Friday, April 12.2024

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Buffalo Road Runners Support #RunClean Campaign

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RunClean Logo

We Challenge you to #runclean

Modern Athlete magazine is calling on all runners, race organisers, athletic provinces and race sponsors to join our #runclean campaign, because we feel very strongly about the litter problem in road running. It’s time to clean up our running act!

Here at Modern Athlete, South Africa’s largest running publication, we have made it our mission to promote a cleaner sport and try to eradicate the litter problem in our races, by continually reminding runners to think before they throw. That’s because we believe that every piece of plastic not dumped on the road is a step in the right direction, which will not only lead to less litter on the roads, but in the long run to less waste being produced by our sport, much of which potentially ends up in the sensitive environment or the oceans, especially if the wind is blowing during a race.

Join our campaign – pledge to #runclean!
Besides individual runners, several running events have already officially signed up with the campaign, pledging to promote #runclean. (See list of ideas below for how races can get involved.) There is no charge to sign up as an official #runclean event. In exchange, Modern Athlete promotes these events in the magazine (we have a dedicated #runclean page in the mag each month) and through its digital and social media platforms, thus promoting the events and the organisers, potentially increasing entries, giving sponsors positive kudos for their association with the event, etc.

Western Province Athletics (WPA) has recently become the first athletic province to officially endorse the #runclean campaign, and has asked all races in the province to add the #runclean logo to their entry forms, work with the province to improve their litter management plans, as well as contact Modern Athlete to officially sign up for the campaign.

A number of races have already officially signed up to the campaign, including the Vital Winelands Marathon in the Cape and the Dis-Chem Half Marathon in Gauteng. The Red Hill Marathon went a step further and even renamed their 36km race the Runclean Classic. Since the beginning of January 2016 and the announcement of WPA’s commitment, a large number of other events have all made contact with Modern Athlete to enquire about joining the campaign.


Ideas for races to promote #runclean:

1. Add the #runclean logo to your race flyer, entry form, website and media material, pledging to support the campaign.

2. Print posters that can be displayed at pre-race registration points, promoting #RunClean and urging runners not to litter on the route by using the bins, or carrying refuse to the next water station or the finish.

3. Commit to having more refuse bins on the route, placed in such a way as to encourage runners to use them, perhaps with #RunClean posters displayed at water tables as well.

4. Task your race volunteers and announcer to promote and drive #runclean initiatives on race day, including litter monitors with megaphones after water points to urge runners to use rubbish bins and not to carry litter further away from the drop zone, or through pre-race briefing and post-race feedback by the announcer.

5. Use social media and newsletter mailers to increase awareness of the #RunClean campaign and the race’s efforts to support the campaign.

6. Ask runners to Tweet about their #runclean efforts in your race, or pics of them doing their part not to litter, also tagging the race and sponsor as well. (As incentive, one lucky tweeter, randomly selected, could also receive a prize from the sponsors at prize-giving).

7. Come up with an idea to incentivise runners to bring their plastic rubbish to the finish, such as photographing them throwing used sachets into a special #runclean bin at the finish line, with a prize courtesy of the sponsors going to the best #runclean supporter, as chosen by the organisers, or a randomly chosen winner. (A selection of these photos of #runclean runners could then be forwarded to Modern Athlete to be published and promoted on our website and in the magazine, thus affording the event and its sponsors more positive publicity.)


What individual athletes can do to #runclean

1. Many runners go for long training runs without carrying any water, but suddenly in a race they cannot get through three kays without water. You don’t need to drink so much water when running, especially in shorter distances – and you really don’t need to take three sachets at each water table! So often runners take more than one sachet and toss one or more unused, or only use half the water in the sachets before throwing them away. That not only wastes precious water, but also means more waste lying in the road.

2. Better idea: Carry your own water in a hydration backpack or water bottle belt, so that you don’t need to use the sachets. Some runners say it weighs them down, and thus slows them down, but trail runners seem able to run quite comfortably and quickly while carrying water, so surely road runners can also do so.

3. When you do use the sachets, don’t drop them (or other refuse) in the road – always look for a bin. Come on, moving a few metres towards a bin really won’t cost you that much time.

4. In fact, you don’t even need to throw the sachets away… You could carry your rubbish till you can throw it away, even if that is at the finish. Just stick the empty plastic sachets in a pocket, or in the waistband of your shorts, because carrying a few pieces of ultra lightweight plastic simply will not weigh you down that much!

5. Handy hint: If your running kit does not have one, make your own pocket by sowing on your front provincial licence number with the upper edge left loose, to form a pocket in which you can carry rubbish to the next bin or the finish. Again, this will not weigh you down and cost you time.

6. If you simply must drop a sachet in the road, try to at least do so within easy distance of the water tables, in demarcated litter areas, not two and a half kays up the road. That way the clean-up crew can quickly, easily and safely clean up. Remember, many of these volunteers are not runners, and they are there to support you and help you get to the finish line, not spend hours of backbreaking work walking for miles along busy roads to clean up after you! Think they will be back next year to hand you water sachets after that? Think again…

7. Never toss a sachet where it cannot be seen or retrieved by the clean-up crew. Especially not into the bushes next to the road. Or into a storm water drain. Or under parked cars.

8. On windy days, make doubly sure your litter is well disposed of in bins or rubbish bags so that it doesn’t get blown all over the place, thus making it even less likely that it all will be picked up by the clean-up crew.

9. If you see fellow runners littering, try to diplomatically suggest a cleaner attitude going forwards, but avoid getting into an argument or confrontation.

10. Even better, why don’t you volunteer to do water table duty at a local race and then help clean up the mess afterwards. That should make you think twice about tossing your sachet next time, because we doubt you will enjoy picking up a few thousand sachets. Nobody would enjoy that!

11. Lastly, make a point of being a cleaner runner by promoting a no littering rule, not only in your own behaviour, but also in your social media comments and interaction with fellow runners. Include #runclean in your Tweets and Facebook posts.


Modern Athlete wants to hear from runners and event organisers about their efforts to #runclean – all letters, photos, stories or ideas can be sent to The best items will be printed in the magazine or used on our digital platforms.

Think before you throw – #runclean


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