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 Nathan reusable cup 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 Nathan reusable cup 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 Nathan reusable cup is not a water bottle. You run with it empty and it can be folded or tucked into a pocket or waistband. It is super lightweight, so you can hardly tell its there when running. When an aid station comes up, you pull it out, fill it up in stride, drink it until you are done, then it collapses back down. 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. We keep aid stations well-stocked so there is no wait to fill up, the reusable cup is light and in no way cumbersome, and the course remains 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!