Found on RunnersWorld.com and written by Kit Fox
On April 1, California passed a law aiming to reduce the state’s water consumption by 25 percent over the next year. The persistent and extreme drought has forced residents to cut back almost everywhere, from the bathroom to the kitchen to the lawn.
But how about on the run?
Hydration is necessary in any road race of significant distance, but as the landscapes around California’s race courses dry up, we asked race officials how depleting water resources will affect their hydration strategies. Here’s what they had to say. (Interviews were edited and condensed for clarity.)
Race Director, Big Sur International Marathon
April 26, Carmel, California
Most runners expect that every mile or two, a cup of water will magically appear. They don’t realize the work that goes into that cup.
We encourage people to use our CamelBak refill stations. Those allow you to bring your own hydration system with you. That accomplishes several things: you can have water whenever you want it, you have more with you so it can be more efficient for you, and it also greatly reduces the amount of cups that we have to separate and compost. As far as savings of water, we are only pouring in the water runners actually need, so there is less waste and you are giving people exactly what they want.
Our green program has been in place for five years; we’ve increased the emphasis in our runner communications. We say right on our runner instruction sheets that California is experiencing a huge drought. So besides conserving water during the race, we also ask them to minimize use in hotel rooms. We can all do a little bit to save a lot.
Race Director, Mountains2Beach Marathon
May 24, Ventura, California
In terms of the new law, there’s nothing that is required on our end yet. But from my organization’s standpoint, we are founded on eco-friendly practices. When it comes down to water, we do our very best to conserve, but there are safety standards that we have to stick to. We certainly don’t dump out any leftover water. I always take that leftover water and donate it to non-profits in the area.
I always have on hand about 2,500 gallons for my sized event in 2.5-gallon jugs. We will go through about 2,100 gallons of it for 4,000 runners. Again, I donate the extra to other organizations.
Races are going to have to start adapting: really having to try and conserve water waste, not dumping water on accident, and not needlessly using it for hosing people down when race day temps are mild. All in all, I think the industry can be a lot better in being eco-friendly.
Director of Course Operations, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series
May 31, San Diego
September 26-27, San Jose
October 25, Los Angeles
The government hasn’t articulated what those restrictions are going to be, but if you live here [the Rock ‘n’ Roll Series is based in San Diego] you know about the sensitivity with the issue. We anticipated an issue September of last year in San Jose because we hadn’t had any rain in months. We weren’t going to allow misters on the course, but then it was 85 degrees. We had discussions with fire officials on heat issues versus the drought. We came to the consensus that medical trumps drought. If it’s hot we have extra water because people are going to drink more. If it’s cool we are going to back off.
If you really think about it, runners are going to drink regardless. You are talking about maybe ounces more that’s consumed on race day versus training. So one of the big issues for us is waste on the back end, managing how we dispose of water so we aren’t creating waste. We don’t dump extra water down the drain. We dump it to benefit the landscape.
For us, it’s about being a good community partner and being good public stewards. We want to have a perception that we aren’t doing anything that’s wasteful. As a race operator based in California, we definitely want to make sure we are taking the matter seriously. It’s not something that happened last week; this has been something on our minds since Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose last year.