family. Both of them had never attempted to train or run in any of the road races since this incident.

4. Fast forward to the last week of January 2009 (last year). Jerry Karundeng, an Indonesian studying in the Philippines, joined the “50K test run” in preparation for the 1st edition of BDM 102. He is a strong runner but he is also a “hard-headed” runner that he did not follow my advise and “tips” while we were running on the course. He was wearing a black shirt, did not drink in every hydration station, was not carrying a hydration belt, and his pace was too fast in relation to the hot condition of the day. His mind was so conditioned to use Pocari Sweat as his sports drinks while my staff was serving Gatorade as I believed, they have the same use for hydration in endurance sports. Jerry finished the “test run” but on his way to Manila while aboard a vehicle, he started to experience “signs & symptoms” of heatstroke. Thus, he was brought immediately to a known Medical Center in Makati. According to my interview with Jerry, the Doctor/Medical Staff who attended to him did not believe that he just finished a 50K run under the heat of the sun! He was given with IV fluids immediately with the thought that he was dehydrated. Jerry was lucky that his body systems stabilized and had undergone some blood test in the said hospital. He was released on the same day that he was brought to the hospital and he was able to commute from Manila to Silang, Cavite. A day later, he consulted their resident doctor in their school and showed him the results of his blood test, the resident doctor explained to him that his blood sodium content was way below the average level. It was a conclusive evidence that Jerry was on the verge of being a victim of heatstroke. (Note: You can read more of the details of Jerry’s experience in his blog at www.highaltitude.wordpress.com)

5. On August 23, 2009 after the CAMSUR 70.3 Ironman’s last athlete reached the Finish Line, the Race Organizer admitted to media reporters that one of the participants, a Senior Executive and Owner of a Corporate entity, died during the triathlon event and he admitted also that a thorough investigation was being conducted. The news was reported on line and in the printed edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer as soon as possible and it was featured at TV Patrol a day after the event. (Note: This is the exact opposite of Remus case where PDI reported his case on line and its printed edition exactly 14 days after the marathon event!!!). However, up to this time, nothing had been officially published if the casualty was a victim of heatstroke that resulted to a heart attack. 

6. In the 34th MILO Marathon Manila Elimination last July 4th, Remus Fuentes died two days after he was diagnosed as a victim of heatstroke which led him to succumb to a fatal heart and organ failures that resulted to his death. After a few days, Alexander Landera from Cebu City fainted or collapsed in the middle of a road race held in the same City where the race was held in the evening. He was brought immediately to the hospital to be treated. Unfortunately, when he regained consciousness, he started to be incoherent, confused, hallucinating, and thought that he was still in the race. Due to multiple wounds and loss of blood as a result of uncontrollable actions on his part, he died. Both runners were victims on separate road races, belong to different ages and running backgrounds, races held in different locations, different race distances, different weather conditions, and different parts of the day when their respective races were conducted (Remus’ race was in the morning while Alexander’s race was in the evening) and despite such factors, both runners died due to heatstroke! However, in Remus Case, the father was able to document his observations on what the Doctors/Medical Staff had done for his son’s treatment in the Hospitals where his son was admitted.

7.  So, what am I trying to say in this post? With my observations, researches and interviews, I firmly believe that our Doctors/Medical Practitioners could not distinguish if an endurance athlete (runner, ultrarunner, cyclist, triathlete, swimmer or hiker/mountaineer) is a victim of heatstroke or dehydration. Anybody could say that he or she is a “running expert” and say to high heavens and to all the media and Internet outlets/sites all the things and advises as preventive measures from being a victim of heatstroke and dehydration but what should be addressed is on the correct and appropriate treatment of heatstroke. I think, the problem lies on how our Doctors and Medical Practitioners in Hospitals react and treat endurance athletes who are victims of such mentioned heat-related injuries. This is the “weakest link”!!! Correct me if I am wrong, our Doctors (who are not seasoned/competitive runners) do not know how to deal with such cases!

