Thanks to its successful efforts to implement socially and environmentally responsible practices around race day in 2016, Ironman Boulder has earned the highest level certification, Evergreen, from the Council for Responsible Sport. Events are evaluated across five categories: planning and communications; procurement; resource management; access and equity; and community legacy.
Since 2008, the Council for Responsible Sport has certified more than 100 sporting events with four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold and Evergreen. Ironman Boulder is only the ninth event to reach the highest status, and the only triathlon.
“Boulder was a race market that already demanded unique environmental efforts and presented an opportunity to go further,” Keats McGonigal, senior regional director for Ironman, told Triathlete. “We are planning to take lessons learned from this race’s achievements to see what might be scalable at other events across the series.”
Ironman worked with Waste Management to capture current environmental initiatives and then identified opportunities for improvement and innovation, starting with Boulder. This has led to green initiatives to be rolled our across the North American race series, such as utilizing compostable cups at all aid stations and donating leftover nutrition to local food pantries and shelters.
Some highlights from the 2016 Ironman Boulder sustainability initiatives:
- Collected bike inner tubes and tires for reuse through TerraCycle.
- Collected 64 carbon dioxide canisters from event activities to ensure they were reused instead of ending up in the landfill.
- Provided a free shuttle service to and from major venues—Ironman shuttled close to 10,000 people between locations, reducing about 3,000 vehicle trips in each direction.
- Reduced the material sent to landfill by asking all vendors to sign a participation agreement so they only use materials for the event that were locally recyclable, compostable or reusable.
- Measured the total event water use at 14,925 gallons and purchased Water Restoration Certificates from Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to restore 50,000 gallons to the Colorado River Basin.
- Offset 100 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from event operations by purchasing 10 MTCO2e through the Colorado Carbon Fund.
- Donated 5,621 pounds of unused, perishable food and 9,022 pounds of bottled water to Community Food Share in Louisville, Colo.
- Engaged children ages 3–15 in the United Healthcare Ironkids Boulder Fun Run to include individuals who otherwise might not participate in an Ironman race.
- The Ironman Foundation presented Paradox Sports with a $10,000 Community Grant for a second straight year to support its mission to create adaptive outdoor adventures, such as rock, ice, and mountain climbing for individuals with physical disabilities.
- Waste Management and Ironman estimate that the 2016 Ironman Boulder race generated an economic impact of approximately $3.9 million.
With Earth Day (April 22) on the horizon, Triathlete also rounded up other eco-friendly triathlons around the country for the March/April 2017 issue, on newsstands now.