What individual athletes can do to #runclean:
• Many runners go for long training runs without carrying any water, but suddenly in a race they cannot get through three kays without water. You don’t need to drink so much water when running, especially in shorter distances – and you really don’t need to take three sachets at each water table! So often runners take more than one sachet and toss one or more unused, or only use half the water in the sachets before throwing them away. That not only wastes precious water, but also means more waste lying in the road.
• Better idea: Carry your own water in a hydration backpack or water bottle belt, so that you don’t need to use the sachets. Some runners say it weighs them down, and thus slows them down, but trail runners seem able to run quite comfortably and quickly while carrying water, so surely road runners can also do so.
• When you do use the sachets, don’t drop them (or other refuse) in the road – always look for a bin. Come on, moving a few metres towards a bin really won’t cost you that much time.
• In fact, you don’t even need to throw the sachets away… You could carry your rubbish till you can throw it away, even if that is at the finish. Just stick the empty plastic sachets in a pocket, or in the waistband of your shorts, because carrying a few pieces of ultra lightweight plastic simply will not weigh you down that much!
• Handy hint: If your running kit does not have one, make your own pocket by sowing on your front provincial licence number with the upper edge left loose, to form a pocket in which you can carry rubbish to the next bin or the finish. Again, this will not weigh you down and cost you time.
• If you simply must drop a sachet in the road, try to at least do so within easy distance of the water tables, in demarcated litter areas, not two and a half kays up the road. That way the clean-up crew can quickly, easily and safely clean up. Remember, many of these volunteers are not runners, and they are there to support you and help you get to the finish line, not spend hours of backbreaking work walking for miles along busy roads to clean up after you! Think they will be back next year to hand you water sachets after that? Think again…
• Never toss a sachet where it cannot be seen or retrieved by the clean-up crew. Especially not into the bushes next to the road. Or into a storm water drain. Or under parked cars.
• On windy days, make doubly sure your litter is well disposed of in bins or rubbish bags so that it doesn’t get blown all over the place, thus making it even less likely that it all will be picked up by the clean-up crew.
• If you see fellow runners littering, try to diplomatically suggest a cleaner attitude going forwards, but avoid getting into an argument or confrontation.
• Even better, why don’t you volunteer to do water table duty at a local race and then help clean up the mess afterwards. That should make you think twice about tossing your sachet next time, because we doubt you will enjoy picking up a few thousand sachets. Nobody would enjoy that!
Lastly, make a point of being a cleaner runner by promoting a no littering rule, not only in your own behaviour, but also in your social media comments and interaction with fellow runners, and include #runclean in your Tweets and Facebook posts.
Think before you throw - #runclean