Tag: running

Running out of good sense?

The Nike Bajak Jakarta run yesterday has propelled itself into a storm of controversy because of the massive traffic jams it caused in the city. The reason why it caused gridlock in the traffic was because Nike decided to hold the run in a busy part of town at 4pm on a Saturday – when traffic is at the best of times heavy.

(Note: for a first hand runners account read Romeo Gadungan’s posting here)

What ensued are furious commuters forced unnecessarily to sit in their cars or on their bikes as runners, egged on by Nike Indonesia’s tagline #BajakJKT and slogan of “You Vs JKT”, smugly showed their mastery on the roads with their branded and expensive shoes, heart rate monitors, water bottle holders and other accessories.

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This smugness caused even more resentment on the part of the fuming commuters  against the runners and the brand. How would you feel when, after fuming for hours on the road, you checked your twitter feed and you see lots of complaints on one hand and self-congratulating, self-congratulating runners on the other?

Runners are now being called douchebags, hipsters etc.

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This is not entirely fair to the runners but Unspun thinks that there is a lesson to be learned here by runners, bikers and other performing athletic feats on public roads: Jakarta roads are already crowded with too much traffic, so if you get a chance to use these roads you need to be aware that you are sharing these roads and you need to be considerate to the motorists.

Too often Unspun has seen runners and cyclists (and Harley Davidson owners too, although they somehow don’t fit into the athletic category) acting as if they owned the road during Sundays and when they are out in packs. They expect all other motorists and commuters to give way to them or be bawled out by them.

Most of the runners on the Nike run, however, were the victims of enthusiasm to the point of not exercising running prudence, perhaps because of the desperation to do something physical and outdoors in shopping mall-obsessed Jakarta.

So many of them signed up for the run even when they did not know the route and time of the Bajak Jakarta run.

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If you are into running (and Unspun knows a little about this, having completed two marathons and several 10Ks and half marathons, albeit about 3 decades ago) you would want to be fussy about the route, the organisation (does it look like they will have good traffic control, crowd control, first aid, water, is it hilly or flat etc) and definitely the time.

We are living in the equatorial region. It gets very hot very quickly once the sun rises. It is for this reason that most runs are timed at 5am or so because by the time it gets to be about 9am it starts to get scorchingly hot for runners.

The other reason why runs are scheduled so early is because there is still little traffic on the roads thereby causing minimal disruption to the other road users.

Why Nike, a brand that must have deep experience in running and organizing such events chose to have it at 4pm in a busy part of town is intriguing to say the least unless it too is inflicted with her mentality when it comes to running.

Over the past two years, we have seen the rise of running as the sport of choice for hip, young and not to young Jakartans. The fact that they can now clock their performance on electronic gadgets and then show them off to the world through apps such as Nike’s +,  Endomondo, ICardio and Runkeeper has helped to fuel the popularity of running (and also cycling).

The popularity has reached such a stage that any enthusiastic but unimaginative marketeer will suggest to their bosses to hold a run if the brand wants to “connect” with the masses and the young.

So we have seen a plethora of runs happening almost every week being sponsored by all sorts of companies with the money such as insurance companies, health product manufacturers and banks (although the irony of a bank run does not seem to have fazed them).

This eagerness has resulted in some less than well organised events. In the Standard Chartered Half Marathon recently, for instance, the organisers ran out of water in the later checkpoints causing some runners to suffer from dehydration. Two were hospitalised. One of them apparently had a heart attack.

It is perhaps time for every body involved in such public runs to get together to discuss how to ensure that runs do take into account the safety and health of the runners as well as the commuters.

From the city government that issues permits, to the police who are in charge of diverting and directing traffic, to the athletic bodies, event organisers and sponsors, there should be clear guidelines on the timing, route, logistics and safety provisions for the runners.

Runners should also be more discerning about which events they join. There is no lack of choice these days so unless organisers publish the timing and the routes before hand, they should not sign up like desperados. Force them to be more responsible or they won’t get your participation.

Running is a great sport and recreation. Runs can be enjoyable – both of runners and the rest of the people they share the road with. But like that Sub 4 that most marathoners aim for, you need to work hard at it. Now hit the road!

The President’s fleet-footed son

There’s been a storm brewing in Indonesia’s social media teacup over the running accomplishments of President SBY’s No. #1 son, Agus,  and the debate that is still raging now is whether the athletic presidential scion is an inspiration or an object of contempt for others.

The incident unfolded yesterday after Agus and friends from his running club, Garuda Finishers, finished the Adidas King of the Road run at BSD. For his troubles Agus was awarded a medal for completion and all would have been fine except for his tweets, coupled with the fact that he had asked the run’s organisers to set up a separate run for him since the event had actually finished by the time he got there.

