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Is a Jogging Ban in Sierra Leone for Safety or to Suppress Opposition?

Many runners worry the new ban will disrupt what has become an important part of their exercise routine.

Abu Bakarr Suma, a computer and phone technician in Freetown, said he realized about two years ago that he had put on too much weight and decided to start exercising. At first, he would run for about 20 minutes, just around his neighborhood.

But by joining a running group he has built up his endurance so that he can jog for as long as two hours, and he has lost weight as a result.

“No one is left behind when you run in groups,” Mr. Suma said. “The singing, clapping and the music keep you going.”

The destination for Mr. Suma and most runners in Freetown is a road skirting Aberdeen Beach, a spot that on most Sunday mornings looks like an open-air gym. The sand is dotted with weight lifters, soccer players and volleyball matches, as well as young children taking long walks with their parents.

Mr. Suma’s running group starts off with about 20 men and women, but as they go, others typically join in, and by the time they arrive at the Aberdeen roundabout, just before the main beach, the group has grown to more than 60 people.

Now that street jogging has been banned, Mr. Suma and his running mates plan to register their group as a social club, which can be an expensive and time-consuming process. But they hope to obtain police clearance for members to jog on the streets again soon.

“I don’t know if that will work,” Mr. Suma said. “But even if it works for us, there are others who may not have the means to register their group. That means their freedom will be limited.”

Source: NYT > World

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