I'm really digging this trail racing stuff. I've always liked smaller races. In fact after Chicago Marathon I vowed to never do a race that size again. Why? Crowds stress me out. I'm already a mess of nerves on race day anyway. But add the stress of finding the start line amongst 40,000 people, waiting in line for 30 minutes to pee, crowded aid stations, the masses of humanity at the start line, tripping over paper cups, banana peels, and I become agitated, nervous, frustrated, sick to my stomach -- and this is before I toe the line.
What I've found at these trail races is that, many of the races are a few hundred people or less. As reference, my favorite road marathons have been no more than 300 people.
Ever better yet, in trail running, since many of the aid stations are miles apart, it's expected you carry your own hydration. Therefore when you get to an aid station, a majority of the runners refill their water bottles. What does this mean? And why do I see this as a benefit? Well if you have ever run the Chicago Marathon and slipped on a street lined with banana peels, sponges and paper cups, you know what I mean.
The more I race trail runs, the more disgusted I get when I see all this litter and waste at road races. It's dirty. It's gross. It's sad. Really.
I will be participating in the Isle de Bois 50K on December 10. There is also a 10-mile option. This is a CUP FREE race. BYOC. Don't know how to race cup free, read the race director's blog.
Yes, there are challenges. Yes, people will complain. But guess what guys, it's not up to the race directors to make a change. It starts with the runners. Yeah, that's right you. Instead of complaining that the race director didn't have cups, even though it was WELL advertised as a cup-free race, make a commitment to reduce, reuse. Don't throw your gel packets on the floor, use the trash cans provided. Yes, it's sticky and you don't want to put it in your pocket, so what? Isn't it better that you get sticky than a wild animal ingesting your left overs? Let's face it, you're dirty, sweaty, smelly and gross anyway. And sticky to the equation and you're one hawt mess. You can shower later.
I know, you're going to tell me that you're not going to carry your own cup in a 5K race or a road marathon. That's fine. I probably won't either. But let's try to throw our trash in the trash cans provided. Some people will carry their cups well after the aid station and throw their trash in someone's yard. Or their gel packets on the ground. Let's be respectful. You'd be pissed if someone threw trash in your front yard. Honestly in most cases, the nano second it takes for you to toss your cup in the trash, won't hurt your race.
We have a personal responsibility to ensure these beautiful places are here for not only us to enjoy, but our future generations. Let's make it a goal to leave only footprints.