In recent years, themed run（主題路跑） has become one of the most popular events throughout the world. For instance, “The Color Run”（彩色路跑）has been held in more than 50 countries worldwide. Inspired by the ideas and successful experiences, the number of themed runs in Taiwan has been growing rapidly since 2013. There are many different kinds of themed runs, such as The Color Run, Zombie Run（殭屍路跑）, The Light Run（夜光路跑）, and so forth. The introduction of themed run is actually a game changer, brining new life and energy to the running community. According to the statistics made by the Runners’ Plaza（路跑廣場）, the number of running campaigns held in 2014 in Taiwan, compared to 2013, has raised from 200 to 447. With the increasing numbers, new themed runs are constantly held in this trend.
The purpose of themed run is to bring joy to people rather than racing for medals. Just like the slogan of The Color Run, “The Happiest 5k On The Planet”, most of the themed runs are designed to be interesting. Participants are often encouraged to put on costumes or accessories that are in accordance with the theme, and the tracks would also be decorated.
Themed run is especially favored by younger generations. Chih-ming Yang（楊芝珉）, a student of Shih Hsin University, stated that regular running to her, was monotonus with the same view and pattern all the time. However, after she joined the XOO street run（街頭路跑）, she has realized that running could also be different with various themes. Moreover, it provides her an opportunity to make friends with each other. She also said that she knows quite a few people, who have been keeping their habit of running after experiencing the fun, friendliness and changeable style in street run.
Nevertheless, there are always two sides on a coin. Li-an Tang（湯立安）, a resident by Jingmei riverbank where running events are often held at, said “The idea of themed run, making people find the passion in running, is good. However, the problem of pollution and noise must also be taken into account.” It worries him that it would jeopardize the living quality for local residents, especially senior citizens.
Is Road Running Unpopular in Taiwan?
Many kinds of road running events and even lots of international marathons held in Taiwan receive fewer supports. The main reason is that most people think their daily lives are influenced by these events as the roads are usually blocked and a lot of trash scattered around after these events which cause some traffic and environmental concerns. “We usually prepare thoroughly and submit traffic maintenance plans to the government before every single road running event and marathon; including roadmap, traffic control schedule, the number of staff members and police officers needed… and so on.
Although road running is a trend in recent years in Taiwan, the group still remains a minority. In terms of environmental protection, government will run inspections after each event.” Chang-wen Chen（陳長文）, the group leader of the race in Chinese Taipei Road Running Association, said “The safety of runners and traffic controlling and management are the important things cared about by the public.”Chen added, “Whether we hold road runs or marathons, we will set up food stations and emergency health stations at the appropriate distance. Moreover, there are many staff members and cars patrolling along the tracks, assisting those in need right on the spot.”
“XOO” Street Run Explores Taipei's Every Corner
On average, 600 long distanced running events are held each year in Taiwan, among which the themes and topics of these events are miscellaneous and have become a trend at the current moment. Winter is also the peak season for the events, in which there are at least 1/5 of the total 600 events held every year. Since it was created by Chieh Hu（胡杰）, “XOO” street run（街頭路跑）has shuttled through the roads and streets in Taipei City for two and a half years. The groups are still in their expansion.
Chieh Hu sticks to the motto of “Go city, mini travel.” By definition, it means that one should explore every corner in the city by foot. It can be compared to Confucius’s travel to different states in China or the Monkey King’s Journey to the West. He explained, “Compared to reading, long-distance running event seems more interesting as it is a way of exploring one’s life.
According to Taiwan Environmental Information Center’s report, every runner from each running event uses up to 16 plastic cups per run, estimated for about 2 million garbage units are produced a year from these events. To avoid excessive garbage release and reduce harm to the environment, more and more themed runs start using eco-bottle and no longer supply plastic cups along the way. In addition to eco-bottles, runners begin to realize the problem and come up with the “One cup per run.” plan, simply by clipping the plastic cup on to the identity card.
Different from other running events which often have some garbage littered around, such as plastic cups, props, foam…and so on, the XOO street run hardly pollutes the environment. “We always encourage people to simply top up 300NTD in Easy Card, get on the MRT then we can begin the run. If we feel thirsty, we go to convenience stores to get some water. There have not been any recycling problems from our group.” Chieh Hu explained.
For safety issues, one staff would have to take care of 5 runners. The number of participants per run is decided by the width and space of each street. The XOO is not about speed, but about running for pleasure, for meeting various people, and for appreciating natural sceneries and the precious companionship. Running can bring many benefits to you, giving you energy and strength. Reaching milestones helps build up one’s endurance when facing barriers. With different themed runs, we not only improve our physical momentum, but also, learn how to help others and love the environment.