Doddlers taking big strides towards greener racing

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The 2023 Stur half marathon start line, with 341 competitors

Now in its 33rd year, the Sturminster Newton Half Marathon is one of The Dorset Doddlers biggest – this year’s race attracted almost 350 runners from around Dorset and further afield. This year the Doddlers have been consistently promoting sustainability in all their race events – they now use paper cups rather than plastic for the water stations, and encourage runners to car share.

Green racing
For 2023 race director Christine Willis came up with the idea of a ‘Seed’ medal rather than the more usual metal versions. Made of card, with seeds implanted within it, the medal can be planted in order to enjoy the flowers grown from it, reminding you of your race achievement (or it can of course just be kept, as you would a normal medal!).
‘Metal medals often come from countries such as China,’ explains Christine. ‘They are expensive, and there’s usually a long lead time, which means there is a tendency to over-order to ensure you have enough. That either means a load of waste, or that you’re stuck with the same medal for subsequent years.’
The new seed medal was designed by Christine and produced by Front Page Print, a local Sturminster Newton business.
‘It meant the order could be finalised just a few days before race day,’ says Christine. ‘So we kept waste to an absolute minimum. Everything about the medal, including the garden twine and the bag, was sustainably produced in the UK, and it’s all fully compostable.’
Christine’s ideas were picked up by England Athletics, who liked them so much they have included them on their website to help other running clubs and events get involved and think more sustainably.

The sustainable, compostable seed
medals

As well as being environmentally friendly, the Stur Half team wanted to ensure that there were social benefits for the race participants too.
‘We want to encourage people to run and enjoy being out in the fresh air in a supportive and friendly environment,’ says Christine. ‘That’s what we hope our races create. We try to keep our race fees low so that the event is more affordable for people who want to give it a go.
‘We also want to ensure we are giving back to the local community, and a large proportion of the race profits is donated to local organisations such as the Sturminster Newton Expedition Group, the local Scouts, the High School, The Vale Pantry, The Exchange and the Blackmore Vale Lions.
‘The Dorset Doddlers are runners who are as passionate about the world we live in as we are about running.’

The Stur Half
On what was an unseasonably hot day, the race was won by Lewis Clarke of Poole Runners in a time of 1;14;33. The fastest women’s time was from Vicki Ingham, also from Poole Runners, in 1:22:40.
The first local runners were Rich White, in 1:19:19, and Romana Phillips in 2:00:19.
There were 37 runners in the 5K race – the winner was Fraser Baird in 23 mins and one second!

• The Doddlers also organise The Stickler (a 10 mile race beginning with the infamous Stickle Path and covering 1,500ft of gruelling climbing up and over Okeford, Hod and Hambledon Hills) and the North Dorset Marathon, as well as supporting lots of other races in the area. To find out more see dorsetdoddlers.org

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