Greening Up

May 15, 2015

It’s been an exciting off season for the Race Directors at The Great Pumpkin Run. We have added a couple new race concepts (The Hard Cider Run and Summer Fun on the Farm), hired our first intern, and dialed in on how to make our favorite fall race even better. I will probably elaborate on those topics as we move into summer. However, I wanted to write a quick post about an effort we are undertaking to make The Great Pumpkin Run greener.

Our trail run series takes place at beautiful farms and orchards throughout the Midwest. These venues are shining examples of the convergence between respecting the earth for what it produces and entertaining families. We take pride in executing a perfect 5K race while making sure we don’t step on any toes when visiting these farms. We are always careful to clean up after ourselves, as we don’t want the farms time spent cleaning up post-race.

Over the past couple seasons I began noticing the amount of waste we toss into trash bags on event day. In the beginning, it didn’t seem like much. Once we started breaching the 800+ per event mark, it became very noticeable. This off season we sat down and pinpointed some of the most wasteful activities and tried to figure out ways to mitigate them. While the following steps are not perfect or 100% complete, we think it’s a solid start and will have a minimal impact (if any) on the participants enjoyment. Here ya go:

-Online waivers. In the past, USATF required pen and paper waivers to be signed be every participant. Recently they made an awesome move to allow online waivers. When you go to register for the race this year you will electronically sign the waiver. This saves a ton of paper and also saves you time on race morning!

-Packets. Traditionally we have pre-assigned bibs a couple days before the run and stuffed those bibs in large envelopes. While we got really good at this system, it still was time consuming for us the week of the race as well as time consuming during packet pick-up. Oh, and it wastes a crazy amount of paper! We have implemented a way to dynamically assign bib numbers on race morning. This means when you come to check in, you will tell the volunteer your name and they will enter it in a Chromebook that is connected to They will assign your bib number on the fly and you will be on your merry little way. We have tested this at smaller races this spring and have been astounded how easy it is for both volunteers and the participant. Any coupons that sponsors want to provide will now be included in the Participant Guide email ahead of the race. Lovely!

-Water. This is an area we are still getting a feel for. One of our most important jobs is to ensure the safety of our participants. Having water readily available is key. We typically buy cases upon cases of bottled water. This is super easy for people to grab as they cross the finish line. However, it is also super wasteful. So, here is our plan. We have stocked up on the large 32 gallon water jugs that you typically see at the water station along the course. We are going to have these chilled and filled before, during, and after the race. We will encourage people to bring their favorite water bottle with them to fill up as much as they want. We understand that not everyone will want to do that, so we will also offer biodegradable cups to fill up. We will test this method this fall and see what people think. I have seen other races in places like Colorado have success with this, so it’s worth a try. The bottom line here is that you don’t need to worry—water will be even more readily available than before. We will just have different serving options!


Again, these are just a few small ways we want to start greening up The Great Pumpkin Run. If you ever have a suggestion, please shoot me an email. We’re all ears here and want to make this event perfect for you and perfect for the land which hosts it!