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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.

Firecracker 5K Sustainability Report

Independence Day in Ann Arbor wouldn’t be the same without its traditional 5K event. At least not to runners, and the Epic Races team! And so despite a warm morning and a new location, the show went on without a hitch.

This year’s event, for several reasons, took place at Briarwood Mall instead of downtown Ann Arbor. In addition to the 5K, there were one-mile and 7.5K options, and a short run for the little kids, led by Larry the Ginormous Hot Dog (see the top photo). There was also a “hot dog” division, where the contenders had 76 seconds to eat up to four hot dogs, and then run the 5K. One minute per hot dog was deducted from their finish times. Thankfully, no “cleanup by JC Penney” was required.

Post-race treats included bananas and candy, but by far the most popular were the red, white, and blue frozen “bomb pops”. We were equal to the task, composting the wooden sticks and sending the wrappers to TerraCycle.

The report below has the details and the fireworks-worthy result – under one pound to the landfill, which we tossed into one of the mall’s trash cans. It’s never a bad thing when our total event trash didn’t weigh as much as the mall-related trash in the parking lot!

It was also good to hear from a Briarwood staffer that the mall takes recycling seriously, and redid the roof to reduce energy costs. Way to go!

Epic Races Goddess Weekend 2021 Sustainability Report

The forecast for last weekend at Portage Lake predicted a soggy mess for the Epic Races Goddess 5K on Saturday and the Tri Goddess Tri on Sunday. But the weather goddesses were smiling down on us, and both days were (nearly) rain-free, making for happy athletes and happier staff.

We set up our Zero Waste Station between the finish line and the food pavilion, so it was convenient for both the athletes and staff. The food tent had an “all waste” bag or bin, which we periodically swapped out. The bike transition area had a bin for water cups. Waste collection followed our new model of “All Waste Here” boxes on tables at the station. From there, the Green Team would ensure the compostable items, recycling, and landfill items were properly sorted.

The Saturday Green Team, ready to go!

The report is posted below, featuring staffers Libbie and Amber holding the usual SBoT (Single Bag o’ Trash) from an Epic Races event. Just over two pounds from the entire weekend, resulting in landfill diversion of 97.5 percent! The effort was helped by Epic’s heavy use of compostables, which makes cleaning or scraping off food unnecessary. Kudos also to the Bearclaw Coffee truck, which uses compostable cups, lids, and straws.

Also see the trend chart showing a significant reduction in overall waste over the four years we’ve been tracking this event, in particular from 2019 to 2021. Whatever the causes (and we’ll try to figure them out), it’s a great trend to have. Recycling has its place for sure, but producing less waste to recycle is the best approach!

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!

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.

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”

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