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Sustainability Reports

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.)

Flirt with Dirt 5K/10K Sustainability Report

This event represented a first for Happy Planet Running – leaving the Zero Waste station unattended for an entire race. Yes, perhaps a more fitting title for this was Flirt with Disaster, but I don’t get to name the races. I’m just the Trashman.

How did this come about? A very fortunate event – the resumption of live races – combined with a shortage of volunteers and being double-booked on this particular day. But we had a couple of things going for us here. There were only about 300 runners signed up, the event was over quickly, and Flirt with Dirt has a history of producing very little landfill – like one small baggie’s worth. So we gave it a shot.

I set up a single station near the finish line, with a large bin for recycling, smaller ones for compostables and snack wrappers, and pails for landfill. Then I said a prayer and headed off to the other race I had that morning.

I came back to find everything in good order. Post-race sorting was minimal. I’m sure it helped that many, if not most, of the athletes go to multiple RF Events races, and thus are accustomed to our Zero Waste program. All the same, not something I would like to do again, if avoidable.

And the result? The top image says it all. Baggie for the third year in a row! Report below. (Click to enlarge.)

The Roar Restored: RF Events Stegosaurus Tri Sustainability Report

The RF Events T-Rex series of triathlons is finally back in business, and kicked off June 2 at the Island Lake Rec Area with its brand-new fourth in the series, the Stegosaurus! Despite a cold, rainy afternoon fit for neither man nor dinosaur, several hundred eager athletes braved the weather for a half mile swim, 12 mile bike ride, and 5K run. And, as usual, Happy Planet Running was there, keeping the event Zero Waste.

One new development was the absence of park trash cans. This worked out well, since there was no confusion about where the athletes would stash their trash. Our Zero Waste Station model changed as well, replacing the scattered tent & bin approach with one main station with sorting done real-time. Transition had one pail at each end for all waste, and the finish area had one recycling bin and a bag for plastic wrap. With overhead reduced, one person was able to manage the situation.

Below is the report (click to enlarge). We continue the grand tradition of less than five percent landfill at these events!

The Classic Returns: RF Events Trail Marathon Weekend 2021 Sustainability Report

April 24-25, 2021 – Pinckney Recreation Area, Silver Lake

After over a year, RF Events returned to live races this month with its longstanding (34 years) classic trail marathon, and HPR was there to support the newer tradition (5 years) of making the race Zero Waste.

Due to park restrictions, attendance was limited to 300 per day, and with additional precautions, aid station food and drink was limited. This, plus the race going “cupless” in 2019 sharply reduced overall waste. Normally, the heavy use of prepackaged snacks would lead to more landfill. But thanks to TerraCycle, we’re able to recycle all the snack wrappers, and the Gu wrappers as well, leading to a diversion rate of over 99 percent!

We continued the experiment of not using multiple waste stations and went with a single pavilion. And instead of labeled bins, we put out boxes labeled “All Waste” and the Zero Waste team did the sorting. This model worked very well both days. The only bags to sort were from the aid stations, which were taken care of relatively quickly, helped by a reduction from three aid stations on the course to two.

In addition, Trail Marathon Weekend was the first RF Events race to go Zero Waste, back in 2016, so it is also the first event where we have five years of data. The trends show a general reduction not only in landfill waste, but in all waste categories. Some of this is due to going cupless, as well as a general reduction in materials used.

Sustainability report and five-year chart are below.

Back in Business! Waterloo G&G Bike Race Sustainability Report

April 17-18, 2021 – Portage Lake Recreation Area

A gorgeous weekend for a gravel bike race. So nice, it went both days instead of just Saturday. Perhaps a certain park capacity limit due to a certain lingering ‘situation’ contributed to that, but I didn’t see anyone complaining.

The Epic Races Zero Waste effort picked right up where it left off, recycling or composting just about all of the event-generated waste. It would have been nearly zero except for a couple of boxes wrapped heavily in packing tape due to their weight.

We set up a single station near the bike racks.

In addition to recycling and composting, our “Free Stuff” box (see the corner) resulted in some castoff clothing and water bottles from previous races getting new homes.

There were a few procedural changes. There were no formal post-race parties. Instead, bags of snacks were created for each rider and placed by their station for pickup after they finished. So overall waste was down significantly, as most people left with their treats, but there was enough waste to make it worth the effort. And a Bearclaw Coffee truck was there as usual, and a hot dog stand on Saturday.

Results below. A good start to what will hopefully be a good year!

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”

Skiin’ in the Rain! Frosty Freestyle Sustainability Report

The first HPR-supported race of 2020 didn’t exactly go as planned. Who was expecting 50 degrees and all-day rain in the middle of January? But the park had snow and the skiiers wanted to ski, so the races went on, which mean the Zero Waste effort was on, too! Below is the sustainability report and some few photos.

The five 5K skiers prepare to start. (To be fair, most were doing the 15K.)
Plenty of food, including hot breakfast burritos, coffee, and cocoa.
Zero Hero Advocates were used for the waste stations. We also saved race bibs for reuse.

Ho, Ho, Zero! Holiday Hustle Sustainability Report

The final RF Events race of each year is the Holiday Hustle, and over 2,000 runners braved the cold and came out to run a mile or the 5K. And, of course, we couldn’t lower our Zero Waste standards just because it’s a little cold and dark (okay, really dark). Could we improve on 2018’s landfill total of just five pounds? See below!

Continue reading “Ho, Ho, Zero! Holiday Hustle Sustainability Report”

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