‘Patriotic runners’ to mark anew infamous Death March

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    (Death March “patriotic runners” wave Philippine, American and Japanese flags as they commemorate the infamous 97-kilometer march thatstarted in Mariveles, Bataan during World War II. File Photo from Safer Run of San Fernando)

    CLARK FREEPORT – The oldest and longest relay- run honoring heroes of the infamous Bataan Death March will brave the summer heat anewthis April 8 and 9, this time with more participants.

    Ed Paez, founder of the Safer Runners of San Fernando which started the Araw ng Kagitingan Ultra Marathon with only 29 members way back in 1986, said the march will start as usual at Kilometer Post 0 marker in Mariveles, Bataan where the actual Death March actually started.

    “We started as a group of 29 in 1986 with only a dump truck supporting us for water and food, courtesy of the late Pampanga Gov. Bren Guiao,” Paez recalled. The initial participants were called“patriotic runners,” a tag that has remained.

    Paez recalled that initially, the patriotic runners covered the 97-kilometer stretch via the actual Death March route through Limay, Orion, Pilar, Balanga City, Abucay, Samal, Orani, a part of Dinalupihan in Bataan and then stayed overnight in Lubao, Pampanga and on through Guagua andBacolor towns towards the finish line in San Fernando.

    Historically, the march ended at the railway in San Fernando where the marchers were herded into trains and taken to a concentration camp atO’Donnell in Capas, Tarlac.

    Paez said, however, that with growing support from both government and private sectors, his group decided that from San Fernando, they would take their support vehicles to Camp O’Donnell for closing rites. The Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) has cited Paez’s group for holding the annual run as a tribute to World War IIveterans.

    The Bataan Death March was initiated by occupying Japanese forces on April 9, 1942, involving some 60,000 to 80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of war after the three-month Battle ofBataan during World War II.

    Some 2,500 to 10,000 Filipino and 100 to 650 American prisoners of war died before they could reach theirdestination at Camp O’Donnell.

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