Sure, it might be a fad for all we know, and it might slip into the realm of forgotten sports-fads to share a space with badminton and golf. Yet, while it’s here, it is most welcome.
It’s inspiring. You get to help a lot of people (assuming the Fun Runs really do raise substantial amounts of money for their charities). It’s cost-efficient – you don’t need to rent a court, no balls, no rackets, no special shoes, and you don’t need to find 3 or 9 other people to have fun. Running on a treadmill doesn’t give you the joy of being outdoors, and of saving what you spent on gym fees.
And it’s healthy.
Or at least we think it’s healthy.
It probably is, if you run in some parts of the city, where there are more trees than cars. Yet more often than not, the runner not only runs against his own time, capabilities and mind, but also against the harshness of the air s/he breathes.
I ran in the Mizuno Infinity Run, and it involved an arduous crossing and conquering of the Buendia-Fort Flyover. Even at 6AM, with as little cars as possible, you get to inhale the difference between the Buendia and Fort Bonifacio skies. It might be an exaggeration to say that you could almost see the smog trying to choke your windpipe as you enter Buendia, as well as how the smog finally surrendered as you left it on the Flyover. But my lungs sure felt the difference.
Okay, so you can probably say that I was tired, and that’s why I felt the toughness in breathing. However, one can see the difficulty that runners’ lungs face in the very areas we think are “running grounds.” The Ayala Triangle has this one area booby-trapped with buses. The behemoths just spew their foul air onto pedestrians and runners alike. Runners in the Greenhills-Ortigas Area face the same problem. Then there was the Intramuros Run which made me think twice about joining because of the pollution. The Quezon Circle Fun Runs, too. Even the Bonifacio Global Center is not as safe as it once was. More high-rise buildings are going up, and along with them the number of cars going in and out of the area.
If there is anything that this running craze will teach us, hopefully, it’s that we need to take better care of our city’s air. Or at the very least, call our attention to the fact that this level of toxicity we force into our nostrils is not acceptable.
We need it not just as runners. We need it as human beings.