That pretty much sums up the Zero Waste effort at Trail Marathon Weekend this year. A great weekend of running out in nature, and minimizing our environmental footprint. Pretty hard to top that.
Back in 2016, this was the first Zero Waste race RF Events put on, thanks in large part to a grant from the Can’d Aid Foundation, set up mainly for recycling aluminum cans but happy to support a larger goal. That year we processed nearly 500 lbs. of total waste, with only 46 going to landfill – crazy good for a first effort. And it only got better from there. Have a look at the results since then, with big drops in overall waste along with steadily improving landfill diversion from 90 percent to nearly 99 percent.
Hello, Space Force? I’d like to report an alien abduction.
How many? Nobody. I’m pretty sure all the runners at our race last Saturday got home safely. But something is definitely missing. You see, I worked at the race, and I collected nearly five hundred pounds of waste. But at the end, I could account for only seven pounds. Yes, that’s right. Over four hundred pounds of trash is missing, and I think Martians stole it.
Dear St. Patrick: Great job with the snakes and all. Anything you can do about snow?
The Shamrocks & Shenanigans 5K took place on a day where, unofficially at least, spring took over. But that was in the afternoon. Race morning was a final blast of winter fury – cold, windy, and snowing. Still, the show went on, and lots of brave, green-wearing souls showed up to run, so the Zero Waste team was there too. Gotta job ta do, laddies!
The Zero Waste station was set up in the parking lot near the finish line. With a pretty fierce wind, I did not set up a pavilion, and my tall sign blew over, so the setup was very minimal. No problem, as the runners easily found us when they had something to toss. We also patrolled the 5K starting line on Main Street. Several runners were holding coffee cups, but made no attempt to give them to us. I think this is the first race where I saw people starting still holding their coffee!
Total waste was way down from 2019, the last time this event was held – 38 lbs. total vs. over 100 the other three years measured. Several things contributed: slightly lower attendance, pint glasses and T-shirts being optional instead of included, and the weather conditions, causing many to leave quickly or head inside to Conor O’Neills. Landfill waste was minimal – just some tape and a few ice cream lids. Like previous years, we gave out ice cream (!) to the kids after their 1K run. Most chose, however, to take it back home rather than eat it there.
By afternoon the sun was out and the snow was gone, leading to several warmer days ahead. Nature will have her little joke.
The Super 5K was back on Super Bowl Sunday! Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a formal Zero Waste team, yours truly being out of town and other captains also unavailable. So the RF Events staff stepped up and did its best.
The good news is we recovered 110 pounds of race waste, most of it cardboard from pint glasses and hats and such. There was also about ten pounds each of food waste and compostable containers, and general recycling like water bottles and cups. TerraCycle items – hand warmers, snack bag wrappers, race bibs, and small plastics – contributed a small amount.
No official landfill, as everything that couldn’t be easily recovered was left in the school’s trash cans. So the recovery percentage is effective N/A. Still way better than nothing. We’ll call that a win, even if the Detroit Lions were once again watching from the stands or TV.
Weather for this year’s Holiday Hustle 5K at Monument Park in Dexter, MI: Temperature in the mid-30s, with rain and snow flurries, and winds gusting to 50 MPH. Still over 1,000 runners braved the conditions and finished the race. And, as usual, Santa put in an appearance, and even put in some overtime. I think the FAA grounded his sled.
Due to the high winds, the event team did not put up their usual tents, or the start/finish arch. Registration was inside a fitness store, and volunteer check-in at a sheltered picnic area. With the race “footprint” thus much reduced, we set up a Zero Waste station close to the finish line, where the water bottles and post-race treats were handed out. It turned out to be an ideal location for directing runners to where everything was this year. As it was in the open, though, the team suffered from the weather.
Despite a chilly rain, the downtown Ann Arbor Turkey Trot 5K and kids run took place on schedule, with a good crowd on hand. And despite the conditions, the Zero Waste Team had its best Turkey Trot to date, with less than one pound of landfill!
A chilly fall morning, with the promise of fires, live music, food, and beer later on? Sounds like a perfect setup for a trail run. And so it was, with 750 athletes traversing various distances on the DTE Energy Foundation trail system near Chelsea. Naturally, we had to make sure it was all environmentally friendly, and boy did we succeed, getting as close to Zero Waste as about possible.
Run Scream Run returned to Wiard’s Orchards after a year hiatus, and the Haunted Village was scary as ever. Attendance, at around 700, was about half the usual total but still had its share of colorful costumes.
Some group had held a party the previous night, and the ground was littered with tiny liquor bottles and other trash. As I policed the field I saw one of the orchard’s staffers also picking up trash. I told him to leave his bag by our station and I’d recover the recycling, so that total is a bit higher than actually generated by the race.
Here’s a chance to test your estimation skill. How many syrup packets are soaking in this sink? Answer at the end of the report. I’ll give you a hint – there were 600 registered runners, plus another 100 or so spectators eating breakfast there.