Runners Share Their Kaiser Half-Marathon Experiences

Race bib
A bib for the 2011 Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half-Marathon

Last Sunday, 36-year-old Peter Hass died at the finish line of Sunday's Kaiser Permanente Half Marathon. We've heard conflicting reports about if and when race medical staff came to Hass' aid, though race organizers says that medical staffing at the event was adequate.

We put the question to the runners themselves, asking via KQED's Public Insight Network, for runners to tell us their experiences, both good and bad, of the race.

Here's a sampling of some of the responses we've received so far:

Carlos Almendarez of San Francisco says that he has run just about every half marathon in the Bay Area.  He said that the race was well organized with "plenty of mile markers and aid stations." Alemendarez says that he was at the finish when Hass collapsed:

I came in right at 2 hours so saw him collapse. There were several people collapsed on the great highway right before Mr. Hass. Ambulances were trying to make their way there. I noticed people panicking as I got to the finish line and I worried that the EMTs were busy with other runners that to me seemed like were dehydrated and/or cramped. Mr. Hass was completely out.

Another runner, Edward, ran the race for the first time this year but has run other local races. He noted:

... [the race was] a little crowded at the post race expo end, otherwise there was plenty of water, they had people telling you the split times at the mile markers and I was able to see my dad come in after I ran.
Terry, also of San Francisco, has done 147 marathons across 50 states. He said:
... considering the size of the event, the organization was excellent. Although the day was much warmer than usual, none of the aid stations were out of water which often happens when the temperture [sic] spikes up. If there was a problem it was the extreme congestion after the finish line--all the finishers (5K and Half) pile into a small area where you can barely move through the crowd. I rather suspect that was a factor trying to get people to the downed runner. I passed two other runners who were down (and being attended to) on the Great Highway--about miles 9 1/2 and 10 1/2.
Several people noted the heat and raised questions about Hass' training, attire, hydration, and overall health. Other runners noted that while deaths during races are unfortunate, they are not unheard of.
Like many who responded to the survey, Almendarez expressed sympathy for Mr. Hass' family and wonders what will become of the race:
I've done Kaiser for a couple of years and really hope it continues. What is sad is that perhaps it took this event to realize that a LOT more medical support is needed.
KQED will continue to cover developments in the story and to share the experiences of race participants. You can help by distributing the link to our short questionnaire.