Tips & tricks for more sustainable endurance events

As we are celebrating earth day today, we are reflecting on the impact our industry has on the environment. As event industry professionals, we have the power to make changes that could significantly help reduce waste and contribute to maintaining our natural environment.

Consider these statistics:

3X

The amount of single-use plastic has tripled since the start of the pandemic. [1]

20 mil+

More than 20 million trees are cut down each year to produce single use paper cups. [2]

91%

Approximately 91% of plastic is not recycled. [3] We can do better.

Single use cups, overflowing trash bins, heavy use of electricity – these are not uncommon for the endurance event space —  and the unfortunate reality is it’s heavily impacting the state of our environment. So how can we start taking steps towards a more sustainable approach? 

At Race Roster, we’ve been considering how we could work together to create more eco-friendly endurance events. 

We’ve put together a list of sustainable event ideas you could use for your next event:

1. Repurpose leftover items


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! After years of putting on events, so many of us have warehouses full of t-shirts, medals, and other leftover items that may now just be collecting dust!

 
  • Reuse metal medals – The metal from your medals could be reused for this year’s medals!
  • Donate items – Old t-shirts and other clothing items could be donated. Even leftover food could be donated after the event (for example, leftover bananas would work great!)
  • Put on a “leftovers” event – Host a new event to give out past event items!

FEATURED EVENT

The Leftovers Mystery Race

Hosted by Happy Trails Racing

In November 2021, Happy Trails Racing put on a “leftovers mystery race” to give out leftover clothing items, stickers, finisher medals, duffle bags, backpacks, and more from previous Happy Trails events. They made this a very fun and intriguing concept by having which item participants received and even the race distance options a mystery.

Shoutout to Jeff Rowthorn and his team on a very creative idea and great way to get rid of leftovers!

“The event went very well and participants had a great time going through their race-kits to see which race items they had received. The event sold out really quickly and the runners loved the idea of helping to use up all of the extra products that we had accumulated over the year.”

Jeff Rowthorn, Happy Trails Racing

2. Offer digital solutions

  • Offer digital finisher certificates – You could skip printing finisher certificates altogether and create downloadable digital certificates! This can be done from Race Roster’s results dashboard. Finisher certificates are completely customizable, giving you the flexibility to design gorgeous certificates that display all the information you need. Finisher certificates can also easily be shared by participants on social media.

  • Offer a digital race packet – Skip printing coupons, pamphlets, brochures, and other printed items that would typically be added to your race packet! Race Roster’s Digital Engagement Kits allow you to send all of these great materials and more to your participants in a digital format. Make it quick and easy for participants to access content while saving trees!

  • Offer digital medals – You can either skip physical medals altogether or perhaps allow participants to opt out and choose a digital medal instead. Similar to digital finisher certificates, digital medals can easily be shared on social media.

  • Send volunteer information via email – Skip the printed cheatsheet and send volunteers instructions using the email campaign tool built in to your Race Roster dashboard.

3. Offer eco-friendly options

  • Offer cup alternatives – Swap paper cups and plastic water bottles for silicone cups or use a compostable option!

    You could even go entirely cup-less and ask your participants to bring their own — or even gift participants with custom water bottles that are branded with your event logo! If you go the cup-less route, you could set up fill stations on site — stations that contain a foot pedal are a great sanitary option!

    Reusable cups are also a great option. You could work with a company or have dedicated volunteers to wash and sanitize after use.

  • Go hybrid – Give participants the option to attend your event in-person OR participate virtually. Having a virtual option allows participants to skip out on travelling (no need for cars, planes, or other non-eco-friendly travel options). Race Roster has many tools for offering great virtual event experiences.

  • Offer opt-out options & eco-friendly alternatives – You could provide participants with the choice to opt out of receiving a t-shirt, medal, or other items to instead put their money towards something more environmentally friendly, such as planting a tree!

  • Offer eco-friendly attire – Work with vendors that provide eco-friendly options!
  • Offer additional eco-friendly options during registration – Alternatively, you could simply add eco-friendly options to your registration form that participants can add to their order in addition to your other event products.

    For example, the 2022 Vancouver Half Marathon hosted by Canada Running Series added the following options to their registration form:
    • Plant a tree for $10.00 CAD through Trees for Life
    • Support local trails for $10.00 through Trans Canada Trail

FEATURED EVENT

Canada Running Series

Sustainability is a one of the core values of the Canada Running Series team. They believe “healthy running communities begin with a healthy planet”. As a company, CRS is serious about contributing to a positive future for the communities we run through.

In 2022, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is aiming to be the first Canadian event to achieve Evergreen Status with the Council for Responsible Sport.

“We’re excited to be leading the way towards a new sustainability standard for road races and athletic events in Canada. It’s inspiring to see active engagement from participants, partners and stakeholders as we plan and execute environmentally responsible race initiatives”
Jen Cerullo, Event Manager

4. Additional ideas for sustainability

 

  • Ensure waste is organized into the correct bin – You could hire a company to help you with this, or assign a group of volunteers to make this their mission!

  • Swap on site paper registration for a registration kiosk – You can use Race Roster’s onsite app to allow people to register electronically (via ipad, laptop, etc) while on site at your event. Skip the papers and the need to log any offline registrations later!

  • Use smaller bibs – The dominant bib material (Tyvek) is generally non-recyclable, so the best option is to consume less of it in general. Typical bib sizes are larger than required to fit a timing chip on the back. Simply ask for custom sizing from your bib vendor! Switching from a standard size to a custom size can help you consume approximately 40% less Tyvek!

  • Assign bibs dynamically – Assign bibs dynamically to ensure you don’t unnecessarily order or consume more materials than you need. With dynamically assigned bibs, you don’t have to account for no-show rates!

  • Encourage participants to use green transportation – walking, biking, carpooling, public transit

  • Host contests that promote sustainable initiatives – You could use Race Roster’s photo app to host a photo contest! For example, this could be a “show us how you traveled to the event” contest, where participants submit photos of how they used green transportation.

We hope you’ll find these suggestions useful in organizing sustainable events. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@dteendurance.com

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