Cup Free Racing

Having our races so close to the national parks, unnecessary waste and trash is something we are strongly against. We are dedicated to maintaining a clean race and preserving the beauty of the area we run in. There is nothing that will ruin a view more than seeing a piece a trash in plain view from a breathtaking landscape.

That being said, one of the most important things in a half marathon is ensuring that aid stations are plentiful, efficient and that they do not run out of water. Hydration will make or break a race.

How we do it

For this race series we have implemented Cup Free Racing. We think it is a great thing. What we do is buy a hydrapouch for everyone who wants one and include it in your racer bag. When you register we will ask you to indicate whether you want a hydrapouch or not. You also have the option to bring your own system. It can be anything that works for you, so long as it does not produce trash.

We then have self-serve water stations set up along each course. We keep a sleeve or two of cups at each station in case of emergency, like if your belt falls off, or you lose your bottle. The cups are really there only for emergency, but are available.

The hydrapouch is not a water bottle. You run with it empty and attached to your belt or waistband. It is super lightweight, so you can hardly tell its there when running. When an aid station comes up, you pull it off your belt, fill it up in stride, drink it until you are done, then it goes back on your belt. Easy.

The other real bonus, is that you can sip water way past the aid station, instead of having to drink the entire cup right away in order to get it in the trash can. You can drink as you need, and you don’t get that big hit to your stomach.

It's been a success

Past race experience has shown us that the cup free system is very favorable among our runners. Aid stations were well organized so there was no wait to fill up, the hydrapouch is light and in no way cumbersome, and the course remained clean. 83% of runners found the experience completely satisfactory. When we cleaned up after our inaugural race at Zion, all the trash we found was 6 Goo packets.

  • Scott says:

    Great idea. Having run many urban “cupful” races, it’s terrible; slipped on the detritus cup waste once and almost had to drop out of the race (Philly Broad Street). This will be my first cupless race and looking forward to a great time.

    • Kaelee Clifford says:

      Hi Scott – We think it’s a good idea too! Also, hang on to your reusable hydrapouch for any future race you run as well!

  • Kirstin Thomas says:

    I don’t remember if I selected a hydrapouch when I registered. How can I check that?

    • Kaelee Clifford says:

      Hi Kirstin – You opted to pick up a hydrapouch at the expo. You can check your registration by logging in to, clicking profile, then manage registration.

  • Tracy Drum says:

    I love the cupp free racing, I did it at the Zion half and it was fantastic! Way to help save the environment! :)

  • Rob says:

    Do I understand correctly that you have replaced compostable paper water cups with non-recyclable plastic hydrapouches?

  • Cat says:

    Are we able to bring a backpack hydro for water?

  • Elisabeth says:

    It is awesome! I’ve been giving VR as an example to all other race organizers. In fact, just commented about it to the Banff Marathon organizers, as they also are very very green.

  • Tina says:

    How many porta potties on the course?

    • Kaelee Clifford says:

      Hi Tina – There will be porta potties at every aid station near miles 3,5,7,9,11, and 12, as well as at the start and finish lines.

  • Pk says:

    Can we please still get these? I registered for daughter but we did not get her covered. And we have not been able to find anywhere.

    • Kaelee Clifford says:

      Hi Pk – Sorry for the delayed response – I hope you were able to get your hydrapouches for the race.

  • Audrey says:

    Registered but didn’t select to receive the hydropouch. Would I be able to change my option?

    • Kaelee Clifford says:

      Hi Audrey – I have updated your registration and you should receive the hydrapouch with your race packet.

  • […] aid stations were perfectly placed. Vacation Races is a cup free race, so they offer hydropouches or you can bring your own hydration system. I opted to get a pack […]

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