Home to one of Virginia’s two natural lakes, the Great Dismal Swamp is an abundant wildlife refuge excellent for birding, canoeing … or running a half marathon! This weekend, I travelled to Chesapeake to run the Dismal Swamp Stomp Half Marathon with a group of friends. Not only was I excited to be running my first half marathon through a vivacious swamp, I was also looking forward to checking out a Virginia Green event. Virginia Green is a campaign run by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Virginia Corporation of Tourism to reduce waste through the promotion of green events. In order to qualify an event as Virginia Green, the event planners need to make an effort to provide recycling reciprocals, reduce waste, and promote carpooling, all while communicating their green efforts to event participants.
The weather for the race could not have been better and the course was perfectly flat (what else would you expect in a swamp?). After doggedly completing the final miles of the half marathon, I slowly waddled through the venue to fulfill my mission of evaluating event “greenness”. While I appreciated receiving my pizza with a napkin instead of on a traditional Styrofoam plate, I was frustrated by the plethora of garbage cans. I could not find a single recycling bin to toss my plastic water bottles and had to bring them home with me to dispose of properly. Although the race directors encouraged carpooling, their reasoning seemed to stem more from limited parking space then reduction of carbon emissions. To be honest, I was exhausted from my race and was unable to find the energy for a complete evaluation; however, I would have liked to see better communication of where the Dismal Swamp Stomp was reducing waste.
Regardless of my evaluation, the Dismal Swamp Stomp is an excellent opportunity for people to spend time in nature. What better way to ease the pain of a half marathon than to look up at the beautiful trees of the Dismal Swamp? Overall, it was fantastic to explore a new natural area, and I look forward to more opportunities to enjoy the not so dismal Dismal Swamp.
* Photos thanks to 6th place race finisher Callum Weinberg!