Category Archives: Eco-conscious

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A Glowing Feeling of Change

TucksmansModel

Tuckmans Model from Shift-IT 

My highly performing bunch of 40 volunteers pretty much dived into Norming and Performing. There really wasn’t time for the first two stages of Tucksman model. Cuifen and I seemed to hit it off pretty immediately and when the rest of the amazing Green Ambassadors came on board, the team were immediately coming forward with ideas and taking on responsibilities that were part of their skill set to get tasks completed.

More blessings came in the penultimate week, with Cuifen picking up a photographer, another community clean up volunteer, a much needed banana marshal and a banana mascot 2 days before the event. Yes a banana mascot. Ivan volunteered to be our most amazing mascot ever and gave trash education, cajoled, enticed and encouraged the crowd to get their banana skins in the bin or hit the person holding the bin!

BananaMacot at Play

And although everything might not have gone to plan, the Green Ambassadors dealt with it.

Expo – Bin It

Though there was some information in the info leaflets, Nicholas and Sharon took the initiative to remind runners to keep the course clear of trash at the Expo.

SharonNicholas

 

Sssh There’s a Tyre on Site

With the help of June, Greenie / Greenit made it over to the Ironman site office at the Padang, to errrr inspire and encourage the organisation. Hope Greenie GreenIt behaved herself.

Greenie

 

Banana Skin Bins

Veolia provided six bins specially for the banana skins, but it was up to us to differentiate the bins from the rest. There was a spark of light coming from an online community (Journey to Zero Waste, Sg) in the form of Wai Sen. 5 days before the event, this bundle of energy came on board and dived straight into the performing side coming up with ideas and then picking up kit for the team and scrounging around in market dumpsters for abandoned cardboard boxes to execute those ideas. Cuifen definitely was my right hand woman, and Wai Sen became my left hand woman: who brought in Kampong Sengang to support us with kit and printing as well as Funatics to happily sponsor inflatable bananas.

And tada we now had bin decorations at the Padang and funky looking banana marshals to interact with the runners to collect their banana skins.

On the Day

The Better Trails team of 5 kicked it off at 2am to prepare for the oncoming 45,000 runners. Their mission was to perform an impact assessment / green audit of the 1/2 marathon route during and after the event. It would be a long day for them.

BetterTrailsTeam

Next up were the Half marathon and Full marathon runners, Bin It bibs to the ready and their own BYOB

SiliaMax

At 6am –  Wai Sen and Jim needed guidance to find the best place to get to the banana point location. Of course I was up with my team to ensure they were all well. The internet is an amazing tool that helped me guide them to the nearest location to avoid the road closures.

BananaMarshalPickupBananaCollectionJim

Pledges

Pledges collected

And then the Trash Marshals trooped in. They handled any “issues” with perfect adaptability. After all plans are simply guidelines. A highly performing team will adapt to the situation and make stuff happen.

The runners came through and despite their very early morning start, some stayed on to double up on their role as Trash Directors and Pledge Collectors.

TrashDirectorsPadang

Trash Directors and Runners

Am proud of those 40 ambassadors who came forward to make an impression amongst 45,000 runners. We estimate about 350kg of banana skins were diverted from the landfill. This is about the fifth of the bananas that were made available to the runners that day.

How Effective Were the Contracted Cleaners After the Event?

Mechanical cleaners were used on the main route along the ECP. Sadly stuff that ended up in the grass that were not at check points were neglected. 10 green ambassadors did a cross check of the area, some having started their day at 6am as Trash Directors and ending the day as Community Clean Up.  About 3 bags of trash were picked up. Here are examples of  items the group found 2 metres on either side of 8km of the route: sponge, blinky light as this event starts in the dark, the nasty gel packets, soles of shoes, bottle caps, caffeine tablets, sun block.

This is a reminder to events to look on either side of the course. Thank you to the green ambassadors for putting up with the mosquitos!

CCUCLeanUpTeam

How Effective Were The Bin It Ambassador Runners?

Bearing in mind there were only 15 runners amongst 45,000 runners, and thus there would still be running tossers, Ambassador runners were seen. Here are some comments from sgrunners which  is a running forum.

Comment1

Comment3

Just like any fire, we got the tinder going, and then we added some kindling. Now  we need the fire wood…… The Public Health Council would like to collaborate.

May this initiative be duplicated, morphed and allowed to burn bright.

To the Green Ambassadors, thank you for your enthusiasm, passion, and energy to make this green initiative happen. Green Ambassadors you are now ready to lead….

 

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A Step Closer to No More Trashy Events

My vision is to see more effort and responsibility towards the amount of trash outdoor events generate by all parties (organisation, participants and volunteers); from the generation to the disposal and beyond. To see a clean, green attitude as a norm and not as an exception.

Earlier this year, I finally got a bite from the Singapore Marathon. Met with the organisers on the 20th October, who were open and agreed to many of the initiatives. This would mean about a month to make some changes in the way the organisation would normally operate, to the way the volunteers would encourage runners and finally the education the participants and public will receive.

At the same time, if this goes really well, other organisations will want help as they will need to raise their game! So the challenge would be to inspire as many as possible who will want to replicate the initiative in other organisations. To do this, I would need to stay away from Singapore as this would force everyone to be involved. It would also be a personal challenge to organise and build virtual relationships.

Thankfully, whilst in Singapore, this lone wolf found a buddy to collaborate with, in the form of Cuifen, an enthusiastic environmentalist who wanted to be part of the deal. Despite knowing very little about each other, we have complimented each other over and over again with being as upfront and as open as possible. It has been pure bliss to collaborate with someone who has similar goals, who wants to see a social “we” goal rather than a personal egotistical “I” goal and ideas are recognised between the two of us.

