The Green Program: Going for Gold

The Green Program: Going for Gold

In 2019, here at the Air Force Marathon, we launched the Green Program. Honestly, we’d love to have a better name for it, as that feels very generic and not sufficient to all that the program entails. This program is done in partnership with the Council for Responsible Sport. The goal through the program is to make a difference in our event as a whole on lessening the impact of our carbon footprint in this world, but also to make a difference in the community, using our event as a platform to do so.

Through the program created by the Council for Responsible Sport, an event can achieve a variety of levels- Certified, Silver, Gold or Evergreen. In our first year, we aimed for the Silver level, and we were able to achieve it through much work! We are very excited for that and look forward to improving all of those aspects as we continue to learn and move forward in our efforts. The program offers 5 different categories in which an event works to improve the environment. The categories include planning, procurement, resource management, equity and access and community engagement.

The Air Force Marathon started the program by creating a 3 year goal of working towards an evergreen level. The Council certifies events every other year, so we look forward to making improvements and working towards a higher level for the 2021 event year. So, what does it mean to be a Green event? It isn’t just about recycling appropriately or collecting compostable items, though those are certainly important elements we’ve put into practice. The program is rather in-depth. Here are a few ways we’ve begun participating in the program.

As I said, we created a plan to move towards certification. That plan includes year one focusing on the finish line area, as that is our heaviest footprint of the event. In year two, we clean up those aspects that need to be fixed and improved from what we learned, and we work towards implementing aspects of the program out on the course. And in year three, we continue to improve and move towards our expo “going green”.  Elements that get implemented into this are of course recycling and being knowledgeable about what can be recycled. Did you know that when you see the numbers on the bottom of plastic bottles or containers that indicates its recyclability? It’s true! We also are working towards separating all of the trash items, including having compost, which a local company comes to get from us post-event and uses to give back to the environment in a healthy way.  In working on this, we also have begun working with our vendors, requesting they use compostable cups or serve-ware. This is a work in progress and requires a lot of conversations, education and planning ahead of time! Another aspect we do in this program is to promote either locally sourced products and/or organic products. That also requires many conversations ahead of time. We made a small dent in this area in 2019, but hope to improve that significantly for our 2020 event. Why is locally sourced or organic important? Well, locally sourced not only gives back to the community, but also lessons the carbon footprint happening in the global aspect. If you think about picking up apples from a local farm v. getting them from a grocery store who got them from Georgia, imagine the impact on the carbon emissions in that one action! A product being organic plays a role because the more organic a product is, the less chemicals it is putting out into the environment. Obtaining more sources along these lines adds to the points an event (such as ours) which contributes towards the certification process.

Another aspect to the program is adding up carbon emissions. The Council provides a calculating formula and we plug in data to give recognition to the level of carbon emissions our event is creating in the environment. That includes working not just with our team race week, but also vendors, their locations, do they use gas or diesel and how many miles do they come from or go to to participate with us. Collecting all of this data takes much coordination and cooperation. We have a long way to go in improving this aspect but we are excited about how we learned our first year and what we can do to move forward in the years to come to make a difference. This also includes calculating distance from where our runners come, etc.

In regards to the community piece of the program, we are working with the local Fairborn City Schools to create a program in the 2020-2021 year to create an education experience for young students along with opportunities for them to be able to  have more participation in our event. We are working with a staff member as well to try to find more ways for the adults/staff of Fairborn City Schools to have fun ways to participate in our event. We are investigating more ways we can contribute to bettering the city of Fairborn alongside their city managers and/or ways to do improvements on Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Speaking to the access and equity part of the program, it means implementing more programs for broader opportunities of those who otherwise may be limited to participate in such an event. In 2019 we added a mobility clinic for lower leg amputees, led by gold medalist para-olympian, Grace Norman. We plan to bring that back in 2020. We have added more questions to our registration flow to better capture the needs of our registrants so we can accommodate their accessibility to participating.

The program has many parts which require planning well, being educated in the topics, and looking for creative ways to implement these parts. We also signed a declaration under the United Nations program with Sports for Climate Action to promise our dedication to doing what we can to achieve sustainability goals as a large scale event. For the 2020 year, you’ll see more uniform trash stations to make the recycling, landfill and compostables more evident. We plan to have educational opportunities for learning about the ways individuals can make a difference in their home and community. We are excited to be making a small difference and hope that will create excitement for others.

We learned so much in our first year and hope to better communicate these pieces with our participants, readers and community moving forward. The most important part is this takes a huge amount of effort to do well, and we could not be successful without our supporters and runners being a part of it! We look forward to continued growth is this way and making a difference in the community which can make a difference globally.

Written by: Rachael McKinney, Assistant Director

Related Pages:

Charity Partners
Air Force Marathon 2021

Leave a Comment