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Happy Planet Running

Run a great race. Leave no trace.

Author

RunBikeThrow

By day, I'm a mild-mannered Director of Training at a software company in Ann Arbor, MI. By night - I sleep, mostly. In between, I do other things I feel the need to write about. Check out fitnessat50.net to view my thoughts on running, cycling, Aikido, and other things that keep me going.

Ugly Dog Triathlon Sustainability Report

It was hard to tell who enjoyed Saturday’s Ugly Dog Triathlon more – the athletes, or the mosquitoes. Thanks to two weeks of wet weather, the little buggers were out in force, as were some bees. But the Epic Races staff persevered and pulled off another great event!

The race followed the same format as last time (2019), with several duathlon/triathlon options offered, and the post-race food was the same – pancakes, egg & cheese wraps, bananas, and “puppy chow” Chex-style treats. Missing this year was the Ugly Dog Distillery offerings, except for tiny bottles as (over 21) age group awards. However, the Zero Waste strategy was quite different.

Instead of several stations in the area, we continued the new method of a single large Zero Waste Station near the food tent, with boxes for “all waste” on tables, to be sorted by the Green Team.

Transition had a pail at each end, and the finish line had a bag for plastic wrap from medals and cases of water bottles. The food tent also had its own “all waste” box, which was periodically swapped out by the Green Team. The team taking down transition at the end of the event got a dedicated pail for cut tie wraps (used to secure the fencing to its poles).

Overall waste was down from 2019, most notable in landfill, which dropped from 6 pounds to 0.6 pounds – ten percent of the 2019 total!

In another change, park trash cans were not covered. However, the Green Team checked nearby ones and retrieved waste that was clearly from the race, mainly banana peels, water bottles, and Gu wrappers. With these changes, one person was enough to get everything done. With a lot of help from the local insects, of course.

Island Lake Tri Sustainability Report

A beautiful day for a triathlon, from mini-sprint to Olympic distance, at the Island Lake Rec Area. And with restrictions lifted, nearly 500 athletes turned out. And the classic Epic Races food was back, with pancakes, breakfast burritos, candy, and even ice cream. The Zero Waste effort would be put to the test!

We set up a single main station where people put all their waste on a table, to be sorted by the Green Team. Due to the course layout, we had to set it up a bit farther from the post-race food tent and gathering area. So we put a couple of “all waste” bins in that area and periodically took them to the main station for sorting. Transition waste was minimal – just a few paper cups and small trash.

For most of the event, everything went smoothly. We got a bit jammed at the end, leaving some bags to be sorted after the event. Many thanks to Epic staff member Alise, who cheerfully pitched in and stayed late to lighten my load. One other help was using the half-size disposable water bottles, which reduced recycling volume and saved time emptying out the half-full ones.

Landfill waste was a bit heavier than usual, due in part to food-soiled aluminum foil and ice cream wrappers, aided by the park’s removal of their own trash cans. So we ended up with several diapers and even a raw chicken breast! Not sure why anyone would bring that, let alone an athlete. One of life’s little mysteries.

Still, we achieved over 90 percent landfill diversion! Report is below. (Click to enlarge.)

The New Running Reality: Scrumpy Skedaddle 2020

Sustainability Report: Scrumpy Skedaddle

Date: October 4, 2020
Event company: RF Events
Where: Almar Orchards, Flushing MI
# Attendees: 400
Zero Waste Team size: 1

It’s been quite a while since Happy Planet Running has had an event to report about. Since February the great majority of running events have been virtual, and the few live events haven’t had much waste – which is not all bad.

There have been any number of logistical challenges to face. How do you keep people safe at a running event during a pandemic? And how to deal with the limits on the number of people who can be gathered in one place?

The good news is that live events are happening, albeit under very different rules and practices than the year before. We’re adapting and adjusting, as people do! When this crisis has passed, and it will pass, it will be interesting to see which adjustments will be discontinued and which will remain because they’re worth keeping.

Read on to see how RF Events put on a safe, fun 5K at Almar Orchards!

Continue reading “The New Running Reality: Scrumpy Skedaddle 2020”

We’re Still Here!

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had an event to work. But Happy Planet Running is still here! And when racing resumes, so will my work to keep events as Zero Waste as possible.

The last event I helped with, the Super 5K in February, seems like it happened years ago. Now it’s a different world, and who really knows what lies ahead post-pandemic.

