What’s ailing the Boston Marathon?
Yesterday I ran the Boston Marathon. As my second marathon and first one in Boston it was an incredible experience. There were over 20,000 people who ran and close to 4,000 “bandits”–people who didn’t register but jumped in anyway. I saw people dressed as hamburgers, Lady Gaga and Sonic the Hedgehog! At Wellesley the students had signs that said, “kiss me I’m from Nepal,” or “kiss me I’m blond” as is tradition down the Wellesley kissing aisle (more commonly known as the Wellesley Scream Tunnel). And when I crossed the finish line I felt ecstatic.
But despite the jovial atmosphere one thing plagued me–the amount of trash generated during the race. At nearly every mile volunteers handed out cups of water and Gatorade. Runners grab the cups, chug, toss the cups onto the street and keep going. It’s a great system for runners who don’t want to slow their pace, but generates an unbelievable amount of trash.
Surely this can’t be the only way. There have to be races that use biodegradable cups or encourage runners to bring their own water bottles and there are: I did a little research and learned about the Blue Sky Marathon in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s a trail race that takes place in the hills of Horsetooth Mountain Open Space so it’s all on dirt trails and completely exposed. Their sustainable practices are impressive, here are just a few race rules:
- Staff will provide composting before and after the race
- No cups are offered, everyone must bring their own water bottle
- Post-race meals come with compostable tableware
- T-shirts for runners are made from organic cotton, recycled polyester or bamboo
- At least some of the snacks provided will come from local sources
It’s one race in one state but it’s a great start. And while these rules may be too strict for elite runners who are competing for world records, for the other 98% of us, I say bring it on.