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.

 

Ready to Launch

As I have said before – “running” a road race requires the same amount of pre-race prep, as does actually running the race.  We spend our off-season doing the unglamorous work of planning our race strategies, making tweaks to what went wrong last year and learning to improve and grow for this year.

Sound a lot like your running off-season?

Sometimes during your training, you may be struck by injury and incur a set back and have to redefine your plan.  This off-season, I have been struggling with my own inability to run.  Dealing with two different concurrent injuries, I have been sidelined since January – the longest time I have gone without running since High School (I won’t say how long that is)

Like many of you, I define myself by being a runner.  I would plan my whole week around a weather forecast, getting my run in each day was just as rote as brushing my teeth or taking a shower – it was just part of my daily routine.  After experiencing some serious injuries in ramping up for Boston in previous years, I had decided that I would give up LONG distance running so that I could continue to run into my later years.  I was perfectly happy with a 6-8 mi run each day with an occasional half marathon race to keep me feeling like I could still do the “endurance” stuff.

But now I can’t imagine what it will ever feel like to run pain-free. And I know I did this to myself as I didn’t listen to the experts – I sidelined yoga, I have never been much of a pre-run stretcher and it was just easier to go out and run each day – 6 days a week.  When I started to feel pain in my hips, I kept running through it.  And that led to the second injury in my Achilles – which was the run-stopper.

I have listened to Mike Silva from Foundation Performance enough to know I did everything wrong.  Now I am trying a variety of PT, dry needling, laser, Alter G treadmill runs – all in the hopes of getting back on the road.  I am not myself without being able to run outside.  I am sure many of you feel the same and have experienced the same disappointment from an injury.  We can all learn to be better runners, to listen to our bodies and not think we are infallible.

DCIM112GOPRO
Alter G Treadmill at Foundation Performance

So – in our efforts to provide a better overall race experience and as part of our mission to promote health and wellness – we are presenting our 2nd Annual RunStrong Clinic.  Mike Silva from Foundation Performance is back, as is Pete Russo from Russo Racing.  They will both cover training tips and strategies to get you to the starting line and have the best race you can plan for. Both Mike and Pete are leaders in Rhode Island for training and racing in their respective fields with years of experience and a top end client list.

And this time – when you are ready to launch, we will have learned from our mistakes and have some amazing tools to prevent a recurrence of injuries and strategies for running that we can use into our later years!

Hope you can join us.

Spring in Newport

April in New England conjures up many images – daffodils blooming, the grass turning greener, nature shaking off its winter coat and unfurling out its limbs. But for memorial-drive-uphill-startthose of us that are runners – it means marathon season!  Everyone gets into the marathon spirit in New England in April!    Many are either ramping up marathon training for a fall event or tapering for a Spring race.

It is a beautiful time to run – finally getting to reduce the layers, watching the flowers bloom on your favorite running route each day, seeing the animals come out of hibernation all “twitter-pated.”  The days are getting longer and warmer and everything feels fresh and new. The air feels clean and clear and we can enjoy being outside.

running-into-npt
There is no better place to celebrate running in New England and get into that marathon spirit than at our Newport Rhode Race.   Race weekend hosts 3 different distances for your Spring race goals.  You can use the full marathon to help qualify you for Boston, run the half marathon as part of your training for a later race or toe the line in the 5k as a great way to kick off the outdoor running season.

All 3 races start at beautiful Easton’s Beach and enjoy some of the best sights Newport is famous for – Memorial Blvd., wrought iron gates, historic mansions and sweeping ocean views.   This course was named the Most Scenic in the NorthEast by Competitor Magazine.

So we hope that you can join us in stunning Newport in April – see the daffodils
bloom, witness nature come alive and enjoy the awe inspiring Ocean Dr. as you welcome racing season and launch the start a new running adventure.

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!

Ocean State Rhode Race (aka Why I love our Rhode Crew)

Our last race of the year is usually a big one.  We start and finish the season with a full marathon.  While this year’s race had a new location, we were still going to end on a high note.  Controversy had dominated this race in 2015 and we just wanted to get back to our running roots and execute a race that celebrates Rhode Island.

To begin – we honored the original Ocean State Marathon by contacting the race director and asking permission to use a portion of this name.  Additionally – that race incorporated Narragansett in the course and we elected to have our race start and finish in this beautiful seaside town.  We created a course that had beautiful shore line, stone bridges, quiet back roads and the most picturesque run along the Narrow River.

To end the race – we had the authentic RI blues band – Neal and the Vipers playing as the runners rounded the last corner, we served Del’s Lemonade and Chowder at the finish and it was just a gorgeous day to have our post race festival at the iconic Narragansett Town Beach.  Our race participants were so loyal this year and we hoped that we were able to provide a race that celebrated running in Rhode Island.  We are extremely grateful to everyone for joining us in our new location and we are humbled that you joined us.  

