I was out driving just the other day, at around 6:30 pm. And I was amazed at the transformation that the quiet streets of the city undergo at this time. For this is the time that belongs to one group of people; too early for the boy racers and streetwalkers, yet too late for the workers and commuters. No, this is the (excuse the cliché) twilight zone, which belongs to the joggers. They come out in hordes, young, old, fit, fat, tall, thin, all sorts. It is uncanny. I was so stunned by this phenomenon that started a detailed study of these people trying to sort out who they are, and I think I finally categorised them all.
Equipment Boy - Almost (yet not always) male, Equipment Boy runs slowly and only for short distances. He really really wants to become a stud, and thinks his chances getting fit will be improved if he wears spandex shorts, a heart monitor, new trainers a sweat band and sports a new drink bottle. His chances of actually achieving his goal are as realistic as expecting that beer in the fridge with your name on it to not be drunk by your flatmate.
Power Walker - This is the style most often adopted by the yuppies and other young professionals. It's not strictly jogging, it deserves a mention. Most often found at parks and central city.
Scruffy Jogger - These joggers stick usually to back streets and suburban areas. Without any of the money of Equipment Boy, Scruffy Jogger also longs to become fit. He thinks that by appearing in the most hideous and ragged clothes he will scare off the calories. Scruffy Jogger doesn't as much "run" as "shuffle" along giving him the appearance of the ill-dressed and shambley zombies from a B-grade horror film.
Speed Jogger - This breed doesn't as much "jog" as "sprint". These joggers rarely run very far, and while they look quite impressive, there is a serious lack of forethought and Speed Jogger almost always overrates his abilities, and can often morph into either Equipment Boy or Scruffy Jogger depending of what Speed Jogger is wearing.
Oops Jogger - This breed of jogger is the unintended runner, often found in inappropriate clothes; jeans, suit etc. They are often seen around town and, if you know what you're looking for (despite their best efforts, an Oops Jogger is quite easy to spot in a meeting, they will usually arrive "just" in time, and a tad out of breath). They are also quite commonly found on their way to florists, if so you can invariably start a conversation with "Birthday or girlfriend?" (if the answer ever comes back "Both" be warned, there will be a small nuclear explosion in the city soon - start digging).
Social Jogger - Found in packs, social jogger can range in speed and fitness levels. Usually the friendliest of all jogger sub-species a kindly word or a nod is all you need to illicit a "G'day mate" or "Nice evening for it" from a Social Jogger.
Sometimes too there are mixed breed species of jogger. These are often the most dangerous of all joggers, and if identified, should be avoided at all costs. The worst combinations that can occur are invariably the "Opps Power Walker" (a vicious breed devoid of all manners and social graces they will bustle, barge and bump their way through crowds and nothing will stop them short of their goal) but they still pale compared to... The absolute worst inbred jogger however (and God help you if you meet one) is a "Social Equipment Boy" that has been separated from the pack. This jogger will haunt you for weeks if you are stupid enough to lead him to your home, and he will attempt to assimilate you into his social mix by four hour demonstrations of how great his gear is, interjected occasionally with comments about the ever increasing cost of his gear and how wonderful his life is now he jogs.
Warning - Social Equipment Boy is contagious, and if you feel yourself slipping into his cult, or see any of your friends doing so, you must act quickly, only a severe dose of fish'n'chips followed by a long night in watching violent sports you don't even understand can halt the onset of this disease.
Run The Planet thanks Varsity.co.nz (www.varsity.co.nz) for the permission to reprint the article "They only come out at night...". Illustration copyright © 2003 by Run The Planet.