In my early days I never saw another trail runner. EVER! I would see hikers, but never runners. I'm sure there were other trail runners around . . . but not that many!
And during my early days I would see some trash on the easy / short trails near parking areas. But in the real backcountry I rarely saw much trash except around popular trout streams! But that isn't the case anymore! I'm seeing less and less hiker and fisherman trash. But I'm seeing more and more runner trash! Namely . . . empty gel pack and the tops of gel packs!
Come on folks! We can do better than this!
So far all the runner trash seems to be going 'under the radar' of my park officials. And those of us doing the trail maintenance (all trail runners at my park!) try hard to cover up the problem by picking up all we see.
My park is a fairly small park where we can easily cover the trails. But some of the larger state and national parks have huge trail networks that become quite difficult to maintain completely. At some point park officials will start noticing the trash problem . . . maybe some are already seeing it. So . . . guess what happens.
Parks will start making it harder and harder for race directors to get permits to have our races! That's what!
So here, my rant takes two prongs:
- The first is obviously a human problem. Trail runners. Folks . . . if you carry a gel pack in, you can certainly carry it out! Simple! And be extra careful with the tops you tear off! Try to not totally tear the top off. Then, you can easily roll the empty gel pack up and stow it in a pocket or small zip lock bag to dispose of when you get to a trash can. If you do tear it completely off, stick it inside! Just don't drop it! These things just NEVER degrade! And if you do happen to drop it . . . consider it a race penalty and GO BACK AND PICK THE DAMN THING UP!!
- The second prong of my rant is directed to the companies that manufacture gels, etc. You all hire smart people. Find a way to package gels so that the tops won't get torn off! And is it possible to package gels in something that is bio-degradable? You all have a huge responsibility here. It is simply not okay for you all to continue to produce packaging that PROMOTES littering. And when you come up with a great packaging idea . . . don't patent it . . . share the idea freely so everyone can benefit!