When I take the kids on a hike we almost always pick up any trash we find and take it with us. I drive my Cub Scouts crazy with reminders of "Leave No Trace," and we also pick up trash on hikes and outings.
Sunday almost drove me over the edge in this regard.
Let me assure you that I'm believing the best about the runners this weekend. I don't think the majority of them purposefully tossed their Gu packets or Chomps wrappers. I think most of them were trying to fuel and stay upright at the same time, and if they accidentally dropped their wrapper they had to decide to either let it go or risk falling/causing someone else to fall in the mud in order to turn back and pick it up.
So I understand how and why it happens, but it made me nuts to not stop and pick it all up.
Another thing that bothered me was that in some of the sloppy, muddy areas we all ran on the edge of the trail in the grass and weeds and even forged new trails around the bigger messes. Again, I get it. We were all slogging through ankle deep muck. Any relief from that is welcome!
One principal of Leave No Trace is to stay on the trail. Sure part of it is because you probably won't get lost if you stay on the trail. But it's also for the protection of the vegetation and creatures.
I realize one race or even five races won't be the downfall of an area. But I felt bad looking at how we really tore up sections of the trail so we could have a little fun.
As someone who runs primarily on roads, I don't know if most trail races are as large as this weekend's event. If not, then maybe most trail races have minimal impact on the enviroment? I hope so because I had so much fun, but I'm not sure it's something I could keep doing if the majority of trail events are damaging to the parks in which they're held.
I am blessed to live in a beautiful area and want to not only be a good steward of land but also to teach my kids the importance of stewardship so that hopefully one day they can run and hike these same trails with their kids.
So pick up your trash and stay on the trail!