She has certainly been a huge resource, meeting various organisations on my behalf, helping me create and develop documentation. I have sat long days for a month behind a computer, tapping away on a keyboard as Singapore is 8 hours ahead of the UK. Between the two of us we have gathered a group of 28 enthusiastic volunteers who also want to see change in the way mass events are organised and allowed to operate.

And everyone has certainly played a role in progressing this forward.

Marinna conceived “Bin It” at the 2XU 50K marathon and we flew with it; Chun Yeow stepped in to make my clumsy logo look amazing; Hangzhong, Wayde, Sharon, and more recently Wai Sen have all taken action to progress the initiatives forward. I feel blessed to have this amazing, enthusiastic team as energy generates more energy.

The Initiatives

We thought that intermingling with runners to educate runners to simply “bin their trash” would help break the mentality of runners who simply follow what other running tossers do. So we got some runners sponsored and other runners came on board with their own registrations to be sign mules, as well as to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) and to be an example to disposing of their running trash in the correct manner. These runners will be spread amongst the pack, having marathon completion times ranging from 2:45 to 6:30, to help remind runners to “Bin It” plus more. After all it is about the social responsibility message that each of these runners will spread to other runners.

GreenAmbassadorRunners

To help us reduce the amount of trash that will go to landfill, the Singapore Marathon organisation will provide recycle bins at the end point (Padang) as well as special bins for banana skins. To help facilitate our request for these bins, we have “Trash Directors” to ensure the public put their trash in the right bins correctly and responsibly. At the Padang, over 50,000 500ml plastic bottles and over 50,000 cans of isotonic will be made available to participants & volunteers. If we can ensure that as much as possible goes into the right bins, Veolia (the cleaning contractors) will recycle all that goes in the recycle bins (plastic bottles and cans). Our volunteers will BYOB to again reduce the amount of trash that is generated from our involvement.

GreenAmbassadorVols

Along the East Coast Park, close to the two banana points, we will have Banana Marshals to separate the banana skin waste from the rest of the trash, so that as much as possible can go towards composting. All banana skins will be sent to community gardens / made into a composting mix.

The Padang and East Coast Park banana points will have approximately, in total close to 50,000 finger bananas provided to the runners. Only one banana point is has been ignored as we could not get enough volunteers to be banana marshals.

To encourage the Singapore Marathon’s volunteers to be proactive and help change the behaviour of “Tossers”, we hope a video will be sufficient for them to view as well as hope they will get involved with us.

At all points the Green Ambassadors will be taking videos and photos to observe behaviour during and after the event to see if the campaign has worked. Finally after the cleaning contractors have been through, more Green Ambassadors will complete a cross check of a section that has in the past had run away trash. I hope they find nothing.

And by doing all of this, we the Green Ambassadors of the Singapore Marathon hope we set a precedent for other mass outdoor events in Singapore.

Thank you to Ironman Asia, who organise this event, for believing in us and allowing us the opportunity to deliver a stronger green initiative for everyone.

https://singaporemarathon.com/towards-green-marathon/

Bring on the 3rd December, the Green Ambassadors are ready! And note this day as a turning point for other outdoor urban events in Singapore and beyond to raise their game.

Other Supporters:

Kampong Sengang: http://kampungsenang.org/

Funatics: https://www.funantics.com.sg/

 

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The 2 Degree Challenge

MyTemperatureWhen I announced I was going to turn off my fridge, someone (Jess) suggested that my heating temperature should also be turned down. I decided to do it by 2 degrees.
Now you might think that perhaps I turned down my house temperature because apparently this year our carbon emissions rose by 2% and we have seen a wrath of climate issues round the world related to global warming (hurricanes, tornadoes, bush fires, massive flooding)
Source is here: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2152929-bad-news-carbon-emissions-have-suddenly-started-rising-again/
And our carbon emissions are set to continue to rise. The amount of energy we burn at this time of the year for heating or cooling is pretty substantial and so wondered, what if we all tried a 2 degree challenge for at least for 1 year how much difference would that make?

No I thought 2 degrees C was a better challenge than 1 degrees C…. But now it’s been mentioned….

2DegreeChallenge

If you’re in a cold country, reduce your heating thermostat by 2 degrees C.
If you’re in a hot country, and use an air conditioner, increase the thermostat by 2 degrees C.
Currently am living in the UK and my house heating is normally at 17 degs C. I wear 3 layers on top. Have now turned it down to 15 degs C and a fourth layer has gone on when am sitting still doing nothing but looking at me compewtor. All was good on day 1, as the cooler temperature forced me to move more.
….And then I had to have a shower. As I stood in the cold bathroom on the cold floor, my brain refused to allow me to undress myself and forced me to put the heating back up to 17 degs C…..Day 1 was a definite DNF
Day 2 has worked out better when I went for a hard run. The cold bathroom felt refreshing. I’ll print myself a certificate later!
Day 3 – have actually gone back to 3 layers on top, but 2 layers on the bottom. Will do some core strength work before I try a shower later.

Benefits Of Doing the 2 Degree Challenge:

– Less carbon emissions
– Reduced energy bill
– Your body learns to adapt better (see Wim Hof and Runner Dad links below) and thus will make you stronger in your health

So how about it? Will you take on the 2 degree challenge? Tell me how it goes…The harder core folk can try a 5 degree challenge.
For the sake of our perceived comfort, what’s 2 degrees C if it shows that reducing carbon emissions can reduce global warming and in turn reduce the number of natural disasters we have seen?

And For The Extra bonus challenge: The Cold Shower

Another buddy (Gerrard) has suggested trying the Wim Hof method  http://www.icemanwimhof.com/wim-hof-exercises
Yes I will be taking the extra bonus to see if I can do a cold shower in a cold bathroom.

