By Trevor Ball
As a lover of the outdoors, you are probably well enlightened on the joys of recycling, solar power and bio fuels. To add to your repertoire of melodious tree-hugging skills, here are some tips for the ultra-green trail guy or gal.
This planet is well beyond passive environmental behaviour – you have to dive in and fix things that are wrong! Pick up any litter (gel wrappers) that you see on the trails, even if it is not yours. We are going to leave the wilderness in a better state for our passing.
Do entry forms need to be printed, or can events and clubs be operated online? Trail running is carving new ground, as most races operate in cyberspace.
Stay on the trails It is very tempting to wander about for better views, to ogle a rare orchid or to hide behind a bush for a call of nature (not the fish eagle variety), but this creates extra and unmanaged pathways that result in vegetation trampling and erosion trails. Shortcuts across switchbacks are a common trail killer – stay the course!
Mud puddles can create a ‘run-around’ trail. Your shoes are designed to cruise the wet, go straight through the middle, keeping on the path. No one said it was going to be easy.
This is a hugely sensitive issue. Best practice is to avoid it altogether and time your run and your ‘movements’ to perfection. However, race nerves (or one coffee too many) forces a reaction and thus off you go behind a tree. The only acceptable paper to use is natural leaves. Forget burying, burning or hiding bog roll or tissues under a rock. Toughen up.
If your dog is joining in the fun, take a plastic bag along to remove its waste. Landmines on the trail are just gross and lobbing dog ‘compost’ over the bushes is harmful to the natural creatures and birdlife – which avoid dog do areas like the plague.
The doggone pong along the first kilometre of trails (closest to the car park) needs to go.
Best done from a hydration pack bladder. This reduces usage of plastic bottles or those horrible water sachets during races. (Run road events with your own drinking bladder too, maybe we can start a revolution and drastically reduce plastic waste!)
Drive as few cars to the trail run as possible. Better still, ride a bike there or run! Aim at minimum ecological footprint, maybe just a dusty one.
What do you do with your old running shoes? There may be some life in them that can be used by less-fortunate runners. Various events and charities facilitate this process. You might get more than a tree hug!
Trail route markings
Some sponsors of events love seeing their name in lights all around the trail. Branded tape and other signage that can easily be left behind after the event are created to make the runners’ navigation straightforward. I have seen spray-painted rocks and roots! Request the minimum of arrows and other luminous visual pollution. Striped candy tape is the ultimate insult to a trail runner’s nature-loving gaze. If you are in the bush, you are not lost! Remember, it’s adventure you seek, not blitsvinnig times.
To help maintain the trails. Our National Parks have ‘Friends’ or Ranger associations that engage in projects within the conservation area.
Taking the green revolution even further, check out your T-shirt’s manufacturing process. Conventional cotton shirts have probably been made from cotton that requires loads of pesticides to be sprayed into our diminishing supply of clean air. There are now ‘organic’ garments, whose growth does not destroy the environment. These cost a lot more, but maybe it’s better to pay now rather than later!
The biggest bonus of trail events is to raise awareness for green thinking. For example, share your knowledge about what alien vegetation looks like and why much of it sucks up needed water resources.
This is not a story, this is real.