In this health-challenged world, runners should do the right thing

So it’s 90 degrees in the shade and that mask you’re wearing (or supposed to be wearing) is beginning to feel like one of those hot facial towels they use at a resort spa.

Maybe you’re running in a park, on a shady canal towpath or crossing one of several bridges over the Delaware into New Jersey.

There’s a great temptation to want to remove that mask, especially if you’re running alone. And, with common sense, that’s generally OK.

When someone comes along from the opposite direction, you quickly put on your mask and duly swerve a bit to the right to allow for some proper social distancing.

That’s when you notice the person coming the other way not only isn’t wearing a mask but isn’t even going to make an attempt to move to the right.

This is where some of us have to count to 10 and take the high road, noting at least one person in this exchange did the right thing.

All that said, four months into the pandemic it’s clear some people just don’t get it.

Yes, we know it’s the outdoors and the risk of catching or passing along COVID-19 is less than, say, inside your local supermarket.

But whatever happened to courtesy and respect for your fellow man?

Well, you reply, don’t you pay attention to the nightly TV news and see that all those states which opened too soon are paying for it now? Isn’t that sort of the same disregard, only sanctioned by authorities, in order for it to appear morally (and legally) right?

That’s not helping a runner trying to navigate a six-foot wide pedestrian lane on the Washington Crossing Bridge at high noon with a half-dozen unmasked folks coming straight ahead, oblivious to the signs posted on both ends of the bridge which say “WEAR A MASK!’’

This sort of health-threatening situation was brought to the attention of representatives of the Delaware River Port Authority on both sides of the bridge.

“Sir,’’ a woman in the booth pointed out with a pleasant voice on the Jersey side of the river, “the sign is just a ‘guideline,’ not a law. There’s really nothing we can do to stop them.’’

Hmmm. Even back when the N.J. governor mandated that everyone had to wear a mask in public, even outdoors? Or is the bridge some sort of no-man’s land, where laws have about as much chance of getting enforced as Tombstone in the 1800s?

Ditto any path in parks such as around Lake Galena, not far from Doylestown.

A group of maskless youngsters gathered on the side of a six-foot wide path, goofing around, one of them lying down on the pavement as sort of a human semi-roadblock, just to show his pals how cool he was.

When asked to move aside and clear some space, the inevitable wisecrack followed. Suffice to say, there was enough of a grass shoulder to avoid any sort of confrontation.

Such is life when schools are closed for the pandemic.

Dogs off leashes on the canal path between Bristol and New Hope used to be our biggest pet peeve.

But now runners who refuse to at least follow basic safety protocols are quickly moving up the list.

It’s simply amazing how many runners and cyclists appear oblivious to signs posted on bridges, etc. They can’t seem to grasp the concept that they aren’t working out in their backyards, they’re exercising in a park funded by taxpayers. A park which has rules.

Look, we know there are so many violators they’ve created their own “herd immunity.’’ It’s like 50 cars doing 80 and passing a speed trap cop car. How’s he going to give out 50 speeding tickets?

So it’s up to each individual to do the right thing.

C’mon, you’re a runner. You show discipline in your training, you take pride in staying in shape and the last thing you need is having to run through a cloud of infectious respiratory droplets from some clown who should have at least some basic knowledge of our situation.

Be considerate and go to sleep at night knowing you did your part to make the running world a better place.



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About Wayne Fish 2451 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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