8. In the book “Lore of Running” by Dr Tim Noakes on page 235 states that, “the major factors causing heatstroke during races are: environmental conditions; the speed at which the athlete runs; and individual susceptibility, including whether or not the athlete has preacclimatized to running in the heat. If longer distances races (5K and above) have a prevailing temperature condition of greater than 28 degrees Centigrade, heat injury will occur to a significant number of competitors, regardless how much amount they drink and sponge during the race or how they are dressed. Adequate fluid replacement during racing is only one of the many factors that reduce the risk of heat injury; it is certainly not the only factor and may not even be a very important factor. Aside from “hot and humid” temperature as one of the factors that determine the rate at which an athlete loses heat, clothing is also considered because the more clothing people wear, the less heat they will lose by convection and sweating. The athlete’s state of heat acclimatization (training to heat exposure) and state of hydration (not allowing yourself to be dehydrated) also determine the rate an athlete loses heat from his body.” It could be weird but Dr Noakes believes that only certain people are prone to heatstroke and it could be hereditary, too!

9. In Dr Noakes’ book (which I consider as my “Bible” in Running), a heatstroke victim has a body temperature of more than 40 degrees Centigrade; he/she breathes heavily; and has a rapid pulse rate of 100 or more beats per minute. A heart attack victim has a weak heart beat & pulse rate and the patient does not breath. In a heatstroke patient, a rectal temperature reading should be administered first to find out the exact body temperature of the victim. If the temperature readings indicate a result of 40 degrees and higher, the victim’s torso should be submerged in a tub or container full with ice or ice-water for the duration of 3-6 minutes until the temperature decreases to the normal level of body temperature. After the body temperature has dropped to its normal condition, IV fluids and other blood tests can be administered to check if the victim is dehydrated or if there is kidney damage or organ failure.

10. In simple layman’s term, diagnosing and treating heatstroke is very simple. But according to my favorite author and strategist On War, Carl Von Clausewitz, “The simplest things are the hardest things to do”! And be always safe and careful from the dangers of the sports and way of life that we love and enjoy but always remember that, “Shit Happens” when you least expect it from happening.

A Glimpse Of Headlands

18 07 2010

The following pictures were taken from Frank’s Photos at PCT Trail Runs Website (www.pctrailruns.com) and Ingrid Taylar’s Photos at www.sanfrancisco.about.com @ Marin Headlands Trails Website.

Wolf Ridge Trail

(Rocky) Road Stairs Leading to Coastal Trail

A View of the Start/Finish Area @ Vicinity Camp Cronkhite Barracks

Miwok Trail Signage

Don't Get Lost Here!

Watch Your Front & Back!!!

A View of the Vista Point & Golden Gate Bridge at SCA Trail

Coastal Trail. Hold the Wires Or Else You Will Be Thrown By Strong Winds!

"The Bridge" @ Rodeo Beach

 The Miwok 100K and Headlands Hundred-Mile Runs are the most popular mountain trail ultra runs being done on these trails at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These are ultra trail races which are good entry-level for ultra trail runs that would qualify you for the next year’s Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run.

By the way, this is Erick Gaston’s playground!!!

MILO’s Official Statement (???)

17 07 2010

I am not sure if this is the “real” Official Statement of Team MILO/NESTLE, Phils as a result of the death of Remus Fuentes on the July 4th MILO Marathon Manila Elimination Race. One of the BDM “veterans”, Albert Salazar, sent a comment in my previous blog stating the following statement which he indicated as taken in one of the links with MILO Philippines’ Facebook account. In the said link, the following statement had been posted in their PHOTO ALBUM Page. I really don’t know why they have to take a picture of the said statement and have it posted in their Photo Album. They could have simply sent to the e-mail addresses of the runner-bloggers and other interested parties.

I’ve been waiting for this Official Statement as I requested from Team MILO/NESTLE, Inc to send it to my e-mail address in order to give them a chance to explain their side of the incident. Up to this time, I have not yet received such copy in my e-mail address. Anyway, whether the following statement was not signed or not, the fact that it was posted at MILO, Phils Facebook Account, it needs to be posted in this blog in order to get the side of Team MILO/NESTLE, Phils and its Race Organizer. Hoping it is the real one!

After reading this statement and the side of Remus family, the runners who participated in the 21K and the Marathon (42K) Race and my readers will be the judge.


We are deeply saddened by the passing away of Mr. Remus Fuentes, a participant of the July 4, 2010 MILO Marathon held in Luneta, Manila.

We reached out to Remus’ family as soon as we were informed. Our deepest sympathy is with his family during this most difficult time.