Other notes:

Human Biology taught me that our bodies can thermo-adapt to remain in homeostasis. When I was in -40 degs C, I felt warm returning back into -20 degs C and wore a thin shirt. 
Same in the tropics in Singapore. In the heat, am fine when it is 35 degrees C and wore a jumper when when it went down to 25 degrees. In the UK, 25 degrees C is positively shorts and t-shirt weather.
And finally for those who think am just being extreme, here is a final read of cold adaptation: https://therunnerdad.com/what-happens-to-your-body-when-you-adapt-to-the-cold/
“Try something old” to allow our natural states to adapt.
Look forward to hearing your stories or seeing your vlogs 😀
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Timeline So Far….

Am reflecting and reminding myself on what we really need to survive in this “living journey”. Am finding out that our reliance on conveniences means we begin to lose ways of doing things that once was done in generations nearly gone. And so am unlocking what we really need in my own convenient life and “trying something old”.

So what can I give up?

13 November 2017: Giving up the Fridge & Turning Down the Heat

Today I turned off my fridge for a 2 week trial period as I don’t eat diary and only eat meat when visiting my relatives. My fridge contains condiments and vegetables. Someone suggested I turn down the house heating, so it is now on 15 degrees. Yep – dressing warm.

Fridge1

Veggies and condiments are left. So time to turn off the fridge for a 2 week trial

Can’t believe we have 6 jars of mustard partly opened.

Aug 2017: Toothpaste Does It Really Help?

Made my own toothpaste

Toothpaste

Went to my dentist end of September. He told me I don’t have gum disease! Should be noted, every time I’d see him previously, he would warn me about some gum disease. Think it’s the tumeric in the mix which is supposed to be a natural antiseptic.

 October 2014: Shampoo – It’s Just Poo For Hair

Stopped using shampoo. In 2017, my scalp is in far better shape – no more dry itchy scalp. It should be noted, suddenly stopping usage made my scalp intolerably itchy and greasy.

Third attempt – decreased the frequency of shampooing my hair over 1.5 months. So instead of every day, every other day. Once the scalp seemed used to that, then every 2 days, etc.

Feb – May 2014: Surgery to Remove a Frostbitten Finger: No Way

Showed a hand surgeon at St. George’s Hospital, London, my grade 2-3 frostbitten finger. He’s eyes could not contain his excitement of wanting a black necrotic finger to add to his collection of pickled digits. It healed in 12 weeks by applying aloe vera and salt water. A one week course of anti-biotics was taken due to paranoia that the finger might have become infected but in fact was all good.

2012: Packaged Items: Tried Going Plastic Packaging Free

Kept the packaging from groceries such as the empty packaging for pasta. Found there was too much ^&*( plastic packaging. So tried to go plastic free for a couple of weeks. It is hard when everywhere sells everything in plastic…..unless I eat veggies…..hmmm

2011-2012: Surgery for Carpel Tunnel Syndrome? Saved going under the knife by a holistic masseur

Yes I was skeptical at first when a friend told me she was a “holistic masseur”.

At the end of 2010, I had a swollen hand that continued to tingle and feel numb for the whole year. The GP prescribed anti-inflammatories. They kind of worked, but not really. After a year and a 1/2, was sent to the neurologist who told me had to have an operation. This would happen in 3 months.

In that time, a friend intervened and conducted massage therapy. After one session, the swelling already began to subside. After one week, my hand was normal.

When I returned to the neurologist was told I no longer had carpel tunnel syndrome. My hand is still normal in 2017.

2010: Soap and Toiletries from Hotels: BYOR to hotels

I travel a lot in my job, and stay in hotels. The small bottles of stuff were cute but then realised a lot was chucked even if it was 1/2 empty. So now BYOR a bar of soap & my own toiletries.

2008-2010: Could Prescribed Medicines Be Making Eczema Worst?

Before going to the Arctic, I was suffering badly from head to toe eczema. In fact I’d been suffering for many years since a teenager. The doctor prescribed hydro cortisone & emollients. This used to relieve the itching and then it would come back more aggressive and spread until I was covered in dry scaly itchy skin.

April, 2008 I finally went on the war path with the dermatitis I’d been suffering from. By the end of 2008 gave up steroid creams. In 2009 gave up the doctor’s prescribed emollients. After using normal commercial creams, the itching was still there but less intense.

In 2010 my skin was “miraculously” clear. Finally I could enjoy feeling smooth patches on my body! Now in 2017, I suffer from small patches but no way as bad as when I was using the GPs prescribed steroid creams and emollients. Decided that the pharmaceuticals produce stuff that only temporarily relieves the itch and in fact exacerbates the condition. The temporary relief psychologically makes us think it is making us better. I wondered whether pharmaceuticals like this kind of condition as it is not life threatening and thus can make money on repeat prescriptions.

Note: Still occasionally take a 1/4 of an antihistamine at night to relieve any eczema itching that might flare up.

2007: Do We Really Need Disposable Plastic:  BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) to places

End of 2006, beginning of 2007, I discovered how bad our municipal waste treatment centres really were at recycling. Horrified at the less than 10% figures for plastic.

It is now habit to carry these items when I go out

  • Thermal cup
  • Melamine plate + cutlery to the workplace (the canteen used plastic everything)
  • Take away containers
  • Reusable bag
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Undoing Trashy Events and the Battle Against Running Tossers

The streets of London are not lined with gold but lined with 1/2 drunken plastic bottles (London Marathon 2011)

A lady had stopped along the road in my street to talk on her phone. As she did so, she rolled down her window and smoked a cigarette, doing that “typical smokers’ thing” to flick ash out her window and then flick her cigarette butt out the window.
A couple walked by, would have seen what she did and took no notice of the cigarette butt that was now burning on the floor releasing its toxic chemicals. I also happened to have witnessed the event, picked up the cigarette butt and knocked on her window. She wound down her window to allow me to return her “droppings”:
“Excuse me, I believe this is yours. Please don’t litter here. Learn to put it in the bin.”
She looked at me a little embarrassed, apologised and continued to smoke the cigarette butt I had just returned to her. I can only imagine she was waiting for me to continue walking by so that she could flick it back outside. But ahhh that glimmer of guilt the second time round…..
Participants in a running event are like the smoker, acting as if it is normal to drop stuff on the floor, accepting other runners dropping rubbish on the floor. New event participants copy the same thing, even though they didn’t do this in training!
Many marathons are a complete trash festival where we see the ugly sight of plastic bottles, cups, gel packets, bananas, oranges all dropped on the floor.
Most participants expect someone to clean it up for them! So what is the issue?

