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Posted: February 8, 2009  :

(RWire) Athletics: Austin Marathon Green Team Picks Up the Pace for 2009 Event

"Greenest Race in North America" further reduces event's waste, carbon footprint with new team infrastructure and sponsor involvement

AUSTIN, Texas - (February 3, 2009) - After the 2008 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon was named the "Greenest Race in North America" by Runner's World magazine, organizers created infrastructure to make the 2009 event - set for Sunday, February 15 - even more environmentally friendly. The green efforts also support the City of Austin's goal to reduce waste at major events.

In order to raise the bar this year, the Austin Marathon staff has assigned a designated Green Team leader in every division, ensuring everything from clothing management to race communications to food service is as sustainable as possible.

The team leaders are charged with eliminating unnecessary waste and pollution at every turn. Major reductions will come from less plastic waste at water stops, fewer supply vehicles, eliminating paper inserts in the runner's "goody bag," and distributing only one plastic bag to runners throughout race weekend (with instructions for ways to reuse it after the race).

"The Austin Marathon works to showcase the best of our city and we know that includes being environmentally responsible," said Michelle Sandquist, associate race director and leader of the green efforts. "After having such great success in reducing our environmental impact in 2008, we've loved the challenge of becoming even more eco-friendly this year."

Many water stops will now use the city's water supply to hydrate runners, eliminating two tractors and three trailers that were previously used to deploy over 8,000 one-gallon jugs of water to the various stops along the race route. All plastic jugs that are used at other water stops will be recycled.

Race organizers called on sponsors and vendors to reevaluate their operations with an eye for sustainability. H-E-B will replace all Styrofoam containers with recyclable paper versions and will use 100 percent compostable cups and utensils. Sustainable Waves is providing a solar powered stage and trailer, bio diesel generators and bio diesel light towers for race operations. Dirty Work Hauling will manage the disposal of all trash and recyclables on the course, a sizeable task with a 26.2-mile route.

In addition to the green features introduced in 2008, new earth-friendly elements include:

* Recycling stations at the finish line and the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon Expo
* Gutter Buddies - shields on city gutters to keep debris from going into Lady Bird Lake
* Composting for food waste at the finish line
* 100 percent online race registration - eliminating paper registration forms
* Austin Rowing Center kayakers will retrieve items discarded in Lady Bird Lake
* Caritas will receive any leftover food from the finish line's food service stations
* All badges for race operations made from recycled plastic (more than 1,000 total)
* Race websites hosted by company using wind power for operations (www.hostgator.com/green-web-hosting.shtml)

Below are features from the 2008 Austin Marathon & Half Marathon that made it the "Greenest Race" in North America. These elements will also be part of the 2009 race.

* Cardboard-only dumpsters were full with 10,000 pounds of boxes, used to hold everything from water and PowerAde to t-shirts and race medals.
* Recycling bins from Keep Austin Beautiful were filled with more than 13,000 plastic water bottles, totaling 4,375 pounds of plastic recycled on race day.
* Finishers in the half-marathon took home an organic cotton t-shirt; the 7,000 tees saved approximately 2,334 pounds of pesticide.
* Three Biodiesel and two solar-powered generators saved approximately 100 gallons of gas on race day.
* Ten official race vehicles and trucks used Bio-diesel fuel.
* No-idle zones were enforced for all race vehicles, saving approximately 18 gallons of gas and 95 pounds of carbon dioxide during race day.
* Race restrooms were stocked with 1,500 rolls of toilet paper made with recycled content.
* All 250 Austin Outhouse units were serviced with Dyna-Bact Environmental Toilet Deodorizer (a non-toxic alternative to traditional harsh chemicals).
* More than 500 articles of discarded clothing were donated to local charities instead of being thrown away.

The Austin community can participate in the earth friendly focus of the Austin Marathon by volunteering on race day and signing up for Green Team responsibilities. Volunteers are still needed to fill these and other roles throughout the race route. To sign up, visit YourAustinMarathon.com and click the "Volunteer" tab.

Additionally, the Austin Marathon is seeking certification from the Council for Responsible Sport (ReSport). Applicants are judged in five areas: waste, climate, materials & equipment, community and outreach, and health promotion. By earning credits in these categories, events can qualify for the following levels of sustainability: Evergreen, Gold, Silver or Certified. ReSport representatives will be on site during the Austin Marathon to evaluate the implementation of all sustainability initiatives.

Since its first race in 1992 with 605 competitors, the Austin Marathon has grown to become the 19th largest in the United States. It is the 14th largest combined marathon and half-marathon event in the country, attracting more than 14,000 runners and 30,000 spectators to Austin and generating more than $12 million for the local economy. The goal of the event has always been to organize a world-class marathon that unites the community, brings national attention to the region, promotes health and fitness, and serves as a fundraising engine for both local and national charities. The 2009 Austin Marathon and Half Marathon will be held Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009. For more, visit: YourAustinMarathon.com.

Ryan Lamppa, Running USA Media Director
(805) 696-6232; Fax = (805) 659-0016
Ryan@RunningUSA.org
www.RunningUSA.org.

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