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Williams Route 66 Marathon achieves sustainability certification.

The board of directors of Tulsa Route 66 Marathon Inc., announced this week that the Williams Route 66 Marathon received ReSport Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport.  In November 2011, the marathon board applied for 25 certification credits in categories from waste management to community impact and health promotion.

The Williams Route 66 Marathon is the only event in Oklahoma to hold ReSport Certification.  To date, 36 different events have achieved such certification, serving more than 570,000 athletes.

“I am proud of our sustainability director, Jessica Hargis, and her green team for their amazing dedication to helping us prove that you can produce a world-class event in Oklahoma with minimal impact on the environment,” said Chris Lieberman, executive director of Tulsa Route 66 Marathon Inc.  “I hope that our event will serve as an example for others to follow in the future.”

To qualify for certification, the marathon showed participation in six categories: waste; climate; equipment and materials; community and outreach; health promotion; and innovation.

“The fact that the Williams Route 66 Marathon is a large event which strives to reduce its environmental impact is a point of pride for Tulsa,” Hargis said.  “As we grow in the future, it’s our responsibility to continually work toward an event that is good for Oklahoma, for the running community and for the environment.”

Efforts that were taken to provide a greener race included reducing the use of supplies like paper and plastic as much as possible; providing avenues for runners to participate such as recycling, opting out of receiving a participant shirt, and recycling used running shoes at the event; offering a bike check at events; carpool and shuttle opportunities; and an option for runners to purchase green tickets during registration used to purchase renewable energy credits.

“Most events approach ReSport Certification from the environmental side of the ledger,” said Keith Peters, executive director of the Council for Responsible Sport. “The folks in Tulsa did a remarkable job with their green initiatives, staging a zero-waste event, but really broke new ground with some of their socially oriented initiatives.”

Peters added, “two programs in particular focused on at-risk youth in their community. Youth Services of Tulsa, an agency that serves homeless youth, stuffed race packets, which were actually reusable cloth bags, and earned $3,000 for their efforts. And, presenting sponsor Blue Cross Blue Shield sponsored 300 participants in the YMCA’s Kids Training Program, even paying the 5K entry fee for those kids who completed the training program.”

On the environmental side, achieving zero-waste is an accomplishment in itself. Other initiatives of note included use of the Hydra Pour self-serve spigot for dispensing beverages quickly and easily at all Gatorade stations; making arrangements for cups collected on course and at the finish to be turned into fuel pellets; use of compostable food service products at the Pasta Dinner; and, finally, calling attention to all these efforts by actually referencing them in the name of the Health, Fitness and Sustainability Expo.

The Council for Responsible Sport provides an independent, comprehensive certification for event directors to incorporate environmental and socially responsible initiatives into their events while informing consumers about events that adhere to higher standards of sustainability. CRS Certified events range in size from the ParalympicsGB Training Camp at the University of Bath in the UK, with some 150 athletes participating, to the AJC Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia, with 55,077 timed finishers.

The current version of the Council for Responsible Sport’s certification standards were developed by an outside working group of 18 sustainability experts and reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders. ReSport Certification is modeled after the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System, which certifies buildings and materials according to resource conservation and energy efficiency criteria.