MARATHON: Should you be faced with the scenario, how would you likely spend your time during COVID-19 quarantine? Relax and do very little? Watch an endless amount of TV? Catch-up on current affairs, box-sets and movies? Learn a new language? Read a series of books? Write a book even?
For Phuket resident Naruttama “Nick” Jarat the answer was none of the above. Instead he decided to take a leaf out of Forrest Gump’s book and run. And run. Then run some more.
Nick, 37, recently spent two weeks in quarantine at a hotel in Bangkok after he and fellow crew members had delivered a yacht to a customer based in the Philippines.
Faced with the daily restriction of his hotel room’s four walls and the ensuing boredom this would bestow on such an active character, Nick decided to use his time as productively as possible by conitnuing his hobby of running. In total he had amassed more than 140km by the time his quarantine ended.
Nick and the crew left Phuket on Dec 4 and sailed their client’s 115-foot boat to Manila, arriving on Dec 17. The client had invited friends for a nine day cruise which took in island hopping, snorkelling and New Year’s Eve celebrations at sea. Nick worked onboard as the head chef.
They flew back to Bangkok on Jan 19 after a mix-up with the initial immigration stamps in Manila meant they had to stay aboard the boat until the situation was resolved and they could leave the country.
On returning to Thailand, Nick and three of his colleagues stayed at the Radisson hotel in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit 13 where they served their mandatory quarantine, paying B43,000 for the two-week stay.
Managing to see out the first day ok, Nick knew he would very soon get restless. However, that same day a friend who had recently undertaken quarantine in New Zealand messaged him to say she had run 10km one day in her hotel room in a bid to pass the time.
A keen runner since a youngster, this was a light-bulb moment for Nick who decided to not just emulate his friend’s feat but to take a it a step or two further.
“On my second day of quarantine I ran 15km, non-stop,” Nick told The Phuket News.
“The room was relatively small but I was able to run back-and-forth in the corridor from the front door to the window, using my watch and running app on my phone to track the distance and time.
“I made sure I had water and fruit to hand so I could grab it when needed and not interupt my running, which I did barefooted. I completed that first run in one hour and thirty minutes.”
Nick then staggered a further nine runs across his remaining 12 days of quarantine, running an impressive 144km in total.
“I managed 20km on day 8 in 1 hour 49 minutes,” he beamed.
“Although day 10 was my highlight – I managed 42km that day in 3 hours and 55 minutes!”
Nick said the manner in which the quaratine was handled by hotel staff was very professional.
“We had to remain in our room without exception for the first five days,” Nick said. “We had temperature checks twice a day during that time, once in the morning, once in the evening.
“After five days we took the mandatory COVID swab test and were then allowed to go onto the roof of the hotel for fresh air but were not permitted to use any of the facilities such as the gym or pool. That’s why I took to running in my room,” he added.
“I’ve always been an active person,” Nick said. “When I was a child I walked 3km to school every day for years. I took up running seriously when I was 31.”
He also inspired one of his fellow quarantine mates to take up the activity, although he did not achieve anywhere near the kind of distance that Nick accomplished.
“Even a small amount of exercise is better than nothing during quarantine,” he said. “I would find it very challenging to be so inactive for that length of time.”
On arriving back in Phuket post-quarantine, Nick immediately took to the streets of his Pa Klok neighbourhood for a 14km run.
Did he find it strange running once again in a more familiar or natural environment?
“Actually I did, yes,” he replied. “The one thing I did notice when running in the room is how much more focused you become – there are no distractions or potential dangers that are presented when on the streets such as traffic, other people, etc.”
It was that laser focus generated in his hotel room in Bangkok that allowed Nick to breeze through his quarantine and not be at all desuaded if he had to do it again.
“We are waiting on the finalisation of a contract with a client which would mean delivering another boat to the Philippines,” Nick said.
“I would be more than happy to take on quarantine again if necessary.
“It would be a great opportunity for me to beat my personal best,” he concluded with a smile.
Nick is part of a 25-strong running group that regularly meet and take on routes in the Pa Klok area. Anyone interested in joining in the fun can contact him on 091-154-4569 or Naruttama4569@gmail.com
Nick’s quarantine-run breakdown was as follows:
Day 2: 15km, 1hr 30mins
Day 4: 21km, 2hr 5mins
Day 6: 7km, 40 mins
Day 7: 11km, 1hr 2mins
Day 8: 20km, 1hr 49mins
Day 10: 42km, 3hr 55mins
Day 11: 11km, 1hr
Day 12: 15km, 1hr 30mins
Day 13: 11km, 1 hr
Day 14: 1hr, 2mins