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Going Cupless at Running Events – Jemez Mountain Trail Run On Board

The Jemez Mountain Trail Run announced for 2011 that they are going “cupless” at their aid-stations to reduce the amount of waste generated at the event. You must bring your own water bottle or hydration system to fill-up.

Big high-five to the Jemez Trail Run for being one of the positive trend setters in reducing the amount of  unnecessary waste created at a running event. When you take a look at the life span of a paper cup, it typically becomes garbage within a few seconds of use.

I have tossed hundreds if not thousands of paper cups throughout my life. I like being forced to rethink how I interact with an endurance event and the planet for that matter.

So that got me thinking…would it be possible to go cupless at all running events, from 10 km up to an ultramarathon? I think so and here are a couple ways in which to get’r done.

Best of Both Worlds – Short Course

For shorter events, a standard handheld (20-22 ounce) may be more than one would like to carry but the variety of small 10-12 ounce handhelds like the Nathan Sprint could provide a fair amount of hydration goodness and not feel weighty.

Cupless – Check!

Best of Both Worlds – Long Course

In an ultra event, everyone will carry a handheld or some other hydration system. Going cupless doesn’t really affect this.

But what are you going to do if you want to slam one or two cups of HEED or water before heading on down the trail?

I suppose you could…

...take a pull from the tap.

Or…a possibly better option although not nearly as entertaining would be a reusable cup that would be both durable, collapsible, and small enough to stuff on your body/gear somewhere.

The top product I could find that appears to fit these requirements is the Sea to Summit X-Cup. This is a smaller version of their X-Mug (16 ounces). The X-Cup is a brand new product that is just beginning to be shipped to various dealers.

Here are some of the interesting specs:

  • Light – 1.6 ounces.
  • BPA – Free
  • Sturdy – Rigid top rim, yet collapsible food-grade silicone composition.
  • Small – 8.3 ounces (1 cup-ish) fluid capacity.
  • Soup, Coffee – Yes Please! – Approved for warm liquids.

Since the dimensions of the X-Cup aren’t mentioned on the site, I contacted them and received a prompt response (nice!) stating the dimensions are 3.75 inches wide (at the rim) and extends out 2.75 inches when in cup-mode.

To get a feel for the product, I picked up the larger X-Mug at a local REI was quite impressed with its sturdy feel when in cup mode and the simple collapsibility. It fits pretty easily in the side pocket of my Camelbak XCT but it feels a bit like a coffee house mug due to its 16 ounces volume size.

X-Mug (16 ounces) squeezed between a standard cup and a coffee house cup (16 ounces)

X-Mug in Collapsed Mode

I think the X-Cup at 8 ounce capacity and smaller overall size (half inch smaller diameter at the rim) may be both functional and portable for many trail runners. The ability to include warm items is also a huge bonus.

This could be one option for those that want the versatility that a cup can provide when hitting the aid-station buffet table and not require a single throw-away cup.

Cupless – Check!

Share Your Thoughts

What do you think about running events going cupless?

Have you found any other quality products that could be used to replace the paper cup?

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

(Photo: Courtesy of Luke Redmond and alexlittler)

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

6 Responses to “Going Cupless at Running Events – Jemez Mountain Trail Run On Board”

  1. on 03 Mar 2011 at 8:24 pm Thomas squire

    Great article Dave. I thought much about the idea of races going cupless this past weekend when I ran the second half of the cowtown marathon with a friend. I was amazed at how many cups get used or slightly used should I say and then discarded. Sad that they will be trashed after a little less than 3-6 ounces of use. Another area that I was disappointed to see was the number of gu/powergel/clif shots wrappers that are discarded along the course. Since I was running for fun I thought it would be both environmentally sound to pick up as many wrappers as I saw in a 3 mile segment of the race. I picked up nearly 35 wrappers in that short time. Sad because these were not in areas that were aid stations these were just along the roads of the course.This behavior is not confined to just races but you see it along the roads that we run daily. Energy gels and bar wrappers litter the training routes and there is no one to blame but our own fellow runners. Pack in what you pack out. A slogan that you see in most camping areas that should be applied to the running routes traveled everyday. I am looking to spread this message to all that enjoy what you I and do, the great outdoors. Our fellow runners are messing with Texas and that is just not cool.

  2. on 03 Mar 2011 at 8:49 pm DavidP

    I like that X-cup. Could be part of the ‘swag’ when you pick up your event packet.

    I like that Jemez is going cupless….no reason at an event like that not to.

    For other events, it’s a matter of saying “this is important” and go with it….people will adapt.

    Nice coffee mugs!

  3. on 07 Mar 2011 at 12:27 pm David Hanenburg

    @Thomas – Great thoughts Thomas! We must remind ourselves – races, events, the trails, the parks, the planet…is a privilege not an individual right. Thanks for being a great roll model for other athletes!

    @DP – I am super excited about Jemez going cupless because it forces you to deal with it and change your patterns…or die at 10,000 feet. 🙂

  4. on 08 Mar 2011 at 9:49 am Lisa

    I like the idea of going cupless as well. I’ve already been doing that for myself in my last 2 marathons and half. I carry my own drink. I like the idea of leaving less of a footprint when I race. Added bonus is that I never have to worry about what drink they are providing for a race. I’ll always have what I need/want. It would be awesome to see more races do this.

  5. on 08 Mar 2011 at 6:18 pm T. Fleeman

    I think going cupless is a great idea. So I was going over in my head how I would accomplish this at a run like the Cowtown Marathon. For water I could use my Camelbak Octane XCT, which I bought after reading your review, and I could use my Nathan belt for 22oz of Gatorade. Neither of them has enough capacity to last the entire race. How would you refuel at an aid station. I could just see the line forming as everyone was trying to fill up their bottle or Camelbak. I know that this would not be as much of an issue at most trail events but seems like it would be almost impossible at larger road events.

    By the way, The CamelBak Octane XCT rocks.

  6. on 10 Mar 2011 at 3:24 pm David Hanenburg

    @Lisa – Thanks for sharing your experience going cupless. Cupless in your last two marathons and a half – awesome!

    @T. Fleeman – Thanks for sharing. You mentioned a marathon and how that would play out in a cupless environment. I would carry a handheld water bottle (20-ish ounces) and fill it up every 45-60 minutes with water. Either I would fill it up myself at the aid-station tap or assuming aid-station volunteers had pitchers filled with water that could quickly refill bottle as you go through the aid-station.

    I may carry some electrolytes on me (like endurolytes) and a reusable flask with liquid calories of some kind. If I would need some other calorie source, I would use some food from the aid-stations.

    I am not exactly sure how cupless would happen with 10,000-20,000 runners…but I won’t say it isn’t possible. Also, even if a moderate percentage of the runners went cupless, that would be pretty cool.

    Until someone figures out how to make this work for a large number of runners, we can BE THE CHANGE. 🙂

    With respect to trail running – this could be implemented now with minimal (or none) extra preparation/stuff/etc!