Gravel grates on trail runners

CHIPS OF CONTENTION: Parts of a running trail at MacRitchie Reservoir have been paved with gravel chips, drawing the ire of trail runners who prefer to run on natural terrain.


    Nov 29, 2013

    Gravel grates on trail runners

    THEY want nature, in all its rugged glory, and not a sanitised version.

    Trail runners are upset that two segments of a trail at MacRitchie Reservoir have been laid with gravel chips.

    Claiming that there was already a shortage of natural trails here, some told MyPaper that they were irked by the changes the National Parks Board (NParks) has made to one in the western part of the reservoir.

    They said that the gravelled segments - a first they have seen there - are artificial, and rankle with those that enjoy the sport. MyPaper understands that the segments are about 800m long in total.

    Mr Wong Tuan Wah, Nparks' director of conservation, said: "As some parts of the MacRitchie nature trails have eroded, we recently laid gravel in those areas."

    He explained that NParks carries out "regular maintenance works on trails in the interest of public safety".

    The trails in MacRitchie Reservoir made the news in September, when retiree Larry Quah proposed that a path there be cleared after he tripped over a stone and cracked two ribs. Netizens slammed his suggestion, telling him to leave the nature trail alone.

    Back then, NParks had said it is "not feasible to remove all the rocks and cut all branches and roots of trees along a trail in a nature reserve".

    Adventure racing coach Wilson Low, who runs at the reservoir about thrice a month, estimates that the gravel chips were laid down about two weeks ago.

    He said: "Smoothening out the trail with gravel means that runners will experience a very sanitised version of nature."

    The 30-year-old added: "Already, there are so few of such natural running trails in Singapore. Why destroy it?"

    Mr Ford Lim, 26, founder of running community Ultra-running Singapore, called the move by NParks "disappointing".

    It was the original trail, with its loose rocks and ruggedness, that appealed to like-minded trail runners, he said. "A lot of us are not going back there to run anymore."

    Others like Mr Lexxus Tan, 41, a full-time trainer with the F1 Runners' Team, said: "(On natural terrain), you need to look and think carefully where you step. But with the trail so smooth now, all the challenge is gone."

    But at least one trail runner, Mr Joe Chua, 37, said he does not think the change is such a big deal: "Hopefully, after six months or so, the gravel chips will be covered by soil and runoffs again."