He loved to bike with the same passion as he ran marathons, said his wife, a physician.
Based on an autopsy, the cause of the Cebuano participant’s death during the Ironman 70.3 last Sunday was not a bumpy road patch, gusty wind or miscalculated maneuvering of his road bike in Talisay City.
The medical findings showed that Ramon Igaña, Jr., 44, died of “acute pulmonary embolism”, which caused him to fall off his bike.
The autopsy performed by Dr. Kathrina Saavedra Perez and Dr. Theodore Zamora revealed the presence of several blood clots in Igaña’s lungs.
Dr. Perez told Cebu Daily News that with this sudden condition, death could happen swiftly and without warning.
The autopsy results took the edge off speculation that Igaña had collapsed because of road conditions or strong coastal winds that Ironman 70.3 organizers had earlier warned athletes about.
His bike handling skills were not to blame either.
It was the couple’s first time to join the Ironman 70.3, where Ramon, a fitness buff since his teenage days, and wife Humility, were part of a relay team TTB-Extreme. He did the 90 kilometer bike segment; she was supposed to continue with a 21 kilometer run in Lapu-Lapu City.
Ramon was the lone fatality in the day-long competition, which had 1,700 Filipino and foreign athletes swim, bike and run a total of 70.3 miles through four cities of Metro Cebu, the biggest international sport event in Cebu this year.
A pulmonary embolism happens when part or all of a clot which forms in smaller vessels in the legs, pelvis, arms or heart travels through the blood in the veins and lodges in the lungs.
The patient, who cannot get enough oxygen into the bloodstream, becomes acutely short of breath. In some instances, clots are so large that blood flow is blocked from the heart and can result in instantaneous death, according to the emedicinehealth.com website.)
Humility, an ob-gynecologist who works in the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House, said there were no signs at all of anything wrong with her husband’s health days before the event or even prior to the start of the Ironman 70.3 series of races.
On the beach, minutes before the start of the bike race at Shangri-La Mactan Resort, the couple were seen having fun, posing for souvenir photos, excited over their first Ironman 70.3 race.
Later on the South Coastal Road, Igaña made the first turn-about in Talisay City and was heading back for Cebu City, when witnesses reported seeing his road bike wobbling just before he collapsed.
Igaña, who was wearing the prescribed safety helmet, fell to the ground, striking his head on the concrete gutter.
He was brought to Chong Hua Hospital in Cebu City by volunteers of the Basak Pardo Emergency Response Team. He was declared dead on arrival about 10 a.m.
“When I arrived at the hospital, I saw his body. He was smiling. He looked very happy,” said Humility.
“Biking was really his passion even before we got married. That’s what he really enjoyed doing. In marathons, he ran fast without getting tired,” said Humility in a radio dyAB interview .
She said her grief was somewhat eased knowing that her husband, an airline load controller of Cebu Pacific for 11 years, died doing something he loved.
“Until now, I haven’t been able to cry. I have to be strong for my daughter Nina, because mine is a borrowed life,” said the physician, who is a cancer survivor.
The couple and their 15-year-old daughter would often be seen running together for exercise. The husband and wife belonged to a local running club called “Ungo”, whose day job-members would go running after sundown.
At the vigil wake at St. Peter’s Memorial Chapel in Imus Street yesterday, friends from Cebu’s running community expressed shock over Igaña’s death because he was “very conscious of his health”.
A funeral date will be set after Ramon’s relatives arrive from the United States.
Louie Catacutan, a childhood friend from barangay Basak, Cebu City, said Ramon led an “active and healthy lifestyle” since his teenage days and engaged in martial arts, motocross and BMX bikes.
He said Ramon was a native of Hilongos, Leyte province and studied in Cebu State College (now Cebu Normal University) for grade school.
Princess Galura, project director of Sunrise Events, Inc. organizer of the Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines visited Igaña’s vigil wake Monday afternoon and talked to his widow.
A brief statement was later released on the official Facebook page of the Ironman Philippines:
“Despite the resounding success of the recently concluded Ironman 70.3 event on Sunday, there was a fatality involving Ramon Igaña, Jr, 44 years old, Cebuano and a relay participant on the bike segment. The autopsy revealed that the cause of death was acute pulmonary embolism leading to his bike fall. The entire Ironman community expresses its deepest sympathies to Ramon’s family and loved ones.” /Haide Acuña, Correspondent with a report by Correspondent Tweeny Malinao