The Ann Arbor Marathon was back this year, with a good turnout, and the threatened rain politely held off until the afternoon. Good news for runners, and especially the staff: if you think running in the rain for hours is no fun, just try standing around in it. Either way, the Green Team was there to make sure we’d be environmentally friendly!
What’s one way to clean up Ann Arbor? Hold a marathon!
For this year’s Ann Arbor Marathon, the Zero Waste effort not only left the start/finish area cleaner than we found it, we did the same with the course! From a Saturday plog to a true team effort on Sunday, we “greened up” our fair city, taking trash off the streets and parks, and recycling and composting race waste– a total of over 900 pounds! Read on to see the photos and learn how we did it.
A beautiful run through “Tree Town” should include good environmental practices. And so it did! Read on to see how despite some challenges, the total landfill waste could be lifted with one finger!
Date: March 26, 2017
Event company: Epic Races, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Downtown Ann Arbor, MI
# Attendees: 2,500 runners + staff + spectators
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 4
The Ann Arbor Marathon is a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon that takes place in downtown Ann Arbor and surrounding neighborhoods. Despite a chilly and rainy forecast, a large number of enthusiastic runners showed up and sprinted past Happy Planet Running’s “Ground Zero” sorting station on Main Street about one mile into their various races.
The rain held off until about 10:30, but conditions deteriorated steadily afterwards. By early afternoon, everything and everyone was wet and cold. And the Zero Waste effort was short by two key volunteers. Final cleanup promised to be no fun whatever – but it was a walk on the beach compared to what I found the next day!
The Original Ann Arbor Turkey Trot takes place at Hudson Mills Metropark, on a paved path with some challenging slow climbs. Runners can choose the 5K, 10K, or the “Iron Turkey” option for those brave enough to run both. There is also a one-mile kids run and a 200-yard dash for the youngest runners.
The post-race area had a smaller “footprint” than previous years. We set up food, awards, and the Zero Waste Station on the concrete patio near the park building rather than out on the grass. It was a good choice on a cold morning with rain expected.
The Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, a half-marathon put on by the Ann Arbor Track Club (AATC), has been held annually since 1974 and draws thousands of runners each year. As with any event that size, it generates a lot of waste.
In 2018 AATC approved a Zero Waste initiative for the race, and landfill waste was cut from several thousand pounds to just 28, and just 23 pounds in 2019. Happy Planet Running was proud to be a part of this effort. In its newsletter, the “Rundown” the club recently recognized and applauded the program. See the excerpt below. Great stuff!
What a year! 41 events supported, and an average landfill diversion rate of over 95 percent with no waste sent to incineration. According to the Zero Waste International Alliance, and as a commonly used definition, a diversion rate of over 90 percent is considered “zero waste.”
Many thanks to my clients RF Events, Epic Races, the Ann Arbor Track Club and others, who have made the additional investments to recycle, compost, and reduce event waste rather than send it all to landfill. And the athletes appreciate it too, as evidenced by the thanks and support we get from them at every event.
Thanks also to TerraCycle, whose Zero Waste Boxes and programs allow us to recycle many things we’d normally have to throw away, such as Gu wrappers, disposable gloves, party supplies, hand warmers, and much more.
See below for highlights and lots of juicy data for those of you who like numbers like I do. And if you want to see more, check out the sustainability reports on this website. The 2019 events are all there!
It was a beautiful morning, and runners were out in force for the annual 13.1-mile jaunt along the Huron River from Dexter to Ann Arbor. This was great news for the Ann Arbor Track Club and local businesses.
But could the Zero Waste team stay of top of the festivities and repeat last year’s 98 percent landfill diversion? Not without a few bumps in the road – like almost having nowhere to put a thousand pounds of banana peels and pizza boxes. How did we manage it? Find out below?
While I was holding down a Zero Waste station last weekend, someone approached me holding a small bag of dog poop and looking confused. “I can’t find a trash bin anywhere,” he told me.
I assured him that was the idea.
For this was Trail Marathon Weekend, which has been Zero Waste since 2016, and we don’t generate enough trash to need a bin. The bag went into a 5-gallon pail, which comfortably held all the landfill waste from the entire two-day event. And this year we went cupless, too! How did that go? Read on!