We don't even see this as optional in the trail community. How can we be land stewards if we aren't protecting the land? How can we breathe in the mountain or desert air, knowing we aren't doing anything to protect it for our children and grandchildren?
I think it should go almost without saying the land we use will be left cleaner than when we arrive. We have a zero tolerance policy for litter. Without all the garbage that goes with aid stations, we are already in good position here. Competitors are bringing their food in small, lightweight baggies, and there isn't much garbage to begin with. We do require all competitors to put their race number on every piece of plastic they carry--if they drop a wrapper, we will know who it belongs to. We know trail runners are responsible and wouldn't intentionally drop litter, but we do hold each person fully accountable, whether it's intentional or not. We ask all volunteers and staff to pick up any trash they see around camp, on the trails, off the tails--anywhere--even if it did not originate with our event.
Environmental sustainability goes well beyond this however and we are committed to our part in it. We run green races. We recycle everything that can be recycled. We donate clothing and gear left behind to local charities. We work hard to ensure we leave not only the immediate area in better shape than we received it, but that we are leaving as absolute small a footprint on the world at large as possible.
Protected Lands Stewards/Educators
There is no one better to be a positive force for protecting our open lands and educating others about their value than race directors holding events on this land. When races are set up on open land, on trails, in wilderness, competitors have the opportunity to see some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. We think it is our obligation as well as honor to be ambassadors for this land and the history it holds.
I know for me personally, when I am on trail in a race, I often wonder what I'm looking at--what are those mounds of stone I keep seeing in the Sahara or why are there old, wooden structures in the middle of nowhere in Montana, who were the people whose hyrogyphics we see on cave walls in Utah or what were they mining in Colorado? It's always a guess or a google search when I get home. What a lost opportunity for education!
As such, each competitor's race book will include information about what they are seeing each day--geological, historical, cultural...we want you to not only appreciate the views, but have an understanding of the ground you tread--the history under your feet, the people who passed here centuries before you, the way the land formed as it has. We want you to have a sense of place, a richer understanding of the land. And we are hopeful you will pass some of this information on to others, increasing awareness of the value of open land.
Each location will also bring the historical into the present---though different for each race, the medals, the integration of the area's history through dance or animals or some other aspect of the area will be showcased to bring it to life.
Additionally, we will be donating to local land trusts or open land preservation funds in the area in which each race is held. A portion of each athlete's registration fee will go directly to this, as we feel we are benefitting from experiencing the land, and we must pay it forward to ensure future generations have the same opportunity. After each race concludes, we will announce on social media and our website how much we have donated and to which organization it has gone.