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Run a great race. Leave no trace.

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marathon

Ann Arbor Marathon 2021 Sustainability Report

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!

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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.

Cupless and Trashless! Trail Marathon Weekend 2019 Sustainability Report

While I was holding down a Zero Waste station last weekend, someone approached me holding a small bag of dog poop and looking confused. “I can’t find a trash bin anywhere,” he told me.

I assured him that was the idea.

For this was Trail Marathon Weekend, which has been Zero Waste since 2016, and we don’t generate enough trash to need a bin. The bag went into a 5-gallon pail, which comfortably held all the landfill waste from the entire two-day event. And this year we went cupless, too! How did that go? Read on!

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A Perfect Day for an Invasion! Martian Races 2019 Sustainability Report

What a difference a year makes! From the freezing rain in 2018 to a cool, sunny day in 2019, conditions were much improved for both the runners and the people working the race.

The Zero Waste team also benefited from the great weather and more experienced help. While last year the sorting had to be cut short and a lot of bags were sent to trash, this year we were able to process all the waste and drop the landfill portion to below ten pounds! Read on to see how we did it, and the few challenges we faced.

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Greening Up in March! Ann Arbor Marathon Sustainability Report

What’s one way to clean up Ann Arbor? Hold a marathon!

For this year’s Ann Arbor Marathon, the Zero Waste effort not only left the start/finish area cleaner than we found it, we did the same with the course! From a Saturday plog to a true team effort on Sunday, we “greened up” our fair city, taking trash off the streets and parks, and recycling and composting race waste– a total of over 900 pounds! Read on to see the photos and learn how we did it.

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Big Win in A2! Ann Arbor Marathon Sustainability Report

A beautiful run through “Tree Town” should include good environmental practices. And so it did! Read on to see how despite some challenges, the total landfill waste could be lifted with one finger!

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Great and Getting Better: Trail Marathon Weekend 2018 Sustainability Report

Despite lousy weather in 2017, Zero Waste at Trail Marathon Weekend improved significantly from 2016, cutting landfill waste in half and improving diversion from 90 percent to 95 percent. Could we improve even more on this in 2018?

We did indeed! Read on to find out how we did it.

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Wind, Water, and Waste: Martian Invasion of Races 2018 Sustainability Report

There are some events where the Zero Waste effort goes exactly as planned. The day is beautiful, the volunteers are engaged and enthusiastic, and you achieve more than you thought possible.

This year’s Martian Invasion of Races was not one of them.

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Don’t Just Toss Those Old Race Clothes!

Look, I get it. I’ve run plenty of wet, sloppy trail races. You expect a mess, so you bring along an old pair of shoes you intend to “retire” immediately after the race. You cross the finish line, change into clean and dry clothes, have a celebratory banana and beer, and then into the trash go the shoes, and your socks too, and maybe even your shirt.

But once they go into the trash, the opportunity to reuse them or donate them to a worthy cause is likely lost forever. Unless the event has a Zero Waste team, and they have time after sorting food waste and recyclables to search though the trash, and they feel so inclined to retrieve the dirty, soaked clothes.

“You mean you really want them?” I heard you asking. Well, actually, yes.

Here’s some friendly, and I hope useful, advice to any runners reading this who wonder how clothes that are wet, muddy, torn, or otherwise rendered undesirable can be salvaged and sent to a better place than a landfill.

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