The eco-marathon: The environmental impact of running

Posted by Ian on Nov 7, 2008 in blog | One Comment

A recent article in the New York Times reported that popularity of marathon running is increasingly significantly with more and more people applying to take part in the glamour races in Chicago, London, New York, etc. I, myself, took part in the Dublin Marathon two weeks ago, and during the race (which had record numbers taking part), I was struck by how much waste was generated by all the people taking part.
With more and more people wanting to test the limits of their physical stamina, it is equally important to consider what undertaking this physical test asks of the stamina of the environment. In the Dublin marathon there were about 8 water stations where plastic bottles of Ballygowan water were handed out. With 11,000 people taking part, that’s approximately 88,000 plastic bottles that were thrown in to the street.
Many marathons are taking steps to go green. Runners in the New York Marathon have undertaken efforts to volunteer and recycle the waste. The Cardiff Marathon has been particularly successful in coordinating recycling efforts over recent years. Notably, the Hartford Marathon has experimented with corn-based compostable cups which unfortunately were too slippery to be used properly, so they are still searching for a solution (here’s a design opportunity).
In keeping with the spirit of the marathon as a test of the best humans can bring to a challenge, we should explore how we design the format and materials we use in achieving our physical goals.
If you are interested in thinking more about the environmental impact of your own running regimes, you can read an article here, and here is another article about the environmental problems of marathons.
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1 Comment

  1. Blaine Moore
    7 November 2008

    The Hartford Marathon (in Connecticut) has actually made some great strides in going green, spending about $10,000 more than they used to in an effort to have less of an environmental impact. I think they are really leading the way, and are finding out what works and what doesn’t so that other races can benefit.

    Reply

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