Canada Running Series (CRS) has been honored by the Council for Responsible Sport and given Evergreen certification for the 2022 TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon. Evergreen certification is a status given to races for outstanding sustainability efforts and community impact, which have always been two key focuses for CRS and its many events. The TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon is the only race in Canada to have achieved Evergreen status.
While major races are huge draws for runners and spectators alike, the bigger the race, the more negative impacts it can have on the environment. Think of all the materials used throughout a race, including plastic water bottles, plastic bags for post-race meals and more. This all adds up to create one big sustainability problem, which is where the Council for Responsible Sport comes in.
The Council for Responsible Sport gives sustainability scores to events like the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon, monitoring a race’s positive environmental, social and economic impact and determining which events are excelling in this space. Only a handful of events are granted Evergreen certification, and in 2022, the Council for Responsible Sport chose the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon as one of them.
A sustainable marathon
The TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon team had made a big effort in recent years to make the event as sustainable as possible. In 2022, they diverted 86 percent of waste away from landfill, meaning any waste the race did produce was “diverted into the proper streams” by “recycling, composting, reusing and donating” it, says CRS event manager Jen Cerullo.
“The types of products and materials that get fun include cardboard and mixed recycling, textiles, clothing and shoe donations, organic material composting and food donations to local food banks.” Cerullo adds that the grabage bins on the race course were even checked so the waste could be properly sorted. The CRS goal is to land even higher than 86 percent in coming years, and they are working toward an “ultimate zero-waste goal,” Cerullo says. (Cerullo points out that the term “zero waste” is considered to be 90 percent or higher for waste diversion.)
The marathon has also succeeded in eliminating plastic water bottles at the race. Cerullo says that instead of carting cases of water bottles around the race route to the various aid stations, they tapped city water hydrants to fill cups, or when hydrants weren’t available, they would bring pre-filled water tanks. “We also encourage participants to bring their own refillable bottles when possible,” she adds.
On top of the race team’s sustainability efforts, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon has always been a funnel for charitable donations. The race’s Charity Challenge raises funds for multiple organizations (the full list can be found here), and participants can choose which they would like to donate to and/or fundraise for when signing up for the race. “In 2022, we welcomed 150 charities to the program,” Cerullo says.
All of this adds up to a race the Council for Responsible Sport is looking for when it comes to Evergreen Certification. Cerullo says CRS and the marathon team have been working toward reaching this status since 2021. “An event achieves Evergreen Certification by achieving 90 per cent or more of the total points available within the council’s Responsible Sport Standards,” she says. “Points are gained by demonstrating adherence to 61 individual criteria across five categories of sustainability.”
Over the course of 15 months, the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon team worked toward meeting these criteria and gaining points from the council’s various standards. They ultimately hit that goal, and the race has officially been recognized as an Evergreen event. Cerullo says the team is thrilled to have met the standard, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop working toward being even more sustainable.
“We have goals to remain on this trajectory and will continue to make choices for the race and the organization that are centered around environmental responsibility, accessibility, diversity, inclusion and equity,” she says. To find out more about the TCS Toronto Waterfront Marathon and its various initiatives, click here.