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Thread: Plastic cups at races

  1. #1

    Plastic cups at races

    Hi,
    This is my first post on the forum so I hope this is ok...

    I've done a few of the bigger fell races now in the Lakes and the Peaks as well as a load of mountain marathons. I've absolutely loved the fell races, however one thing that I can't always help but notice is the amount of plastic cups used during and after them. It seems that there are stacks of them at water points then at the end even more, plus there's normally another set of disposable cups for tea and coffee. None of these are normally recyclable, and in a field of around 300, if each runner uses one cup on the course, one at the end for juice then another for a tea, this is nearly 1000 cups used by the end going to landfill! If this happens at every race through the year, fell running as a sport is surely producing a lot of landfill waste.

    I was wondering if this has ever been discussed before- I couldn't find any previous threads on the forum (although I might have missed it). With the new plastic bag tax people are now used to bringing their own bags to the shop; could there be a push to get fell runners to bring their own mugs/water bottles to races? It seems that people normally stash a jumper or something at the end anyway so they could bring a mug for tea, and if you have a bottle you can normally pick water up on the course, or fill that at a water station instead of a disposable cup. Or any other ideas? In the grand scheme of things is it an issue at all?

    One thing I really feel is that this should be an issue for runners rather than race organisers who have enough to worry about already!
    Last edited by Fellwanderer94; 26-07-2017 at 04:52 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bigfella's Avatar
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    Very good point and I must admit I assumed that plastic cups were recyclable unlike coffee cups which are often plastic coated cardboard. However theory and practice are very different so eliminating waste at source is by far the best. My daughter is studying marine biology and the amount of plastic that makes its way into the oceans one way or another is truly staggering and the effects will be with us for ever.

    In a similar vein, apparently fleece is also bad, especially if you wash it, as bits of it find their way into the water system.
    Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

  3. #3
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    Many orienteering events now state in details no water will be provided and competitors should bring their own.
    I think this is appropriate for the end of fell races. I'll often have a bottle with me but will use stuff put on by the RO just 'cos it's there.

    I've been at some races where mid-race water points are reusable beakers - expensive up-front but surely a cost-saver over time, especially if they're used over many races. Washing may be a bit of a pain though. Maybe the FRA could purchase a stock for use by ROs, as with their big tents/walkietalkies etc.?
    Nic Barber, Pennine. Downhill Dandy

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    Master Stagger's Avatar
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    I know a lot of cups are used at the end of races as I've helped putting them in to bin bags.

    Not having done many AL race's can someone tell me which fell races provide drinks on route please?
    A quote,

    "The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Travs's Avatar
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    Of the big Lakes and Welsh AL's, the only ones I can recall are Wasdale (Joss Naylor helps to hand them out early on in the race at Greendale). Also Welsh 1000m they have a bit of food and drink, although I suspect this is because there are the other classes (mountaineers, walkers, etc) rather than catering towards the fellrunners.

  6. #6
    bigfella: Wow I had no idea about fleece! Maybe I'll just stop washing mine now haha. Also yes it seems some of the plastic only cups are recyclable- but yeah like you said they might not get recycled and it's better to not use them at all if possible?

    ba-ba: I thought about that but it just seems it would make life much more difficult for the race organisers- another thing to get ready, have to tidy away and worry about. It's so much easier just to buy plastic cups. I've done a bit of orienteering and they seem to just ditch any idea of water and get a pint at the pub instead!

    Stagger: Of the ones I've done all but one had water; Wasdale had water at Greendale, the 3 Peaks and the Edale Skyline both had several water stops, the Trigger definitely had something at Snake Pass and I seem to remember picking up water at Borrowdale last year- but I might be wrong, and it might have only been because it was a champs race. The only one that didn't was Kentmere (but I think that's AM?). Maybe it's a skewed image though as they're all bigger races I suppose.

    It seems as though cups are re-used a lot more at water stops in the race though, and it would be much easier to try and recycle them as it's the only rubbish you've got. I suppose the main waste comes from the cups used at the end which also go in general rubbish bins, and which is more unnecessary as it would be perfectly possible for people to have their own mug at the end.
    I remember at the Rab MM it was unlimited tea and coffee at the end if you had your own mug, but was otherwise very expensive. Maybe the same would work at races? Charging people for cups might be a bit harsh though after a long hard run. But it could certainly raise a lot of money for Mountain Rescue from the proceeds...

  7. #7
    Master ba-ba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fellwanderer94 View Post
    The only one that didn't was Kentmere (but I think that's AM?).
    Kentmere had plastic cups at the finish.
    Nic Barber, Pennine. Downhill Dandy

  8. #8
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    Many LDWA events require competitors to bring their own mugs.
    Of course, the total number of plastic cups used by all the fell races in the calendar is probably less than at a single big city marathon, but that's another issue.

  9. #9
    Master sbrt's Avatar
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    Good point Fellwanderer.
    Everything adds up. Not just the cups themselves, but the idea of things being disposable. The Lakes Sky Ultra was, bring your own cup. The GL3day is free tea, hot water but bring your own and I have seen one top fell runner, using carrying a mug, on the LDMT. No water stations on the LDMT, it was his hydration system.

  10. #10
    Master MorganW's Avatar
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    For years now, races in the Alps have required you bring your own drinking vessel. It's usually part of the required kit.Their is a widespread acceptance that carrying plastic into sensitive mountain areas is barmy.

    Lots of different makes available.

    I picked up one a few years back made by Salomon of the same material as their soft flasks. It weighs almost nothing and I rarely leave home without it clipped to the relevant item carrying my kit. Even when out walking.

    I'me clueless why we're so backward with this stuff in the UK. The FRA should act to ensure plastic cups are not used in their permitted races to get things rolling.
    The only one who can tell you "You can't" is you. And you don't have to listen.

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