Balap Karung

A traditional game that is usually played to fill events with crowds or at special celebrations. In general, the game is held in the afternoon or in the evening. Its position actually has not changed from the Dutch era until today. As a secondary event, it is not a ritual, but more to enlightening the atmosphere, both for celebrations for adults and children.  

Back in the day in villages and elementary schools, during celebrations, children or students would play “balap karung” (sack race) together. In general, they were boys aged 6-12 years old. Sometimes, adults would also participate, but just for fun. They came from various social groups. As a form of entertainment, the most obvious elements were competition, humor and joy. The winner would usually receive a special, but simple prize because there was a committee. During the race, there would be funny times because of the actions of the participants who experienced difficulty in running quickly in a sack such as getting back up after falling. The audience would cheer loudly and laugh their heads off.   

In the beginning, sack races were limited to certain circles, celebrations and venues such as schools, villages or public courts. However, in its next phase, it was also played in offices involving all types of people such as adults, women, men, employees, university students and many others. The arena used for this race had to be around 20 meters long and 3-4 meters wide divided into 4 or 5 lanes. Rice sacks would be prepared and children or adults would go into them. At times, some of the sacks were too small or too big. Some reached stomach length or chest length. It depended on the height of the participant and the length of the rice sack. This sack race did not need to be accompanied by music or other noise, except for cheers from the audience.

The rules for the race are simple. Participants just have to stay in their sacks. Some jump with two feet, take slow steps, or run normally. Most people jump. It is normal to see participants fall, get up quickly and continue the race until the finish line. Participants are not allowed to collide with each other or block paths. Because this race leans more towards humor, the participants compete for fun while trying to win. To start the race, there is a referee at the finish line and the committee would make the final decision.