Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bring Woodsie back! (Revised)

I am most likely dating myself here, but I can't help but think of Woodsie the Owl for this next blog post.

Like some of you, I grew up with Woodsie's wise admonition, "Give a hoot. Don't pollute!" I practically lived by those words as a child... pollution and litter were BAD! Bad, bad, bad, bad, BAD!

There can be no question that Woodsie's brain-washing techniques worked. At least they worked on me. To this day, I cannot litter. I cannot pollute our land with my trash.

When I find myself considering disposing my trash inappropriately, that owl Woodsie sings to me... speaking words of wisdom,"Give a hoot, don't pollute."

So, my question is this: Where was Woodsie during the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon? We could have used his big-eyed, feathery figure glaring down on those runners who had no problem at all tossing their disgusting trash all over San Diego.

Seriously folks... at every water station there were plenty of waste bins. Many of them unused. Why? Because 76% of the runners ahead of me casually tossed their crap (cups, empty gel packages, Sport Beans bags, etc.) on the ground. Didn't they learn anything from Woodsie?!

I actually ran a couple miles, holding on to a sticky, oozey, near-empty Gu pack because I could not, in good conscience, throw it on the ground to become someone else's problem. As soon as I found a trash can, I threw it away. Easy-peasey!

The worst of the litter bugs were those who ran through neighborhoods, leaving their trash for the kind residents to pick up. A few neighborhoods on the route passed out items like oranges, water, and Otter Pops. The residents offered these items out of the kindness of their hearts. How did many of the runners thank them? They tossed the trash in the street. If I lived there, I would tell the city that I do NOT want the marathon route to pass through MY neighborhood!

I could excuse littering for those who are truly racing. If you are one of the top three runners, don't take the time to find a trash can! If you are the rest of us... use the bins provided by the race organizers. How hard can that be?

OK. That's all. I'm stepping off my soap-box... and I'm signing off. But not without a few simple words first:

Give a hoot! Don't pollute!

The Revised Part
**There were a few comments on this post clarifying that the city does the clean up after the marathon. Whew! The neighborhoods are not left to clean up all the trash on their own. That is great news! I felt so sorry for the people who live in those neighborhoods. Now I feel better.

I still hold to my opinion that people need to use the trash bins, though. Mainly for these reasons:
  • Out of courtesy to the volunteers. They donate their time and energy to make the race a great experience. Much of that time is spent raking up trash. For a runner to go past a trash bin and still choose to toss their cups and/or wrappers on the ground in front of the volunteers is pretty rude.
  • Out of courtesy to other runners. I was pretty irked when someone threw their half-full cup of Cytomax right at my feet. Guess who ran part of the race with wet, Cytomaxy shoes and socks? Me.
  • For safety reasons. Slippery Gu-covered street= Potentially slipping runners.
  • Just because. It is the epitome of laziness to run right by a trash bin and choose the street as a dumping ground. That is what my kids do when they are being lazy. I know most 4 & 7-year olds are faster than I am, so maybe they were way ahead of me... but I didn't see any of them on the course.
OK. Stepping off of soapbox again.


Melanie Tait (Mel Tries to Run) said...

That's soooooooo true Sara. You'd think as runners we'd be the MOST environmentally friendly peeps - wanting to preserve a gorgeous running environment. I'm going to remember that in my first big race :)

Mel-2nd Chances said...

well said and I agree too. I've carried a gel pack for nearly 10k during training runs when I couldn't find a garbage.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Good point. Espcially about trashing the neighborhoods. That's quite rude!

chris mcpeake said...

got to keep it clean. I have noticed that nobody chucks there trash on trail runs but roads it kind of a who cares attitude

Irene said...

Good discussion!

FYI - I live in the neighborhood between mile 15 and 16 on the SDRNR marathon route. There are post race crews that clean up after the event and it looks as if the marathon never happened.

There is actually a group of runners who are actively pushing for people to bring their own water bottles to refill instead of relying on the event people for water in those small cups, as to keep the environment clean and to reduce waste.

Glenn Jones said...

You need to remember - part of the cost of putting on a race like RnR is the organizers pay for post race cleanup. That's where part of that race fee goes. I know two years ago for a small marathon (OC) just law enforcement/street closure costs were pretty close to $100K. So, a lot of money gets spent on that stuff (of course a lot of money gets made too!)

The smaller races probably aren't as careful about post race cleanup, but the bigger ones and the ones put on by larger race management companies take care of all that stuff.

Now - on a training run? That's a completly different story. I've watched runners and bikers just chuck their trash on the trail! Grrr!

Southbay Girl said...

alot of races now are very green and will give away prizes for being green! I registered as a green runner at the Carlsbad Half. I ran with a little trash bag and put all my trash in that! I felt really good about my part! But there will always be people who don't care!

tfh said...

I hung onto my empty, sticky gel packs for miles during my marathon, waiting for a trash can. I doubt anyone loses time making sure their cup makes it into a bin.

X-Country2 said...

Sing it sister! I have so much admiration for the volunteers who stand in the heat/rain to hand out water. The last thing they should have to do it pick up trash too.