Some running clubs are based around a location; others are formed an ideal. The Green Runners is proudly of the latter variety. Founded by a handful of ultrarunners – including Jasmin Paris, Damian Hall and Dan Lawson – it is aiming to inspire runners from around the world to make personal changes to help the environment. These are based around four pillars: how you move, kit up, eat and speak out.
‘How you move is about looking at how you travel to races and training,’ says co-founder and record-breaking ultraunner Jasmin Paris. ‘If the race is abroad, can you go by other means than flying? Or on a more local level, can you take public transport to the race?’ To help with this, Green Runners is looking to encourage race organisers to consider changing the start times of certain races to make them more accessible via public transport. If you do have to fly to a race – as Edinburgh-based Paris did when she competed in the Barkley Marathons in Tennessee, US earlier this year – you could look to offset it or make other compromises. ‘I didn’t apply for Hardrock 100 because I’d travelled to the Barclay and didn’t think I could justify flying to the US twice in a year,’ she says.
When it comes to kitting up, the Green Runners want to encourage people to repair, reuse and recycle their running kit. ‘The most sustainable kit is the one you’re wearing,’ says Darren Evans, another of the founders. ‘For example, you can actually repair any rips to the uppers of your trainers by using RockTape and a glue called Elastic Fantastic. If we can all reduce the over-consumption we’ve been guilty of in the past, it will make a big difference.’
Although a lot of The Green Runners are vegetarian or vegan, they’re not asking that everyone who joins gives up meat and dairy. Rather, it’s about making small changes, such as going meat-free for a day or two a week. For Paris, who was already largely vegetarian, it was about reducing dairy. ‘I used to eat a fair amount of cheese and milk,’ she says. ‘Just switching to oat milk almost halved my dairy consumption as I drink a lot of tea. The important thing is to try to make some change; to make a pledge and make it meaningful so you stick with it.’
Which brings us to the fourth pillar: speaking out. Visit the Green Runners website (thegreenrunners.com) and, for the cost of £2.50, you can make a pledge. This can cover everything from reducing travel and/or meat consumption, to repairing kit to maximise its lifespan. You’ll then have the chance to receive a Green Runners badge from ReRun clothing, who specialise in remaking old running kit, to wear proudly at your next race.
You’ll be in fine company, too. ‘I’ve stepped away from any ambassadorship for any company, so I now run for The Green Runners,’ says Paris, who was previously sponsored by Inov-8. ‘I’ll race the UTMB at the end of August for the Green Runners. For me, that will be a way of maintaining independence. It’s difficult to be in the thick of it as a sponsored athlete and to maintain that integrity. So, for me, it was important to step away from it.’
Talk about living your values. But then, with an issue as important as climate change, maybe it's time we all started voting with our feet.
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