As more people are turning to running during the coronavirus, pathways and roads in Kampala suburbs are getting harder to navigate.
This is a rapidly developing situation and restrictions might be tightened.
Under normal circumstances, the popular running routes in Kampala and surrounding areas, are rarely packed, usually filled with a few individuals and running clubs.
But ever since gyms closed and lockdown orders were issued to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), Kampala—like most cities and towns across the country—has seen a surge of people seeking fresh air and stress-relieving endorphins with runs, walks, or some cycling.
“There have definitely been more people out running, which is great, and makes sense given that so many other exercise options are closed,” -Emmy a regular fitness expert says- “But in the city, [the crowds] make it difficult to comply with the social distancing guidelines.”
According to guidelines set by President Yoweri Museveni and the government, outdoor activities such as running are fine to continue doing—even during a shelter-in-place mandate—as long as you stay socially distant (six feet away) from others and avoid groups.
When your runs are on remote trails and in small towns, these rules are easier to follow.
But in urban areas with narrow pathways or on popular running trails along certain roads, it’s harder for runners to maneuver and remain a safe distance apart.
Emmy, who often runs loops around the Northern Bypass and Naalya, recently began training on less-frequented trails to avoid the crowds. He has also been running early in the morning when there are fewer people out.
“It’s tempting to push my run to the evening since I have no other conflicting events for the foreseeable future, but I think the peace and quiet of the morning is worth it,” she said.
Even though the roads are slightly quieterat dawn, Emmy still finds herself in “close quarters” with other runners. While passing people doesn’t worry her too much—she goes around quickly and speeds ahead—these interactions, however brief, still raise concerns about spreading the virus.
According to Dr. Alex Kizito, an infectious disease specialist, keeping a six-foot buffer between yourself and fellow runners should help stop the spread of the disease because the virus is transmitted by mucus or saliva droplets that don’t travel very far or linger in the air for a long period of time.
But if runners cough, spit, or snot-rocket on each other, they risk spreading the virus, she told Xclusive UG.
Some people have not been respectful of each other’s space at this time. On the Northern Bypass, a female runner alleged that two men assaulted her after she asked one, a teenager, to keep his distance on the trail.
Thankfully incidents like this haven’t been common.
Social Distancing Rules for Runners
What’s the best way to socially distance and stop the spread of virus on a crowded route or trail? Follow this general advice to keep yourself and others safe—and share it with other runners.
✓Don’t go running if you feel sick. Stay home.
✓Do not gather in groups—seriously.
✓Stay six feet apart if you’re passing another runner.
✓If you regularly can’t pass safely or it’s too crowded, try running at a less popular hour or on a wider route.
✓Don’t spit or snot-rocket around others (gross).
✓Run solo or with someone you live with.
✓Carry your own water and hand sanitizer with you, and wash your hands after you run.
✓If you feel that someone is running too close to you without passing you, kindly ask them to give you more space or let them pass.
✓Avoid touching your face when running, and avoid touching things like handrails or cross-walk signals.
✓If you are nervous about the crowds, stay inside and do some at-home workouts.