Organizing a running event involves a myriad of considerations, and in today’s world, sustainability should be at the forefront of event planning. We had the privilege of interviewing Ellie Wardell, a sustainability consultant and member of the Green Runners community, and Darren Evens, a Green Runners co-founder, and race director of a running event that’s doing things greener. You can listen to their full interview on our podcast here.
Here, we distil their insights into a comprehensive guide for running event directors aiming to make their races more environmentally conscious.
1. Consider how athletes travel to your event
Acknowledge that travel is a critical, and perhaps the largest, aspect of your event’s environmental impact. Encourage participants to use public transportation, carpool, or offset their travel emissions. Consider virtual race options as an alternative to physical events to significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with travel and on-site logistics.
2. Rethink medals and T-shirts
Consider alternative options for participant rewards. Ellie and Darren suggest medals made from sustainable materials or serving a dual purpose, like functioning as a tree seed that participants can plant. For T-shirts, explore eco-friendly fabrics and offer them as an opt-in during registration to reduce excess production and waste.
3. Cup-less racing
Transitioning to cup-less racing can reduce plastic waste. Encourage participants to bring their own cups or water bottles, and consider eliminating single-use plastic cups at water stations. This small shift can make a significant impact on the environmental footprint of your event.
4. Reusable cable ties and event signage
Swap single-use cable ties for reusable alternatives, especially for event signage and banners. By embracing reusable solutions, you contribute to minimising the plastic waste generated during the setup and breakdown of the event.
5. Embrace sustainable apparel
Introduce a kit swap shop as part of your event where runners can exchange or donate gently-used running gear. This promotes the reuse of apparel and minimizes the environmental impact of clothing production. Collaborate with sustainable apparel brands that prioritize eco-friendly materials and ethical production processes.
6. Sustainable nutrition options
Explore alternatives to traditional gel wrappers, such as compostable materials or innovative gel flasks. Communicate these changes to participants to raise awareness about the environmental impact of nutrition packaging. Seek partnerships with nutrition brands committed to responsible packaging and waste management.
7. Green communication strategies
Start communicating sustainability initiatives well in advance through pre-event emails, social media campaigns, and on your event website. Embrace digital platforms for event information dissemination rather than relying on printed materials.
8. Innovative water stations
Set up water refill stations with large reusable containers strategically placed along the race route. Encourage participants to refill their own bottles, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles. Consider providing participants with event-branded reusable bottles as part of their registration.
9. Community involvement
Forge partnerships with local businesses for sustainable sourcing of event supplies and services. Support local initiatives and businesses that align with your event’s sustainability goals. Organize workshops or information sessions on sustainability in collaboration with local environmental organizations.
10. Certification and recognition
Pursue certifications for sustainable events to showcase your commitment to environmental responsibility. Certifications like the Council for Responsible Sport’s certification provide a framework for evaluating and enhancing the sustainability of your event. Recognize and appreciate participants and sponsors who actively contribute to sustainable practices.
11. Leave No Trace
Mobilise volunteers for a thorough clean-up after the event. Establish designated clean-up crews responsible for waste collection and sorting to ensure a leave-no-trace approach. Implement waste sorting stations at key locations within the event venue.
By adopting these sustainable practices, running event directors can lead the way in creating eco-conscious races. Ellie and Darren’s insights provide a blueprint for making events more sustainable while creating memorable experiences for participants. Embrace sustainability, lead by example, and watch your event become a beacon of responsible and eco-friendly running.
This approach not only aligns with the current global focus on sustainability but also resonates with an increasingly environmentally conscious running community. As an event director, you have the power to shape the future of running events—one that is not only thrilling for participants but also nurturing for the planet.
Find out more about The Green Runners at www.thegreenrunners.com
The Free ReScore app for race directors is available at councilforresponsiblesport.org/rescore