On Sunday, May 13, at 6:30 a.m., more than 1,500 registered runners and up to 3,000 non-registered participants will complete a 5-K course in Nicaragua’s inaugural “Green Race.”
The fitness enthusiasts will start at Las Galerias and will do a loop that takes them along Masaya Highway, through Santo Domingo, and down the Old Santo Domingo road, before finishing back at the original starting line. Different from most races, these runners are not competing for cash prizes, but rather to raise awareness of everyone’s shared responsibility to do more to protect the environment.
The green race will also help reforest Nicaragua; race organizers, sponsors and volunteers will plant four trees on behalf of each registered runner this June and July.
The U.S. Embassy in Managua in cooperation with Fundenic, a non-government, nonprofit organization dedicated to nature conservation, along with numerous other co-organizers (Cooperacion Alemana, Asociacion Renovable, American College, UTN, Latidos, and others), have come together to organize the race, festival and reforestation efforts. The focus of the events are three-fold: to unite the community behind a noble and important cause; to raise funds for a massive reforestation project; and to increase awareness across all sectors of society about everyone’s shared responsibility in protecting the environment.
Nicaragua’s inaugural green race is generating a great deal of interest. The race sold out more than three weeks before race day. Registered participants will receive t-s medals (after crossing the finish line), thermoses, hats, magnets, “Yo No Tiro Basura” stickers, re-usable bags, race numbers and chips, among other assorted gifts from our sponsors.
More than 30 sponsors have signed on to support the effort. The “Platinum Sponsors” include Movistar, Gildan, Casa Pellas, La Prensa, Las Galerias, and AEI. “Gold Sponsors” include Blue Power, Banco ProCredit, Arctas, American Airlines and United Airlines.
In addition to the reforestation efforts, there are several other green aspects to the events. Whenever possible, race items are being made from recycled material, and all waste from the race will be separated and recycled. Each participant will receive a Banpro reusable grocery bag and United Airlines bottle to reduce plastic consumption. Numerous local bands have signed on to provide music as part of an accompanying environmental festival, including: La Cuneta Son Machín, Katya Cardenal, Malos Hábitos, and several more. All race proceeds will go directly to Fundenic and the “Yo No Tiro Basura” Alliance to support their projects that encourage increased sustainable use of precious natural resources.
The race will also cause a sea change in the local running scene. Through sponsor generosity, Fundenic is introducing chip technology which will be administered by Managua Runners. The chips will allow exact race time measurement and enable the introduction of numerous runner categories. For the Green Race, men and women will compete in five distinct age categories.
When the race ends, the work of planting the donated trees will begin. The tree planting is expected to be a big event, with even more volunteer organizers than the race itself. As part of the race promotion effort, the race’s volunteers have collected more than 4,000 e-mail addresses and utilize a Facebook fan page (Yo No Tiro Basura) that now numbers more than 5,300 supporters. The organizing committee intends to continue its innovative use of Constant Contact and Facebook to spread the word and get more people involved in the weeks, months and years ahead.
By all accounts, the race is shaping up to be a smashing success. Everyone involved is working hard to create Nicaragua’s biggest environmental-awareness event in history. And, everyone is taking note of the impressive concept that is uniting environmental non-profit, the corporate sector, and individual citizens behind a common cause, in a powerful way not yet seen in Nicaragua. Looking forward, race organizers are laying the foundation for what they hope will be an annual event that provides significant positive change in daily habits that are wreaking havoc on Nicaragua’s environment and its dwindling resources.