Finally a large mass participation running event is about to break the norms…..Nice-Cannes Marathon will be changing the Norm by providing cups at every alternate hydration point. There will be water only points, where runners will have to have their own hydration container to collect the water like a cup or bottle or a hydration bag.
Participants to events have come to expect that organisers should clean up after them! These are quotes from runners who participate in marathons when questioned about the litter:
“The volunteers will clean up after us”
“We pay the organisation to clean up after us”
“So what about the litter? The elites can throw rubbish on the floor”
“It (the litter) is part of a marathon event”
“I don’t see much litter on the course” (this is a sub 3:30 runner)
When I ran in my first marathon, my friend took my bottle from me that I had held for some miles and tossed it to the side “This is what you’re supposed to do, someone will clean it up”
When have requested organisations to allow my tyre into an event, some event organisers have told me:
“The tyre is against our health and safety”
“Someone could trip over my tyre”
“The tyre will damage the environment (damage the flora and fauna)”
Yet when questioning these same organisations about the health and safety of rubbish being allowed on the floor, tripping up on tossed bottles, skidding on cups, slipping on banana skins, having gel packets stuck on the underside of shoes ….. there is silence….. the eyes avert to the right and ignore the truth. How many road runners have had any of the latter accidents happen to them? I was once told by one event organiser that this is how first class events are run in Western countries (re throwing litter everywhere), and thus implied that is how they should run in Asia!
How Runners Prepare For A Marathon.
During training, every person I have run with (fast and slow) has brought a bottle / hydration bag with them when running up to 20 miles. In 2010 when I began to boldly ask runners to BYOR (Bring your Own Reusable), I was told that it would mess up their PB (Personal Best). London marathon participants have told me to take a bottle, sip it and then toss it on the floor in order to be fast. Their perception is screwy as they have to slow down to go to a hydration point, sometimes queuing to pick up a cup / bottle and then attempt to sip some water before tossing the rest of the contents and cup / bottle straight onto the floor to the side of them or behind them. Just imagine if you never had to slow down and could choose which hydration point to pick up water. I only have one case study with less than 2000 runners that showed faster times amongst the top 20 runners when the organisation gave up cups (Cheltenham Challenge in 2018) and participants had to BYOR bottle / hydration pack.
Nice-Cannes marathon and Singapore Marathon will by my last two marathons for this year. Nice-Cannes Marathon and Singapore Marathon will respectively attract about 15-20 thousand participants. Only the top 100 athletes will be competing for a financial reward (0.0005% of the participants). The rest of us (99.995%) are there for the social, companionship, self challenge to complete. Litter on a run is not only poor health and safety, it is also dis-respectful to other runners who have to wade through that rubbish, and when the weather is against the runner (such as wind) the element will send that rubbish into the bushes and water ways.
With the fundamental environmental awareness of human societies stressing resources, swimming, cycling and large mass events like Glastonbury have already begun to encourage participants to BYOR cup/bottle/hydration pack. Yet road marathon runners still expect to be pampered with unlimited cups/bottles/sponges to discard.
Nice-Cannes Marathon is about to change this “normality” by provisioning cups at 7 out of 15 hydration points as a transition to going cupless in the following year.
For the other cupless hydration points the runners will be expected to BYOR or use their hand if desperate. This will mean that there will be 100,000 less cups discarded! In addition the event will provide one sponge to each runner, reducing the number of sponges discarded on the course by 20,000. This reduces the amount of waste generated by 700kg and thus there will be a carbon saving from manufacturing the items to cleaning up and transporting the waste to be processed.
Nice-Cannes runners, Can you do better than a PB?
I will be watching you all!!!! Participants, Sponsors, Organisers, Vendors….
and will be partnering with TAF: