If you have been listening to the news, you would have heard about what happened at Woodleigh MRT Station and the mysterious substance that was found in three locations all around the station, causing panic and alarm and the station closed while there were worries of bioterrorism bandied around on social media and the news accounts.
When it was found that the substance was simply baking flour, most of us relaxed at the news that it was nothing serious but then it was reported that the flour was left by runners. Specifically, runners from the Hash House Harriers who merely wanted to mark out a path for fellow runners to figure out the trail to get to the end of the trail and then celebrate.
This isn’t the first time the Hash House Harriers have gotten into trouble for their methods in marking out trails. In 2007, the town of New Haven in Connecticut, USA, was also hit by the sight of a white substance sprinkled all over the local IKEA, which caused hundreds being evacuated out of the place and two arrested for a breach of peace when they simply were marking out the trail for their running group to go to.
While we encourage running in all aspects of life, especially in carrying out the traditions of running social clubs to keep running, runners have to remember one simple, golden rule when running in public, no matter a marathon, social running group or even just jogging:
While the runners in this case were simply affable men who wanted to spice up their running experiences, how much inconvenience did they cause the rest of the public when the station was shut down for many hours?
How many resources had to be used to determine that the substance used was not harmful? How much worry and panic did it cause the employees of the station, the civil defence and even the passengers who had reason to believe they were exposed to an actual bio-terrorism attack and could potentially be hospitalised or dead?
These are things that should not be taken lightly.
We are not saying that all the runners of the social group are responsible for the welfare of all the people affected in the incident. This would be silly. However, we would like to remind runners that while running can help you get into the best of moods, it can also absorb you into the point where you will ignore the bigger consequences of what you are doing.
Behaviour such as running in the middle of the path in a crowded path, or pouring unused water on the ground in the race village making the surroundings muddy and unusable, or bumping into people while running simply because you had your earphones in and did not hear the warnings from others a lot of unpleasant encounters and situations runners sometimes run into can be avoided if the runners take the opportunity to think about their surroundings and take themselves in check.
Runners can read up on running etiquette, like not throwing away unwanted water into the grass simply because they will not be drinking it, or taking out one headphone to be sure that they are aware of what is happening.
Running groups can follow suit. In the event where you are planning a large event, please be sure to follow the rules of the place you are in. If unsure, please seek permission from any staff that might be there. When groups are resting after a run, don’t take up all the space in the area lest there be other people around that need to walk by.
Things like not trashing an area after a run because you feel that you are too tired to clean up after yourselves may seem like common sense, but it needs to be reminded. In this case, not conducting any activities that have problematic elements that can be easily identified should seem like common sense but in the case of this scenario, it has to be said again and again. Try not to do things that will cause panic and misunderstandings. When in doubt, throw it out.
Remember: no man is an island. The best we can do is make sure that what we do can bring joy to others, while at the same time be aware and prepared to minimize any problems we may accidentally cause.