For a second year, The Great Race – which attracted a field of 12,788 registered runners and walkers – placed a top priority on practicing environmental stewardship, and the results topped totals from the inaugural year.
Race organizers and the City's Recycling Division once again partnered with the Pennsylvania Resources Council to create a "Green Team" presence at the Richard S. Caliguiri City of Pittsburgh Great Race on September 27, as well as the Dollar Bank Junior Great Race, which attracted more than 700 children and their families and officially kicked off "Great Race Week" on September 20.
"Our green initiative involved everything from collecting orange peels and pasta containers at the finish line to encouraging race participants to register online and car pool on race day," said Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. "The Great Race remains Pennsylvania's largest 10K, so we look to set an excellent example for all races in the Commonwealth."
According to final figures compiled by the Pennsylvania Resources Council (PRC) and City of Pittsburgh Recycling Division, the expanded efforts resulted in a significant increase in materials collected.
"This year we collected more than 6,000 pounds of material to compost, nearly seven times the amount we collected last year," said PRC Regional Director Dave Mazza. "At the finish line we continued to collect orange and banana peels and introduced compostable containers, forks and napkins for the pasta salad served. A major reason for such a significant increase was the introduction of compostable cups at all water stops along the course route."
According to Race Director Mike Radley, organizers expanded the focus of green activities this year. "Last year we focused our attention primarily on collecting materials at Point State Park since it serves as the finish line and gathering space for both The Great Race and the Junior Great Race. But this year we expanded the green focus to include water stops along the course and an educational display and recycling/composting station at the two-day expo."
This year the "Green Team" doubled it's collection of cardboard – the majority from boxes used to deliver refreshments or items for the runners' packets – from 1,000 pounds in 2008 to more than 2,600 pounds in 2009. Other "green" efforts included using recyclable cups at the start and finish lines; collecting leftover print materials for recycling; printing race applications on recycled paper using soy inks; using shuttle buses to transport runners and walkers to the start lines; and encouraging online registration.
"We were very pleased with this year's efforts," said Mr. Radley, "and we will once again plant trees along the Eliza Furnace Trail as an ongoing reminder of The Great Race's commitment to the environment."
Citywide efforts to increase neighborhood curbside recycling have also improved.
"Residents can now place all recycling items together in blue bags, instead of having to separate bottles with bottles and paper with paper like before," City Recycling Coordinator Shawn Wigle said. "By moving to single-stream recycling, we've made it easier for residents to recycle and have increased curbside tonnages by nearly 30 percent."
In addition to presenting sponsor Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, 2009 Great Race sponsors are Dollar Bank, Allegheny General Hospital, Dick's Sporting Goods, Del Monte Foods, KDKA-TV, Q92.9, 96.9 BOB FM, Pittsburgh magazine, Port Authority, Southwest Airlines and ARAD.