“If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

-Kathrine Switzer, first woman to run the Boston Marathon


Marathon season is in full swing and runners across the country are either gearing up for or winding down from the intense 26.2 mile race. 

While running appears on the surface to be a sport with a low environmental impact (no greener form of transportation than your own two feet!), the true cost of running might surprise you. 

When you factor in the clothing, shoes, electronics, food, and other gear required for long distance runners, runners’ carbon footprint adds up quickly. According to a study featured in Runner’s World, one pair of running shoes generates 30 pounds of CO2 emissions, while the average runner’s annual carbon output is 5,449 pounds.

Runners have taken note and now look to alternatives for their running gear, buying from brands like Atayne, a company that makes running gear out of 100% recycled polyester.

 Recycled sneakers from Eco Sneakers

Eco Sneakers is another organization helping to reduce the carbon footprint of runners everywhere. They collect and recycle gently used sneakers, providing shoes for the homeless and responsibly recycling those shoes that are no longer usable. 

But, what about the greening of the races?

A simple Google search for “marathons going green” will bring up pages upon pages of marathon sites highlighting their focus on green initiatives. Like other major sporting events, the running world is paying attention to their environmental impact and taking positive steps to create more eco-friendly events. 

The Council for Responsible Sport (CRS) was founded in 2007 to help facilitate responsible sporting events around the globe. Their third party certification program has honored over 100 events for their socially and environmentally responsible efforts, and is something athletes are paying more attention to.

According to their website, events certify for two key reasons, including:

  1. 1. To gauge their current impacts and lay course for how they intend to improve over time
  2. Making a strong commitment to a holistic program of responsibility across the board and using a third-party certification from the CRS to verify those efforts publicly

Here at Relan, we’ve been lucky enough to help many prominent marathons with their greening initiatives, most recently with three gold certified events: the Eversource Hartford Marathon, the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon, and the Marine Corps Marathon. 

Here’s a look at a few steps these marathons are taking to green their events: 


Eversource Hartford Marathon

 Bags made from recycled Eversource Hartford Marathon finish line

The 2015 Eversource Hartford Marathon took place last weekend, with the first place male finishing in 2:15:58 and the first place female finishing in 2:41:41! 

We worked with the marathon team to create 1,500 bags made from the repurposed Hartford Marathon finish line that were given to runners who signed up for the race as part of a charity. Our collaboration eliminated the tossing of the finish line, provided a unique gift to those participating in the event, and helped the marathon team expand on their greening efforts.

The Eversource Hartford Marathon earned Gold Certification from the CRS in 2008, then again in 2014. 

Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon

 Bags and wine totes made from recycled Kansas City marathon banners

People across the country are gearing up for this year’s Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon, which takes place this Saturday, October 17. 

We’ve been lucky enough to work with the Kansas City Sports Commission since 2013 and this year, they turned their old banners and billboards into wine totes and signature tote bags to gift to their event sponsors. You can learn more about our partnership over at the KC Sport blog. They are also featured on our sports testimonials page! 

The Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon has been CRS Gold Certified since 2014.


Marine Corps Marathon

 Products made from recycled Marine Corps Marathon banners

The 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) takes place on Sunday, October 25 in Washington D.C. We have had a blast working with the MCM team to make products out of their finish line and very vibrant banners. Together, we created mesh gear bags, backpacks, tote bags, wine totes, and luggage tags. 

The best part? Rather than reserving these products for event sponsors, all participants and fans are able to purchase the products. You can do this in two ways: 

  1. Visit www.ownthemcmfinish.com to purchase online 
  2. Stop by the Relan booth #407 at the Marine Corps Marathon Health & Fitness Expo on October 23-24 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Say hello and purchase products on site!

The MCM was CRS Silver Certified from 2009-2013 and received a Gold Certification in 2014.

You can keep tabs on all of the CRS-certified events happening across the country by following the #responsiblesport hashtag on Instagram or visiting their website


Your Turn:

What green marathon did you run or cheer on this year? Tell us in the comments! 

Images: 1) Flickr/Elvert Barnes 2) Eco Sneakers