New York Marathon 2017. Picture from a CNBC article

Health and Safety and the Environment
It is surprising this behaviour has been allowed to happen for so long, when places like the UK have banned children playing games that could hurt themselves (like catch, tag, british bulldogs, conkers).
I’ve watched participants slip/skid on a bottle/cup/banana skin that has been dropped right in front of them.
Additionally there is “run away” trash. Runners’ trash that has been casually tossed into a bush or into a drain, and if it is raining or windy, the trash is washed into a water way that is close by. It is always unfortunate to see the Singapore river has had to participate as a large dumpster when outdoor events like the Singapore marathon has occurred.
…And the Rubbish Has to Go Somewhere
Like in many places, in Singapore, the marathon trash is a mixture of organic and inorganic stuff and will simply go to landfill.

And Now The Change – Battle Hat On!

The Ironman organisation have recently taken over running the Standard Charted Singapore Marathon, and have agreed a change needs to happen with regards to handling trash. They have provided us an opportunity, to see if we (grassroot communities) can encourage responsible runners in the Singapore Marathon. This is an event that will have about 60,000 runners participating in the 10km, 21km and 42km events.
NoMoreTrashyEvents

Singapore Marathon in a previous year

Education

We will subtly and proactively encourage and educate runners to put their trash in a bin to reduce the run away trash that is occurring with:
a) Trash Evangelist amongst the runners in all the events. They will be directing runners to put their trash in the bin and they will be taking photographs of those that do and those that simply drop it on the floor.
There will also be participants wearing a Bin It logo on their running tops to remind runners to bin their trash and additionally will be bringing their own bottle to show you can “have your bottle and run a good time”.
BinIt
If you want to see a clean mass event, please print or draw the Bin It logo, put in a clear bag (like the one your event t-shirt came in) and pin to the back of your shirt.
The marathon organisers have also stated they will be putting out Bin It signs to remind participants.
b) Trash Directors who will be directing runners and spectators at the finish point to separate trash in specific receptacles that the organisers will provide.
Note: There will be MND (Ministry of National Development) volunteers who will also be encouraging runners to “Bin It”

Landfill Reduction

By separating the trash we will be able to repurpose some of that trash. This means some of the plastic bottles can be recycled as they will be separated and the banana skins will be collected and redistributed to community gardens for compost.
So in addition to the end point trash directors we have volunteers who will be Banana Marshals. These volunteers will be at the banana check points along the ECP and separate the banana skins from the bottles from the cups. Perhaps they might play games with the runners to see if they can run and target stuff into the banana bins!

Checking For Run Away Trash

At the same time we will assume there will still be “running tossers” who have not seen the Bin It signs, tossing their trash in any direction. After the organisers’ clean up crew have been through (Veolia), we will be doing a community clean up along a 10km section of the marathon route to see if the “same old run-away runners’ trash” will be there. They will be checking the bushes, sand, and drains especially for the bothersome gel tabs.
This means the organisers can develop an action plan in future years to ensure we “Leave No Trace”
VolSpots
If after reading this, you want to get involved in this inaugural opportunity to change a large mass event, then have a look at this volunteer form and get involved. Click here for the link to the form . If you’re a runner, then please wear the Bin It logo. This event is in Singapore.
We will close the volunteer form on the 16th November 2017.
Am also pleased to announce we have a partnership with Better Trails. This is a company dedicated to keeping the trails in Singapore in their natural state and organise “Clean Ups” of the natural areas around Singapore.
BetterTrails
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Do Serious Runners Care About the Environment?

Of course many do, but if it gets in the way of getting a PB (Personal Best) or PR (Personal Record), then screw the environment. I asked some “serious” runners these questions.

Me: Do you get paid for a PB?

Typical Response: No

Me: Is it life or death to get a PB?

Typical Response: No

Me: So is a PB for your own personal happiness?

Typical Implied Response: Yes

Me: What about your trash impact?

Typical Response: The organisers clean it up!

Perhaps Brexit and Trump happened to show us how societies can slide backwards so that we would have to relearn the lessons of older generations…..(yes a long politically discussion for a long run).

Before the common use of plastics a disappearing generation remembers having to BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable). Then disposable plastic came forth. As our populations expanded, we were suckered into a disposable plastic addiction. Quiet observations have been made that our disposable plastic habit is wrecking environments; wildlife feed on our toxic rubbish, and plastic that fills landfills leach chemicals into our soil and water….and this plastic takes 100s of years to decompose.

We are totally oblivious that our convenient lifestyle does not harmoniously fit with our environment. Too many with the excuse of “I don’t have time” are really saying “I am too lazy to care. Screw the environment”. Too many companies continue on the same reckless path of developing products that are single-use and can also be pointless.

Of course there is the “money” element. Every organisation wants to minimise costs and maximise profits. It’s the law of economics. Screw the environment because profit is king. Seems the same with running/triathlons/cycling events….”Screw the environment because my PB is more important”

Many events have allowed me to do mini campaigns at their expos to encourage runners to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle) on the run and some events have made some consideration towards at the very least purchasing compostable cups for their events. Some ultra events have gone further by purchasing their own reusable cups for the events or declaring zero cups and forcing participants to be responsible for at least their own cups.

