So far, we have focused on things you need to do as an individual to get into a routine of running. Now, let us see what you can do to get others in your city to enjoy the outdoors. Remember, the great thing about running is that we can do a lot with very little. Runners basically need three things: a decent path, drinking water and a toilet.
Blazing new trails
Most of our cities are blessed with gardens, parks, beaches, forested areas, historical monuments, riversides and other such areas. These are the best places where you can begin your running routine and invite your friends to come over.
I have run more than 10 miles along the river in Seoul. It has a running track on either side and is frequented by hundreds of joggers of all age groups every day. The miles between Venice beach and the Santa Monica beach next to Los Angeles is dotted with stores, street vendors and others selling their wares and snacks to runners. The 15 miles along Chicago’s lake shore drive and Singapore’s East Coast Parks are other examples of what our cities could do for the benefit of runners. I am sure the Yamuna and Hindon rivers and a few canals in New Delhi, and the many beaches in Mumbai, Vasai creek and Manori, could be developed into ideal areas for health enthusiasts.
New Delhi has a sufficient number of parks—Sanjay Van, Roshanara Garden, The Ridge, Rose Garden and Leisure Valley in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Mumbai, too, boasts of the Borivali National Park, Powai and Vihar lakes, and even the Azad and Oval maidans.
All these could do with running tracks with distances well marked out—as in the Jahanpanah forest in New Delhi.
Distance markers every 500m would make it convenient for people. It would also be interesting if these paths had both broad and narrow trails going through the forest cover.
The India Gate, Red Fort, Qutab Minar, Humayun’s Tomb and Tughlaqabad in New Delhi, and the Gateway of India, Elephanta island and other smaller locations in Mumbai could be ideal sites for runners. It would be an ideal opportunity to enable you to rediscover your city.
It would be a good idea if people are made stakeholders in these areas, responsible for the cleanliness and maintenance of these sites.
Schools, too, can look after these locations with their students monitoring the upkeep of the areas.
School trips to these historical areas then become more than educational tours as students learn the basics of social responsibility.
This is a critical issue. Most of our parks don’t have any drinking water facility in the vicinity. This is where corporate houses can contribute by sponsoring the drinking water supply of the parks.
Similarly, business houses can take care of the cleanliness and security of the area. Once these things are taken care of, joggers can come to the parks with their own water bottles, rather than using paper cups provided in the area.
It is also essential to provide other basic facilities such as clean toilets in the parks.
Our civic authorities can perhaps start with providing portable toilets. This issomething most outdoor advertising companies are putting up along busy thoroughfares in New Delhi, but more needs to be done near the running paths.
Just the other day, I was pleasantly surprised to see two new toilet facilities at Nehru Park in New Delhi. It is a pity that similar facilities are not yet present in other areas.
Let’s start today
None of these three things—jogging paths, water points and clean toilets in the vicinity of the parks—costs much money and there is no need to expect only the city administration to provide these facilities.
Lets look at a collaboration between corporates, city administrations, schools, resident welfare associations and individuals to start making things happen.
That would truly help make our city or our colony a better place to live in, so that our city can start running and living.
Let us do our bit today and make a call, talk to someone, and get things moving.
Rahul S. Verghese is a management consultant.Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org