Monday, December 1, 2008

Mini Marathon sends mixed message on plastic recycling efforts

Is the 500 Festival Mini Marathon going green or not?

I just read my December issue of the Min-E-Newsletter, and I'm a little surprised that one of the largest half-marathons in the country is giving lip service to the idea of going green. Read on:

This month has been very exciting for the organizers of the Mini-Marathon. There will be two new additions to the 2009 race. The first addition is the D-TAG: a new disposable timing device!

What is it? This year, participants will receive a disposable timing device instead of the rental chip that has been used in the past. The device is called the “D-Tag”! How do I put it on? Click here for directions on how to put the tag on your shoe on
race day.

How will it help make the participant experience better?

  • No pre-race chip check at the Expo necessary
  • Less backup at the finish line area
  • No post-race chip removal or return fees
  • You can toss it in the trash or keep it as a keepsake after the race
The newsletter then goes on to state the second "exciting" initiative:

The second addition to the 2009 Mini-Marathon is the RECYCLING INITIATIVE: A new way to promote a healthy environment!

If you haven’t heard already, the 500 Festival has announced a new recycling effort for the 2009 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon and Finish Line 500 Festival 5K with the help of Aquafina.

The Aquafina Green Team will be on hand to provide recycling kiosks and support
staff at the Mini-Marathon finish line and at the Post Race Party in Military Park. The recycling kiosks will be used to collect water bottles from participants as well as any plastic cups or aluminum cans. So be on the lookout for these on event day and help us make an effort towards a healthier environment!

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it a little odd to applaud oneself for launching a plastic recycling effort at the same time as announcing that they will create 39,000 or so disposable plastic chips that will just go into the same landfill as the water bottles or cans would have gone? Who in the world totes a soda can or a plastic water bottle for 13.1 miles so they can tote it to the finish line? I've done four half-marathons and can say I've not seen anyone do that. (Though I did see a guy chug a beer at the start line once...)

And given that the Mini uses paper cups, not plastic ones, along the race track, I'm doubtful there will be much impact by allowing recycling kiosks. To me, this smacks of a bad publicity stunt.

I've e-mailed the Mini Marathon organizers and have asked that they reconsider using disposable chips in future races. I urge you to contact the Mini Marathon as well. E-mail with your feedback on this issue! (And post your comments here as well.)


Corie said...

Oh my gosh. That's such an obvious two-faced approach to "being green." What the heck were they thinking? I did the Mini and didn't experience any horrendous back-up at the finish line to remove my chip, and I had to attend the Expo for more reasons than just to activate my chip. So to me it seems like they're trying to find reasons to make it look like it's beneficial to the 39,000 runners, when in reality the only thing it's likely reducing is the time they spend on billing for the missing chips. That's pitiful! You should really e-mail a news station and point out this oddity and see if someone might cover it. Sounds like something Channel 6 would cover!

CoCargoRider said...

Racing events are far from being green and never will be. The food both raw (bananas) and processed (bars) have a HUGE carbon impact, not mention the litter issue from people not dealing with their trash.

Main reason I quit running and triathlons competitively.

Robbie said...

Munultraguy, I agree, but why purposely make the situation worse by adding to the waste?

EnviRambo said...


I went to ChronoTrack's website to check out the D tag. Do you know what they are made of? Is it for sure plastic? It looks like Tyvek and since it peels off of the race bib probably is; which of course is plastic. But, no where does it state what it is actually made of. If it is Tyvek, Dupont has a recycling program for it. Perhaps this year they could have kiosks set up for that as well all the unnecessary plastic bottles Aguafina is so graciously supplying?

I would like to write a post about it, but want to have more information first. I am not a marathon runner so it's a bit out of my realm.

CoCargoRider said...

I agree with the trash issue. I was just saying that these events cannot and never will be green. People are too competitive now and racing only encourages it instead of fostering community.

Chiot's Run said...

Mr Chiots and I just ran our Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot and I was shocked that they used disposeable chips. I purchased my own several years ago so I could reuse it each time.

I agree with mnultraguy, races aren't green events and they probably never will be.

Anonymous said...

Races will be green if you demand it. It's up to the athletes to make our voiced heard by the event organizers - and they are listening.

Check out our site: Athletes for a Fit Planet.

FitPlanet's mission, plain and simple, is to help events go green - road races, triathlons, cycling events, charity walks, etc.

I launched the company in January 2008 and this year we are working with over 80 events in the US and Canada, including the LA Marathon and the NY City Triathlon, earthrun, the USA Triathlon's 4 Championship events and many more.

Check us out and let meknow what you think.

There's also a certification standard for events -

Tell your local race director you want them to gogreen. They will listen if they hear it often enough.

Thanks for listening...

Bruce Rayner
Chief Green Officer
Athletes for a Fit Planet

robanna said...

What are the possibilities of reusing these disposable chips?
I got one at a race and it came in a little baggy with a code printed on it. I was wondering if it would be possible to reuse it in events that allow using your own chip....

Just for the record, that was my first race and no very little about the chips.

Robbie said...

I would definitely check with the company that provided the chips. I can't see why they couldn't be reused...