This past weekend, I was unable to run the Beach to Beacon due to the slight problem of having just broken my foot.
Fortunately for me, that meant that I was able to volunteer and see the race from a different perspective.
I decided to volunteer with the folks from Atayne at the finish line for 3 reasons:
- I like Atayne’s environmental philosophy and thought it would be good to help them out.
- My 11 year-old niece was already signed up to help out at the finish line and this allowed me to spend more time with her (and coincidentally simplified our pre-race travel arrangements.)
- I had a broken foot and if I was able to run with the trash runners behind the race I probably would have just competed in the actual race!
Surprisingly, the morning started out pretty well, with my niece and both nephews not needing too much coaxing to wake up and get moving. We were out the door around the time I wanted to be leaving and arrived in plenty of time at Fort Williams Park, where I hobbled around on my crutch with Morgan.
We met up with Becca Darr from Atayne, who filled us in on what we would be expected to do today:
Our job was to collect the D-Tags off of people’s shoes. The D-Tags were replacing the ChampionChips that have been used in the past. They are more accurate, easier to put on your shoe, and are disposable, which saves on the effort of having to collect them at the finish line.
Just because they were disposable, though, didn’t mean that they should be destined for a landfill. For most of the morning, I wasn’t sure exactly how they got recycled, but then I met Bruce Rayner from Athlete’s For a Fit Planet, who works with ChronoTrack to recycle the tags. Apparently, they incinerate them and then use the metal ash to create new chips:
Setting up to collect the chips was interesting, because we had no bins to collect them in and no set place to be.
We thought about collecting chips after folks had a chance to get some water, but we were kicked out of that spot in short order because the finish area wasn’t designed for us to collect chips there. Of course, it was designed almost exactly the same as it had been last year when chips were collected, except without the ropes to keep people from getting away with their chip, but we moved anyway.
Instead, my niece and I set up shop in the field with the food tents, about 20 feet away from the Maine Running Company and Atayne tents. Of course, I only saw a few people from the Reach the Beacon training program despite being near the tent, since I spent most of the morning down on my knee cutting the tags off of shoes.
We were supposed to have bins to collect the tags, but they never got provided to us so instead I was given a trash barrel. Unfortunately, that meant that I had to continually fish trash out of it because people thought that it was a trash barrel.
About an hour after the finishers started coming through I finally managed to get an actual trash barrel and a box for compostables and a bag for recyclables, which helped.
Listening to the race over the loudspeakers was pretty fun. I considered watching at the finish line and then heading back to my spot, but my foot was aching from wandering around on it all morning so I stayed put and just listened.
Of course, they stopped announcing the progress of the race once the runners entered the park and the media truck was no longer right in front of them, so I never found out who won until the awards ceremony a few hours later.
I was kept pretty busy collecting the tags, and every once in a while somebody would say my name and I’d glance up and get to see somebody I knew. I started the morning cutting tags with my pocket knife, but eventually I took the scissors from my niece and just had her direct people over to me. I managed to only cut my finger once, and that was with the scissors, I think.
We really should have had a few extra people to collect chips, and along with the special bins for it we should have had a sign. I probably only got about 1000 or 1200 tags at the very most, out of 6000 runners. Nobody knew that we’d be collecting the tags, I don’t think.
Once the awards started the crowd had thinned quite a bit, so I was able to stop and chat with folks that I knew as they walked by and hear how they ran.
My sister and my nephew came by, sporting their new Atayne shirts and with big smiles on their faces.
They’d had a great time running behind everybody picking up all the trash as they went.
There were a few jogging strollers with trash bags hanging off the sides, one of which actually had kids in it and the other that was solely used as a rolling trash can. I think about a half dozen people total ran.
After that, I collected up my family, said good bye to everybody, and my wife and I went to the beach for a few hours to frolic in the water and lay in the sand.
Given the whole broken foot thing, we spent more time laying in the sand than playing in the water, although it did feel good.
Further Reading if you want more information: