Challenge Wanaka Environmental Impact Report – September 2021
Challenge Wanaka is the most scenic Triathlon in the world, sustainability and water quality are key to our event. We are conscious of our environmental impact in every aspect of our race planning and staging and work to mitigate any negative effects that we have to the best of our abilities. From going paperless in our race packs (one of the first races to do so) to providing bike racking for our volunteers on site. We maintain strong relationships with our waste management suppliers to constantly improve our waste and recycling management.
Integrity Homes Challenge Wanaka is staged on existing park, trail, and road infrastructure within the Wānaka area and as such is a relatively low impact on the environment. The race ‘Home’ is Glendhu Station which does have a large sustainability programme in place around waste, worm farming and tree plantings. The Race utilizes Lake Wānaka for the swim in Glendhu Bay, the bike course uses the existing roadways in the district and the run course uses the new Bike Glendhu Trails.
There are no archaeological or historic sites along the course that the event organisers are aware of.
Wānaka is known for its amazing scenery and outdoor activities. Challenge Wanaka aligns with these values and the people that already visit see the event as fitting in with the town and the activities available here. The race organisers work with local tourist and business operators and residents to mitigate any disruption to their operations where possible. We are all here to enjoy this amazing place.
• Toilets are provided in appropriate numbers for spectators, athletes, supporters, volunteers, and visitors at key and strategic places and are monitored and serviced throughout the event.
• There are toilets at all aid stations for athletes and volunteers
• Athletes are briefed on the toilet locations and their required use.
• There are disabled toilets available.
• Challenge Wanaka has a strong partnership with Wastebusters who supply and manage a superb and very experienced waste management service for our event. There are ample recycling and waste stations around race central, the competitor areas, spectator and EXPO areas in addition to the aid stations and other key use areas. All these stations are supervised throughout the preparation, delivery and pack-down of the event. For the first time in 2023 we will placing a greater emphasis on ensuring people are putting the correct things in each bin, by creating clear signage. We will also produce a map which will go into our race handbook showing where all recycling stations are located on site.
• Waste and recycling stations are provided at all aid stations. There are separate bins for perishable and non-perishable rubbish, as well as for recycling. These are clearly marked. As part of their job role, the volunteers on the aid stations collect all waste and put in the correct bins. The perishable rubbish is given to the worm farm and the rest is sent off for recycling.
• There are designated drop zones on course which are collected by volunteers. Athletes dropping waste outside of these zones are disqualified.
• Any old clothes discarded by athletes or lost property goes to Wastebusters.
Pollution and Aquatic Pests
• Challenge Wanaka works with the Otago Regional Council to provide education regarding water cleanliness as well as providing Wetsuit Wash stations.
• Fire risk is managed in conjunction with local council and DOC. Areas with long grass are mown, fire extinguishers are located in vehicles and throughout the main marquee.
• As the course largely takes place on existing roads and trail systems there is little on course vegetation damage. We work with the local council, Glendhu Station and the Glendhu Bike Park to mitigate any damage to the park; utilising matting and carpeting high use areas, changing entry and exit locations when and where able, re-sowing and planting where necessary.
• Challenge Wanaka is particularly mindful of and concerned with vegetation around the course; our event Charity is Te Kakano who work on tree planting on the run course. Our corporate teams get prizes of trees that are planted here which has been very well received.
• For the first time in 2023 we will be getting Te Kakano to have a stand at the expo selling trees so that athletes and their supporters can offset their own carbon footprint. They will also bring their trees along on the day, so we do not need to hire them from another business. This will also allow athletes and their supporters to be educated on the important work of Te Kakano.
Leave no Trace
• The above and following points outline our commitment to the seven principles of leave no trace.
• Our event preparation considers the environment in every aspect, we work to mitigate any impact we have on the ground that we use, we are committed to a sound recycling and waste management program, we leave everything as we find it to the best of our abilities, fire mitigation is always a concern where a potential issue, respect of the environment and the home that this provides to our wild life is very important and the consideration of the other users of the infrastructure and town is balanced to the best of our abilities.
• We use existing tracks and roads so have very minimal impact on wildlife. This, in conjunction with our waste management plan, ensures that there are minimal effects on any wildlife on our course.
Other Operations and Concerned Parties
• Challenge Wanaka works with local tourist and business operators and residents to mitigate any disruption to daily operations where possible. This includes any alterations to road closures, providing vehicles passes and up to date information to ensure minimal disruption to their normal operations whilst balancing the experiences of our athletes many of whom are visitors as well.
• Our Traffic Management plan is reviewed each year to ensure competitor, volunteer, spectator and road user safety. We are also very conscious of disturbance and noise.
• Our event has been finished before our Resource consent time to ensure noise is not an issue.
• Reviews are undertaken both internally and with our suppliers and contractors after every event and during delivery where needed.
