I’m fed up. Yesterday during my run I saw a small glistening of light from the trail beckoning me back to my car. No, it wasn’t bedazzled shoes in the distance, but something far more sinister—a gel top.
Don’t get me wrong, I love gel and probably much like you, have my favorite “go to” flavors and brand to keep me moving forward (Chocolate GU for me). I’m not suggesting that we forgo gel, but rather rethink how we handle these little bundles of joy.
Even in beautiful Portland, OR—where a cup of fair-trade, shade-grown, organic coffee is never far—trail trash exists. I’m sure you’ve spotted it in your city, too. Lately it seems that I pick up a top or two with nearly every run. I’m afraid, folks, I’ve seen one too many tops.
Yes, a lot of trail top trash is accidental; after all, tops have a one-track mind—straight for the ground, bypassing pockets and vests, to nestle up next to leaves, pine needles, and the occasional squirrel.
But from one runner to the next, we can do better. We must do better. So, I have plea for you—a manifesto of sorts—when tearing the top off said gel, there is no need to tear it off all the way, 3/4 will do just fine. Why provide the opportunity for it to gleefully escape from your hands to the ground, unbeknownst to you?
I wasn’t always a 3/4 gel top tearer. In 1997, while living in NYC, I’d rip off a gel top just as an excited kid on Christmas morning would tear open his/her presents. Until one day, a running friend politely demonstrated a new approach opening gels.
A tear of 3/4 will still dispense the gooey goodness you need to fuel your run, while keeping the top securely attached to its bottom, increasing the likelihood of unwanted tops from littering our trails (and roadways).
So, the next time you reach for your gel, please don’t go all the way…and if you see that someone did and it fell to the ground, pick it up and pack it out.