Agus, you see, had been a busy boy. That morning he was up at the crack of dawn to run at a 10K race to commemorate the Indonesian Military’s 68th anniversary at 6.30am. Being a runner and not a sprinter, he finished that race, and being a sporty chap with lots of adrenaline to spake then proceeded to run at the Adidas run. The only problem was that that even started at 5:30 am and finished at 8:30am.

Agus and mates got there after that but so keen they were to hit the pavement that they told the race organisers to re-erect the run signage, the starting and finishing line as well as to bring back the timing officials so that they could run the 16.5 km race and get a medal for their accomplishments.

Perhaps finding it difficult to say no to a Presidential Son, the race organisers obliged  (Agus’s supporters were to claim that they had informed the race organisers that they would be late and the organisers said no problem, just mosey along whenever they are ready).

All that would have been a low-key affair except that Agus is not only fleet with his feet but with his fingers as well. he posted two tweets about himself, obviously so that his admirers can admire him all the more and be inspired by his example.

The first had the message: “Never..Never..Never give up…I ran 17K at the King of the Road this morning” accompanied by a picture of him and his chums running in the race.

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Then he posted another message: “Always finish what you have started. Salam @GarudaFinishers 🏃🏃🏃” with a photo of him and the coveted medal for finishers

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All of this must have been very inspirational to his supporters and water carriers but quite a few social media users, perhaps sick to death of seeing who they perceive as privileged children bend the rules and getting all sorts of special treatment, had a different view and the social media scene has since been all the more lively for the different views being espoused by Agus’s supporters and detractors.

So what do you think? Is Agus perfectly a sporty and spirited young man that should serve as an inspiration to aspiring runners everywhere, especially with his exhortations of persistence and seeing things to the end? Or is he just another spoilt brat from a privileged family who has no self awareness of what a schmuck he appears to be?

Below is today’s article in Kompas.com about the incident:

Ketika Agus Yudhoyono Telat Lari Maraton…

KOMPAS.com — Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, putra sulung Presiden Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, menjadi perbincangan di lini masa Twitter dalam dua hari terakhir. Semua berawal dari gambar ataupun kicauannya di Twitter terkait partisipasinya di ajang lari maraton Adidas King of the Road, di BSD City, Minggu (29/9/2013) pagi.

Dengan mengunggah fotonya saat mengikuti lari maraton, Agus melalui akunnya @AgusYudhoyono berujar “Never… Never… Never give up… Lari 17K di event King of The Road tadi pagi,” yang dipasang pada pukul 19.20. Tidak lama kemudian, dia melanjutkan kicaunya “Always finish what you have started ” dengan menyertakan fotonya sambil memamerkan medali finisher. Medali tersebut diberikan kepada peserta yang berhasil sampai garis akhir.

Yang membuatnya jadi bahan pergunjingan di media sosial justru karena dia terlambat datang. Beredar penuturan dari pengguna yang diduga panitia acara yang menjelaskan bahwa acara tersebut seharusnya digelar pukul 05.30 sampai pukul 08.30. Rombongan Agus dengan Pasukan Pengamanan Presiden (Paspampres) datang setelahnya.

“Terus minta ke race organizer-nya supaya signage serta gerbang start dan finish line, timing,dan lain-lain jangan diberesin dulu karena mereka mau lari 16,5 kilometer dan minta dapet medali,” demikian tulis seorang pengguna media sosial Path yang lantas menyebar lintas media sosial.

Dalam foto yang diunggah Agus, tampak dia mengenakan nomor bib 1010. Begitu dicek dalam situs resmi acara, tidak tampak nomornya dalam daftar pelari yang menyelesaikan maraton 16,8 kilometer. Begitu pula orang yang ada di sebelahnya dengan nomor 3450. Tentu saja hal ini akan terlihat janggal karena sebelumnya dia memamerkan medali finisher.

Sejak semalam, akun milik Agus jadi sasaran perundungan atau bully. Tweet-nya terkait partisipasi dalam event maraton tersebut dikomentari oleh beberapa akun Twitter milik pesohor, seperti Melanie Subono, Panji Pragiwaksono, dan Joko Anwar. Tidak hanya itu, muncul juga akun-akun yang berupaya membela Agus dan mengatakan bahwa keterlambatan rombongan sudah diketahui panitia.

Hingga pagi tadi, akun @AgusYudhoyono belum memberikan reaksi. Pengguna dengan akun @hwhardana pun berharap agar penjelasan segera muncul agar masalah bisa jelas. “Lets hear your side of story, kenapa mas agus telat ke kotr… Ditunggu ya…,” kicaunya.

Berdasarkan kegiatan yang diikuti Agus hari itu, ternyata pagi harinya dia mengikuti maraton 10 kilometer yang digelar dalam rangka ulang tahun ke-68 TNI di Monas dan dimulai pukul 06.30. Agus membawa serta komunitas lari Garuda.

Dari sana, Agus dan rombongan baru ke BSD City untuk mengikuti maraton KOTR 16,8 kilometer yang digelar Adidas dan ia datang terlambat