• Monitoring will be a particular focus for 2023. After the event we will send out a Survey Monkey specifically to find out more about athlete’s movements and whether shuttle busses would be viable in the future. We will also ask for feedback on how we could be more sustainable and gather feedback on our sustainability ideas for future years. We normally see a 25% completion rate and so will look to incentivise people to complete the survey.
• From 2023 onwards, we will be measuring how much rubbish there is after the event and compare this year on year, with the aim of being plastic free and with no waste going to landfill by 2030.
• We endeavour to exceed current industry recommendations where possible. Our competitor and volunteer bags are flyer free. We are one of the few events that do this and have observed in the past that most people do not look at flyers. We have an event App so do not need to print race rules and competitor handbooks.
Sporting Event Specific Considerations
• The courses are marked with removable signage that is reused yearly where at all possible. The signage is attached predominantly to small wooden stakes, some waratahs and existing structure leaving minimal impact when it is removed and not erected in unstable or sensitive areas. The swim course is marked with weights and buoys that are removed after the race.
• For 2023, we have purchased re-usable cable ties rather than using the traditional plastic ones
• Spectators are provided the same recycling, waste and toilet management that the competitors and staff are. Mats are provided in high traffic areas, entrances and exits changed where able and reseeding undertaken if necessary.
• Pre-event training does take place on the course, but this is largely by local athletes who regularly use the course resulting in very limited additional impact.
• Filming does take place over the race, but this is generally on foot with vehicles only used where they are normally permitted to go. Drone usage is limited to pilots who have the required knowledge and obtain required permissions.
• Fire risks are mitigated as stated above. Previously a fireworks display has taken place – this has been managed and permitted by industry professionals and made use of pontoons on the lake to mitigate fire risk. This is an aspect of the race that will not continue in the future.
• Athletes are monitored by sport officials, volunteers, marshals and a sense of self-respect to stay on course on the designated route/track/roads along with timing chips to monitor any unseen discrepancies.
Initiatives being implemented for the 2023 Event
• For our new Cross Triathlon and Duathlon event it will be compulsory for athletes to carry their own cups which they will be able to fill up from water vats at the aid stations, meaning a huge decrease in waste from cups
• For the other events, there will still be cups at the aid stations, but athletes will be encouraged to bring their own cups. When athletes register, they will be able to pick up a race belt with a squeezy cup which attaches to it, free of charge. This will be publicised before the event to hopefully encourage athletes to take up this option.
• None of our merchandise (t-shirts, medals, gifts) are coming wrapped in plastic
• There will be no single use plastic water bottles for athletes, there will only be sealed bottles for professionals will be available
• There will be a ‘fill your own’ water station at the finish area for competitors and public to fill their own bottles with appropriate signage to designate this. This will be publicized prior to the event
• Staff lunches over the weekend (apart from on the Saturday) will be served from a canteen on real plates and with real cutlery rather than packed lunches wrapped in glad wrap, so there will be much less waste.
• At our bike transition athletes will be able to swap their empty water bottles for full ones. All the spare bottles left at the end of the day will go to Wastebusters, who will recycle or re-use them
• There will be no dates on our finisher t-shirts so any extras can get used and carried over year on year. For 2023 we have worked hard on predicting the number of entrants so we can order the correct number of t-shirts so less waste. Wastebusters can use old shirts if there are any.
• All left over bananas from our aid stations are given away
• We will be sending an email out to athletes before the event outlining all of the environmental steps we are taking, so that they are able to take these into account in their training and race preparation (e.g. training while carrying a cup)
• We will work with our expo holders, food vendors and sponsors to minimize their waste and single use plastics in their own business practices and in the items they hand out to customers including:
– Athletes and spectators will be encouraged to bring their own coffee cups and our coffee providers will charge extra to those that don’t
– Our sun cream sponsor (Aloe Up), will bring big pumps of sun cream rather than the little samples.
– Prior to the event we will communicate with our suppliers that it is our goal is to be plastic free and to have no waste going to landfill by 2030 and we would love them to help us achieve this. We will ask all of them to use environmental packaging, or no packaging if possible
– In previous years, all of our energy bars for transition came in single plastic packages, we will work with our suppliers to see if we can get boxes of unwrapped bars and put these bars out on a plate for our athletes.
– Anything that sponsors bring in they need to take out, so that they are aware of the rubbish they are producing
– We will work with our bar supplier and encourage them to use re-usable cups, rather than plastic single use cups.
– We are aware that due to COVID there may be a requirement for all food to be wrapped which would have an impact on our environmental policies.
• We will be looking into ‘Trees for Tees’ where athletes can opt out of receiving a T-shirt and instead, we will use that money to plant a Te Kakano tree
• Carrying your own cups will be compulsory for all athletes on the run
• We will investigate whether we can we cut carbon emissions of people getting to the event by putting on shuttle buses to the start
• We will investigate whether we can encourage car sharing by giving priority parking to those who have a full car on arrival.
• We will investigate where our energy sponsor, PURE, can provide us will pump gels, rather than individually packaged gels