Bay to Beacon is a new race (second year) along Lake Huron in Alcona County. The main event is a point-to-point half marathon from Negwegon State Park to Sturgeon Point Lighthouse. A 5K and 10K are also offered, starting and finishing at the lighthouse.
With such a picturesque and unspoiled setting, it’s only natural that the race should be environmentally friendly. And so when Joe, the race director, asked if we could make his event Zero Waste, I said sure.
My fellow Green Team member was Meagen Schwartz, founder of Great Lakes Great Responsibility, a nonprofit focused on keeping trash out of the Great Lakes. She’ll take over Zero Waste at the race next year, so I showed her my system and most likely told her a lot more than she needed to know. (I can wax rather eloquently about trash.)
The sustainability effort began on Friday night with packet pickup and a pancake dinner at the farm owned by Joe’s parents, which included the farm’s blueberries in the batter and on the side. A single table with a couple of All Waste boxes did the job.
Saturday morning I set up at the half marathon start at Negwegon. Only a few cups and Gu packets were collected, so I was able to relocate to Sturgeon Point very quickly and set up the main Zero Waste station. The lighthouse park is a real hidden gem which includes a beach, log schoolhouse, and an outdoor display of pieces of ships dating back to the 1860s. Meagen and I collected water cups and banana peels, and enjoyed coffee and homemade cookies.
Along the route were six water stops, staffed by cheerful teams of people, sometimes in costume. It was fun to drive by them on the way and shout support to the runners. Unlike most races this year, there were plenty of volunteers, and spectators along the route waving and cheering. To their small community this race was a big deal – not something you always see back home.
Just one little “oops” occurred with the selection of materials; the use of waxed paper plates for the pancake dinner, non-recyclable due to syrup and blueberry stains. Replace them with compostable plates next time, and invest in a TerraCycle box for the specialty items, and there will be hardly any landfill at all.
I had a lot of fun working this race, and it can remain sustainable very easily. Many thanks to Joe, Meagen, and the rest of the Bay to Beacon team for their desire to make the race sustainable.