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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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