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Dexter-Ann Arbor Run 2021 Sustainability Report

The Dexter-Ann Arbor Run is one of Ann Arbor’s longest-running events. This is the 47th year of the event, and the third using a Zero Waste approach. Once again we achieved over 90 percent landfill diversion, officially making it a “Zero Waste” event per ZWIA guidelines!

Attendance was down from previous years but still healthy, with 425 running the 5K, 527 runners in the 10K, and 1,347 doing the half marathon.

Waste streams include cardboard and plastic wrap from various sources, water bottles and disposable cups from the finish line and aid stations, and food waste and pizza boxes from the food tents. Disposable gloves were heavily used by the Zero Waste station teams and the food tent staffers, and we collected over one hundred Gu wrappers, which go to TerraCycle along with small plastics, race bibs, and the gloves.

This year we had just two Zero Waste stations: one across from the food tents, and one near the finish line at Main and Ann St. Runners put their waste into “All Waste” boxes on the tables, and the station staff sorted them. This approach prevented the heavy cross-contamination we experienced in previous years, such as plastics in the compost carts and food in the recycling bins.

Boxes for recycling, compost, and disposable gloves were given to the food tent volunteers, and periodically checked by the Green Team. The finish line had a bin for plastic wrap from medals and cases of water bottles, which was covered by cardboard to keep runners from using it as a trash can.

Challenges included people using existing City trash cans. We covered the big ones, but a couple escaped notice at first and were cleaned out and sorted. And, as usual, the aid station bags had to be carefully sorted to remove Gu packets and other contaminants from the bottles and cups.

Yes, it took desperate measures to stop people from using this can, even right next to the waste station!

We had enough volunteers to staff the stations during the event, but post-event waste processing made for a long afternoon for a few dedicated folks. Additional volunteers would have been greatly appreciated for afternoon sorting, weighing, and recycling dropoff at WWRA.

In a change from previous years, the City of Ann Arbor informed us that they no longer supply compost carts or recycling dumpsters for events. Fortunately, we had solutions. Since we already take waxed cups to Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority (WWRA), we just took the other recycling there as well. We rented 20 compost carts from Unlimited Recycling.

Overall waste was about half the 2019 total, due mainly to lower attendance. We had fewer pizza boxes and less food waste, and fewer cups and bottles. We took about thirty bags of recycling to WWRA, plus cardboard. Once again, we had just one bag of landfill, although the vinyl tablecloths used by the food tent made up another bag. It may be possible to find a recycling solution for them, but for now we are also counting them in the landfill totals.

Improvements identified for next year include: training the aid stations to pre-sort, using paper tablecloths instead of vinyl, and recruiting volunteers specifically for the afternoon.

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P.S. ZWIA = Zero Waste International Alliance. Read more about their definition of Zero Waste, and their standards and policies, at https://zwia.org/policies/.

A Record “Breaking” Event: Super 5K 2020 Sustainability Report

The Super 5K course was a little slick at start time, but we had a good turnout with lots of colorful costumes, and a solid Zero Waste effort. If only we could get the runners to stop fumbling their finisher glasses!

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Skiin’ in the Rain! Frosty Freestyle Sustainability Report

The first HPR-supported race of 2020 didn’t exactly go as planned. Who was expecting 50 degrees and all-day rain in the middle of January? But the park had snow and the skiiers wanted to ski, so the races went on, which mean the Zero Waste effort was on, too! Below is the sustainability report and some few photos.

The five 5K skiers prepare to start. (To be fair, most were doing the 15K.)
Plenty of food, including hot breakfast burritos, coffee, and cocoa.
Zero Hero Advocates were used for the waste stations. We also saved race bibs for reuse.

Ho, Ho, Zero! Holiday Hustle Sustainability Report

The final RF Events race of each year is the Holiday Hustle, and over 2,000 runners braved the cold and came out to run a mile or the 5K. And, of course, we couldn’t lower our Zero Waste standards just because it’s a little cold and dark (okay, really dark). Could we improve on 2018’s landfill total of just five pounds? See below!

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Epic Races A2 Turkey Trot Sustainability Report

It’s turkey time again, and runners are getting an early start on burning off the calories. Hundreds of runners and their families showed up on a chilly morning to run a 5K or 10K, (or even both) and enjoy some pumpkin spice pancakes. And this year’s event was “greener” than ever, with a reduction in overall waste generated and a shift toward more compostable materials. See the details below!

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A Long, Dirty Day: Dances with Dirt Hell Sustainability Report

A wet, dirty run through the wilderness. Not your idea of how to spend a fall Saturday? How about pizza, beer, and live music afterward? Plus you can wear exotic costumes and give your team a raunchy name. Welcome to Dances with Dirt, Hell edition!

This very popular event creates a lot of waste, most of which gets tossed during the exodus from the park just as it’s getting dark. Oh, and there are nine full-service aid stations, too. The Zero Waste team thus shares in the day’s suffering, and without the fancy costumes and raunchy team name. Did they still push through it without getting buried in leftover pizza? Read on to find out!

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A Pleasant Surprise! 2019 T-Rex Triathlon Sustainability Report

What do you do when you carefully plan Zero Waste for an event – and everything works out according to plan? Shake your head in disbelief, thank the good Lord, and go home on time!

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Wine, Dine, and Run: Running Between the Vines 2019 Sustainability Report

What’s better than an early morning run that ends in a vineyard? Getting to have wine afterwards, of course – with live jazz and food thrown in. And you get a shirt, and a race-branded wine goblet to enjoy the vintages of your choice!

With all that pampering comes hundreds of pounds of cardboard boxes, banana peels, water bottles, cups, and other stuff that, for some reason, the runners would rather not take with them. So it’s up to the Zero Waste team to make sure as much of that as possible is returned to productive use instead of the landfill.

With a large turnout and a small team, were we up to the challenge? Find out below.

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2019 Pterodactyl Triathlon Sustainability Report

The gnomes were busy at the Pterodactyl Triathlon, as things began to go missing under the noses of the Zero Waste team! Nothing we couldn’t do without, fortunately, and we carried on to another great result.

Gnomes stealing race gear

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