Friday, March 13, 2009

Q and A with Bruce Rayner, our environmental advisor

As you’ve probably noticed, we’re working hard this year on making the LA Marathon a more sustainable event. We’ve enlisted Bruce Rayner of Fitplanet to answer a few questions about this process. Here’s what he had to say:

Peter: What does it mean to “green” the LA Marathon?

Bruce: It means the race organizers will be looking at everything that goes into producing the race for ways to reduce their environmental footprint. There are two questions FitPlanet is helping them ask.

First question: “Does this decision, action, or process result in waste, and if so can we reduce it or at least divert it from landfill?”

An example is the race bags everyone picks up at registration that contains the race number and lots of free goodies. Is the bag really necessary? The LA Marathon has decided that no, it’s not. So there will be no goody bags at this year’s LA Marathon - it’s just one less thing for the 20,000 runners to throw in the trash.

Second question: “Can we measure and reduce the carbon footprint of the race?”

Athlete travel to and from the LA Marathon represents perhaps the biggest single environmental consequence of the race. Many athletes fly in to LA from out of state or overseas. Most others will drive. Runners can do a couple of things that will dramatically reduce our footprint. The first is to ride share or take public transportation. This year, LA Marathon runners will be able to ride local public transit for free on race day. And LA Marathon is offering a ride share option through SpaceShare - check it out on the website. Independently, run might also consider purchasing carbon offsets for their travel, especially if they are flying.

Peter: Can you explain carbon offsets? I know many people don’t understand how they work.

Bruce: Good question. You’re right--most people don’t understand how they work and so there’s some resistance to using them. Basically, carbon offsets allow you to pay for someone else to not produce an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases that you are putting into the atmosphere. It’s important to know that offsets don’t reduce greenhouse gases, they just cancel out your emissions. It’s also called being carbon neutral. For more information visit and visit the CO2 and U page. You can also buy FitPlanet GreenTags from our online store.

Peter: How can LA Marathon participants contribute to the greening of the event?

Bruce: Do what you can. Ride share or take public transport to and from the race. If you must throw something away at the start of finish of the course, check if it’s recyclable and put it in the recycling bin, especially plastic water bottles. At home and in your training, there are lots of things you can do. If you use gel in the metallic plastic packets, put the empties in a pocket or a sock and throw them away at home. Designate one day a month as “Trash Day” and pick up trash along your training course. Use a hydration system with reusable bottles, recycle your old running shoes, and support athletic product companies that are doing their part to go green.

Peter: I’ve heard that the LA Marathon is planning to get certified as an eco-race. What’s involved?

Bruce: The LA Marathon has applied for certification to the Council for Responsible Sport ( ) standard. ReSport as its called, is like the LEED standard for events. It includes 40 credits in five environmental and social responsibility categories. To get certified the LA Marathon needs to earn at least 22 credits. The process is rigorous, requiring documentation and a site visit by a ReSport evaluator on race day. Certification is fairly new but will become more important and well recognized in the future. It’s the only way athletes can be certain when they sign up for a race that it is legitimately green.

Peter: Thanks Bruce! Great information

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