We assure participants that all the internationally recognized precautions had been taken by the organizer for the Manila leg of the MILO Marathon, specifically:

On hydration stations, according to the International Association of Athletics Federation (lAAF), the rule is, for a race longer than 10 km, refreshment stations shall be provided at approximately every 5 kms along the race route. For mass races in a tropical country like the Philippines, the same IAAF rule recommends to have water stations every 2.5 km, The Manila leg of the MILO Marathon had water stations installed every 2 km along the race path, and in between each water station, there were Gatorade stations to ensure every runner had the opportunity to hydrate as necessary. On average, there was a hydration station around every 1 km of the 21K race path. In total, there were 13 water stations, 10 Gatorade stations, 2 sponging stations, and 1 banana station strategically Iocated throughout the 13.5 km race loop.

On first aid, all MILO Marathons are fully equipped with first aid teams to attend to runners needing assistance. In the Manila race, for instance, there were 7 roving ambulances plying the 13.5 km race loop, 15 medical stations, 5 teams of first aiders on bicycles, and nearly 500 marshals – policemen, traffic aids, and radio communicators – manning various points of the race path. These marshals were equipped to immediately contact first aid stations and ambulances with trained crew and rescue facilities.

Like any vigorous sport, the marathon involves a certain amount of risk, especially for those who participate in longer distance events such as the 21K and the 42k. We would like to remind all runners who plan to participate in the forthcoming MILO Marathons to adequately prepare before the race, ensuring that they are properly conditioned mentally and physically. This includes undergoing the necessary training getting enough rest, properly hydrating, and eating the right food.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Remus Fuentes at this very difficult time.

(Note: Copied from MILO Philippines Facebook’s Photo Album)

R.I.P. Remus Fuentes

16 07 2010

The following is the Summary Report on the death of Remus Fuentes written by Rudy Fuentes, father of the victim, as gathered from witnesses, his personal observations, and insights. Obviously, this is just one-side of the story and I am still waiting for the Official Statement from Team MILO/NESTLE, Phils and the Race Organizers. I will reserve a post in my blog for such statement.

However, the fact & reality remain…A runner died due to running/participating in  a road race and the running community should be aware and well-informed on the effects of this sports and we have to learn some lessons from this incident and prevent this from happening in future road races.

REMUS FUENTES died of multiple organ failures as result of heatstroke secondary to severe dehydration two days after he ran the 21K in the recent 34th Milo Marathon last Sunday, July 4, 2010.

His death was the result of fatal mistakes, incompetence and negligence in the event organized by Organizing Team.

Photo Provided by Mr Rudy Fuentes

My son, 37-year-old Remus ran the 21K together with a running buddy when he collapsed at 19.9 kilometer mark. There was none of organizer’s ambulance nor marshals to respond in the incident. Policemen hailed for a taxi and they, together with his buddy, assisted in bringing him to the nearest hospital, Ospital ng Maynila. At the ER, the diagnose was suspected heart attack. My wife and me, upon being informed by his younger brother, Roy Fuentes, who also ran the 21K, rushed to the hospital and saw that Remus in coma, had seizures and struggled breathing in spite of hand-pumped oxygen and dextrose attached. His body temperature was 40 degrees C and when asked, the medical attendant told us he had fever. She introduced paracetamol intravenously twice at interval of about 15 minutes. Remus continued having seizures even until the arrival of Medical City doctor & ambulance attendants that we have arranged for his transfer. The Medical City doctor attending said his status was unstable, contrary to the earlier advice to her by the Ospital ng Maynila ER doctor. They rushed him  with the ambulance to Medical City at about 11:30 AM. There, a  series of tests were done, including blood chemistry, CT scan, etc. Cardiologist told us his heart was strong and no intervening medicine was necessary. Blood Chemistry results showed positive findings on creatinin level, an indication of  kidney failure. They suspected liver failure too. To stop his seizures, Remus was put on full sedation for 12 hours. Kidney functions further deteriorated after 36 hours. Blood pressure and heart rate went erratic. Doctors attending him in the ICU asked our permission to do dialysis and blood transfusion to stabilize his blood pressure.  Seven hours later, ICU nurse woke us up and asked us to rush to the ICU. We saw 18 medical people around him, several taking turn doing the CPR. Failing to revive him, the doctor asked our consent to stop the CPR after 15 minutes. We begged them to continue hoping for a miracle. 30 minutes further, doctor told us again that all numbers in the monitoring board “were bad” and asked again the consent to stop the CPR. Finally, we relented. Few minutes later, his heart rate monitor went flat. All these happened in front of his mother and me. We lost Remus 48 hours after he collapsed into coma which he has never recovered. His young wife and his eight-year old son took the news very badly.