But it is hard being a crazy, mad tyre-pulling lady, trying to persuade runners and event organisations to be the change & to think more holistically when they run their events.

Collaborations

Finally have understood a lone wolf can only go so far. Multi-national corporations see the benefits of having cultural diversity integrated within their own structures to strengthen their power of influence. We gain more support, enlightenment and ideas when we collaborate and form partnerships with others.

So to be more effective, this lone wolf has found buddies to help with her hunt to evolve organisations & runners to be more considerate towards other runners and the environment we all share….. and am excited to announce Ironman, Asia has allowed us to start with the Singapore Marathon. In this event, there has been far too much “run away” trash that has landed in the Singapore River and East Coast drains and sea due to poor handling of trash by runners. The cleaners are unable to pick up trash that is casually tossed in the grass, into bushes, into drains….despite there being several bins along the route. Obviously lots of very “blur sotong” runners (Singaporean saying for being ignorant).

Raise your game event runners because it’s time you learned to Bin It. People don’t like Sucky Tossers and we will be watching you!

SuckyRunnerPoster

Tabs from Gels are evil bits of trash that become run away trash

 

 

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#68 or #69 2XU SG Ultra Marathon: Trash Runners

Tring and Runners trash

Event Type: Had entered the 50 km solo event (there were 100km, 21km and 10km events at the same time)
Timing: 50Km solo began at 5pm in the afternoon
Route: Gardens By the Bay, Marina Barrage to the East Coast Park along the Park. Turn around point is just before Aviation Park Road.
Weather: Started at 27 degs C, cooling down to 25 degs C in the evening. Torrential rain fall at the start.
During: Water + energy drink; bananas; one checkpoint used twice with bread, biscuits, sweets, peanut bars
At the End: Medal, t-shirt, bananas, energy drink, water for the 50km runners
Pre-Race Pack: T-shirt, reusable bag, timing chip
Website: https://www.sgultramarathon.com

Overview

The inaugural 2XU-Sg Ultra event was a good event: there was a baggage holding area / plenty of toilets at the start / signage was well placed / u-turn points were well manned & timings checked throughout / there was a feeding station that was used twice (out and back) & plenty of water / isotonic drinks at the aid stations.  Roads were closed for the Marina Barrage & the rest of the route was on the PCNs.  Below are some iconic scenes you can expect to see in this event that I found on the web.

GardensByThe Bay

Night time view

Singapore is generally very well lit

East Coast Park

The Disconnected Runner

Our world is one we share with all species and we as “outdoor” people should want to respect and integrate with our natural environment. I love the nature runs because the surrounding plants emit peace & kindness to the eyes. Concrete buildings on the other hand emit cold heat & a feeling of disconnect and disharmony.

Ultra runners all round the world generally will boast they are respectful of the environment and to other users of the trail. However having now run in a number of ultra & marathon events, the only runners who truly respect their environment are the ones who are self-sufficient and get it! “It” being we have a duty to our natural world to integrate with it.

In my first marathon (Singapore 2006), I was shocked at runners (local and foreign) deliberately throwing their cups, bottles, trash on the floor, sometimes in front of runners. Their selfish actions had little consequence for them, and their focus was on achieving a PB (Personal Best) regardless of those around them. Having continued to enter other marathons and ultras – New York, London, Rome, Race to the Stones, Pilgrams, etc – all have the same, shameless tossing of trash on the floor, trash that sometimes cause those behind to slip on, or are washed away into the waterways, or eaten by an animal. Even after a “litter sweep” there will be a percentage of litter that escapes a clean up. Have seen this repeatedly, more recently in the Windsor Half Marathon. The gel tabs are big offenders especially when thrown into the grass or bush.

I grew up in Singapore, learning that littering is anti-social behavior and unacceptable, yet why do we accept runners & cyclist throwing their “crap” on the floor as if it is the normal thing to do?

SuckyRunnerPoster

There is a nagging feeling that has grown in me with event after event. I know there will be readers of this post who have felt it in their consciousness and have turned a blind eye to the anti-social behavior of “tossers” (UK derogatory expression for an obnoxious person)….or even a sucky tosser (one who sucks gels and is obnoxious). I’ll use the terms here to refer to runners who deliberately toss their trash on the floor.

Convenience?

Just like banning CFCs in the 1990s because we had a chance to saving our atmospheric ozone, we are at a point where we can stop the plastic rot in our environment, in our waterways. I can no longer turn a “blind eye” to our superficial convenient lifestyle and call this progression. It is backward as it denies our need for nature. We the amount of trash many of us generate: stop & think how this affects the local landfills, the global waterways. Reconnect with your natural world.

Trash Man

Rob Greenfield wore the trash he generated in a month.

2XU SG Ultra

Time to see if ultra runners were really better than shorter distance runners.

My buddy Marinna joined me in this event to be a back runner litter picker.

Marinna Bin It

Marinna Encouraging Runners to Bin their Trash

Of course accidents happen and we were interested how much “accidental” trash would happen. Prior to the event an appeal was made to the participants to keep the trail clean and to BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable cup or bottle).

As the event started, the heavens poured out its heart onto the participants. Despite the torrential rain fall, we were in high spirits believing ultra runners are respectful to their environment and we did not expect to pick up much rubbish. We were one of the last to cross the start line and ran in the puddles like excited kids enjoying the warm tropical rainfall. It was glorious and cool for hot humid Singapore where temperatures can hit the 30s (degs celcius) and humidity can cause you to melt in minutes.

The Runners Trash Drops

50km Route of Profiled trash

Profile of runner’s trash and two sucky desperate runners’ gel addiction

At 2-3km,  Marinna and I parted company as I needed to take advantage of the wetness to move Tring quickly on. I soon caught up with Samantha at the 5km aid station, which was the start of the East Coast park (ECP). We would run a lot of the first ½ of the route together.  The ECP is generously lined with bins placed about 10-20 metres  apart for approximately 12km of the route.

10km in, a runner had clearly thrown a cup from an aid station into the grass, 5 metres before a bin. Soon after tops of gel packets appeared on the ground. We gave the runners an excuse & blamed gel manufacturers for having made it too easy for tabs to be torn off completely and dropped as a sweaty tired runner “sucked” in their chemical loaded short-lived carb.

Why Gels?

Am amazed that long distance runners are conned into sucking the stuff every 30 minutes (as is stated on the package).  I have tried gels and found they took me on a “high low high low” journey that I did not appreciate and found better ways to stabilize myself with breakfast bars and protein. My ammunition was two protein bars & a sandwich to see me through this event plus a top up of two banana from the aid stations.

Additionally I have seen  people “bonking” in ultras despite taking the gels at the prescribed time. Later I would read that is because of the inability of the pancreas to produce enough insulin to cope with the sugar overload provided by gels. I wonder how many regular users of gels will suffer from diabetes & bad teeth?

Back to the Event

18:30-19:00 darkness was settling in, however this is Singapore, and all of the route except one small 500m part of the route was well lit, enough to see the gel tabs on the ground. As I wandered left and right on the path picking up gel tabs, Martin, a friend who came to support a short distance, ran with me amused. I would later find out Marinna also picked up a load of gel tabs & gels along the path after me from returning runners.

Gel manufacturers really need to come up with a different design to reduce this nuisance plastic litter that can be easily missed and washed into our waterways.

Trash Collected By Marinna

Marinna’s trash pick up

As the big golden orb (the moon) rose from the sea, I reached for my phone to take a picture, and had a quick panic. I had dropped my phone about 10km from my current position. I quickly rationalised there was no point in panicking and hoped that the phone would be fine.

Thus had to forgive the couple of gel packets found on the Tanah Merah Road on the way to the u-turn point as accidental droppings. Past the 24.5km aid station, it became more obvious that the runners’ actions were deliberate, as tossers had chucked cups about a couple of hundred metres from the aid station and some bottles were placed by a police sign! Amongst 248 runners who were completing the 50 km and the 100km duo, there was a small group of a***holes.

Returning back on the Tanah Merah Road, had left Samantha and was joined by Siva back to the feeding station at 33.9km. Three gel packets at regular intervals had been tossed into the grass. As we overtook a pair of 50km runners, I complained to them about the High 5 and GU tossers and the body of water that was close by. They coined the term “sucky runners”.

Siva righted the world with me and we berated about selfish sucky runners until 33.9km.

After the feed station at 33.9km more participants obviously were no longer caring about their actions as sweetie wrappers, bottles, cups  were picked up along the route as if this were a normal road marathon. Picked up six bottles in total and slung them into the bin.  The small trash bag I was carrying was already full from picking up 13 cups previously.

As I headed back to the ECP, my phone appeared on the wet floor. It was still wrapped in a plastic glove that I had found and used to protect it from the rain. The screen was a little damaged but it was still working. Ironically guess because it was wrapped in a plastic glove, everyone avoided it.

The callous sucky High 5 tosser irked me as he chucked his gel packets close to drains, drains that channel run off water into the sea.

RunnersTrashCollectBy TL

TL’s trash pick up

My first “period” day is normally a day to feel exhausted, however the litter focus fueled my mind with thoughts that runners need to grow up. My legs were still firing with energy to move Tring along, overtaking runner after runner and still picking up trash dropped by a***holes.

Along the last 4 km after the last aid station, six cups had been thrown into the tree lined area.  Again when did it become a social norm for runners to chuck stuff on the floor because they can’t be bothered or because it allows them to get a PB? Friggin’ tossers was my last thought.

Tossers & Sucky Runners, in future events, your trash will stay there as your ugly legacy & you can delight at the fact that your trash might even become micro-plastic or animal food. Please grow up and become #ResponsibleRunners

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When you next go out for a run/walk challenge yourself to pick up at least 5 pieces of trash (#5ThingsClear) to make your environment a better place.

It should be noted this is an issue that happens in events around the world in cycling or running events. Society may think this is normal. Nature does not!

Final challenge to you all:

PlasticChallenge

Resource: Plastic Ocean or Drowning in Plastic

Look forward to hearing about you being fantastic using less plastic

Nets Card

I picked up someone’s NETS card along the Tanah Merah Road. It must belong to a 50km or 100km runner. It has about $18 left on it. Contact me and I will post it to you. Also happy to post back gel packets dropped by the sucky tossers.

Finally, James (my biggest fan) has made me aware that I still have to complete the Race To The Kings write up…..it will be completed before the end of this month….Hence this ultra might be considered marathon #68 if I fail the RTTK.

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Tring Returns From Retirement

TrangTring

Dec 2008: Trang (back) & Tring (front)

November 2008, Tring was found wandering a Singaporean rain forests. She was dirty, frightened and lost.

We cleaned her up and tried to get her to participate with Trang in the Singapore Marathon in 2008. After being in the jungle, Tring found the crowds of people overwhelming. Her reluctance to move after 6 miles, meant we had to take her off the reigns and continue on with Trang. We completed the event whilst Tring was looked after by a friend. Tring’s confidence was really low, so we found a role for her as trainer and coach to other runners. She loved it.

Tring Marathon Dec 2010

Tring in her former glory days

We slowly introduced her to larger groups of people and in December 2010, she completed her first marathon – the Singapore Marathon. We also gave her a bunch of animals to look after during the event in case her people phobia returned. Tring was hooked.

OldTring

She went on to complete the Singapore Marathon in 2012, three Parkruns, Twilight Ultra (50K) – 2015 & the Green Ultra (50K) – 2016.  With the distance she had put in, her pretty treads were looking worn on one side, and holes developed catching on roots and stones on trail paths. It was time to retire her.

