The Antonine Trail Race, our journey to being more sustainable
Before I start here. This isn’t a sermon. We are not perfect. But we are trying. Every race, every year we try hard to be more sustainable. There’s still work to do, though.
The Antonine Trail Races are a 10k and half marathon in Croy, near Glasgow. I, along with a band of brilliant friends, took the race over a few years ago from Adventure Zone Scotland who’d decided the time was right to move on.
The first thing my team agreed was to try and source as much as we could locally for the race, that all profits would go to charity and that all charities would be ones which resonated and impacted on the local communities. We then looked to see how we could be more environmentally conscious also.
I am grateful for the friendship and support of Dan and Charlotte at ReRun who have helped us be more creative and driven in our ambitions too.
The reason for writing this short blog is to hopefully help inspire other small races into similar action but also to keep getting the kind of feedback that makes the drive to being more environmentally aware and sustainable each and every year.
So, what have we done?
This is a big one. Tees are now optional. For our half marathon in 2019 only 114 of the 230 entries took the tee option at additional cost. We introduced this a couple of years ago. It adds extra admin but is worth the effort. The entry systems make this much easier than you may think.
Cupless water station
Well, that’s not strictly true. We tell runners they need to bring their own cup / bottle if they want a refill at the aid station. We do have sharing cups and we fill water barrels from the new RDs water tap. That means no longer are we churning through hundreds of plastic cups and bottles. The sharing cups? Use at your own risk!
Before each race we organise litter picks and these are well attended. As these are trail races, having a group of people actively cleaning the course not only makes things a bit neater and tidier, it instills the habit in them and others. It’s a fantastic thing that has a real effect. We have since seen lots of posts from the ATR community with pockets of rubbish after their everyday runs.
Local charity partner
In the last 4 years the race has donated over £10,000 to local charities for kids, foodbanks and hospices. These partners are encouraged to be part of the race. We give them free entries if runners want to raise money. And we use theirs and our own channels to promote the ethos of the race.
For the first time in 2019 we organised a clothing collection and have worked with a couple of local charities and the prison service to find homes for the gear. The amount of old running clobber out there is incredible. It needs to be recycled into people who can use it. This was inspired by ReRun.
We call them “coastdels”now. Our medals are no longer brought in from China with heavy plastic wrapping, a massive carbon footprint and razor sharp metal. They are now made from Perthshire wood by a community based company in Aberfeldy. They are made to order with our own logo and design. The idea is we create a collection of medals that can be used as coasters and even in some cases (yes, you Louise!) as Christmas decorations.
We are lucky that we have had great support from the local businesses such as Co-op, Tunnocks, Active Root, Jordanhill Garden Supplies amongst others when it comes to our goody bags. They have really helped us give a very cost effective goody bag to our runners in the last few years which in turn has meant greater swag to the charity partners. Oh, and there isn’t actually a bag, the goodies are laid out and people just collect them after the race and put in their own rucksacks direct.
This is just a few of the things we are doing. What’s next? Paul on the race team talks about “organic marking” where the course is marked only by the presence of volunteers. That’s an ambition. A swap box for old running clothes could be next. Perhaps cans of water for finishers. And many more ideas in the offing.
The point is we will continue to challenge our impact locally and environmentally. It takes effort to do this. Often times the morally right thing to do is the biggest effort. The emphasis is on the right thing to do though. If it is worth doing it is generally worth the effort. George Houston has taken over the RD role in the race, we agreed a 3 year term for any RD, and has fresh ideas and ways to continue momentum.