Striders Lead Runners Down a Greener Path
The Annapolis Striders' Green Race Initiative is changing the face of road racing.
The Annapolis Striders proudly proclaim Annapolis as a running town.
With at least one race in any given month, training programs set up through the Striders, Blue Point Timing, The Annapolis Triathlon Club and at least three running stores in the city, not to mention runners pounding the pavement all over town it is hard to deny it.
Being a running town is something to be proud of for a number of reasons, but as Earth Day approaches it brings to mind how little running affects the world around us.
Running is one of the most environmentally friendly sports. There is very little equipment needed, no fuel needed and while there are footprints left on the paths runners cross, their carbon footprint is rather small.
That is until you bring hundreds or even thousands of runners together.
Brining runners together is something the Annapolis Striders do well and often. From small club races to the Annapolis 10 Miler and the B&A Trail Marathon, the Striders have come to see the impact bringing runners together can have on the environment—the plastics bottles and registration forms alone were enough to get the attention of members of the Striders Board.
Luckily, in an organization as large as this one, there was sure to be a person within the club who would have a solution. Annapolis Strider, Kerri Reilly is a tree hugger and a runner by nature, an environmental engineer by education and a planner by profession.
She was an obvious choice to head up the Green Race Initiative.
One of the first and easiest decisions to make was to go to a paperless registration method. All races are now handled through Active.com. But that was only the beginning. The club first implemented their Green Initiative on a large scale by unveiling the Green Initiative at the club's biggest event, the Annapolis 10-Miler.
There was a challenge to premiering the initiative there. Runners come from all over the world to run the Annapolis 10-Miler. The race has been touted by Runner’s World as one of the top ten 10-milers to run on more than one occasion. It is the Strider’s most public event.
That is exactly what made it interesting to Reilly and her committee.
Through an event of this size the committee would be able to really see the impact that was made. By implementing a recycling program, a composting program and a shoe collection and recycling program at the club's biggest event they were able to physically see the difference their efforts were making.
In the running community the biggest and most unsolvable sin against the environment is the very shoes runners depend on. Shoe companies have been working to make the shoes more environmentally friendly, but have not gotten there yet.
Reilly and her team decided to collect the used shoes at the packet pick up and at race day last August. After the shoes were collected they were divided. Gently used shoes were donated to people in need; older shoes were sent to Nike to be repurposed as tracks and playgrounds.
In addition to the recycling and composting efforts, the club is committed to helping educate runners on running greener and local schools and clubs on how to put on a green race.
Since their first efforts at the Annapolis 10-Miler, the club has implemented the Green Initiative into all of their races. With each new race members have learned something new. Most recently, the club began requesting runners carpool to the race whenever possible.
What began as a committee’s wish list has become a club-wide effort. Recently at the B&A Trail Marathon, a couple of finishers were seen sorting through the trash and recycling to help the club’s efforts.
The Annapolis Striders are a local running club, but they are more than that and have been for several years now. They are a member of a larger community that looks to the Strider’s for direction.
As one of the first local clubs to purchase and use a timing chip system for races, the club became a leading among running clubs. It is Reilly’s hope that their efforts with the Green Race Initiative will prove to be just as popular.