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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

April 28, 2015

MEMORIAL RUN FOR COACH TOEL: Running for a Man of Empathy

"We run for many reasons.  We run for our health.  We run to win a finisher medal and a finisher shirt. We run to be happy.  We run to prove others wrong.  Rare is the time that we get to run to express our sympathy.  The memorial run this April 19 in MOA is one such occasion."

This was the email that the Bicolano Penguin sent to fellow First Balfour runners one Friday morning and the memorial run being referred to was the one for Leo Tugade  or simply "Coach Toel" to many of his running buddies. 

Coach Toel was found dead sometime in March, after missing for a few days.  He was brutally murdered.  It was a shock to many in the local running community. It was  big shock to his parents and his siblings.  By all accounts, Coach Toel was a good person. He was a familiar friendly face in many of the local fun runs. He was a  helpful coach in the  running clinics of the Milo-APEX Running School (MARS) . He was a regular fixture in the annual The Bull Runner Dream Marathon in Nuvali where he volunteered as a dream chaser.  He was often a pacer to some of his running buddies who were gunning for their first full mary, be it  in Condura or  Milo  or Run United. I would imagine his success rate in pacing beginners  in marathon is 100% as he had that caring personality that will simply nurture a  newbie to the finish line. 

I really wasn't close to Coach Toel. I was not a member of any of the running clubs he was a major part of. But I admired him.  The admiration stems from the fact that he was a person of empathy.   Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people's emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.  Coach Toel had a lot of this ability and I witnessed it first hand. To be exact, I was a beneficiary of his empathy way back in the first edition of the running clinic of MARS in Bonifacio High Street, back in the days when the running clinic was still free of charge.  Toel was a participant too in that running clinic.  We both were signed up for the 42-km class.  I really did not know anyone in that class while he practically was on a first name basis with all in the class.  Feeling like a stranger, I was kind of hesitant to continue with the class.  But he, perhaps sensing my discomfort, took it upon himself to talk to me and introduce me to some of his friends.  He did this for a number of times  until I got warmed up with my classmates.  He was a big help to me while I was just starting to take up running.  To this day, his altruism is an inspiration for me as I endeavor to be of help to other runners, particularly the newbies. 

Evidently, Coach Toel's  empathic altruism is widespread as come the early morning of April 19, there were numerous  runners at the MOA grounds near Vikings.  Many were were lining up already to register.  Many were  wearing their respective running club uniforms.  Snail Runners Alabang. Team Boring.  Monumentum Milers.  PAR Runners.  TBR Dreamers. The MARS coaches. And I saw a handful in First Balfour running shirts.   Turns out, the email I sent to my fellow FB runners, there were many who responded.  Ems, Iya, Delsie, Jhoy, Migo, RJ and Mark.  They even brought with them some family members and friends.  
The runners lining up to register and drop something on the donation box. 
A dedication photo, a trophy and a donation box.  Items to be turned over to the family of Coach Toel. 
Gathering for a short program
 We were close to a hundred runners gathered there.  The number was quite overwhelming to Coach Toel's parents and siblings.  In the short program before the start of the run, Coach Toel's sister shared that they did not know much about Coach Toel's running.  They were happy that because of running their brother was healthy and fit.  Seeing the  turnout of so many runners and listening to the sharing of his fellow MARS coaches led by Coach Jim Saret  and representatives  of some of the running clubs present, now they know that Coach Toel's running was more than being physically healthy.  Now they know that Coach Toel has touched many lives in a positive way.  
The brother of Coach Toel sharing his thoughts.  Seated are the parents.  
Representatives from Snail Runners Alabang, ...
...Team Boring...
...the Bull Runner Dream Marathon...

...Monumentum Milers...

...and First Balfour.
Coach Macoy.

Coach Jim leading the turn over to the family.
Coach Toel's sister expressing her thanks to the organizers and the runners.
TBR Dream Marathon group photo. 

With Coach Peachy. Fellow TBR Dreamer Joseph  at the background. 
Runners doing the "world's greatest stretch" before starting the run.   Coach Toel would not have wanted it any other way.  

Starting the 5km run. 
The actual run was short, at roughly 5 kms. But it was made more special by the fact that we were running to express our sympathy for a fellow runner.   We were garbed in different uniforms but the white ribbon we wore on our running shirts signified that we were one in our respect, admiration and prayers for  a fellow human being. 

P.S.  Many of the photos are taken from the facebook page of Rickpets Lens. 




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