A special note of thanks goes to our Rhode Crew.  On race days, these guys start working at 3 am and often don’t stop until 7 pm.  They do anything that needs to be done, no matter what.  After the mesh banners are rolled up, the barricades are put away and the DJ has stopped bringing the runners home, the Rhode Crew still has to go back and do the dirty job of cleaning up and unloading the trucks, pushing their bodies past the point of exhaustion.  They do all that is asked of them (even if we don’t ask), they do it very well and they keep us laughing the whole day.  They are the most generous and kind group and we could not execute these races without them.

So to Greg, Mike, Mike, Neil, Sean, Scott, James, Riley, Kyle, Matt, Keith and Byron – THANK YOU for another great racing season!

Jamestown Half Marathon

Jamestown is my favorite “Rhode Race.”  We often refer to it as the red-headed step child of the 4 races – it doesn’t get as much notoriety of the bigger races but the course is just stunning.  The majestic beauty of the downtown harbor as it overlooks the Pell Bridge with its peaceful sailboats bobbing in the harbor, the historic Watson Farm and the silent windmill, the peaceful ponds and fields and the rolling hills – to me, Jamestown is quintessential Rhode Island in its quiet charm.

But it is a challenging course.  And you can see none of the above with pea soup fog like we had race morning.  🙂

For the third race in a row – we had weather related issues.  The fog was a new one.  It precluded our participants, spectators and volunteers from truly seeing the beauty of the course (as well as some other key locations – like the start!).  We hadn’t prepared for it so it did present some challenges on race day – but it was still a great day.

We had a new start and finish location at Fort Getty but this location was going to be much better – it allowed us to avoid off-island parking and provided a stunning first and last half mile with Mackeral Cove now being incorporated into the course.  Finally – the Pavilion at Fort Getty was a natural shelter for our participants with amazing views of Narragansett Bay. But with all new things – it is hard to predict what can happen and how best to problem solve in advance.  We do sit down before each race, go over our wrap up notes from last year and brainstorm what can happen this year – and what we can do to prevent or prepare for it.  

With the new finish location and in order for the course to be truly 13.1, the start had to be a ways from the finish.  We didn’t anticipate this being a problem as you had to go right past it to get into Fort Getty.    However – with the fog, our runners were unable to see much past their windshields. We also did have some shuttle issues – one bad driver and it affects a NUMBER of people – but next year, we should be able to avoid shuttles all together.

But in the end – the race is still my favorite and was a success.  The new start and finish is much more conducive to the post race atmosphere.  The medals were bling-worthy, our food was plentiful and appropriate for such an early morning start.  And the course is still gorgeous and challenging – after completing it, participants have such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment – they are truly beaming.  It is so incredible to help people achieve these goals.

Jamestown is just a hidden gem and we are always so excited to show it off in the best way we know how – a Rhode Race.

What I have learned from Back-of-the-Packers (i.e. I have the greatest job in the world)

DreamFar is a inner city group that trains for
road races in hopes to keep kids off the streets
and away from drugs.

We just returned from upstate NY for a 5k, 10k and half marathon at a casino.  This is always a tough race to execute due to the distance – we work crazy hours cramming a week’s worth of work into 3 days, (we enjoy the casino nightlife), get up at 3:30am and produce the race, then drive the 5 hours home and unload the trucks at 9pm at night.  We are all beat by the end as it is always a very physical job.  But this year it was all worth it.

This year, we had a woman in the half marathon who was amazing to me.  We have a time cut off with our races as we do need to open roads back up, let our volunteers go home and allow the community to get back to their business of the day.  We knew this woman wasn’t going to be able to make that cut off.  But as the sag vehicle trailed right behind her all day, she never gave up.  This woman could have gotten in our truck at any time (it was right behind her, taunting her even…..) and had a ride back to the finish.  Even when I talked to her about how we had to pull up the cones and wasn’t sure we would be able to keep up the finish arch, she wanted to finish the race she started.  Her tenacity and will power was inspiring to me.  She finished that race, under police escort, on her own and under that finish line arch – she never gave up.

This woman had been in Boston during the bombing and had
been diverted before the finish.
She was able to finish her marathon with us and she was so moved.

As a race director, we often talk to the back of the packers that are not going to make the cutoff times – 95% of them do not want the ride back, they WANT to finish, even on their own.  The few people that ask for the ride back are in pain and often in tears.  We hear such amazing stories as to why crossing that line is so important to them.  It may be they are running for someone who no longer can, they have battled disease or abuse (mental or physical), they have this life long goal they need to achieve, they want to prove to their family that they can, for their own self-esteem – everyone has a story when they toe that start line.  Because running 13.1 or 26.2 miles is HARD – but that battle is mostly mental.

When you direct a race, you throw a lot of balls in the air and hope they all come down at the right time.  Most of the time, they do not – nothing ever goes as planned.  But when I start to get overwhelmed during the race about what is going wrong (I am a perfectionist so I don’t want ANYTHING to go wrong) – I take a moment and I stand at the finish line and I watch everything that has gone right.  All those stories come to fruition at the finish line – tears of joy, of pain, of self fulfillment, of goals being attained and life long dreams are satisfied.  A finish line of a race is truly the happiest place on earth.

And in some small way, I helped them achieve that.  So for me – I have the greatest job in the world.