Guest Post: Runners for Public Lands Vision For More Inclusive Races and Events

This is a guest post from Runners for Public Lands.

Runners for Public Lands is eager to launch the Race Director Resource Hub to assist event organizers in implementing a sense of belonging, natural history, and environmental stewardship at their events. This Hub provides free resources including the Race Director Guide to Community Building and Environmental Stewardship as well as informative and customizable tools to implement these values at events. All of this was created in partnership with The Council for Responsible Sport and a working group of leading Race Directors from across the US.

Runners for Public Lands is a 501c3 non-profit, founded on Earth Day in 2019, and based on the Central Coast of California. Our vision is to build more inclusive running communities dedicated to protecting the environment. RPL started with a simple vision to find a way to connect one of the largest recreational groups in the country to protect the environment. Our hope is to grow this organization from regional to have a much bigger national presence over the next few years. The larger our community, the bigger and more lasting the impact we can have on the people and places we hope to serve.

The Race Director Guide to Community Building and Environmental Stewardship presents a vision for trail running events where everyone feels like they belong and landscapes are celebrated for their cultural and ecological beauty. When implemented using the resources offered in the RD Hub, this work has the potential to impact social norms in trail running and result in events that create a sense of belonging and build a community dedicated to care for the people and landscapes they run with.

Screenshot of Guide/Hub

The Race Director Resource Hub is intended to be a collaborative and frequently evolving body of work. In our initial release we are excited to offer the following:

As an RD or event organizer, we recognize change can be challenging in different ways, which is why we are excited to share several case studies from early adopters. We want to thank Race Director Tia Bodington for generously sharing her community building and environmental stewardship knowledge and experience with us. As you read through the practices employed at Miwok 100K we offer a number of thought-provoking questions that you may consider when planning a trail event. We hope these types of real world examples can show how this type of guide and these resources can support a wide range of events, races, etc. in improving their sense of belonging, environmental stewardship, natural history and recognition of indigenous landscapes.

Race Director Tia Bodington with 2022 winner, Dylan Bowman. Photo by Jesse Ellis
Photo Credit: Miwok Visual Race Report, by Karrie Gaylord

The resources presented are a starting point, and are not complete. We envision working together with the community to inform updates, develop improvements, and implement changes as we grow together as a community and a recreation group. We are eager to hear your input and feedback as we make the Hub the most useful resource it can be.

Through this resource we hope to empower more race directors to take steps toward creating a sense of belonging at their events and implementing environmentally responsible policies and procedures. 

In addition, in 2023 we have kicked off the Everyone Runs Fund – this program will fund 2 runners a year from marginalized or under-represented communities to achieve their running related goals. This can be a race, FKT (fastest known time), local backyard link up, and span from gear or coaching support to helping fund travel and event entry fees. We believe this will create more opportunities for runners, and through sharing their stories, it will also inspire others across the running community to get more involved!

We are also gearing up to launch our Ambassador program. As we look to grow our reach and have a larger impact, this program will be a pathway to creating future RPL chapters in cities across the country. These ambassadors will help connect runners with environmental activism, going from active runners to activated environmentalists.

Photo credit: Alex Sessa

As we continue to grow and evolve our understanding of sustainable, inclusive, and actionable ways to make a bigger impact on the running community, we invite you to get involved. Become a member, donate, partner with us, or simply include a donate option through your race/event! We appreciate the support across the running community, in order for us to sustain our programming. In addition, if you’re interested in participating in the 2.0 version of our Resource Hub or just want to connect, please reach out!

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