Covid-19 restrictions ease, others sports return, and yet trail races are still off – why?
- Rugby, football and other sports are returning to normal yet trail racing is still deemed too risky
- It is time to lift this ban and allow racing to resume, even if it there are some restrictions to keep Covid-19 at bay
Trail running in Hong Kong exists in a bubble – the scene has its own social circles, big races that mark the peak of the calendar, awards and superstars. It is sometimes easy to forget that there’s a world outside trail running.
Increasingly, it feels like the Hong Kong government has no idea either.
Trail running has been on hold since the Covid-19 pandemic began. And initially, for good reason – no one knew just how bad Covid-19 could be, how it could spread, how deadly it was.
Organisers have been told these trial events were an exception and no more will be considered for a while.
What is particularly galling is that other sports are going on. Rugby and football are both contact sports, and resumed weeks ago. It is great to see rugby back, but as 16 people pack down for a tightly bound scrum it can be hard to stomach the race fee for another virtual race for our own safety.
Trail runners pride themselves on community. A tiny fraction of runners have a hope of winning, so for most it is not a race, but a gathering of friends and a chance to push themselves for a sense of accomplishment – both good antidotes to mental health problems.
What’s more, nature is good for mental health, too. Just spending time surrounded by the green of nature gives us a serotonin and dopamine kick, the hormones associated with happiness. Throw in endorphins from the exercise and you have yourself a mental health cocktail.
It is hard to imagine we will go from no races to completely normal. Perhaps organisers will be required to forgo checkpoints to avoid bottle necks midcourse, which could be dangerous in the summer heat. So runners may have to make do with short races, just 5km or 10km maximum, until winter returns.
But if it’s safe enough for the face-to-face melee on a rugby pitch, or the crowded box on a corner in football, it’s safe enough for trail running.