Epic Races kicked off its 2023 season on a beautiful April Sunday morning with the Ann Arbor Goddess, an event that has raises money for women-focused charities. And once again, Congressional representative Debbie Dingell was handling out medals at the finish line. With multi-generational attendance, it was that much more important to set an example of good environmental stewardship, and the Green Team was up to the task.
This year’s race had some new features. First, a new venue, as much of downtown Ann Arbor is torn up for road refurbishing. The start was near the entrance to Gallup Park, with the race course going along the Border-to-Border Trail through the park and back onto Fuller Road, with finish line and post-race activities at Huron High School. And a 10K race option was added to the traditional 5K and kids run.
We set up a single Zero Waste Station next to the food tables. And unlike Corktown, the high sign stayed up! Two cardboard bins were placed just after the finish line to capture cups consumed immediately, which were checked regularly and rotated out as needed.
Post-race food included pancakes, egg & cheese wraps, cookies, and bananas. The plates and forks were compostable as usual, and the cups were plain paper, making them either compostable or recyclable. Just a few items – disposable gloves, a few race bibs, zip ties, some small plastics – went to TerraCycle. Landfill, at 2.6 lbs. was mainly aluminum foil used to wrap the wraps to keep them warm, with a bit of tape and some soiled plastic.
Everything went smoothly, with no real issues or hiccups on the Zero Waste end. I even had a surplus of volunteers, so we gave a couple to the food prep team. A nice problem to have! Also, kudos to the water station team, who sorted out the cups from the other waste, making it easier for us to do final sort and collect the data at the event, rather than having me do it afterward at HQ.
About the only recommendation for next year: put out fewer cups at the finish line. We had to pour out and recycle many untouched cups after the final finishers came through. Otherwise, can’t complain! (*)
(*) but sometimes I still do. – Joe Walsh