Sustainability Report: Scrumpy Skedaddle

Date: October 4, 2020
Event company: RF Events
Where: Almar Orchards, Flushing MI
# Attendees: 400
Zero Waste Team size: 1

It’s been quite a while since Happy Planet Running has had an event to report about. Since February the great majority of running events have been virtual, and the few live events haven’t had much waste – which is not all bad.

There have been any number of logistical challenges to face. How do you keep people safe at a running event during a pandemic? And how to deal with the limits on the number of people who can be gathered in one place?

The good news is that live events are happening, albeit under very different rules and practices than the year before. We’re adapting and adjusting, as people do! When this crisis has passed, and it will pass, it will be interesting to see which adjustments will be discontinued and which will remain because they’re worth keeping.

Read on to see how RF Events put on a safe, fun 5K at Almar Orchards!

Several new practices were put in place to keep everyone safe, while keeping it easy and fun for the runners. Photos at the end.

  • Establishing waves, with 100 people per wave, and 400 total runners.
  • There were no gun starts. Each wave had a window, and anyone in that wave could start at any time in that window.
  • Race bibs and other swag were pre-bagged by bib number. Runners didn’t have to wait in line while it was all collected for them by volunteers. You told someone your bib number, and they handed you your bag.
  • The staggered start meant no long lines in the finish line cider and food tables. Instead of pancakes, they had cider mill donuts bagged and waiting.
  • Two outdoor areas were set up for post-race hanging out. People would be directed to one area or the other, to keep total size at 25 at any one time.
  • Just the 5K course was set up this year, entirely on orchard property, so no road closures were needed. Staggered start also meant reduced need for parking space.

I set up one waste station in each area. No need for the big tent this year, and no need to put anything at the starting line. The registration area did get a bin for recycling and for plastic bags.

Unfortunately, there are no collection stats. I had to leave early to begin a long cross-country drive, so I asked them to take the collected waste to my house and I’d sort it upon my return. Somewhere along the line there was a miscommunication, and it all wound up in the trash. Bummer. We’ll adjust and get that fixed, too.

On the plus side, the draft cider was as good as ever. No way did I want to miss out on it!

Packet pickup. Everything was pre-bagged for the runners. No waiting in line for someone to sort through the bib box and call for your shirt size!
The cider on tap was as awesome as ever, and thanks to the staggered start, there was no massive line for it. And warm, fresh donuts were great, too – and much less waste than with pancakes. Just compostable bags instead of plates, utensils, napkins, and such.
Re-use of many things is understandably on hold right now, but this is still possible!
Very simple waste station setup.
There were two post-race gathering areas. Traffic was switched every 25 people. Never got too crowded.
Runners on their way to the start (background) and finished (foreground).
The course was entirely on the orchard grounds. No need to close roads. Possible due to staggered start and cap on total runners (400). Note also the sanitizer station.