Many tyres like her have gone onto successful careers upon retirement (…as garden ornaments or pledge tyres), but Tring was not ready to go. She requested a new lease of life as a a “Tyre Lady” tyre.

Tring’s Transformation

We have rebuilt her! Her transformation from land lover to sea lover is now complete. So here is the lovely Tring and the art work she displays is:

“Plastic fish feeding on polystyrene”

Tring is requesting that all people of the world help stem the flow of plastic in our waters and ocean which is affect our aquatic life, plus our fundamentals – food, water and air supplies.

It requires a little effort by refusing disposable/single use plastic & using a BYOR (Bring Your Own Reusable) approach. That is bring your own reusable cup, plate, cutlery, bag, etc to anywhere that provides plastic. It’s part of stuff in my handbag 😀

Please commit to this action because #PlasticSoup #PlasticOceans can be healed. Boyan Slat is helping one part of the solution with an ocean clean up:

We are another part of the solution.

Below are images from the web on plastic pollution that we can all play a part in stopping and preventing in the future.

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#66 St Illtyds Trail Race 50K: The Tyre and the Snail

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Event Type: A trail ultra with a couple of miles on the main road as well as through some villages. The route is an out and back.
Start Time:
9am.
Weather: Started at @ 9 degs C at 8am. Increased to to 13 degs C by about 11am
During: 5 checkpoints in total stocked with food + water to refill
At the End: A large medallion medal + t-shirt and food to eat
Website: http://www.goeventswales.com

After Rovaniemi 150, 23 Feb and 62 hours of no sleep during the event, I took 2 months off to stabalise my sleep patterns. At the Glen Coe Skyline 2015, and after 5 days of very little sleep, I learned that I really do need sleep for my head to allow my physical being to work effectively. St Illtyds 50K Ultra in South Wales would be the next event at the end of April. 3 weeks before the event, my legs were strong and pulling Big Bluey (15kg tyre) in 5K events. However in a marathon I will always bring a lighter tyre. So Drue (an anagram from Reduce), to Wales we go……

Some Preamble Event Thoughts

Croeso. Cymru am byth! (Welcome. Wales Forever!)

….When I was 8 years old, our Welsh teacher felt he had a duty to teach us these words. I think he brainwashed us because I have remembered these words since then. We also learned that Wales has the longest town name in the UK: Llanfairpwllgwyngyll and the train station you need to go to if you want to visit this place is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Yep learned all of that at primary school.

April 2017 Snapshot

“Change” is rapidly occurring around us. Stuff that we thought was just fiction in the movies is now real.

•    A snap shot on computer technology advancements:
TechnologyAdvancements
Computing technology is moving exponentially fast with AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) presence now built into our devices; our increasing dependency on robotics (yes Humans is around the corner); computers interfacing with our brains (2010)

See https://www.ted.com/talks/tan_le_a_headset_that_reads_your_brainwaves

….and Facebook’s recent announcement of augmented reality via Oculus means Star Trek’s Holodeck is fast becoming a reality or perhaps “Total Recall” will emerge. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2U9lXEnHns It is only a matter of time when runners will be telling us of their VR experiences, such as running with the dinosaurs.

•    On the political scene is certainly changing with Brexit; 2 crazy guys in power: North Korea and the USA seeing whose bomb is bigger; and Marine Le Pen coming closer to being President of France with the potential to bring France to Frexit.

Pre Race Day

So to be in Burry Port, South Wales where the pace of life slows down was just pure bliss with its hilly green views, sweet smelling air, and water that is soft and sweet. Additional bonus, we were greeted to a show of crepuscular rays over the port.
CrepsularBurryPort

The BBC weather forecast was rain and wind for race day. But just as we are interfacing with computers what if we could really “plug in” to our weather patterns. I would unite with my fellow Ultra colleagues, organisers and volunteers to see dry weather for at least the start of the event.  The night of the event, our doors shuddered in the accommodation as the wind vortexed through the room. As I lay in bed listening to the howling wind, I willed it to keep blowing the rain clouds further away. The reward was a dry start on race day. Thank you to everyone who pictured a dry start to the event. We did it.

Race Day

Registration was inside the Neptune pub. A small intimate group collected with many seeming to already know each other through Twitter with #UKRunChat #Whatever.  This day, I learned Twitter is a place to “meet up” with mainly 30 to 50 whatever year olds.  For me, Twitter was mainly a blog feed, and chatting was in Facebook.  Oh well, another social media to suck time away.

Anyhoo race briefing with Nathan (RD) warning that the Tyre Lady would bounce her tyre Drue on anyone dropping their litter along the trail. That would surely make me a grumpy lady and no one likes a grumpy lady especially with a 10kg lump of rubber handy! Of course some thought the Tyre Lady was a Welsh country myth.

08:00, We started with the 100K participants, an hour ahead of the 50K participants.
StartOfEvent
Love a head start. Feels like a hare being chased by the hounds.  How far would we get before the first 50K runner overtook us? What time would they pass us? (Stephen Shanks was the first to go by at 10:07, completing the entire course in a stonking 4:24).

The course starts off flat and I met a couple of perhaps retired Welshmen riding their bicycles. They tried to have a conversation with me and unfortunately I had no clue what they were saying to me. I could only imagine what they were saying and responded according to what I thought they had asked, until one of them threw some coins into my bucket and said something with the word “charity” in the sentence. I responded EarthWatch www.justgiving.com/tyregirl

Gave me a thumbs up, so must have been the correct response!

Thus, decided I had to make more of an effort to practice my Welsh and greeted other passerbys with Cymru am byth! At checkpoints I practised saying my number with a Welsh accent. Of course with a sing song Welsh accent forming, it was time to sing songs in the woodlands as Drue got caught on rocks and roots.

