Cape Town - With greater emphasis placed on environmentally-conscious practices in everything we do, it's no surprise that events are also taking on the responsibility of being eco-friendly.
One of Cape Town's biggest marathons, the annual Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, is a sterling example of a carbon-neutral event that's not only making a green difference, but also putting SA on the map for its eco-conscious efforts.
The Mother City's marathon is the first in Africa to be awarded IAAF Gold Label status, and on Friday, 10 November, it also received the 2017 AIMS Green Award that recognises excellence in environmental practice.
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The award is presented annually by the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) which judges its candidates "on their promotion of environmentally friendly practices in marathon events".
Race ambassador Elana van Zyl-Meyer says, “As organisers we’re acutely aware of our duty to ensure that we protect the fragile environment in which our event takes place. With over 20 000 runners and their supporters descending on an ecologically sensitive environment between the ocean and Table Mountain National Park, we have a great responsibility to take care of the environment.”
According to the marathon's organisers, the Western Cape's drought adds to the significance of the marathon and the need to make a positive environmental impact.
The marathon also held a #RunGreen campaign, which involved communicating “chuck zones” along the route for the disposal of litter and a “zero waste to landfill” policy that aimed to recycle all waste.
"As a result, during the 2017 event, waste was reduced by over 25% per runner thanks to an on-site waste-sorting facility."
Almost three tons of recyclable waste were collected - this includes paper, glass and various forms of plastic, while 1.4 tons of non-recyclable solids - such as organic waste and disposable water sachets - were sent to the New Horizon Energy Plant for conversion into renewable energy sources such as biomethane and gas.
Race director Janet Welham says, “We’re particularly proud of this, as a big source of waste is the plastic sachets that have become a challenge for race organisers across South Africa.”
Cape Town Marathon's carbon footprint - which factors in the transport by air and car of all athletes - was offset in 2017 by supporting three South African charities: Wonderbag, Reliance Compost and Basa Magogo.
“We also purchase carbon credits from the JSE supporting South African-accredited climate-neutral projects,” Welham says.
Lester Cameron, President of Western Province Athletics (WPA) on behalf of Athletics South Africa (ASA) says, “This recognition acknowledges that our sport can affect and foster awareness about the environment to promote change. Sport is a part of life, and life is inclusive of the environment, not separate from it.”
The Cape Town Marathon is a four-day event that starts with the AIMS Africa Conference and opening day of the Expo, and closes with the road running contests on the last two days.
It is considered one of "Africa’s must run iconic city marathons", with athletes from over 70 countries from around the world.
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