Reusable Aid Station Water Cups Are Gaining Traction at Races

Hiccup is a service that has been used at Grandma’s Marathon and the Chicago Marathon start line. Now it’s partnering with NYCRUNS, which hosts over 75,000 runners each year.

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Race organizers around the world have been making strides in recent years to reduce waste—from making T-shirts and medals optional (or eliminating them completely), to providing digital-only swag bags, to offering compostable or reusable water cups. But there’s still a long way to go to make running events more environmentally sustainable.

In 2020, Kristina Smithe started her reusable cup service, Hiccup, because she was astounded by the amount of waste she saw at running events and wanted to do something about it. Hiccup provides 8-ounce silicone cups at race aid stations as an alternative to disposable cups, and washes and sanitizes them afterwards so they can be used for future events. So far, Hiccup has partnered with races in nine states, for small town turkey trots to major events like Grandma’s Marathon and the Chicago Marathon start line.

Now, thanks to a new partnership with NYCRUNS, Hiccup is making its way to one of the biggest running cities in the world, adding the Big Apple to the list. The running group’s first event using the cups will be the Haunted Island 10K and 5K races NYCRUNS is hosting on October 28 and 29 on Governors Island.

In an email introducing the Hiccup concept to participants, the NYCRUNS team included instructions: “Do not take the cup away from the water station and do not keep it as a souvenir (as tempting as it may be!) … Toss the cup in one of the designated bins when you are finished.”

NYCRUNS estimates that by using Hiccup, they will prevent over 10,000 cups from going to the landfill at their Haunted Island races alone. There’s heaps more work to be done for the running industry to become more sustainable, but the impact of just this one New York City racing org switching over to reusable cups is not negligible. NYCRUNS hosts about 20 running events per year for over 75,000 athletes. All those cups and all that rubbish adds up.

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