StuartTree

Just behind us in Stuart’s photo above, I got stuck between the fallen sawn tree and immediately after Drue was stuck. Suddenly we were all giggling at the thought of going on a diet just to fit thru the tree on the way back. Elevation

As for the hilly terrain, it is true that any tyre is a drag going up hill. On this event there are quite a lot of them.

However for every up hill, most of them had awesome downhills. Drue loves a downhill thrill,  except one where Drue dumped bucket on his head for wobbling all over the place.

GoingDownHill
There are a couple of main roads we have to venture out onto, but the majority of this event is on trail with gorgeous scenic hill top views and pretty woodlands filled with bluebells and interesting tree shapes + some posh houses to pass (reminded by the amazing Jane who popped up all over the event doing bonus miles and kept going to the end)

Bluebells

No Bluebells were dragged up during this event.

At about 1:30pm, the heavens opened up and the wind blew. Drue loved the rain, becoming an easier pull uphill!

Between the final 2 checkpoints, I met Rob Mills doing his second lap towards the 100K still smiling despite the rain and soaking wet (he said forgot to put on his waterproofs!!!). He had about 35K more to do. Gave him a big hug and told him I’d see him at the end. Rob was the only finisher for the 100K, completing in a brilliantly run 12:33.

As for the snail at the beginning of this post: after the final check point, we were joined by the final 50Kers: Lyndon and Aimee. Aimee was doing her first 50K (no training, no other running events prior like a ½ marathon or marathon, just straight into an ultra!)

LyndonOur conversation veered towards technology, social media and how children today were lacking social skills to be able to read and negotiate with each other (think Lyndon brought this topic up). More cyberbullying was happening with schools seeing an increase in child depression due to cyberbullying. We decided that children and adults today need rules and regulations with using “chat” apps to express their feelings.

Do we need to keep ahead of technology? Parents certainly do need to know about the different apps in order to protect their children, especially with adults pretending to be kids and sex grooming. All of us will be forced to experience augmented reality via VR to protect our children.

As the gentle Aimee diverted her path to avoid crunching snails, Drue waited for the snails to pass.

SnailSpeaks

And we learned that although our social interaction is changing, we need to teach our children about the joys of the outdoor, the physical world and the creatures that will touch our lives. Snails are cute!

Aimee you did brilliant and hope to see you on another.

Besides the top of a red gel tab, there was absolutely no runners’ trash on the course. So you all rocked!

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Thank you to the organisers for doing a litter run at the end and picking up 2 full bags worth of garbage left on the trail by the general public. Tori and Nath thank you for a truly excellent event that was well organised and for using biodegradeable compostable cups and bags for the “disposable trash”. Big hugs to all the volunteers for being out there for us even in the wind and rain and to Stuart and Rob for letting me use your tweeted photos. Lots more photos of the event can be found here at Rob’s Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/awv/albums/72157683182452006

And a view of the event from the organisers: http://nathanflear.co.uk/2017/05/02/st-illtyds-ultra-marathon-race-report/

Finish time = 10:48 (watching snails passing by)

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SHOW ME YOUR BOTTLE

For all those with a UK address, show me your personal bottle in a marathon or 1/2 marathon running event in April and May!

EmmaBottle

#ShowMeYourBottle

The flowers are blooming and the veggies are growing (that is if you have planted your seeds). Sutton Seeds have given me a whole load of courgette and sunflower seeds to give away to runners who use their own “forever” reusable, refillable water bottle in a 1/2 or marathon event.

So send me a picture of you running with your own forever reusable, refillable water bottle in a marathon and I will send you at least a dozen seeds to plant now and to enjoy in the summer/autumn months.

You can tweet me @tyrelady and add the hash tag #ShowMeYourbottle or you can email “the girl” EmailAddresswith a picture and identify the marathon or 1/2 marathon you were in.

Running events are growing, offering supplies to keep you moving and with that the amount of single use plastic cups and bottles have become a growing heap upon the landfills or exported to be burned or landfilled in places like China or Indonesia. Most boroughs in the UK do not recycle plastic cups.

 

Only 30% of plastic trash is actually recycled in the UK. Trail events that provide plastic cups find there are unaware participants who will toss their cups into the bush. These cups become brittle with the sun and at times find a route into our waterways.

By refusing a plastic cup at a marathon event you will reduce the plastic cup count by approximately 20 cups. At a medium sized event, that would be approximately 12,000 participants x 20 cups.

The London Marathon will have available 750,000 bottles of water + 149,100 bottles of Lucozade. This number of bottles is to provision for about 50,000 runners.

In 2014 the Westminster Council reported they recycled about 50,000 bottles. In 2016 ITV reported 40,000 bottles were recycled.

What happened to the rest of the bottles?

In the past London boroughs sent surplus potentially recyclable trash to places like China or Indonesia who have pretty poor records with regards to landfilling trash.  Recently councils in the North of UK have been sending their “surplus” to Sweden who burn the trash for energy. So the clue in the website text suggests that over 800,000 bottles are burned if all the bottles remain in the capital for collection.

So be a hero and BYOB at your next marathon event, and you will be rewarded with a sustainable gift 🙂

GrowYourOwn

Improve your sustainability

….a bunch of courgette and sunflower seeds to give away to the first 100 people who can send me a picture of you with your personal running bottle in a 1/2 marathon or marathon event.

Show me your bottle in the month of April & May & become a more eco-conscious runner.  Of course the advantage of your own bottle means you can drink when ever you want to rather than at specific check points with the possibility of a check point running dry as at Brighton Marathon!

Need a running bottle?

If you want me to send you a hand-painted running bottle, donate 25GBP here www.justgiving.com/tyregirl and tag it with #GiveMeABottle. I will get in touch with the first 10 folk who do so. (Funds go to EarthWatch)