DEATH marred an enjoyable Energizer night run last Saturday that gathered about 2,500 people in Mandaue City.

Alexander Landera, a 19-year-old member of the Danao Runners’ Club who was accepted to his school’s varsity running team just last week, passed out at the finish line of his first-ever fun run and was taken to the Mandaue City District Hospital.

There, he regained consciousness, started jogging in place and asked for his shoes. He then reportedly asked people where the finish line was before running into the emergency room’s glass door, breaking it and injuring his arm. He then jumped out of the window before people could restrain him and take him back into the hospital, where he died.

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Details aren’t clear yet as to what caused Landera to faint but what happened raised the need to educate people to listen to their body and not push too hard.

Yes, people cheer the podium finishers but they also cheer, and even reserve the loudest applause to those who finish last.

Dr. Peter Mancao, a heart surgeon who espouses recreational running, says runners should immediately stop when experiencing what he describes as warning signs: being out of breath and feeling chest pains, headache and vertigo.

When you feel out of breath and can no longer carry on a conversation, slow down to allow your body, especially your heart, to recover, Mancao said. He said the fitter a runner is, the quicker he can recover.

He also warned against pushing yourself too much. To be fit, running five kilometers a day is enough.

“I’m now just running 5K three times a week with a weekly long run,” said Mancao, a marathoner. He also advised recreational runners to have regular medical tests, including blood tests to determine such things as blood sugar and cholesterol levels. He also suggested an annual treadmill stress test.

Most runners always strive to go faster, farther. That drive can have disastrous consequences for someone unprepared.

There is an art to brinkmanship. Yes we strive to push our bodies to the limit. But at the back of your mind, be always ready to pull back.

There is honor in walking away after giving your all and finding it not enough. There’s no shame in being listed as a DNF (“Did Not Finish”) in a race. Make it a badge of pride, “Did Not Faint,” or a mantra of challenge, “Deferred Na sa ang Finish.”

Run your own race, many race organizers keep telling participants. If you don’t feel well enough to complete a race, then quit. Wallow in depression for an hour or two and then treat yourself to a heavy meal, preferably with lots of sweets.

But after what just happened has sunk in, start plotting your next run.

What’s important is you can still finish a race another day.