About Heatstroke:

It usually happen in extreme sports like basketball, football, boxing and marathon.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical condition. The person’s cooling system, which is controlled by the brain, stops working and the internal body temperature rises to the point where brain damage or damage to other internal organs may result. The body temperature, usually at normal 37 C, goes up during the exertion of effort as result of the increased heart rate. When it reaches 40 C, the person is in danger of getting heatstroke. Above 40 C and mostly at about 42 C, the person can collapse into unconsciousness.  If nothing is done within few minutes, he can slip into coma and brain damage may occur. The proven first aid response for heatstroke is cooling the body rapidly in whatever means to the level of below 40 C before bringing him to a hospital.  Ice and water is the best way to do this, the same way it is done for a child having high fever who has convulsion.

Another way of understanding heatstroke is comparing it to the performance of car engine. At idling, the engine temp is low and safe. At sustained high speed, engine temperature increases rapidly but because of the cooling system, the heat is continuously dissipated in the radiator and safe temperature level is maintained. But when the water in the radiator is gone, Undissipated heat will rack up the engine temperature and ultimately exceeds the safe limits. At this condition, engine breakdown will occur in minutes starting with broken piston rings, rods, pistons, etc.

With the human body, perspiration cools down the body so hydration by drinking water is essential. Without water, perspiration stops and body temperature goes to critical level and into heatstroke and then organs and brain begin to fail.

Big obvious difference between human body and car engine is that you can always overhaul the engine but you cannot do that on the human body.

Why Heatstroke is More Dangerous in Marathon than in other Extreme Sports?

In basketball, the player exerts extreme effort only in bursts, stopping or slowing down intermittently which slows down heart rate and cools down the body. At timeout, they drink to replenish lost body water hence you always have the waterboy. Heart stroke is rare but ask any PBA player what they do when a player collapse. They don’t move the body but cool them off with water or ice before bringing him to the hospital.

The same is true in football and in many similar sports.

In boxing, in between rounds of three minutes, boxer rests and drinks water. We can only wonder what will happen if the rule of the sport is drastically changed and will only end when one is down and out.

In Marathon, the risk of heatstroke is much higher for the following reasons:

  1. The long distance runner aims for shorter time as a goal and therefore motivated to keep a sustained effort, not unlike cars at high speed in the highway.
  2. Furthermore, the target minimum time set by the organizer adds more to the motivation to run faster. The cut-off time added more pressure to the marginal marathon runner, meaning if you are used to run above the target time, the tendency is to do better time, probably at pace unproven by your body in practice. (Milo Marathon set the target for 21K medal at 2 ½ hours or less. Remus collapsed at near 20th km. with time of 2 hours 10 minutes when his previous record was 2 hours and 27 minutes. ).
  3. The more critical factor is that the hydration management is not in the control of the runner. He has to rely on water availability at the water stations provided and planned by the organizer along the route. ( In this 34th Milo Marathon, several runners including Remus brother, Roy and Remus running buddy asserted that practically there was no water to drink in the last 2~3 kilometers before the finish line, a fatal failure for Remus by the organizer when they changed the route resulting in merging and over-traffic near the finish line. There were record 28,000 runners on that day and the organizers failed to anticipate the complexity of hydration management. Milo’s last year marathon participants were well below 10,000 runners.)
  4. The correct life-saving response for heatstroke depends on few knowledgable people who may happen to be around the person. To mitigate this, the organizer deploys ambulances with water & ice for cooling heatstroke victims and is expected to respond within minutes. In addition, marshalls are provided along the route to assess runner situations continuously. (Obviously, the organizer failed again on this aspect because Remus was helped by policemen and his buddy instead. By this time, Remus is probably already brain damaged as evident by his seizure at the hospital. No Milo people knew of Remus case on that day until Roy, his brother, sent an email informing the organizer of the incident in the next morning)
  5. The Sun Factor adds to the danger in Marathon. Running under the heat of the sun in tropical country like ours cannot be underestimated. To minimize the effect of the sunheat, Marathon run is planned to finish in the early morning avoiding the heat at later time. Organizers usually take this into consideration. (Milo organized the 21K to start at 5:30 AM , a departure of common practice of  other marathons which started at 5:00 AM.  Remus collapsed at about 7:57 AM. Roy, who is a better runner than his brother Remus, complained that it was unusually hot that morning even if he was able to finish it earlier in 1 hours 45 minutes )

Clearly, Marathon is an extreme and dangerous sport even to the young, healthy and trained runners. This is not the “fun run” many people confused of.

