The Ann Arbor Goddess returned to downtown Ann Arbor after three years. An event that has raised over $190,000 for women-focused charities, it features a 5K, kids run, and a “Chocolate Mile” with treats supplied by Willy Wonka in person. And Congressional representative Debbie Dingell was handling out medals at the finish line. With all that going on, Epic Races just had to make it sustainable. Don’t make the Goddess angry!Continue reading “Ann Arbor Goddess 5K Sustainability Report”
For the first time in several years, Epic Races held their “Pi Day” race in person. (Technically two days early, but hey, it’s running plus pie. Sign me up!) Despite cold temps (13 degrees) and wind, about 200 people showed up at Hudson Mills Park to run the 5K or the kids race.
The race was held at the open-air pavilion instead of the activity center, which was hosting another event. So I did not feel the need to police their trash cans. And most people left right after the race, meaning there wouldn’t have been much to capture.
Post-race food was pancakes and hot chocolate. The finisher pies were individually boxed and most people took them home, which meant less waste at the event.
The biggest source of food waste was from the “Pie Division” runners, who had to eat a pie before they ran the 5K – hands-free, of course. Quite a bit of half-eaten pie was left over. In an inspired move, the contestants were given old T-shirts to wipe their faces with instead of disposables. They could either keep the shirts, or return them to be washed and reused.Continue reading “Easy as 3.14159: Pi Day 5K Sustainability Report”
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 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 better than a triathlon – a three-stage swim/bike/run event? How about a ten-stage swim/bike/run event? Over a hundred athletes thought it was a good idea. And what’s even better than that? A ten-stage event that goes Zero Waste, of course.
And such is the Battle of Waterloo, so-called because it traverses the trails, roads, and lakes of the Waterloo Recreation Area. And the Green Team made sure we left it cleaner than we found it, and sent as little as possible to landfill.
With only 71 pounds of total waste generated, Epic Races did a great job of minimizing environmental impact from the start. And we recycled or composted all but five of those pounds. I’d say everyone there was a winner of this battle!
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.
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!
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 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!
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.)