Happy Planet Running

Run a great race. Leave no trace.



Grin and Beer It: Oberun 5K Sustainability Report

If you “beer it” they will come…

The Oberun – a beer party with a 5K thrown in – takes place at Wiard’s Orchards in Ypsilanti. The always-popular event hadn’t been run since 2019, for reasons we’re all aware of, but people hadn’t forgotten what a good time it is. And once again, beer sales went to benefit the Border-to-Border Trail. As a frequent user of said trail, I was all too happy to be part of this event.

We set up the main Zero Waste station in the center of the party area, and another station at each of the two entrances/exits. We used 96-gallon bins for beer cans and compostables, and pails or smaller cardboard bins for snack wrappers, water bottles, and specialty items (loose bottle caps, race bibs, etc.).

As expected, once the 1,600-plus runners finished, things got hot and heavy for the Green Team. Fortunately, one of my staffers brought along a volunteer (thanks, Meredith!) so with her, me, Rachael, and Debbie, we had just enough people to keep up with the rush.

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Pterodactyl Tri 2022 Sustainability Report

The Pterodactyl is the third sprint triathlon in the RF Events T-Rex series. As the course and event area is the same for all of them, the Zero Waste setup and servicing has become pretty routine. The biggest challenge remains getting there during rush hour traffic on Wednesday afternoons.

As usual, the main Zero Waste station was between the registration and volunteer tents, with a small second station in the post-race party area. All Waste boxes were put at the two transition area entrances/exits and swapped out when needed.

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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!
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Flirt with Dirt 2022 Sustainability Report

Here’s a report from Ellen of Pink Elephant Events, who graciously covered Zero Waste for me at the Flirt with Dirt trail races earlier this year. Thanks, Ellen, and great job!

One reason for the low overall waste total was that this race is cupless, part of the RF Events commitment to sustainability through reuse and waste reduction as well as recycling. Do you know a race that could do the same? Send them here to learn how!

Do you have a wedding, concert, or other event in the metro Detroit area and want it to be sustainable? Give Pink Elephant a call!

Red, White, Blue, and Green! 2022 Firecracker 5K Sustainability Report

After a year at Briarwood Mall, this year’s July 4 Firecracker 5K returned to Fourth and Liberty (!) in downtown Ann Arbor. Also back, per tradition, was the hot dog division (eat four hot dogs in 76 seconds, then run the 5K), and a Twinkie division, too. Fortunately, there were no “cleanup on Liberty Street!” events, and the Zero Waste team took care of everything else waste-related.

Featuring the mighty Larry O’ (second from left), in his usual role as kids run leader, followed by “eat and run” in the hot dog suit. A braver man than I! Also note the reusable aluminum cups the athletes used to dunk the dogs.
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Lobster-ific! Triceratops Tri 2022 Sustainability Report

The Triceratops is the second sprint triathlon in the RF Events T-Rex series. And as with the first one (the Stegosaurus), the weather was perfect and things went smoothly. The worst trouble I had was fighting the traffic on US-23 trying to get to the Island Lake State Rec Area. On a weekday afternoon (the races are always on Wednesday), you’d better get there early.

I set up the usual main Zero Waste station between the registration and volunteer tents. After race start I set up the satellite station in the post-race party area. All Waste boxes were put at the two transition area entrances/exits, which were swapped out when needed.

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Tri Goddess Tri 2022 Sustainability Report

A perfect morning at Portage Lake for a swim/bike/run, or variations thereof. And it was fun seeing all the kids out there supporting their moms!

We set up the Zero Waste station near the food and beer tents, and put All Waste boxes at each end of transition, swapping them out now and then. We removed the trash bin near the play area for the duration of the event.

Post-race food was egg and cheese wraps, pancakes, bananas, ice cream bars, and cups of salad. Plates and forks were compostable. Bearclaw Coffee supplied hot and cold drinks in compostable containers, and the beer and hard seltzer were served in cans.

Landfill consisted of the foil used to wrap the breakfast burritos and ice cream wrappers, with a bit of small plastic pull-off tabs from the ankle tags. We were able to recycle or compost everything else, including cable ties, race bibs, and snack bag and Gu wrappers, thanks to TerraCycle.

I had one volunteer to assist, who did a great job. Thanks, Yichen!

Not much else to report. Everything went “swimmingly” well!

A “Wonder-ful” Event: Canton Liberty Run 2022 Sustainability Report

A perfect day to run the RF Events Liberty run at Heritage Park in Canton. Runners could choose a 5K, or 10K, or both (the Liberty Slam), and enjoy the rest of the Liberty Festival afterward. And Wonder Woman sang the national anthem!

The Zero Waste station was set up near the finish line, where the post race food – bananas, chips, and cookies – were handed out. Total waste was way down from previous years. Part of that was due to lower attendance, but the adjusted total (waste per 100 runners) is trending down as well. Good stuff there.

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Zero Waste Four Years Running! 2022 Dexter-Ann Arbor Run Sustainability Report

This year’s Dexter-Ann Arbor Run was back at its normal date of early June, with increased attendance and a perfect day for running. And for the fourth consecutive year, we achieved over 96 percent landfill diversion, qualifying it per ZWIA [1] guidelines as a true “Zero Waste” event! (90% Diversion is considered Excellent and 95% is considered World Class.)

Waste streams included:

  • Cardboard, plastic wrap and water bottles from the finish line;
  • Disposable cups from the aid stations and food tents;
  • Food waste and pizza boxes from the food tents;
  • PPE (disposable gloves and masks), and hundreds of Stinger and Gu wrappers, which all went to TerraCycle along with small plastics and race bibs.

Landfill was mainly tape, medical waste, and vinyl tablecloths used on the food tables. Overall, 1,174.4 lbs. of waste was generated at the start lines, aid stations and finish line / food tent areas. The 21.8 lbs. total landfill is our lowest to date.

As we expected a small number of morning volunteers, we set up just one staffed Zero Waste station on Main St. across from the food pavilion. Like last year, we set out “All Waste” boxes on tables and the Green Team did the sorting.

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