I am as sick of the “clean up your trash” posts and blogs as you are about “correct burpees”, “obstacle completion” and “taking two medals” posts. Here’s the deal. No one is doing it on purpose.
I have never witnessed one person drop their Gu energy gel, mustard, or cliff bar and act like they didn’t. I have never seen someone miss their pocket, and say “Whoops! Glad, it’s someone else’s job to get it”. I have never seen anyone crumple up a wrapper, and say “Fuck this venue!”
You know why? Because it is not happening.
I have completed over 70 obstacle races. I have run in the morning, and in the late afternoon. I have run with elites and the masses. I have gone as fast as I can, and I have gone as slow as I can. Never seen that kind of bad “garbage” behavior from anyone.
Ever had a BBQ or party at your house? Ever helped anyone clean up at the end of their party? If you haven’t, here is what you are going to find in the later hours. Garbage – everywhere you look.
You are going to find napkins on the ground. You are going to find plates of half eaten shit in every nook and cranny. Bottles of things finished and unfinished, in places you didn’t even think people went. Why is that? Is it because your friends and neighbors hate you? Cause they hope you have hours and hours of cleaning to do when they leave? Cause they have no fucking manners? Nope. It’s because that’s what happens when you are eating and drinking without any “boundaries”.
Here is how a normal, “boundaried meal” goes.
Someone announces that “the meal starts”
You sit down.
All the food that is being served is in one place.
The food is more than likely being brought to you from a single source.
Everything is served directly in front you.
Everyone starts eating together.
You are in that seat for the duration of the meal.
If you do get up to take a call or go to the bathroom, your meal and all utensils stays in your “seat”.
At some point, the meal ends. Everyone finishes around the same time.
Plates are cleared by someone or by you.
At a BBQ or party, it is a “boundary-less meal”. The party and conversation flow naturally, as they should. (Who wants to attend a party with a bunch of rules?)
There is no set start time.
Food is often served from a multitude of places.
Drinks are out of fridge and one or more coolers.
You serve yourself, or someone may bring you something to try.
Since people are all coming and going at separate times, people are always beginning and ending their meals.
They are also going back for more food and drink as the day wears on.
People are consuming in multiple rooms.
Some are standing, some are seated.
Some are walking and talking and eating at the same time.
Rarely is someone going to ask to clear your plate.
The meal is never over, until everyone is gone.
It is easy to see that with no boundaries, there is a much more likely chance that plates don’t get cleared, and that bottles never end up in the recycling container.
Let’s create an example at a typical BBQ, just for the fun of it.
Your friend Bob has his little plate of burger and vegetables and is talking to Sue near the grill. Bob sets his plate down (temporarily) and excuses himself to go the bathroom. On Bob’s way to the bathroom, Larry shows up to the party and gives Bob a huge bear hug. “Holy Shit Larry! I have not seen you in months. We have to catch up! Just let me go to the bathroom first”. Bob comes out of the bathroom to find Larry. Larry is no longer there, but Jen is. Bob is glad he runs into Jen. He has been meaning to ask her about which soccer coach her son had last year, cause Bob is hoping to send his boys to that coach this year. In the middle of that conversation, Tom shows up and gives Bob a hard time about the horrible choices Bob made in the recent fantasy football draft.
We could keep going on forever. Bob’s little plate of food that he set down (temporarily) was neglected.
So now here we are at the obstacle course. Most everyone is in a different state emotionally, mentally, and physically than they ever have been before. So when they do stop to eat something, and a chain of distracting conversations happen, they are even less likely to remember that water bottle they set down “for a second”, or the wrapper they were going to pick up “when they are done stretching their legs”. Sometimes, people are not even stopping to eat. So when they are running, it’s possible, that the the wrapper just missed the bag or fell out of a pocket.
If trash bothers you out on the trail, pick it up.
If you volunteer to sweep a course and find more garbage than you thought you would, throw it away anyway. That’s what you signed up for.
Do not get on Facebook like the righteous prat you are, and tell everyone how bad they are for being litterbugs.
You wouldn’t do that to your friends at your party.