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Run a great race. Leave no trace.

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Against the Wind: Holiday Hustle 2021 Sustainability Report

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.

Zero Waste Team members Bridget, Amelia, and Julia braving the icy winds. Note the lower sign (even then it blew off once). And we put bricks in the All Waste boxes to keep them on the table.

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Bonfyre Trail Fest 2021 Sustainability Report

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.

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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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Run Scream Run 2021 Sustainability Report

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.

Master of Scare-amonies Randy inspiring the crowd to run fast. Real fast.

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.

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One, Two, Three…Scrumpy Skedaddle 2021 Sustainability Report

Back at Almar Orchards for the RF Events Scrumpy Skedaddle, featuring incredible organic hard cider, and a pancake breakfast provided by Chris Cakes of Michigan. And where I either reached a new high in Zero Waste, or a new low. Depends on your point of view.

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.

You didn’t count them, Jeff. Please tell me you didn’t.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(Rain) Dances with Dirt – Hell 2021 Sustainability Report

Hell is a wetter place than I’d imagined. At least this year’s Dances with Dirt in Hell, Michigan, was wet. The races (50K, 50-mile, and relay) began on time, into a steady rain that lasted until after 10 a.m. The skies cleared in the afternoon and it warmed up, but the post-race area remained saturated, even flooded in places. Still, as the whole point of this race is to get dirty and wet on the trails, it was a success, both for the runners and the Green Team. Read on for details!

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Running Between the Vines Sustainability Report

The run at Sandhill Crane Vineyards returned this year, and conditions were perfect for both the races and the post-race party. “It’s almost like cheating,” the race director said of the weather.

The event features a half marathon, 5-miler, and 5K. After their race, runners head behind the vineyard to enjoy live jazz, wine tastings, and local goodies such as hummus, meatballs, olive oil, and chocolate. RF Events used compostable cups for all the treats they served.

This year we made some changes to our Zero Waste setup. Instead of unstaffed tents we had two staffed stations, one near the registration tent and one in the party area. This was all we could handle, due to just two staffers and no volunteers, a consistent problem at all events this year. People were instructed to put their waste in boxes marked “All Waste” and we sorted from there.

Zero Waste pro Debbie at the station near registration.
Some random guy working the main station.

A temporary station was set up and staffed near the porta-potties until the races had all started. And for those runners doing both the 5K and 5-miler, there was a recycling bin for their water bottles.

It’s staffed, honest! But someone had to take the photo.

This setup reduced the mixed waste problems we had with using tents. Still, we had a couple of unexpected curveballs tossed at us. First, the vineyard did wine tastings with small plastic cups instead of using the finisher tumblers. So we had to pick out those cups from the compostable ones.

Pop quiz: Which of these cups are recyclable, and which are compostable?

Second, no doubt due to good intentions, someone set up additional trash cans among the snack tents. By the time someone pointed this out to us, there was a significant amount of completely mixed waste, resulting in a lot of extra sorting, plus removing food and oil from the recyclable cups. (This was accomplished by using a washing machine.) For next year we’ll have to coordinate more closely with the vineyard staff.

Total waste was down significantly from 2019. While less waste is good, it can be chalked up nearly entirely to lower attendance, as waste per 100 runners remained consistent with previous years.

P.S. To answer the “pop quiz” above – the three cups on the left are recyclable, and the three on the right are certified compostable. And you can’t mix the two types in either stream. Simple, right?

The Legend Races 2021 Sustainability Report

The image you see above is of a Zero Waste Station that was unattended through an entire event. In earlier years I would not have dared to attempt this. And yet this year it has been successfully managed twice! In both cases the waste bins required only minor sorting before dropping them off at the recycling and composting centers.

Several things made this possible. For one, The Legend is a trail race, and trail runners in general seem more attuned to Zero Waste practices. And RF Events has been doing zero waste races since 2016, meaning the staff and the repeat runners are familiar with the process. And the overall waste this year was way down from previous years (less than half the previous low in 2019), which meant no bags needed to be changed out.

My thanks to everyone who ensured the station was in good order!

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!

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