Former PH track standout Rafael Batac dies at 61

MANILA, Philippines – Rafael Batac, the 5-foot-1 runner who once held 3 national junior long distance athletics marks, passed away on Thursday, July 9. He was 61.

“He had been undergoing 6 years of dialysis,” Batac’s wife, Ruby, said in a Facebook private message. 

Rachel, his daughter, said Rafael started complaining of abdominal pains and would vomit. After dialysis on Monday, Rafael was all right but on Tuesday, he was bought to the emergency room where his condition weakened despite dialysis on Wednesday.

Wake will be at St Peter's Antipolo and burial is set at Heaven's Gate in Cogeo.

Batac, born in Lanao del Norte, was a strong pacer and worked hard during practice at the Gintong Alay training camp at Teacher's Camp in Baguio. 

He was one of the first athletes under the Gintong Alay Program to show how effective training was at high altitude under former Olympian Tony Benson.

Batac held the junior 3,000-meter steeplechase, 5,000m and 10,000m records at one time in the early 1980s. His ascent to the senior ranks was difficult as he faced the veterans led by Nestor Trampe and Justo Tabunda Jr, the Milo marathon champion.

“Competition was tough,” said Benson in a Facebook message.

Trampe remembers sticking close to Batac and waiting when he would unleash his kick. 

“He was a pacer and a good one,” Trampe, who held the 3,000m steeplechase record before Hector Begeo came in 1981, said in a phone interview.

Tabunda recalls Batac as conscientious during practice and tenacious in competition. 

“The long distance pool was deep in talent. You had go through a lot of opponents,” he said in a phone interview.

The pool included future SEA Games champs David Carmelo and Leonardo Illut, Arturo Alimbuyao, Irving Gallardo and Alberto Caoili. 

Batac continued competing until the mid-1980s when he bowed out of competition. At that time, another group of long distance stars led by Begeo, Mario Castro, Wilfredo Ballester and Primo Ramos were in the ascendant. – Rappler.com