Tag Archives: Green Team

In-Between Marathon Musings: Eating, Singing Bears, and Talking Trash

While picking up my Martian Marathon race packet at the expo, I got to talking with a woman whose husband is going to attempt his first ultramarathon. That’s macho enough in my book, but not for him; he’s going right to a 50-miler, and a tough one at that (the September North Face Challenge, as I recall).

“Do you have any advice for him?” she asked.

“I can do no better than repeat the advice of (ultramarathon legend) Caballo Blanco,” I told her. “Run slower. Eat more.”

My next three races will all be on trails, and all are marathon length or longer. Time to put on a little weight!

I'll have one of everything, please!

I’ll have one of everything, please!

It will have to come from (mostly) healthy, whole foods, of course. My body needs all the nutrients it can get to recover from Martian and build strength for Trail Marathon and beyond. Such foods contain fiber and fill me up faster, so eating more actually takes some effort. (Yes, I’m aware you’d like to have that problem.)

I also have this sense of perverse guilt when eating a lot and not immediately burning it off with hard training and lots of miles. I know it’s silly, but it does put a damper on my appetite. (Yes, I know.)

Songs are better in this version, however!

Songs are better in this version, however!

In other news. . .

I took my wife to see The Jungle Book on Saturday. So “The Bear Necessities” has been running in my head the past three days. Was even humming it while nose-deep in banana peels and water bottles at the Gazelle Girl.

And speaking of…

I volunteered once again for the “Green Team” at the Gazelle Girl half marathon & 5K on Sunday. Over 3,800 runners participated in the events, plus plenty of family and other spectators.

Gazelle Girl 2016 - If Trump Can Run sign

That kind of crowd generates a lot of waste, and I spent much time sorting through it, but if one must sort trash, there couldn’t have been a more beautiful day for it. Part of the time I manned one of the ZeroHero waste collection tents, which we’ll also be using at the Trail Marathon races this weekend. More on that in an upcoming post.

Good waste! Yay!

Good waste! Yay!

The good news: the great majority of the generated waste was either compostable or recyclable. Last year their total landfill waste didn’t even fill one small cardboard box. This year, due to unexpected non-recyclable packaging from their food supplier, there was quite a bit more. I’m sure they’ll fix that for next time.

Bad waste! Boo!!!

Bad waste! Boo!!!

Also, for some reason far more non-recyclable coffee cups showed up this year. I’m calling you out, Starbucks, Biggby, and McCafe. Get with the program and go compostable! Bearclaw Coffee has, and they will be our coffee supplier at Trail Marathon. You can bet they’ll get a lot of good pub from us!

If you're coming to TMW, look for the orange van!

If you’re coming to TMW, look for the orange van!

Finally, what a great day it was in Boston today for the 120th Boston Marathon. Saw a thrilling men’s wheelchair division finish. And it was great to see Roberta (Bobbi) Gibb honored as Grand Marshall for breaking the gender wall in 1966. She “bandited” Boston that year after being denied registration due to her gender, beat two-thirds of the otherwise male field, and was the first woman finisher again in 1967 and 1968. I don’t cry at weddings, or much of anything for that matter, but I came pretty close here. Looking forward to joining the fun there in 2017!

Great Event, But Where’s All the Trash?

Last Sunday was another “first” in my adventures in running – an early morning two-hour drive to Grand Rapids and the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon & 5K.

Photo from Gazelle Girl website

So, one might wonder why a manly man like me would be part of a female-only race. Well, I was not there to take part in the race, but to pick up after it. Yes, I was on the waste collection and sorting team. A minor version of Mike Rowe doing a Dirty Job. (Being called the “Green Team” didn’t mean we got to keep our hands clean.)

What kind of stuff gets tossed out at a race? Some of just about everything. But the main categories are food waste, cups, water bottles, and Gu / energy bar wrappers. Any large event generates a lot of all of that, and the Gazelle Girl had over 3,500 runners, plus spectators.

What made the job intriguing was that last year, a grand total of one 6 lb. bag was sent to the landfill. Yep, one 6 lb. bag. Everything else was either recycled, sent to a composting service (Organicycle), or (as with the Gu wrappers) sent to Terracycle, a company that turns the scrap into other products like children’s furniture.

Gazelle Girl waste bins 2How did this happen? Good planning and lots of information. One way of limiting waste, for example, is to tell people not to bring something that’s going to end up as landfill trash. Another way is to mark very clearly what goes where, and to staff the stations, which I did briefly before moving to the lovely sorting brigade.

So how much waste actually went to the landfill this year? See below. Enough of describing what happened – I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story. Enjoy! And many thanks to Chelsea and the other Green Team members for helping me learn how sustainable a race can be!

No one's going to steal this waste on my watch!

No one’s going to steal this waste on my watch!

I was so good at manning the station that they moved me to sorting.

I was so good at manning the station that they moved me to sorting.

A sample compost bag. Most of the cups and lids were compostable, but we had to sort out the others for recycling.

A sample compost bag. Most of the cups and lids were compostable, but we had to sort out the others for recycling.

Even with bins all around, there was still food waste scattered everywhere. Sigh. Grow up, people.

Even with bins all around, there was still food waste scattered everywhere. Sigh. Grow up, people.

The final tally. The truck has the compost and Terracycle bags. The bins and bags are for recycling.

The final tally from the start/finish area. The truck has the compost and Terracycle bags. The bins and bags are for recycling. Aid station bags were left on-site and picked up on Monday.

And here's what went to the landfill. Yep, that's all.

And here’s what went to the landfill. Yep, that’s all.