Cork City Marathon going greener with reduction in single-use plastics

Some of the runners at the start of last year's Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon. Pic: Jim Coughlan.

This year’s Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon will mark another step towards a ‘greener’ event, as organisers continue their efforts to reduce the single-use plastics accumulated during the race.

Having introduced reusable goodie bags last year, Cork City Council has now announced that the medals presented to participants this year will not come individually wrapped in plastic, while the bottles used at water stations are made of 30% recycled plastic.

Parched runners crossing the finish line will have their thirst quenched with water from reusable tumblers provided by refill.ie - an initiative funded by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Local Authority Prevention Network initiative.

Mary Walsh, executive scientist at the City Council’s Environmental Section, said the local authority is constantly looking to make incremental improvements on the marathon’s environmental impact every year.

“Marathons are a huge problem in terms of plastics, and are responsible for thousands of plastic bottles, so they pose a big challenge from an environmental point of view,” she explained.

Volunteers ready to hand out water at the finish line of last year's Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon. Pic Darragh Kane
Volunteers ready to hand out water at the finish line of last year's Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon. Pic Darragh Kane

Looking to the future, Ms Walsh said the edible water pouches provided to runners in the London Marathon last month are another idea under consideration for Cork. The pods are a thin natural membrane made from a seaweed extract.

“Obviously runners don’t want to slow down to drink from a tumbler while running. The London Marathon membranes are something we’d love to eventually have here in Cork, but these things have to be introduced one step at a time,” Ms Walsh said.

“We will be looking at them for next year, but we would have to try them out with runners as you can’t do a 100% changeover straight away, these things have to be done incrementally, and we have to be sure the runners are happy,” she said.

With more than 8,500 participants last year, organisers are hopeful 2019 will see record numbers participate across the Full Marathon, Half Marathon, Team Relay and Youth Challenge next Sunday, June 2.

Some of the water in plastic bottles being prepared ahead of last year's Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon. Pic Darragh Kane
Some of the water in plastic bottles being prepared ahead of last year's Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon. Pic Darragh Kane

Now in its thirteenth year, the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon is an internationally recognised marathon welcoming participants from home and abroad, with certification from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The marathon is a qualifying race for other marathons, such as the Boston City Marathon.

The Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon is a not-for-profit event, organised by City Council in partnership with Athletics Ireland, Cork Business Houses Athletics Association (BHAA), An Garda Síochána, Cork Education & Training Board, Voluntary First Aid and Medical bodies such as St John Ambulance, Irish Red Cross, Order of Malta, Cork Fire Services and Civil Defence as well as local groups and communities.

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