Clean Sweep: Crews Tidy Up After Race

Runners pass through sprinklers and discarded cups at last year's marathon. (Emily Zendt/BU News Service)
Runners pass through sprinklers and discarded cups at last year’s marathon. (Emily Zendt/BU News Service)

Andrew Cosentino
BU News Service

 The Boston Marathon, now in its 117th year, is an annual celebration that draws thousands of spectators, world-class runners and lots of garbage to clean up after they have crossed the finish line.

During the course of the race, more than 25,000 feet of ribbon and over 1 million paper cups are used.  And in order for a mob of local and national media outlets to cover the race, 500KW of power is spent, mostly at the start and finish lines.

With all the resources being used and disposed of on race day, how does Boston manage to clean up after the festivities?

An army of volunteers, from both inside and outside of the city, work with Boston city maintenance workers clear out the debris and return the city to normal by Tuesday.

“It’s a pigsty at the beginning, when the majority of runners are reaching the finish line,” says Boston maintenance worker Jermaine Williams. “[You] can’t look anywhere without seeing a thousand cups on the ground.”

But apparently this does not last long.  “It’s amazing how quickly things start to look better,”  says Back Bay resident Kathy O’Connor, who started volunteering with the race clean up team two years ago. “We do a lot of composting and recycling after the race.”

Keeping the race environmentally friendly has proved to be a challenge, but despite its large carbon footprint, the marathon has been getting gradually greener every year.

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