Community The Running Word On: Race Medals, T-Shirts and Water Stations

The Running Word On: Race Medals, T-Shirts and Water Stations


A few weeks ago we ask runners from far and wide to share their opinions about racing and the environment. When it comes to how you choose your next race, the medals, T-shirts and the overall importance of the races environmental impact are important factors, and we appreciate your participation, always.

How do runners determine our next race? While we might think there’s a statistical science to it or that medals, T-shirts and bagels matter the most, these really aren’t deciding factors for runners—at least the ones we spoke with. For those surveyed: race date (95 percent), location (86 percent), and the length of the race (89 percent) topped the list. Furthermore, more than 50 percent of racers surveyed said their decision to run was also affected by the environmental and sustainability practices of the event. Races need to get lots of things right to attract our crowd.

As it turns out, runners are sincerely concerned with the impact of a race and how people who live in the host city feel after the race is over. From how much litter is left behind after a race to how people feel about runners, the impression you leave after a race matters. As one runner commented: “I appreciate it when races remind runners to be conscious of the communities we are running in and to be mindful of not throwing waste on the streets.” In fact, 89 percent of runners who took the survey would have a better impression of races if they were actually more environmentally friendly and sustainable. We know events do what they can to be inclusive and sustainable, yet survey data reveals that if races made that a primary event feature, runners would be more apt to participate.

That said, when it comes to making good with Mother Nature, runners believe that opting out of T-shirts, medals and swag is the way to go. “Honestly, I think getting rid of the subjective promotional material in kits and handing people their bib, shirt and pins would save more for the environment than getting rid of cups,” says one runner. So what about those water stations with the disposable cups? While some runners (22 percent) do carry their own, 46 percent are relying on water stations to stay hydrated. As on environmentally-aware runner explained: “I try to limit my environmental impact daily so I have to admit that I don’t mind using a disposable cup during a race if it means not carrying hydration. However, I would welcome efforts by race organizers to use biodegradable or other types of cups with a smaller environmental footprint.”

We appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions with us. We will share our data with Canada’s largest races and report back to you on the progress being made in Canada. Our community is inclusive and our race directors are environmentally conscious, technologically apt, open minded and working hard to bring Canada to the forefront of sustainability. It’s important to say that sponsors of these events—the companies by and large footing the bill—are also eager to help events lessen their ecological footprint. It’s your sport. These are your races. Read about our thoughts on how racing impacts our environment.

Let’s make running and racing something that we can all be proud of. (In addition, two runners who completed their survey will receive prize packages: either a six month supply of Nuun or a pair of New Balance Beacon sneakers. Check out our Facebook page to find out if you’ve won).

See you at the races. Your friends at iRun.