The organizer has clear life-and-death responsibility to make sure that the conditions the runners will run under item 3, 4 and 5 above are done properly. Obviously they did not do their job properly in the 34th Milo Marathon. In my opinion, being the father of Remus, Milo Marathon Organizer have failed my son. It is their incompetence and negligence of their duty that results in the death of Remus …an unneccesary death.

About Remus:

At the time of his death, he was an IT project manager of Hewlett-Packard (HP) responsible in computerizing big companies like Unilab, Coke,  etc. including installation of hardwares (servers, etc.) and software system. He used to work for Intel for 10 years before he moved to HP 3 years ago. He graduated in Computer Engineering. He left a housewife, Takako and two children, Raphael, 8 years old and Therese, 4 years old. Raphael is enrolled at La Salle Greenhills. He played basketball with his brothers regularly on weekends. He has been running since his high school days in Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. He has run many 10Ks and two 21Ks before these, the “Freedom Run” in June 13 and “Nature Valley” in May 20 only this year. He has no history nor complaint of illness and he lived clean.

My Questions for the Marathon Organizer:

  1. How many died in the 34th Milo Marathon last July 4? Is it true that there was another runner at 42K who collapsed at 33 km and later died?
  2. How many runners collapsed in that marathon due to heatstroke who later survived but now are no longer the same person as before due to partial brain injury? At Ospital ng Maynila, we saw a 2nd runner brought in unconscious and woke up later but he can no longer recognize his family. Do the Organizers knew this? What happened to him. Are there more?
  3. Is it true that another 36 year-old runner, Fidel Camson, who ran the 42K 31st Milo Marathon in November 2007 collapsed near the finish line, brought to the Ospital ng Maynila and died later of undetermined cause? If true, what did they do to avoid a repeat which apparently did not happen in this 34th Milo Marathon? If true, why do they still keep the same Marathon organizer for 10 years until now?
  4. Do they keep tally of deaths in the 34 years of Milo Marathon? Do they study the statistics and establish how many died of heatstroke, the preventable one?
  5. What is the corporate culture of the Organizers regarding its respect of the value of life? Upon knowing the death of my son Remus, A Senior Vice President of the organizing team, who head its Beverages Business Unit went to see me and among other things, he told me that the Marathon is continuously improved and but sometimes “lapses occur and they will learn from these lapses”. Lapse is defined as  a ‘mistake’. People learn from ‘error’, a deviation from being correct but a ‘mistake’ is caused by a fault: the fault could be misjudgment or carelessness.  We learn from ‘error’ but we take action on ‘mistake’ and more drastic action when people die of this ‘mistake’. So death in my son’s case is a mere  learning process for this person? Is this the culture that pervades in their Organization? or only in him?
  6. Is the measly “humanitarian” offer to help the family shoulder medical & funeral expense to the family had become an SOP too often? Was it their expectation that as appreciation of this help, the family will keep quiet about the whole thing? Do they really think that the waiver signed by the runners protect them from being liable? Do they know that this waiver won’t apply if negligence of their duty as organizer can be established? 
  7. What did the Organizers do, if any, to keep the news of Remus death from appearing in the media even after one week? Not one news item of his death appeared in the newspaper, TV or radio. Could  the news  of “ HP Manager Died of HeatStroke during the Milo Marathon” not interesting to the public? Were they afraid that the bigger news is when the subline “Father charged Milo Marathon Organizer of Incompetence and Negligence” which may damage the public image of the company?

The answers to these questions will help enlighten the public whether Milo Marathon is safe or not for the runners. To the runners, their parents, wives and relatives…they all better ask these questions before the runners decide to run in Milo Marathon.

Last Words from Remus Father:

I am not condemning the sport but the organizer who failed to make sure runners will not die of heatstroke, when the risks can be greatly minimized with proper route planning, hydration management and quick medical response. I am condemning the contribution of the apparent culture of the sponsor of diminished value of human life as indicative of its senior executive’s attitude that my son’s death is a result of lapses. My hope is something good will come out of Remus death and as result of improved organizing of the marathon run,  few lives will be saved from heatstroke. My other hope is to get justice and for the Organizing Team to  answer for his untimely death. I am working on it.

Rudy Fuentes, Father of Remus

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