I recently took part in the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon for the 5th time in as many years. Through Unogwaja we have become involved in road running across South Africa and around the world. So we understand and share in the magic involved with these events – the 2 Oceans Marathon and Comrades certainly stand out in this regard.
We should also understand and share in the responsibility that comes with such magic and I don’t think we are all playing our part and taking on our fair share. In fact, we are turning our back on it.
We cannot turn our back on this problem any longer. We all need to stand together. It is not acceptable. (Photo credit: Maxine Reilly)
Running the 2 Oceans Ultra this year I have never felt more let down and “part of the problem” seeing runners so freely throwing their plastic water sachets to the ground and allowing the wind to take them to places they cannot possibly be retrieved from, other than perhaps in the beak of a bird or the insides of an animal.
Don’t you think our peninsula has taken enough of hammering in recent weeks from the fires, that we should give them a break? Instead, for our convenience we unnecessarily add to the environmental pressure that we as humans apply on a daily basis that make us the most destructive species in the history of the planet.
I am not an expert on this and I am sure there are many more qualified and clever people who can suggest even better ways but I truly believe this will form a great start to shifting this unacceptable mindset and behaviour that has crept into road running across our country (and perhaps around the world?).
Some simple suggestions:
1. Any runner caught throwing their plastic on the ground will be disqualified. I believe this is something we as runners should all take ownership of and responsibility for, and be glad to do so and insist upon this rule from race organisers. (Is carrying a water sachet or two until the next suitable place to dispose of them going to kill us? Do we throw litter on the streets at home? Then what gives us the right to throw litter in races?)
2. Create solid structure long and wide bins and allotted zones for disposing of any litter. (Not the cardboard bins that are not big enough, that blow over and are often out of the way and left unused)
I was really happy to hear that Two Oceans Marathon Organisation recycle over 90% of their plastic and are exploring ways to reduce their plastic footprint altogether, which must be a priority.
All I know is I cannot sit back and watch this happen. We are all runners together, whether we come first, make the cut off by a few minutes or don’t make the cut off at all. When we stand on that start line shoulder to shoulder, we are South African citizens, we are global citizens and this is our duty.
Let’s show our passion for our beautiful marathon in our beautiful city, and make it a world standard bearer as the world’s greenest marathon. Let’s take this attitude to every run we are part of both home and abroad. This is something tangible that we can all achieve together – race organisers, marshals, judges, volunteers, runners, spectators alike. This does not depend on any one person or group of people, it depends on us all. And we cannot wait any longer. Don’t wait for someone else to act, be accountable for your part.
Having spoken to the Two Oceans organization about this matter, and heard their passion to become the world’s greenest marathon I truly believe this race can become THE world’s greenest marathon and lead the way for meaningful change that will have impact way beyond the realm of the race and its participants and spectators.
May our actions do the talking.
This is not about road running races. This is about how we respect our country and the people in it.
Start with yourself.