Water bottles instead of cups?

Posted on 11/09/2009 at 04:32:54 PM by David Patt

The race director of a very small race (less than 100 runners) suggested providing water at aid stations in small water bottles (same size as cups) instead of cups.

He claimed it would make for a "greener" race and still give runners an adequate amount of water they could easily drink while running.  It would also eliminate the need to pour water from jugs into paper cups.

A bunch of empty water bottles bouncing across the course, though, would be a greater safety hazard than flattened cups.

What do you think?

11 Comments
Bad idea. But, if they were to give each runner a souvenir water bottle to run with they might be on to something.

Posted Nov 19, 2009 7:47 AM by Gwen Shelton
I have been trying to figure out how to eliminate bottled water at my event. I even priced out biodegradable, reusable water bottles to give to each runner but setting up enough water stations will be very tricky.

Posted Nov 19, 2009 11:04 AM by David M. Patt,
The challenge is to find a way to provide runners with water so they don't have to carry a bottle - or anything else - with them. So far, the paper cup system seems to be best - and you can use recyclable cups.

Give me a break, David... We've NEVER had a problem with water bottles 'bouncing across the course.' What kind of water bottle system do you use...a big, floppy paper sack??? In our larger warm-weather events we REQUIRE runners to wear some type of hydration device, (yes, to be green), but mainly for safety reasons. 2 miles between aid stations may not seem like a long way, but add humidity, 1200' elevation change, and rocky trails, and it will seem like an eternity 'til the next aid station.

By the way, for all of our events, we give reusable (sponsor-provided) UD hand-held bottles to those that show-up without bottles. I also RD paved some 1000+ road races, and understand that it may take a while for the idea of carrying your own water in a race to catch on, amongst our paved brethren. But after a few more 'oops' like Chicago 2008, etc, it may be sooner than we think.

Posted Nov 24, 2009 5:00 PM by David M. Patt,
Hey, Ben, you once said that trail runners, like those in your race, are more willing to carry water bottles than are road racers. Why do you think that is so?

Posted Nov 25, 2009 7:08 PM by Jeff Reynolds
As a runner, both on and off road, I like carrying my own H2O...I ran a marathon this fall with a 20 oz hand-held, and was one of only a few I saw doing so. About mile 18 or so and a couple of folks commented on my good sense as I drank while they prayed for a station. I'm all for trying to 'green up' and suggest that runners carry water.

Posted Dec 01, 2009 5:50 PM by Gary Totten
Seriously, runners get a life! For races up to 5k - no water. In 10K runs, unless the heat index is severe - no water. We are now a a nation of idiots that carry water and pay money for it when we can get it free from the tap! What happened to hydrating before the race (or just get a drink of water before you leave the house). Providing water becomes a performance issue when physiology is compromised; otherwise, it's a comfort issue. Tap water has to pass State and Federal regulations but 'bottled water' does not.

Posted Dec 02, 2009 8:56 AM by Dan Van Veen
Going green...makes sense to take care of the environment, but to me the recyclable cups make more sense as race directors can guarantee the cups get recycled while carry- along plastic bottles may or may not be recycled -- as that's up to each individual runner/walker. And the issue isn't just during the race -- post race often includes some kind of sports drink and/or water in plastic bottles along with food...doesn't matter if it's a 5K or marathon. But that's almost more difficult to go green there as even if you clearly mark 'recycle your plastic bottles here,' people still throw other trash (banana peals, wrappers, etc.) into it...(fun to sort out THAT sticky mess in order to recycle) and refilling used plastic bottles, unless carefully done, would be a great way to spread viruses as people tend to rest a pitcher on the lip of their bottles or stick there bottles up against the tap to fill it (especially if runners are serving themselves after a hard race). So, all that to say, going 'green' is a whole lot of work from set-up to tear-down and has to be done carefully to protect the health of participants.

Posted Dec 02, 2009 4:59 PM by David M. Patt,
Most runners do need to stay hydrated, Gary, so races - including a 5k - should have water at aid stations. For many people, 5k is the fartherst they've run. It's not just a quick sprint.

David, I think trailrunners use hydration devices in races more than roadruners for these reasons: Trail races can have just as many aid stations as road races, but trail races usually have terrain and elevation issues that road races don't...so it takes longer to get between aid stations. Trailrunners are also used to training in conditions away from civilization, so they tend to be more self-sufficient. (There aren't Starbucks and 7-11s in the woods). Ben

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