Ultra-runner Melinda Ponce killed in gruesome massacre

Posted: October 20, 2011 in News, People

MELINDA Ponce died with her running clothes on.

Hours before she was killed in a gruesome massacre, Melinda was where she was almost every Sunday — in a run.

At 5:30 a.m. yesterday, the Banco de Oro (BDO) employee fired the starting gun during the fun run that opened her bank’s sports fest. She was happy and enjoyed being with co-workers during the run, said BDO E-mall branch accountant and fellow ultra-runner Virgilio Remo Jr.

MELINDA PONCE started running only at 48. Five years and one mild stroke later, she would win successive ultra-marathons. (PHOTO BY JAMES GO)

Having been featured in newspapers after winning ultra-marathons, races that are at least 50 kilometers, Ponce, 53, was an office celebrity and many of her co-workers had their pictures taken with her. Ponce instructed those manning the water stations and cheered on the bank employees who joined the 3K and 5K events.

“She was very happy,” Remo said.

Big shock

Hours later, Remo and members of the local running community would learn that Melinda, three of her children and their helper would be shot dead by her husband, who then killed himself. Melinda and three of the children were all shot in the head. Her husband spared one child, the youngest, whom he asked to leave and call the police before he started killing everyone.

“The news of her tragic death was a big shock to me,” said Don Bosco brother and ultra-runner Carlo Bacalla, “She is really an inspiration to so many runners, an example of hard work, dedication and determination. We in the running community will miss her. It’s sad that she has gone so soon.”

Ponce started running only at 48, a year after undergoing total hysterectomy. She suffered a mild stroke in 2009, which she blamed on her failure to look after her health and pushing herself physically despite the lack of rest.

Ponce ran every morning from her house in Bulacao, Talisay City to the IT Park on her way to work. She was still considering joining the 100-kilometer race from Bogo City to Cebu City in November.

“Dili nato ni undangon, makaayo man ni sa atong lawas (Let’s not stop running because this is good for our health),” Ponce told runners gathered in Ayala Center Cebu last Sept. 30.

Ultra-marathon wins

Ponce won the women’s category in the last two ultra-marathons she joined – the Be Resorts Warrior 53K that started and ended in Mactan Island and the Summit 60K in Talisay City last Oct. 9.

Ponce had qualified for this year’s national finals of the Milo Marathon in her age category after running 21K in 1 hour and 52 minutes. She said running in the national finals was her dream. She also qualified last year but chose not to run so that she could join the first ultra-marathon in Cebu – a 50-kilometer run from Mt. Manunggal to the Capitol.

But while she was looked up to as an inspiration in the local running community, she was battered at home, friends and relatives told Sun.Star Cebu.

Emmanuel would repeatedly beat up Melinda and her children, a neighbor who asked not to be named told Sun.Star Cebu. At one time, Emmanuel held a knife at Melinda.

(This article by Max Limpag was taken from Cebu Running.)

—————————————–

Dear fellow runners,

In honor of fellow ultra-marathoner Melinda Ponce, who passed away with her children, we would like to invite everyone to join forces with our brothers and sisters in Cebu in celebrating her and her children’s life with a solidarity run to be held in Bonifacio Global City right after Adidas KOTR & St. Peter’s Run.

Distance: 5K
Assembly Time: 0800AM Requiem Mass
Assembly Area: St Michael the Archangel Parish
Gun Start: 9:00AM

For more information, please go to the Facebook event page here: Run In Peace, Melinda Ponce (Manila)

Thank you and see you there!

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