5 Ways to Be grateful for Trails and the Environment

Tayte Pollmann’s articles are supported by American Trail Running Association corporate member Nike Trail Running. You can follow Tayte’s adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can show your gratitude this holiday season by giving back to the trails in your community. Listed below are five ways you can help preserve the trails on which you run and protect the environment.

Get Inspired, Inspire Others
The trail running community is full of people who help protect trails and the environment. Dakota Jones, Salomon and Clif Bar sponsored trail runner, brought attention to carbon emissions when he traveled over 500 miles to and from the 2018 Pikes Peak Marathon by bike. Not only did Jones’ bike ride encourage other athletes to reduce their carbon footprints, Jones also competed against some of the world’s top trail runners and won the race. Read more on Dakota’s bike journey here.

Dakota Jones winning the 2018 Pikes Peak Marathon.

More stories of trail runners advocating for the environment can be found on the Runners for Public Lands website. This 501(c)(3) environmental organization has the goal of establishing a “national network and global movement of runner environmentalists.” Read, watch or share your own stories on the “Stories” and “Learn” tabs found on their website.

Purchase Carbon Offsets
Purchasing carbon offsets is a great way to counteract the negative impacts of race travel on the environment. ReSport allows runners to purchase carbon offsets during the registration process for their partner events. The system calculates a runner’s carbon footprint by using the runner’s address, distance from the event and mode of transportation.

Jeff Henderson, founder of ReSport explains the process further, “The runner’s carbon footprint is converted into a price for buying carbon offsets from a non-profit provider, for example Native Energy. The runner has the option to pay for these offsets to counteract the harmful environmental effects of traveling to the race. Typically, the cost is below a dollar for each runner. Cumulatively, the effect is magnified if all the runners in an event choose to offset their footprint.” Henderson explained that carbon costs can vary greatly for different events. The 2007 Ironman Hawaii, which drew most of its 1,787 participants to the event by plane, produced 10,853 tons of greenhouse gases. In comparison, the 2014 Mussleman Triathlon, which partnered with ReSport, had 1,720 participants and produced 127.33 tons of greenhouse gases. 43.57 of those gases were then offset by participants purchasing carbon offsets.

Join a Trail Maintenance or Trail Building Organization in Your Community
Maintain and protect the trails on which you run by joining a trail maintenance or trail building organization near you. Trail runners comprise a large percentage of trail-users, however, compared to other trail-user groups, such as mountain bikers and hikers, there are only a small fraction of trail runners that do trail work. See the results of our 2019 Trail Work Survey to learn what percentage of trail runners do trail maintenance work. Find a group to join near you in our National Directory of Trail Work Organizations.

Start Plogging
Plogging is the Swedish term for picking up trash while running. Keep your trails garbage-free by picking up a few pieces of trash on your runs each week. Consider bringing a small bag to store the trash while running. Even elites trail runners, such as Catalan’s Kilian Jornet, takes time to plog.


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A post shared by Kilian Jornet (@kilianjornet) on

Follow the Pikes Peak Ploggers or locate a Plogging group near you to learn more.

Support Trail Advocacy Groups
There may be an organization in your area, or a friends group you can join as a board or committee member. You can also considering joining and/or donating to trail advocacy non-profit groups that organize projects to protect trails, educate on environmental concerns, and lobby for climate change initiatives. See a list of such organizations below: