NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018

It’s been a while since I wrote a race report because it’s been a while since I raced! Thanks to PayMaya, I held a race kit giveaway for the NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018 on my Facebook page, giving four of my followers a chance to run at this event. PayMaya also gave me a complimentary entry to the race, so I ran 3K on the day.

First things first: I rarely get up that early anymore! Because the race was at the Mall of Asia, I expected road closures to slow down my approach to the venue. I also knew parking would be an issue since most of the former open parking lots are now construction sites. So, even if my gun start was at 6am, I was on my way by 2:30am. I would have attempted to sleep a little more in my car while parked, but I was paranoid about missing the start. I mean, I was already up anyway. I’d save the sleep for when I got back home.

I wore the race singlet, which was a shade of blue that matched the pair of Brooks Levitate shoes I am currently testing. (Remember, “If you can’t perform, japorm!”) I also took the Fitbit Versa out for its first run. It was “only” 3K so I suspended my rule of thumb about never using anything new on race day.

The NatGeo Earth Day Run is held every year on Earth Day and it’s meant to draw awareness to environmental conservation efforts. This year, their push was for zero-waste initiatives so every runner got a small handheld bottle with their race kits. Instead of laying out paper cups filled with water on the race course, water stations would instead provide refills from big jugs. I saw a few complaints over social media from runners who claimed this would sabotage their efforts at setting new personal records. But honestly, just carry all the water you need in a hydration belt and you’ll certainly get a PR. Or maybe look for a different race.

Because I was so early, I was in the chute standing off to the side as the 5K runners were sent on their way. Before the 3K runners were allowed to line up in front of the starting arch, RunRio sent in some of their crew to pick up small bits of rubbish that had been left on the ground. I saw RunRio managing partner Andrew Neri personally picking up some wrappers as he oversaw this cleanup. They didn’t do a big song-and-dance about it — it was simply part of how they were operating on the day.

Then of course it was go time. I fired up the Deezer playlist on my Fitbit, hoping some pumping tunes would make my legs go faster. It was still a race, after all.

(It was pretty refreshing not stepping on piles of crushed paper cups around water stations! That’s already a huge win, especially since this event gets flak annually for the amount of waste generated this way.)

Though my legs and feet felt dead and I was heating up uncomfortably in the humidity, I actually kept a pretty good pace throughout. I think I clocked in as the fifth female, though don’t quote me on that since I can’t find my name in the official results.

As I walked past the finish line, I noticed some scaffolding from which paper sashes hung. Runners could grab one as a sort of souvenir, but I decided not to get one since the singlet and bib are souvenir enough for me.

Unfortunately, I saw a lot of these sashes just lying on the ground. Presumably, the runners who had pulled them off the scaffolding couldn’t be bothered to take them home or to dispose of them properly in the segregated waste bins located all over the venue.

NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018

NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018

Some people say that NatGeo shouldn’t have provided the pabitin so that there would be less opportunity to create waste. Point taken, but runners should pick up after themselves in the first place. There was absolutely no excuse to leave those sashes on the ground. Even as I walked through the venue, I picked up a few sashes and yogurt cups lying on the ground (cups of yogurt were given away in the post-race goodie bag). Some of the trash was lying just a foot away from a bin!

I sent these photos to Coach Rio de la Cruz, and he got back to me with a note of thanks and a few photos showing that the area had already been cleaned up by the RunRio crew.

NatGeo Earth Day Run 2018

However, we runners should really not take it for granted that the organizers will clean up after us. Time and again, we as a community have received criticism from non-runners about the waste we leave behind after our races. It’s quite obvious and embarrassing that at the NatGeo Run this year, the waste problem is the runners’ fault. We can do so much better.

All that having been said, at least not using paper cups at water stations was a step in the right direction. Kudos to NatGeo and RunRio for showing it can be done, and I’m thankful to PayMaya that I was able to experience this! Hopefully, runners will become more mindful about these things even in other races, and we can become even more ecologically responsible when it comes to our race events in the Philippines.

About Noelle De Guzman

Noelle De Guzman is a freelance writer and recreational athlete with over 12 years of experience in fitness and endurance sport. She believes sport and an active healthy lifestyle changes lives.

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