Road Runners: Nighttime barefoot racing latest pandemic trend to take off in Indonesia

Street racing is so pre-pandemic, and some kids around Indonesia have popularized a more physically demanding hobby/illegal activity to combat pandemic boredom: nighttime barefoot racing.

The races have been all the rage since at least August across different parts of Indonesia, with footage coming from throughout the Greater Jakarta Area and even as far as from Pematangsiantar, North Sumatra.

From what we’ve gathered, these races usually take place late in the evenings, on streets or highways that are either not in service or empty. Each race consists of two runners sprinting for glory on a temporary track that stretches around 50-100 meters, often with large, rowdy crowds with stakes on the race. And yes, the runners race barefoot.

This video below, which gained traction on Twitter recently, shows a race in Bogor’s Cileungsi district.

Popular as they’ve become, these events are packed with spectators who are not exactly keeping their distance from one another. In the videos we’ve seen, many of them appear to be maskless, too. 

As these events potentially bear health risks ⁠— we are in the middle of a pandemic, after all ⁠— and might disturb local residents, authorities have recently started clamping down on the races.

Police in Cipondoh district dispersed a race held at Fortune Graha Raya roundabout in North Serpong on Wednesday midnight, with reportedly more than 100 hundred people in attendance.

In the early hours of Thursday, the Ciledug sub-precinct apprehended 12 young men aged 16-21 at a race held near the Ciledug district office. According to Ciledug sub-precinct chief Ali Zusron, the race was held after it was initiated by the suspects. 

“Their reason was to use up their spare time so they don’t get bored during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ali said today.

The 12 men were sent home after police summoned their parents, and after they signed a statement promising not to hold another race.

Rhino, who heads Cipondoh sub-precinct’s crime investigation unit, said police will look into allegations of gambling in the races.


Also Read — Strict PSBB returns in Jakarta as Governor Anies Baswedan pulls ‘emergency brake’

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