Contact the city about your concerns.
DAVE MCGILLIVRAY, for Runner's World
Our local endurance sports company hosts a marathon each year. It is a mid-sized, for-profit event, with about 500 runners. The problem is, it does a poor job of cleaning up after the race.
Last year I ran a beautiful portion of the course a day after the race, and found it littered with Gu packets. Being a good runner (who hates litter), I picked them up. I also sent the race organizers an email letting them know that it wasn't my job to clean up after their marathon. They apologized, and said it wouldn't happen again. But two days after this year's marathon, I found the same park filled with runners' trash again. I am very upset that I keep having to pick up their trash.
Obviously, the race organizers don't take my complaints seriously. What can I do? Can I send a formal complaint to the city? I find it appalling that this company is trashing our city for its own profit. - Kurt
Thanks for your question, Kurt.
Usually, in the permitting process we all go through in order to secure permission to conduct our race, it clearly states that the race organization is responsible for leaving the venue and the course the way they found it before the race began. Races that flout this rule, I'd think, would jeopardize their chances of securing a permit the following year.
The rule of thumb is to require all the volunteers who are handing out water or gel packets to pick up all the cups and packets once the race is over. We typically supply each station with bags, barrels, rakes, brooms, shovels, and gloves in order to perform this function. Granted, it can be challenging to pick up those empty gel packets after the race as they seem to get flattened and stuck to the road. However, that is no excuse for simply walking away from the mess.
Another option is for the race to work with the Department of City Works to determine whether they can help with cleanup. Sometimes they can, sometimes they can't. But it is best to know this in advance. Either way, it should be the race’s responsibility to be sure no trash remains.
If you have tried to reach out to the race management company with no satisfaction, then I would certainly contact the city directly and make them aware of this concern. What I find interesting is that the city hasn’t come down hard on this group already. From a selfish race director position, I would want to see this dealt with myself so that in the future other races who are more conscientious and responsible aren’t denied their permit as sometimes we can all be treated as guilty by association.
Finally: Good for you for even noticing!