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  • Can the Broad Street Run Be More Sustainable, Please? Open Letter to Mayor Nutter broad-street-cover Full view

    Can the Broad Street Run Be More Sustainable, Please? Open Letter to Mayor Nutter


    Dear Mayor Nutter,

    Yesterday was a great day. I woke up at 6 AM to run with 39,999 of my closest friends down Broad Street. It made up for missinBroad Street Run 2014g the Supermoon thanks to a bunch of clouds on Saturday evening.

    Given that this was my fourth time for the Broad Street Run, I was pretty calm awaiting the start gun. But I heard your proclamation that you wanted to make Broad Street the biggest 10 miler in the WORLD. Kudos, Mayor.  I appreciate trying to get Philly on the map. I even high-fived you after I crossed the start line in support of your ambition, Greenworks and more.

    Yet running yesterday reminded me of how much waste is created from one (average) 1:40 minute run. Especially when 40K people run.  Since you’ve already proclaimed we want to make Philadelphia America’s Greenest City by 2015, why can’t we combine the two ideas and make Broad Street Run the Biggest Environmentally-friendly Philly Race?!?

    Here are a few observations of the Broad Street Run and suggestions on how we can green-i-fy both the expo & race:

    The Broad Street Runner Expo Green Tips:

    • After waiting 30-40 minutes, you receive a race bib with 4 safety pins (necessary) and a t-shirt in a plastic bag. Unlike most years stuffed with race promotions, NOTHING else was in the plastic bag. Kudos on eliminating unwanted paper.  But can’t we forgo the plastic bag altogether and just have participants stick the t-shirt, bib & a few safety pins in your purse. Or Man-purse. Or just carry the damn things?  Able-bodied individuals can easily carry these items.
    • Speaking of which, why can’t we email the “Official Race Program” to all runners instead of including that pamphlet with the t-shirt? That went straight into the recycle bin for me.
    • If you choose to purchase something from a vendor (AKA shoes/”GU”/shirt), they each gave an additional (non-necessary) plastic bag. Once again, completely unnecessary.  Let’s dump the plastic – especially after your plastic bag proposal was shot down in 2009. Or substitute plastic for reusable cloth bags.
    • Why host the expo at trying to be greenest stadium in world Lincoln Financial Field VS the Conventional Center, when many runners live and stay in Center City the night prior.  Plus, not easily having parking in Center City would encourage many more runners to take public transit and carpool VS parking in the isolated Linc.

      Photo: Athletes for a Fit Planet

      Broad Street Run – Make Race day Sustainable:

    • How many H2O & Gatorade cups are used and thrown on Broad Street in 30 seconds or less? 40,000? 100,000? 150,000? Although it is necessary to hydrate,  can’t we have our runners carry their own water like the Great Lakes Endurance? Or at the very least use non-wax biodegradable paper cups?
    • 40,000 Finisher medals: Although it’s nice to wear a medal for 20 minutes from the Finish line to the subway, do we really “need” a medal for a 10 mile race?  Many individuals compete in Marathons, Triathlons & other journeys that are a test of willpower and endurance.  As this was my 4th run, I barely trained and finished in my worst time. Did I really “deserve” a medal for my half-assed efforts?  (Probably not.)  Let’s spare the metal materials (recycled or not) and instead use that money to add a few more recycling bins on Broad Street?  Or if people really complain, let’s use recycled glass or materials for the medals like Whidbey Island in 2008.
    • Rather than wearing pesticide-heavy (over 1/2 pound per 1 conventional T) shirts, let’s switch to the organic cotton & bamboo variety.
    • Instead of wasting thousands of water bottles, can we get a gigantic water fountain like ING Hartford Marathon, CT? It lets 40 runners drink at once and eliminates 10,000 plastic bottles!
    • Speaking of ING Hartford, let’s trade the sugary bars & potato chip crap in our food (yet another plastic) bag for organic goodies and local noms instead.
    • We should be composting those banana & orange peels at the finish line, as well as have compostable paper cups.
    • Let’s mark those bins at the finish line for what/when to recycle, trash & compost!

    I don’t want to be completely critical here… I did notice the Broad Street times weren’t published in the Philadelphia Daily News in an effort to go “green”. Yet we could make SO many improvements to make the race more sustainable. Let’s put our money where our mouth is… Mayor Nutter, we need to start implementing BIG eco-friendly actions to make it onto the 10 Green Races in America list.  I know Philly can conquer such a challenge, but do you?


    Julie H.
    Green Philly Blog Founder & Author





    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

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