Bad Running

Mendel Lopez is a bemedalled track athlete. He’s won dozens of races. In a field of long-legged, international runners at the Hong Kong Marathon, he finished third place in the 21K. I spoke to Mendel yesterday. He was upset. Last Sunday, he joined a footrace and the winners were promised prize money.

“I won second place in the 5K category,” said Mendel. “They announced that the 5K champion would receive P4,000 and the runner-up, P2,000. But instead of getting P2,000, they only gave me P300.”

This is a scam. It’s an embarrassment. Based on the article of fellow writer Iste Sesante-Leopoldo, “‘1st Cebu Run Run’ turns into winners’ nightmare,” last Monday, the organizing group is the “C 24/7 Food Supplement and Nautra-Ceuticals.” A certain Rose Soltones is the head of the organizing committee.

What happened, Rose? This is humiliating. A promise is a promise when it comes to sporting events. When you guarantee the contestants prize money, it’s a commitment to fulfill that pledge.

The 5K champion, Jordan Bacong, the son of a fisherman who relies on the cash prizes for his food and expenses, was to receive P4,000. This was announced. He got P500. Josepha Kiptanui of Kenya won the 10K. His time was an astonishing 30:48. But what did he receive as reward for such quickness? P500. Instead of the P6,000 promised the 10K champion.

The organizers are blaming the lack of participants — only 700 reportedly joined instead of the 2,000 singlets that they produced — as the reason for their disobeying their obligation. Well, is that Jordan’s problem? Or Josepha’s? No, it’s not. Their job is to run and finish first. They ought to be rewarded by beating everybody else.

With this incident, I hope for two things. One, that the organizers pay the remainder of the prize money this week. They must. It doesn’t matter how they’ll raise it — it’s non-negotiable. (I suggest, if they fail to do this, that the Cebu City Sports Commission and Ayala Center blacklist them from organizing future events.) Two, I hope this doesn’t happen again. Road-running races happen every Sunday. Sometimes, two or three are held every weekend. Though some complain that this is too much running — I say it’s good. These events have gotten everybody healthy. But, please, promises are promises.

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