Bataan Death March: Lest We Forget

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Originally posted in 2timothy.com.
by Christine Ferrera

I grew up without really understanding the significance of our celebration of the Araw ng Kagitingan (Day of Valor). Sure, I knew about the facts and characters of this day from grade school and high school. I was a History quiz bee contender then so I had to memorize the facts to the T including the number of whip the Japanese soldiers gave our ancestors (Spell, Geek, Yes I was!)

It was not until the second edition of the Bataan Death March (BDM) 102K Ultramarathon in 2010 that I really understood it by heart. I was then a spectator/marshal/pompom girl. (During the first edition, I haven’t even ran more than 5k).

The Bataan Death March History

It was at the Dawn of April 9, 1942 when the Commander of the Luzon force, Major General Edward P. King surrendered more than 76,000 starving and disease-ridden soldiers (67,000 Filipinos, 1,000 Chinese Filipinos and 11,796 Americans) to Japanese troops.

They had to endure dehydration and starvation, the heat and cold, the untreated wounds and random beatings. Anyone who fell was left behind. The roads were literally littered with dead bodies. Most of those who reached San Fernando, Pampanga were cramped in a train that went all the way to Camp O’ Donnell.

The Bataan Death March Ultramarathon

As a gesture of giving honor to our Filipino heroes, Major General Jovenal D. Narcise, better known to the local running community as the Bald Runner (BR) through his blog “Bald Runner” (www.baldrunner.com), decided to hold the Bataan Death March 102 K Ultramarathon.

30 minutes past midnight of April 4, 2009, a total of 82 runners, consisting of 8 runners from other countries (US, Japan, France, Indonesia, and Singapore) and 5 lady runners, became part of the history of this ultra road running event as they started the first Bataan Death March 102K Ultramarathon.

The BDM followed the actual route where our heroes had to walk from the coastal town of Mariveles, Bataan up to the Old Train Station in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga covering a distance of 102 kilometres.

The route starts with an uphill climb just less than 3 kilometers from the starting line. At the 8th kilometer, it will be a continuous running up down the hilly terrains of the highways of Bataan. The route becomes flat after 35 kilometers but the runners have to endure the heat of the sun as it is mostly uncovered paved highway that they need to pass along the towns of Pampanga until they reach the finish line.

BDM paved the way for more Ultramarathon events in the country.

Eventually, Ultramarathoners craved for more. BR, being the founder of BDM, explored the possibility of extending the race to Camp O’ Donnel. The first 100-miler race in the country happened in 2011 – the Bataan Death March 160K Ultramarathon. From San Fernando, Pampanga, one had to run another 58 kilometers to Camp O’ Donnell. It is a test of willpower to endure exactly the same route that our fallen heroes traversed.

Editor’s Note: Check out Tin’s articles on the following Bataan Death March Ultramarathons:

Bataan Death March 2011 [102 Kms].

Bataan Death March 2013 [160 Kms].

Tin Ferrera

About Christine Ferrera

Tin started seriously running in May 2009. Two years and many marathons later, she conquered the Bataan Death March Ultramarathon–102 kilometres and a year after, the 160 kilometer distance. She is a busy management consultant and runs several businesses, but she always finds time to run, knowing that running is a great metaphor for life. Because her favourite bible passage is from Paul’s Letter to Timothy: “I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith.” (2Timothy 4:7), she writes about her experiences in running and life in 2timothy.com. Check out more of her posts there and follow her tweets at @XtineFerrera.

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