10 Steps to Planning an Environmentally-Friendly Race

November 17, 2015 - By: Sarah Pease

In 2014, six marathons—Boston, Chicago, London, New York City, Paris, and Tokyo—each
had more than 31,000 finishers. With that comes throngs of volunteers, spectators… and waste, which makes planning a
socially responsible race something every race director needs to aim for. Here are 10 steps to take when planning an environmentally-friendly race.

  1. Online Registration – Going paperless saves money and time, plus allows for easy donation options, surveys, and automated confirmation emails.
  2. Virtual Race Bags –  Seven out of the 10 largest races in the U.S. are ‘handing’ out virtual goodie bags, which lets you create and manage digital content as needed.
  3. Collect Donations If the race is for a water-related charity, have volunteers available near the water stations at the beginning or end of the race.
  4. Shirts with a Purpose Look for race shirts made from recycled plastic bottles or locally-grown cotton. Anything with a cool backstory.
  5. Easy Recycling Have composting and recycling bins available and clearly marked during your event. Check out the Council for Responsible Sport’s certification program, which helps and rewards races for their environmental commitment.
  6. Smart Food Choices Support local farmers, buy in bulk to reduce packaging, and choose fair trade products.
  7. Say Goodbye to Cups Races like The Bank of America Chicago Marathon are opting for compostable cups and banning Styrofoam.
  8. Borrow or Rent – From mile marker signs to tables and tents, borrowing or renting items is a great way to reduce costs, plus you don't have to worry about storing them later!
  9. Offer Alternative Transportation Reduce the carbon footprint by providing participants with free shuttles or discounted fares for mass transit on race day.
  10. Pay it Forward After the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon, over 19,000 pounds of food were donated to City Harvest to help fight hunger in New York City.

Tell us in the comments how you’ve made your race more environmentally friendly!
Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun