Sustainability and Environmental Initiatives

A core part of our mission has been to be good environmental stewards. As we get to race is some of the most beautiful locations Rhode Island has to offer, we want to do our part in minimizing our footprint not just at these locations, but in our greater global use. To that end, we are constantly analyzing our practices and looking for ways to improve and change. One of the main organizations that we use to measure ourselves is the Council for Responsible Sport. They have best practices, guidelines, and goals that have been invaluable to us in our efforts. Just recently, they partnered with Nuun to create the Sustainable Event Guide for Endurance Event Organizers. We received this document and measured ourselves against it. Below is an analysis of our efforts:

*Shirts and medals – We will only purchase what we need to eliminate waste. We commit to our final number within one month of the race and will sell out when we reach that number to ensure there is minimal waste. This may mean that we’re not able to ensure your preferred size if you register late, or the race may sell out, but we feel this is a better practice than having hundreds of leftover shirts and medals that previously would get thrown away.

While we have significantly reduced our leftover shirts and medals in recent years, there are always a few leftovers. We donate the remaining medals to Sports Medal Recycling and our remaining shirts to a local group home.

gel bucket bridge*Nutrition – We source as locally as possible. We choose to partner with Clif who supports environmental initiatives.  We will have small buckets at every mile marker to minimize trash left on course. Any food that is left over at the end of the race is donated to a group home (or our poor starving college-aged Rhode Crew).

*Hydration – We choose to partner with Nuun who supports our environmental initiatives. We have minimized our single-use bottles for electrolyte replacement both on course and at the finish line by utilizing existing water with Nuun tabs. We have switched to 5 gal recyclable bottles on course rather than disposable one gal jugs. Our current cups are made from recycled materials.

New this year – we will offer Hydrapak Speedcups for a more cupless race. While we know this option isn’t for everyone, we hope to encourage more of our participants to try out the Speed cups so that we can reduce our cup use and potential trash. To add a Speedcup to your existing registration, please follow these steps.  Please learn more about SpeedCups at this link.

*We offer and encourage recycling at our event, but we ask our participants to be aware of what they are throwing into the recycling containers. While we don’t yet have the staff to monitor and sort waste, we hope our participants can be conscious of not contaminating the recycling bins with non-recyclable products.

B349593D-DB9F-427C-AFD0-3786CC612332_1_201_a*We created Post-race plogging crews. Learn more about them here. While many larger races have clean up sweeps, we are a small team of just 2 FT people so we need a bit of help in covering the many miles of a race.  Please consider joining us and earn free race entries!

*We have reduced our one-time-use paper – we no longer print maps. They are available on our website in both a pdf and an interactive online version. We also have a large laminated version at bib pick up of which you can take a picture if you wish. Our signs are used every year – we purposely do not put dates on signs to ensure they are reusable.

*We are committed to increasing the sustainability of our giveaways – age group awards are items that can be ”used” – cutting boards, mugs, frames, etc. Not just a trophy or medal.

beach mile winner*We strive to be inclusive. We created the Final Mile program to encourage youth running in all communities. We provide free entries to Running Guides, accessible bib pick up locations and portapotties, early start options and personal attention to participants that are differently-abled.

*We have local charitable partners and causes. These groups include Save The Bay, Daffodillion, Girls on the Run, Ronald McDonald House, Heather Abbott Foundation, local high school teams and more.

(As an update since starting this analysis.  I had challenged our medal provider, Ashworth Awards, to remove the plastic sleeves in which they package each individual medal. This was his response:
I have good news….starting hopefully with your 1st order, Newport, all our medals will be bundle wrapped in 10’s with a paper wrapping. We are trying to be as green as possible moving forward. We are trying to remove all plastic if possible from all our packaging.)

Finally, we have goals that we wish to incorporate into our races in the future. These include:

– Create a Green Team or Environmental Director to help us measure and implement sustainability practices.
– Composting
– Better recycling to eliminate contamination
– Less litter on course
– Lessen/minimize cups and single-use bottles

****Earn our Council for Responsible Sport Certification!  

While we are making efforts, we know that we have a long way to go. But we need your help. Please be aware and make efforts to recycle properly at our events. Register early so that we can properly plan our consumables and minimize waste. Join our plogging crews and/or commit to trying SpeedCups.  Please use the mile marker buckets and don’t litter. If you have any ideas or have seen other races offer a great sustainability item, please share it with us. We are constantly thirsting for ways to enhance our efforts.

Thank you for helping us make a better race experience for all.

November – A Time of Thanks

November is a time for reflection and thanks for us.  Not only is it the end of our racing season, but we formed the company 5 years ago in November so it is our Anniversary as well!  (You can learn more about us at this link.)

We are always so incredibly grateful at the end of each season.  Normally we post our year-end Rhode Crew picture with this post but this year at the Ocean State Rhode race, we were all a bit too cold and wet to stay still that long for a team picture!  So we are using last year’s picture.  🙂hxHyGRmIRwmbRZ52kPWOww

In 2019, we are particularly grateful to our hundreds of volunteers who help us execute amazing races – our volunteers did not have an easy task this season.  We went 3 for 3 with marathons in the rain this year and the volunteers really bared the brunt of this weather.  They were out there for as long as 6-7 hours in the rain and cold, always with a cheerful demeanor and a desire to help.  Our volunteers are the lifeblood of our races and we can’t thank them enough.  Additionally, it is rewarding for us as we are able to provide community service hours to those that need it, donations to their causes, or free race entries depending on the situation.  We LOVE being able to give back in this way.  EZ8U6120

We did incorporate some new procedures in our efforts to try and be responsible environmental partners.  We created our plogging teams and our gel bucket program in hopes of leaving our racecourses in better shape than we started.  As today is National Recycling Day, we are hoping that you will continue to partner with us in our efforts in 2020.  And if you have ideas as to how to improve our efforts, we are always all ears! EZ8U6170

This year we raised and donated thousands of dollars to various local charities, donated hundreds of shirts and apparel to a group home and gave pounds of food to a local soup kitchen.  But most importantly, we heard AMAZING stories as to why people run, what it means to cross that finish line, what training and running have given you this year.  And it is for this – that we are truly humbled and grateful.

Thank you – for letting us be a part of that journey.

 

Narragansett Fall Half Marathon

In the past 6 weeks, I have spent 3 of them on our race courses and the other two on my sons’ cross country courses.  On the 6th one – what do I do? Test my own legs with a half marathon!

I haven’t raced a half in 2-3 years, I haven’t even run longer than 7 or 8 miles since June.  But the Race Director for this race is just a great guy, I have heard nothing but wonderful things about his races.  So I wanted to give it a go – both to see what I have personally and see what he has professionally!

I feel that I have to continue to race other events so I know what works from a participant point of view.  While the runner doesn’t care how the aid stations get set up at 4 am, they do care what side of the road they are on, how protected the course is, how much fun the post race festival is and what kind of medal is given out.

So my expectations were low for myself and high for the race – both proved out to be awesome!  The race was a great course of beautiful back roads and neighborhoods.  I don’t think I passed a car on the whole course.  It helps that it was FREEZING and early Sunday morning – but both work for me as a runner!  While running, I was looking at both how the race is logistically executed and how I should execute my own race! I picked up a few good ideas for our races but ended up having a great day of running of my own.

The finish line was in the parking lot of a mall, but he had it decorated so wonderfully with barriers, pumpkins, hay bales, corn stalks – you forgot you were in a parking lot instead of a farm!  Lots of music and excitement greeted you as you came home.  I was 12th overall so it was still a bit quiet when I arrived but ramped up quickly after I ran back to my car to get my jacket.  The finish had pie, cider and beer as well as a few vendors.  Very fun!

Personally – I PR’d by nearly 5 mins, finishing in 1:32 and 3rd overall female.  I enjoyed a yummy DownEast Cider (beer at 9:30a on a Sunday seemed wrong – Cider is practically Apple Juice, so that’s ok!), I hung out with some of my Rhode Island Runner peeps and headed home to shower and warm up.

I have been running for nearly 30 years, I thought my day’s for PRs were behind me – gave me a new confidence to think there are still some ahead of me!  I focused on feeling positive and without pain, feeling light and fast. This article hit home because it epitomized how I focused on feeling comfortable.

http://running.competitor.com/2015/10/training/how-perception-of-effort-can-make-or-break-a-race_137729/2

So in the end – a well executed race, I picked up a few ideas to improve our races AND I had a self-confidence boost with a new PR.  Winning all around!

For a really fun race – check out the Narragansett Half Marathon Summer race in Easton, MA!

2015 Ride Round Rhody

Dani and Jacob Brier before the start of the ride.

We had the pleasure this past weekend to host Ride ‘Round Rhody with Jacob and Danny Brier.

Ride ‘Round Roady is an annual bike ride that raises money for cancer treatment and clinical research at local Rhode Island hospitals.  This year’s event started and finished near URI and had 3 different ride distances to encourage cyclists of all levels – 25 mi, 50 mi and 75 mi. The course was truly a nice ride ’round Rhody as it followed some beautiful back roads such as Shannock Falls but also went through downtown Westerly, Watch Hill, Misquamicut Beach before finishing under the Coast Guard House and the Narragansett bike path.  It had some gorgeous spots to it. 

You can still see the skin burns caused by the radiation on my
husband’s face and neck.  His hair was just starting to come back.
This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart as my own husband is Stage IV survivor and I lost a dear friend to cancer recently.  As I was out marking the course in Westerly, it was meaningful as I was riding past all the locations that reminded me of what it was like those few weeks after my husband was diagnosed.  We were living in Westerly at the time, we had just gotten married and found out I was pregnant with our first.  We were still reeling with all this when we were hit with the diagnosis.  We were 27 y/o, 5 mos pregnant and it was Christmas Eve.  I really didn’t understand what the doctor said until he spoke the word “carcinoma….”  Nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  Stage IV.  Aggressive treatment should start this week.  I’ll spare you the horrible treatment story as we all have them or know of them. But we all have sliding doors in our lives and that was one for us.  We took a different path than the one I had expected.

We moved from Westerly to the East Bay shortly after our son was born and my husband had finished his treatments and rarely come back.  So Westerly has a very emotional attachment for me.  I drive down the streets and the timeline from newlyweds to cancer patient to new parent all come reeling back.  The fact that I am marking these same roads for others that are affected by this disease and who are making a positive impact is not lost on me.  It was incredible.  Very rewarding.

It was an unbearably hot day but the riders completed their rides all with big smiles and happy faces. This event is a bit out of our wheelhouse as we tend to focus on LARGE, endurance running races but it was nice to break out of our comfort level.  Much more relaxing!  http://www.rideroundrhody.com/

It was truly a heartwarming event to see all these dedicated riders raise nearly $45,000 for the fight against cancer. Individuals such as these helped save my husband due to his experimental treatment.  

While it didn’t save my friend, Angie – I am hoping efforts such as this will save another life. 

Until there is a cure for everybody, we all must continue to fight! – LIFEcycle

Bristol Independence Rhode Race

full-sized-promo-17.jpgWell – this event did not come out as I hoped but it was still an incredible day!  MONTHS of planning, running and re-running potential courses, lining up vendors, marketing, t-shirts, medals, promotion – and a torrential storm was looking to undo it all.   But it ended up being a FUN event because everyone felt they were all in it together!

I was SO EXCITED for this race.  The half marathon is my favorite distance and I always wanted a good local one.  I wanted to show off Bristol, not just Colt Stat Park!  And when is Bristol most beautiful – 4th of July!  The sailboats in the harbor, the striped center line, the quaint houses dressed in flags.  Color and architecture abound.

When thinking about the course, I looked to some of the races that I liked:  Bristol used to have a 10 miler in November that I loved – it ran along High and Thames St plus Colt State Park but is no longer around.  The 5 mi Hangover classic in January is one of my FAVORITE races – no better way to start the new year then with a COLD race with the BEST trophies!  But up and down Poppasquash through Colt State Park – you are really too cold to appreciate it.  I think my eyelashes freeze shut on the run along the water when on Colt Dr.  The half marathon in Colt State Park in November is just loops – no thanks!

Who gets to drink all the beer they use for their AG trophies?

So I designed the course using all my favorite parts of Bristol – start and finish right downtown in Independence Park, on the water.  I used some of the parade route, some of the neighborhoods, the Town Common, America’s Cup Museum and Colt State Park. Runners need cool things to look at to take our mind off the pain and agony going on below.  This course had views aplenty!

Then the weather reports start coming in.  Not just rain but torrential rain and potential severe thunderstorms.  The emails start flooding in (see what I did there….?).  My beautiful race…. being washed away.  This has been the year of bad weather for race directors – due to snow piles being too high for the roads to be safe, thunderstorms, blizzards.  Not a good thing for business.

The police recommended we cancel.  The runner’s wanted a delay.  Neither was really a good option. Many people plan their race calendars out months in advance.  They rely on certain benchmark or goal races.  Plus – rescheduling a race is so hard; vendors, volunteers, police, runners – we all plan on THIS ONE DAY.  As far as a delay – well then you run the risk of the storm arriving later, sticking around longer.  Add to that the summer traffic in Bristol once the day gets going – it just isn’t safe.

So I call on the big guys – Fred Campagna and Mark Searles.  Both local meteorologists, friends and both running the race.  Not only can these two speak best about what race day weather would look like, they understand the ramifications of the decisions.  We hashed it out for a while but essentially the threat of thunderstorms was equal between 6am and noon.  Delaying the start would be a worse alternative.  Canceling – LAST CHOICE.  We were going to line up at 6:30a as planned, Mark and Fred would check the radar and let me know if we had a 3 hour window to run or if we needed to delay until we did.
This race hurt.  Blisters on my toes and heels.

 

We runners pride ourselves on the suffer score.  After all running is 90% mental – anyone can run, it takes the mentally tough to run more than a half mile.  I trained for Boston in the floods of 2010, I had qualified the day it had snowed in October.  I have racing flats that I kept because they still had bits and pieces of my skin from the blisters incurred in a race.  We love to brag about running, but no more so than when we overcome especially harsh conditions!  And this race is going to be all of that!
So 3 am wake up and we start prepping the course.  SERIOUS wind and rain.  Cone guys are out, I am trying to set up mile markers in torrential winds and rain and they just won’t stay up.   At one point I grabbed an a-frame from the truck and thought it was going to sail me away!  6a – Cones are up, mile markers up, aid stations are dropped and most volunteers are on course.
People like Bryan Ganley made this event fun!

Back to the start – they are ready to go but then the fire chief said “Have you checked the high tide time?  We could have some serious flooding on Poppasquash!”  So now the race is a duathlon!  Run/Swim/Run  🙂  On the bright side, the rain and wind seems to be lessening.  We find Mark and Fred and they give us the go ahead – as good as it is going to get.  We start the race at 6:31a – our most on-time start yet!

So yeah, it was rainy and it was windy but it wasn’t terrible.  We had lost about 200-300 people who had registered but didn’t bother showing up that morning but those that did – WOW!  They loved the race, loved the course and felt such a HUGE sense of accomplishment racing in those conditions.  And they should!  Every single person that lined up on that start probably had serious doubts and wanted to give in to do the easier thing – sleep late, stay warm in bed, not push your body through 13 miles of wet pain.
But they didn’t!  I was so proud to bring this race to hundreds of people but I was more proud of the hundreds of people that raced in those conditions.  I was happy we didn’t cancel or delay – we all fought through and we all came out the other side that much mentally stronger!
What rain?!?!?

Thank you Bristol!  It really was a great race.

We love our pacers!
Says it all right here.
Colt State Park – filled with runners!
High tide???  But still smiling!