One casualty has been recycling. While curbside collections have continued in my area, the dropoff centers were closed for a while, and are just now starting to reopen to the public. Some items, like Styrofoam, need to be taken there, so it was piling up in my garage until recently.

We’ve seen another reversal away from reusables to disposables, with the banning of reusable bags at many stores. Some are using paper, but big stores like Meijer offer only plastic bags. And coffee shops are dispensing into disposable cups only. Fortunately I have ways to recycle or compost these items, but in general it means more trash going to landfill, or ending up by the side of the road. Hopefully we can return to reusables in the future.

Good news on the compost side, however – the two commercial composting facilities in my area remained open, with some adjustments and restrictions, so when events restart we’ll be able to process food waste and other organics as usual.

And the Ann Arbor Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), three years after its shutdown, is  going to be updated and reopened! This is terrific news. Currently, the recyclables collected by Recycle Ann Arbor are trucked to Cincinnati for processing. Having this done at our local MRF means a lower carbon footprint and they can charge for processing materials instead of paying someone else to.

I’m also working on some new guidelines for hosting a Zero Waste event, and developing a way to recognize smaller events who can’t afford formal certification for their hard work.

So while there may not be any events at present, things are happening! Stay tuned to this website for updates.

Getting On and Taking Advantage

A warm welcome to the readers of RunBikeThrow, my blog, and Happy Planet Running, my Zero Waste business website. I hope you are well and staying safe through all this.

The RBT family – me, my wife Joyce, and my daughters and their partners, and my siblings and their families, are all fine and doing their best to get on with the business of life while taking the appropriate precautions. I’m fortunate that while Happy Planet Running is on hold with the event companies, I have important work to do at my office job, as does my wife at her job, and we are both able to work from home.

It’s been a strange couple of weeks, as normally at this time I’m very busy with March races, or planning the April ones, in addition to everything else that goes with an active professional life. It feels odd to wake up in the morning with nowhere to go, no people to meet, no group runs, and no events to support.

And I’m not alone here. Last weekend I was talking with the race director of a local 5K that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day. “Normally at this time my phone would be ringing constantly with people mad at me about something,” he told me. “You know, I miss the stress.” As do I, to a point.

And yet, haven’t all of us busy people secretly (or not) wished for a break from so many responsibilities? To have time with our spouses and kids? To cook more at home? To finally finish that side project, or work on our Great American Novels? I sure have. And here it is.

So we’ve been taking advantage of this enforced isolation. We are cooking more. We’re going on walks together. I’m finally able to organize my business stuff, and clean out some closets. And yes, I am actually working on a novel. One I started years ago and finally decided it was time to get done.

The world we live in right this moment wouldn’t support the story I’m telling, but dammit, we’ll get through this, and although our world may be transformed in ways we don’t fully grasp yet, I have faith that people will be able to gather again, and celebrate together, and do all those things we 21st century people do.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll be a little more compassionate toward each other, appreciate our common ground and respect our differences, and better understand how precious is every human life.

My best wishes to you all, and I hope to see you at the races someday soon!

Jeff

Ann Arbor Track Club Salutes Zero Waste at its Flagship Event

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!

Continue reading “Ann Arbor Track Club Salutes Zero Waste at its Flagship Event”

A Record “Breaking” Event: Super 5K 2020 Sustainability Report

The Super 5K course was a little slick at start time, but we had a good turnout with lots of colorful costumes, and a solid Zero Waste effort. If only we could get the runners to stop fumbling their finisher glasses!

Continue reading “A Record “Breaking” Event: Super 5K 2020 Sustainability Report”

Bigfoot Snowshoe Race 2020 Sustainability Report

The Bigfoot Snowshoe Race has another great year, both out in the snow, and inside keeping event waste out of the landfill. When there is so little trash you misplace it, you gotta be doing something right!

Continue reading “Bigfoot Snowshoe Race 2020 Sustainability Report”

Worth Gobbling About! A2 Turkey Trot Sustainability Report

Baby, it was cold outside! But due to their dedication to the great sport of running, hundreds of people came out to run at Hudson Mills anyway. Or maybe it was the Ray’s Red Hots, hot chocolate and pumpkin pie. Either way, the Zero Waste team had a job to do. How’d we manage? Smooth as gravy! Read on.

Continue reading “Worth Gobbling About! A2 Turkey Trot Sustainability Report”

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