Plogging is a new active environmental initiative that started in Stockholm, Sweden, and has since spread across the globe fuelled by environmentally-aware runners who take rubbish bags and gloves on their run in order to pick up any litter they encounter along the way.
The Surf Coast’s first ‘plogging’ event will happen in conjunction with the Brooks Surf Coast Trail Marathonand will be hosted by The Plastic Runner, which has hosted twenty plogging events to date across Melbourne, eliminating more than 500kg kilograms of rubbish from trails and footpaths.
“Trail runners are a pretty mindful crew and don’t, as rule, litter the trails we run on,” says Anglesea-based Race Director, Chris Ord. “But we are always mindful of finding ways to leave the environment through which we run a cleaner, more sustainable place.”
“Of course, the event itself is already run under strict waste-wise and environmental guidelines. In collaboration with the Shire Council and the Great Ocean Road Coastal Committee, we have already implemented environmentally beneficial actions, such as a no disposable cup policy and a ban of single use plastics. But when we learned of The Plastic Runner’s plogging initiative, we were excited to get aboard and provide a platform for them to come to the Surf Coast. And with 700 runners descending on Torquay, what better chance to engage them in helping clean up Surf Coast trails as an ideal recovery activity post marathon.”
The Plastic Runner is spearheaded by two self-proclaimed “crazy trail running bag ladies” who have – with the help of more than 200 volunteers – created a small Australian social enterprise with a big vision.
“That vision is to bring more awareness to people about waste pollution in their local communities and create opportunities for these communities to coordinate their own plogging or clean up events,” says The Plastic Runner’s Deb Clemens, who, along with Karin Traegerh, is the powerhouse of energy behind the initiative.
“Put simply, plogging is a mix of running or jogging and litter collecting. It’s a fun and easy way to demonstrate the impact of plastic pollution in our environment whilst keeping active and fit. Partnering with environmentally aware events such as the Surf Coast Trail Marathon is a no brainer in that the participants all love trails, are passionate about the environment and eager to engage in anything that helps protect it. And at Surf Coast there are 700 potential volunteer ploggers – so we could make a huge impact in terms of giving Torquay’s trails a spring clean, even though it’s already winter!”
“We also hope that locals who aren’t necessarily participating in the running event will still come down and join in – it’s a gentle activity and you don’t have to be super fit to help out!” says Deb, who notes that the event is also an official Clean Up Australia event.
The Surf Coast Trail Marathon itself will take place on Saturday 29thJune, and is expected to break attendance numbers once again with the Surf Coast Walk being one of Victoria’s most popular trail destinations for runners.
“And while the running is highly regarded, I reckon we’re nearly as famous for the after party which is held as a tradition at the Airey Pub, complete with live band. Have you ever seen a marathon runner dance on tired legs? It’s worth coming along to see,” laughs Chris.
Online entries will remain open until Thursday 27th June 2019.