Following on from the post last week about using a bottle or bladder (read more here), we look at another hotly discussed topic. Roadies this one is for you.
Carry Water on a Race, but how?
Greening of races has become a major topic of interest in recent years with single use plastics being recognized for the ‘bad guy’ they are. Research has revealed recently that there is 250,000 tonnes of plastic floating in our oceans. That’s 5 Trillion pieces (image Dr Marcus Eriksen, 5 Gyres Institute, below left). According to a recent report by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, if current plastic consumption trends continue there could be more plastic by weight in the oceans than fish, by the year 2050.
In South Africa, the management of plastic clearly hasn’t been a priority, despite it being a necessity. The Treasury has only allocated half of the R2 billion raised in the 15 years since the plastic levy was introduced to Plastics SA. The rest has been allocated to other departments. This money was intended to develop better recycling options, the industry and expand the workforce. Single use plastics, however, are on the road to being banned, with multiple countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Canada (to name a few) pioneering the movement. This is the long-term goal, however has many ramifications that need to be dealt with prior to successful implementation and in the short-term, better recycling facilities, biodegradable plastics and impact reduction strategies that are easy to implement are needed.
So what does this have to do with running?
Karoline Hanks is well known in the running community for her #ICarryMyOwn campaign to make races green and ban single use sachets and cups. The image (above right, Karoline Hanks) from an iconic road running race in Cape Town depicts the extend of plastic left behind, despite the cleaning crew picking up the majority of the litter post-event. Three days after the clean up, in just 100m at the top of Chappies; 84 sachets, 86 gel tops/packets, 328 bitten off/spat out corners were collected. A total of 1.3 million sachets were handed out during the half and ultra-marathon.
This is where carrying your own fuel and hydration during an event can play a role, and brands are recognising the need for more lightweight and versatile options for not only trail, but road runners as well. By carrying your own hydration you are reducing the need for single use plastics and thus making a small yet significant contribution to waste management and reduction. Below are some #ICarryMyOwn Hydration options:
These are particularly popular for races shorter than 2 hours as they allow you to carry your fuel of choice and can be easily stashed away (if they are softflask) when finished. They are also easily and readily accessible for when you need a quick sip, or if you need to refill at an aid station. Consider when using one of these, swapping hands every 10-15minutes, or carrying two small flasks in each hand, to prevent unwanted weight imbalances.
Belts are great for longer races, or even training runs when you have a few more items to stow away – like keys, a windbreaker, some snacks and hydration. Single bottle belts should place weight in the center of your back to prevent imbalances or go for an option with two smaller bottles on either side of your lumbar spine.
More and more brands are coming out with racing vests that weigh next to nothing. They are great in that weight is evenly distributed around your core, so you remain balanced, and keep you streamlined.
If you don’t like the idea of carrying something with you, then carry your own reusable, collapsible cup which you can stash in your pocket. You can then whip it out at the aid stations to fill with what’s on offer – water, electrolytes etc. You may take 1-2 seconds longer, but in reality, queuing for your cup or sachet may take just as long. You’re also saving the planet, so there’s that to consider too.
Option: Hydrapak Speed Cup
If none of these tickles your fancy, then consider recruiting a seconder to hand you a bottle along the way instead of relying on water stations.
Image: Yolanda McLean above carrying her own bottle at the 50km World Champs and Ryan Sandes at OMTOM, refilling his bottle.
Besides all of these options resulting in a massive reduction on the reliance on single use plastics, it also helps you. You are able then to better plan your nutrition and hydration strategy and while you may be 1-2 seconds longer at stations filling cups, or carrying a bottle etc, you’re likely to make up that time running due to better planning and race day strategy.
So go on, join the revolution and help us save the environment by reducing your plastic footprint. You may even get that PB in the process.
We at RUN are all about community and love to hear back from you. Comment below and share with the community your race day plans and hydration techniques.