April 22, 2024
Annapolis, US 43 F

Annapolis Green launches Run Responsibly campaign at Across the Bay 10K

Meghan Matthews
Meghan Matthews

Although the official logo and shirt color for the Across the Bay 10K race was orange, it was all about Green.

Crisp, clear air and barely a zephyr made for perfect conditions for the 20,000 runners participating in the inaugural Across the Bay 10K on November 9. The race made history as the largest “cup-free” race in the United States, enormously reducing litter and waste.

The cup-free mandate eliminated nearly 40,000 paper cups from the race. That meant no dead trees, no packaging, no shipping, no trash, no clean up, and no debris flying off the Bridge into the Bay below.

Hydration stations were set up at Mile 2 and Mile 5 of the race. Rather than the typical trays of paper cups filled with water, racers found banks of high-speed HydraPour® valves attached to water coolers. Racers carried their own containers throughout the race.

“One of our primary concerns when we began planning was how to manage over 50,000 cups, the Chesapeake Bay and 4.35 miles of bridge. The challenge was daunting – the safety and environmental concerns huge. Fortunately, our senior event coordinator, Sean Ryan from Green Bay Wisconsin, launched his problem solving skills into high gear. What we ended up with was an incredibly engineered hydration system with 40 quick flow valves at each station. The result was two high speed water dispensing stations and an environmentally friendly race,” said Peter Paris, partner, Chesapeake Bay Bridge Run, LLC.

“Given the sensitive nature of the ecosystem our runners were passing over, we were honored to work with Annapolis Green to ensure that we produced an environmentally responsible event,” said Sean Ryan, Race Director for the event.

“Annapolis Green and the area’s environmental groups go to great lengths to protect the Bay, the last thing that we wanted was for thousands of cups to be strewn over the Bay Bridge and the Bay. We were delighted that Across the Bay 10K organizers were on the same page and made the race cup-free,” said Elvia Thompson, Annapolis Green Co-Founder.

“Our Run Responsibly™ campaign supported the cup-free mandate by offering the HydraPouch® to runners and providing our recycling and composting bins at the start and Finishers Party. In addition, our messages were intended connect runners with the national treasure they were seeing on the run – the Chesapeake Bay,” Thompson added.

The HydraPouch® is a small, almost weightless silicon pouch that clips on to the runner’s clothing. Its wide mouth can be squeezed open for filling, drinking from, and refilling with one hand. It was an easy way for runners to Go Green without the weight of a bottle strapped onto a belt.

Runners were totally behind the cup-free idea. “The race was GREAT and I used the pouch at one of the water stations. The cup-less race idea is an excellent one. I’m thinking this is probably the direction we are headed. It was so much cleaner and the pouch really did work wonderfully. I had it hooked on my running skirt the whole time and had no problem filling it up and then clipping it back on. [It] didn’t slow me down as much as the incline did!” said runner Karen Brown.

“I was so glad to see this. The litter created by the paper cups was something that I always found just plain wrong and a slippery mess,” said runner Meghan Matthews. “I don’t have any problem handling hydration in a Green way.”

With sponsorship from the Maryland State Advisory Council on Physical Fitness, Maryland Sports, and the Chesapeake Conservancy, Annapolis Green offered the HydraPouch® as an alternative to water bottles and other containers. Inside was the “message in the pouch” connecting the race and physical fitness with environmental stewardship. Annapolis Green also provided recycling and composting for the post race party, thanks to a grant from BGE, so trash, recycling and food waste were properly separated and tidy.

Recycling at the Runners’ Expo and the Finishers Party totaled 1.7 tons of material that would otherwise have gone into the landfill.

“The Council on Fitness was proud to participate and help sponsor this effort. Athletes appreciate the environment in which they train, race and exercise to maintain their fitness. So, it’s very natural to want to preserve both the Bay and everyone’s health at the same time,” said Charles Chester, Chair, Maryland State (Governor’s) Advisory Council on Fitness.

“The Across the Bay 10K was not the first ‘cup-free’ race in the country, but it was the largest to date. We’re proud that we could contribute to creating such an environmentally friendly impact right from the start. Throughout the weekend, especially during the pre-race expo, we met several race organizers who want to commit to running ‘cup-free’ races and making the HydraPouch® available to their runners,” said Lynne Forsman, Annapolis Green Co-founder.

In addition, the race will be recognized as its first Green event by Maryland Green Travel, a statewide program created to reduce the environmental impact of Maryland’s tourism industry.

Annapolis Green engages residents, businesses, non-profits, government agencies, and visitors to the Annapolis area with a number of environmental initiatives and invites community members to celebrate their environmental victories, initiatives, and information at monthly Green Drinks Annapolis gatherings. See www.annapolisgreen.org.

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