Traffic jams are common in races and real life.

The world can be crowded at times. Everyone is everywhere, chasing success, dreams, goals and personal bests. Life can be one tough race.

I found out that a person’s journey can be enhanced or outright halted by the presence of two groups of individuals: those who give way to the person, and those who accidentally or intentionally throw a monkey wrench in the works.

I was in the midst of an uphill run in campus one evening, as I came across a couple of students walking abreast each other on the same pavement.

There was a gap of about 200 metres in front of us. Both the ladies, walking downhill, clearly saw me coming towards them. I moved to the left corner of the road, which loomed over the precipice of the hill, hoping that one of them will give way.


Most people give me way when they see me running. A man once stepped off the road and offered me his path as I ran. I wave my thanks to them, always.

However, in this case, both the ladies decided to ignore my presence, and continued chatting away as I approached them. I finally had to shout out my presence, after which one of them just slightly moved her shoulder to let me through.

I bumped hard into her anyway. It was a miracle I did not fall and roll down the hill. That would have made a great news headline. I take half the blame for assuming that they would give way to me. This incident, however, was the first of many that would happen throughout my years of running, some of which occurred under the most ludicrous of circumstances.

But then I began to wonder, how do I stay away from these blocks in life? How do people drive on roads under such circumstances? Can I avoid colliding into people and things when I run?

Just like driving, it turns out that there are “rules” for running on road and on the track. The Internet is awash with articles teaching runners how to run and behave in a civil manner. Some of the top rules include not running abreast more than two at a time, stepping away to allow a faster runner to pass or to run fast yourself, and informing those in front of you should you need to pass them.

It was good to know that there are ways of eliminating unwanted incidences when I run. It would be even better for everyone else to know that such rules exist.

I find it surprising that such situations can occur among the track elites, in light of a recent fracas involving runners aspiring for a certain prestigious regional event. A humble recreational runner such as I rely a lot on common sense to prevent accidents while running. Naturally, I assume that top-notch runners do this as well. I give way whenever I can, and steer clear of potential collisions if I want to run faster.

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  1. I was cycling on Old Upper Thomson Rd once and came upon a group of runners on counterflow (not a problem, I do the same for safety), but almost 3 abreast. Was playing chicken from a safe distance but the never gave way. When I passed them (and was almost at the middle lane marker), some in there greeted me “Good Morning!” Huh, really?

    And there are also cyclists who ride 2 to 3 abreast up in Kranji where the roads aren’t that wide. Motorists have complained about this on newspaper. Either they’re not aware of the rules, or just busy chit chatting.

    So, regardless of activity (walking, running, cycling, etc), when people switch to “social mode”, ie. talking with their buddies, ironically they also become anti-social, ie. oblivious of other people around them.

    • That’s sad and yet funny story. I can understand your plight, as I have experienced all that before. Most people are oblivious to their surroundings when they are with friends. I feel that it takes a certain degree of awareness to be alert to your surroundings. Not many cultivate awareness towards their surroundings in their daily lives.

  2. Best was a girl walking against the flow (clock-wise) of the athletics track, on the inside track with her face glued to her iPad. There were probably 15 runners and we had been going for an hour or more. Still think I should have run straight into her and called it education!

    • Oh yes, I’ve seen my share of that too. It’s best that such people are alerted that they are disrupting the track session.


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