A “Spirited” Event: Ugly Dog Tri 2022 Sustainability Report

(Ed. Note: “Ugly Dog” is the name of a distillery in Chelsea which sponsored this event. No dogs were slandered during the running of this race.)

The Ugly Dog Tri is the second event which transitioned this year from Epic Races to Tris4Health, the other being the Waterloo G&G bike race earlier in the year. Thanks to the new event owners for choosing to continue the race’s Zero Waste tradition!

The bike portion takes place on gravel roads and the run is on trails, so it’s grittier and dirtier than the standard triathlon. And post-race food fits the rustic nature, with BBQ from Smokehouse 52 and age group prizes of bottles of Ugly Dog spirits.

Like with many events this year, they were short on volunteers, but one of my new interns (welcome, Rachael!) and I were able to keep everything under control.

Rachael holds down the fort at her first Zero Waste event!

I set up the main station near the finish line and the post-race snack and BBQ tables.  The transition area got All Waste boxes at each exit, policed and swapped out periodically. We temporarily removed park trash cans in the vicinity of the finish area. We left the ones at the beach uncovered, but policed the beach at race start.

Post-race food included bananas, snack bars and cookies in addition to BBQ chicken and pork with chips, mac & cheese, and coleslaw. (That alone would be worth doing the tri, if you ask me.)

One big improvement over the Waterloo G&G bike race earlier this year was the use of compostable “sporks” instead of plastic-wrapped plastic utensil kits. And with no handwashing station near the porta-potties, there was no need for a trash can there. So the dirtiest work was washing out the foil BBQ and mac & cheese pans before they could be recycled. An overnight soak in soapy water reduced subsequent scrubbing to a minimum.

Note the overturned trash cans on the left. A good idea, but still too accessible. At least one turned into a “rogue” that required extra attention.

The only hiccup was the occasional popping up of “rogue” trash cans set out by folks who didn’t quite get yet that the Zero Waste Station and All Waste boxes were supposed to be the only places to dispose of waste. They were removed and sorted, replaced with All Waste boxes where needed.

The biggest contributors to landfill were several hunks of duct tape used for various things, and two diapers. Triathlons tend to be family events, with small kids cheering on parents or older siblings.

Go, Dad! Can we go home now?

Overall, a smoothly run event with another 95+ percent landfill diversion result!

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