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.

Get your BQ in PVD

We often view the Boston Marathon as the BIG brother to the north for our Providence Marathon.  While not in the same size or scale, we are close in date and proximity – and that’s ok. 🙂 #marathongoals

When the bombs hit in 2013, we were struck especially hard.  It hit me personally as it was the first year I wasn’t running it after a number of years of being there and I was so shook by the thought that my kids could have been standing there when it happened.  So scary.

But is also incredibly frightening as we had our own marathon in a few short weeks, just 45 minutes down the road.  It was a scary time for sure.  Long story I will spare you with – but the race went off (albeit with a TON of security) and we had a number of the Boston participants who were unable to finish in the weeks before,  reach their marathon goals in Providence.  It was so amazing to watch the tears of joy, accomplishment, empowerment and relief. It was incredibly moving.

Since that day, it has been a personal goal to help more runners get their BQ at PVD.  We have noticed that we are slowly creeping up the list of the fastest BQ races.  In 2014, we were 84th, in 2015 we were 74th and last year we were 57th!  We want to keep moving up that list!

Providence has a relatively flat course, it is still small enough that you are not weaving through thousands of people to ensure you stay on pace (let’s face it, in a marathon EVERY STEP counts), and we have a great small city vibe!

This year – we have a special prize for those of you that get your pvd-bq-mugBQ in PVD.  Come to the awards tent after the race with your results and we will have a memento of your accomplishment!

Learn more about the race and register here.

2016 Providence Marathon

I don’t think words can express how grateful and humbled we are after this weekend’s events.  For those that have been following along – this race has been a challenge. Every year it is a challenge as it is a logistical nightmare running 3000 people through a downtown City using 3 courses and 4 municipalities.  But this year was especially difficult for a number of reasons – but the overwhelming support and kind words have brought us to near tears.

We started this company as we wanted to “do good.”  It seems trite but after our previous experiences, we knew things

could be done differently.  I have been a runner for a LONG time and our participants are like family to me, a kinship.  Karen comes from a hospitality background and it is just in her nature to treat people well.  When runners come to a race, we wanted to treat them like guests in our home. Walt Disney had personified this initially with the idea that park go-ers are “guests.”  This is truly how we felt.

But we had some legal battles in this race, some hurdles we had to overcome.  These battles gave us some serious concerns in our ability to even put on the race financially.  We did have to cut some corners in our budget that we normally would not want to cut. It was incredibly razor thin in order to survive.  We analyzed EVERY line item, hunted out every bargain and did away with a lot of waste. We asked our vendors to sharpen their pencils and they were incredibly supportive. We worked smarter, not harder.  

But we made it through the race.  And the feed back has been so positive.  We were not perfect, but we are listening and we can continue to improve.  We LOVE to hear the stories, the happy faces, the cheering supporers, the amazing sense of positivity that is at every finish line.  This race has humbled us and made us so grateful to every runner, volunteer, vendor, Rhode Crew, police officer, security, fire and the THOUSANDS of individuals it takes to put on this race.

We thank you – from the bottom of our hearts.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

Part of Rhode Races & Events core mission is to minimize our races impact on the environment.   When we started this company, this was a goal of ours from the onset.  We recognize how much trash and waste is produced at a race and we spent a great deal of time in the off season looking for ways to reduce that.  We feel we have made some great changes this year that will allow us to have less than half the waste than in previous years.  Here are some changes for this year:

On course water – we have switched from 6 1-gallon containers in a cardboard box to 5 gal returnable bottles for zero waste.  Thank you to our sponsor – Polar Beverages!

Finish line water – we have partnered with Essentia as a sponsor and they will provide only the water that we consume.  They will be taking any excess water with them to be used elsewhere.  Additioanlly, we will have plastic recycling bins throughout the post race area for recycling of those water bottles.

full-sized-promo-131
Space Blankets – thanks to HeatSheets, we can recycle all the space blankets and they will be turned into outdoor decking!  So cool.

Discarded clothing – we will be collecting all the clothing that is discarded at the start of the race and donating it to North American Family Institue.  These clothes will go to local children in need.

Starting at our Bristol race – we will be switching our on course energy drink to Nuun.  Not only is Nuun a better electrolyte replacement than what we currently use, it is also non-GMO and plant based.  Finally – Nuun is mixed with the Polar water in reusable coolers and served in compostable cups.  This will reduce our on course waste to partically zero!

We are still looking for a better solution for those gel packets!  We love Boom’s all fruit formula but no one has really found a way to deliver that gel in an environmentally friendly manner.

BUT – we still need your help!  Please look for the recycling bins around the race festival area and dispose of your plastic bottles, heatsheets and other recyclable material properly.

THANKS!

Running a Marathon is Hard. Recycling Is Easy.

Rhode Races & Events is committed to recycling at this year’s Providence Marathon. Road Races create a lot of waste, but we’ll reduce our footprint by diverting hundreds of pounds of cardboard boxes, water jugs, and plastic bottles from the landfill.

Look for recycling bins next to each trash bin on race day. It will be a team effort, so before disposing of your waste, take a moment to ensure you are using the correct bin. Thanks for joining our efforts to make this event more environmentally friendly.

Common Road Race Waste Items

Plastic Bottles – recycling bin.

Plastic Cups – recycling bin. Trash the straw.

Paper and Styrofoam Coffee Cups – trash bin.

Banana Peels and Pizza Crusts – trash bin.

Paper Plates and Napkins – trash bin.

Cliff Bar, Gu, and food wrappers – trash bin.

Plastic Bags – trash bin.

General Recycling Guidelines

Recyclable Items. plastic jugs and bottles, plastic cups (w/out straws), other plastic containers, aluminum cans, glass bottles and jars, paper, cardboard, juice boxes and cartons.

Non-recyclable Items. food wrappers, food, plastic bags and cling wrap, paper and Styrofoam coffee cups, straws, napkins and paper towels, disposable plates, greasy cardboard.

*If you not sure whether an item is recyclable, please dispose of it in the trash.

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.