From ‘Observe track etiquette at stadiums, please’, 28 Dec 2010, Today
(Maureen Foo): IN RECENT years, my brother and I have observed a few disturbing trends at Serangoon stadium.
A track is neither a park nor a marketplace or a mall. Many of its users lack knowledge of basic track etiquette; however, their lack of consideration for others’ safety and right to exercise is even more frustrating.
These users are mostly middle-aged women who arrive at the stadium before 7am when it is already very crowded. They walk on the track while others stand in the middle of it to talk.
Some who are part of the mass exercise groups beside the field sometimes suddenly dash across the track, again completely oblivious to others. A jogger might be able to give way but less so a sprinting runner.
…Typically, the track is meant to be run in an anti-clockwise direction, but there are those who desire to run in the opposite direction. This is acceptable if it is done in the outer lanes to avoid obstructing those running anti-clockwise, which is the official designated direction for running on standard 400m tracks.
This is practised in countries with established athletics cultures. However, there is a shocking ignorance of such etiquette among many local track users and not just those at Serangoon stadium.
We hope that the relevant authorities will do something about this situation as it is worsening.
As much as we would like to bring our obesity rates down and have our seniors engaging in an active lifestyle that’s not only beneficial for their hearts but minds as well, people are still deterred from conducting forms of social exercise which they enjoy because fitness freaks like Maureen here are advocating turning a public recreational facility in a neighbourhood stadium into a scary replica of some East German Olympic boot camp. Camps where you have to run in a designated direction, where you’re supposed to sprint your lungs out, where walking is for wussies, where straying into a runner’s lane is as dangerous as jaywalking into the path of a monster truck, where swerving to avoid old people talking in the middle of the track takes seconds off your personal best, where one’s mindless obsession with building stamina overrides all respect for one’s seniors or the basic freedom of people to do whatever the hell they want in a public arena for that matter.
Treadmills, with their clinical precision and customised regimes, but more importantly their lack of any kind of fun whatsoever, are tailor-made for fitness Nazis like these, and perhaps instead of dictating how people should behave on a public track, whether they’re skipping, rolling around, or walking backwards wearing flashy headbands, the complainant should hit the gym instead. Because really, in the grand scheme of things, having our elder population working out, even if it means breaching your ‘official designated direction for running’, hence reducing hospitalisation costs, far outweighs your petty, selfish quest for ultimate fitness. What would you expect the ‘relevant authorities’ to do anyway? Put up minimum speed limit signs? Have arrows indicating the right direction to run? No qigong after 6 am? Similar sentiments below, and uncannily also about Serangoon stadium, in this Today letter dated 16 Jan 2009.