SINGAPORE - Braving the coarse ground, about 200 runners took to the track at Our Tampines Hub (OTH) on Sunday (Nov 29), split into small groups with social distancing in place - all while barefoot.
The OTH Barefoot Run 2020 race was among a few mass runs to take place here since restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19 were eased, giving a glimpse into how sporting events will fare in the new normal. Many runs scheduled for the year have been postponed or gone virtual.
In Sunday's race, runners in the open categories for men and women above 18 years old had to run three laps of the track, and those in the masters categories for men and women above 40 had to do two laps.
All finishers took home a token medal, with the top three finishers in each category receiving trophies.
Ms Jillian See, 22, placed first in the women's open category, said she had looked forward to the race, her first since February.
"After a very long break, it helped me gauge my stamina and readiness. My ex-coach from track and field CCA in secondary school alerted me and my former classmates and we decided to come together. It is also a way for us to spend time with one another," she said.
Ms See, a student at Singapore Institute of Management, said she has been training individually but looks forward to more sports events opening up in the future.
Preparations for the run, co-organised by Our Tampines Hub with Tampines West, Punggol Shore Community Sports Club, ActiveSG and Singapore Pools, began in mid-September.
Organisers were particular about scheduling time slots and segregating runners into different groups according to their categories to ensure safe distancing. Other measures including SafeEntry check-in and temperature scanning were also enforced at the site.
IT manager Gaurav Kelshikar, 38, took part in the men's open category, while his wife Gargi, 35, ran in the women's open. The couple said the race gave them a chance to get out of the house and stay active.
"We keep a look out for any interesting activities that are highlighted online so that we can take part in it, whether its gardening, cycling or running. Activities like this keep us entertained and give us something to look forward to in these times," said Mr Gaurav.
Some of the runners also donated their old shoes for recycling at the site.
On its part, OTH has also collected over 4,100 pairs of shoes which will be donated for recycling.
Singapore Pools has pledged $20 for every pair of donated shoes up to a total of $10,000, and the amount raised will go to Kheng Chiu Loke Tin Kee Home.
Mayor of North East District Desmond Choo, the guest of honour at the run, said: "Covid-19 has disrupted our daily lives and more importantly, impacted the less fortunate in our community. Despite these challenging circumstances, we must rally everyone, especially Tampines residents, to do good and foster public spirit among the community."