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Run a great race. Leave no trace.

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The Legend 2019 Sustainability Report

Our third cupless event of the year, with over five hundred runners out on the trails on a warm morning. Did anyone lose their heads over it? Not that we could see!

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Swimmingly Smooth: Tri Goddess Tri 2019 Sustainability Report

A beautiful morning, sunshine, happy athletes, and a hardworking Green Team that produced another terrific landfill diversion result. That’s a combination hard to beat!

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Sweet Success! Hot Cocoa Classic Sustainability Report

How do you get several hundred people to show up on a cold, gray morning and climb a steep hill to begin a run? Promise them hot chocolate afterward! With a lot of food and drink being consumed in a short time, could the Zero Waste effort keep up? With a good process and thoughtful use of materials, the answer was Yes. Read on for how we did it.

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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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Gazelle Girl Race Achieves 98% Diversion and Saves 2,000 lbs. From Landfill

The Gazelle Girl has done it again! Not only does this annual women’s race get more popular each year, they find new and better ways to make it more environmentally friendly. This was the event (2015) that sparked my involvement in Zero Waste at races, and led to the creation of Happy Planet Running. I was pleased and proud to be a part of it again this year!

Read on to see what was new this year with their waste management and what their vendors are doing to make sustainability a mainstream, everyday practice.

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2017 Ann Arbor Marathon Achieves 96% Landfill Diversion

Date: March 26, 2017
Event company: Epic Races, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Downtown Ann Arbor, MI
# Attendees: 2,500 runners + staff + spectators
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 4

Race Overview

The Ann Arbor Marathon is a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon that takes place in downtown Ann Arbor and surrounding neighborhoods. Despite a chilly and rainy forecast, a large number of enthusiastic runners showed up and sprinted past Happy Planet Running’s “Ground Zero” sorting station on Main Street about one mile into their various races.

The rain held off until about 10:30, but conditions deteriorated steadily afterwards. By early afternoon, everything and everyone was wet and cold. And the Zero Waste effort was short by two key volunteers. Final cleanup promised to be no fun whatever – but it was a walk on the beach compared to what I found the next day!

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Sustainability Report: Pi Day 5K 2017

Date: March 14, 2017
Event company: Epic Races, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Hudson Mills Metropark, Dexter, MI
# Attendees: 300 runners + staff + spectators
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 4

Race Overview

The Pi Run is an annual event held on 3/14. Its name celebrates both pi, the number, and pie, the food. About 250 runners showed up to run a chilly 5K at Hudson Mills Metropark, with the option of a “pie in the face” at the finish line. Then they enjoyed pizza and Achatz Four Berry pie.

A few (fool)hardy souls signed up for the “Pi Division” and ate a (large) piece of pie BEFORE running the 5K. No hands allowed, and the more left on the plate, the higher a time penalty suffered. But they got to start before everyone else, so they could vomit in relative privacy!

Pi Run - Pi Division eating

This was the very first Zero Waste event for Epic Races, where they wanted to use their two newly purchased Zero Hero tents. Happy Planet Running was happy to assist, and Jeff even ran the race – Pi Division, of course! (Above, in black cap and yellow wind vest.)

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Sustainability Report: Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K/10K 2017

Date: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Timber Ridge Resort, Traverse City MI
# Attendees: 480 runners, about 100 spectators
Zero Waste Team volunteers: 4

Race Overview

The Bigfoot Snowshoe 5K/10K is one of two RF Events races held in the Traverse City area. It’s a popular race, in part because it’s a qualifier for the National Championship Snowshoe race, but there are plenty of people who go out just for fun.The resort provides one of their lodge buildings to keep people warm and for serving post-race food. Traverse City is a very “green” city and we were determined to hold up our end!

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Sustainability Report: Run Woodstock 2016

Date: Sept. 9-11, 2016
Event company: RF Events, Ann Arbor MI
Location: Hell Creek Ranch, Pinckney MI
# Attendees: approx. 2,000
Zero Waste Team volunteers: Varied

Race Overview

Run Woodstock is the largest RF Events race of the year, with distances from 5 miles to 100 miles and everything in between. It’s also a weekend of camping, live music, and self-expression enjoyed by both runners and non-runners. The fun begins at 4 p.m. Friday, with the 100K and 100-mile start.

With over 2,000 weekend residents at Hell Creek Ranch, staying on top of the generated waste (collecting, sorting, properly storing) promised to be a challenging effort. But any improvement over previous years, where all waste went to the landfill, would be a win.

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