Boston Marathon 2009 at the halfway point coming up to the intersection of Route 16 and 128, by Paul Keleher
I’m going to go out on a limb and say it: Today is the best day of the year to be in Boston. Patriots’ Day, aka Marathon Monday, is an official state holiday, a day when citizens crowd along the streets to watch some of the most elite runners in the world sprint by (and some of the no-so-elite as well – I ran the race myself back in 2001). This year was the 113th running of the race, and it was won by Ethiopia’s Deriba Merga, and Kenya’s Salina Kosegi. But it’s by no means over for the thousands of people still running as I type.
One thing that may keep them going this year is the knowledge that among the many, many footprints that will cross the finish line – many of them will be accounted for, carbon-wise, by the race organizers, who have purchased offsets for the many buses used to transport runners to the starting line. They’ve also swapped out the motorcycles used to follow the elite runners with new electric scooters, and have installed a “green team” to ensure that all discarded cups, bottles, and blankets make their way into the barrels posted along the route. It’s the first step, so-to-speak, that the race has taken to become more sustainable.
But according to some, Boston still has a long way to go until it can truly be considered a sustainable event. Only two percent of the runners who participate are from the surrounding area, meaning there is a huge carbon footprint for all those traveling to get to the race.
“Given that it’s a point-to-point race and the numbers of people involved who come from far away, I think it’s fair to say Boston has one of the largest carbon footprints in the country,” Jeff Henderson, executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport, an Oregon-based group that tracks the most-green races and provides sustainability certification for sporting events, said in an interview with the Boston Globe.
Some races have made bigger efforts to become sustainable. The Portland marathon provides runners with medals made from recycled bicycle parts, and Austin uses solar power to run its stage. The Hartford marathon aims to be the most sustainable race in the country, offering locally-sourced food to its runners, offsetting all of their carbon emissions for travel, and providing 40-foot long trough-style water fountains instead of water bottles at the race’s end.
Photo: Paul Keleher