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Cheetah Run 5K Goes Green

The Cincinnati Zoo held the 34th annual Cheetah Run 5K race in September of this year.  This race is unique for runners and walkers who trek through our spectacular 3.1 mile course which includes our amazing gardens and exotic animal exhibits, providing scenery unlike any other venue in town.  As the “Greenest Zoo in America” we are striving to make all of our events as green as possible and the Cheetah Run 5K race is no exception.  In greening the 2013 Cheetah Run 5K and working toward a green certification from the Council for Responsible Sport, we looked at both our carbon footprint and water footprint for the event.  The carbon footprint encompassed both travel by our runners and their guests but also the carbon footprint associated with the event operations.   The participants that registered online produced an estimated carbon footprint of 10.25 tons when traveling to and from the race. The equipment used during the event had a total carbon footprint of 253lbs CO2. This is the first year we have calculated the carbon footprint of the race, and our goal is to reduce that footprint each coming year.

The water footprint for the race this year was larger than in previous years with the addition of the water stop at the finish line.  We knowingly increased our water footprint for the race to make a better race experience for our runners.   Even though the additional water stop added to our water footprint, we did minimize the impact by using a hose with potable water to fill runner’s cups.  This helped us save on plastic materials by not using the gallon water jugs that we use on the course.  Overall the runners consumed 98.5 gallons of water for the race.  Thirty six of these gallon jugs were used at the water stop on the course and 62.5 gallons were used at the water stop at the finish line.

As we look forward to the 2014 Cheetah Run 5K race we will continue with our green mission and can make even greater strides with YOUR help.   Some ways you can help us are by carpool to the race with other runners, take the bus, or walk/ride your bike and register online.  We will continue to do our part during the event as well, running our equipment on biodiesel or other eco-friendly means, purchasing compostable cups and coming up with new ways to reduce our carbon and water footprints.