Below you can read about our sustainability ambitions and targets for 2020. We are working hard to set new, more ambitious targets for 2021. Stay tuned!

Human Race Events, organisers of the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run, are constantly working to improve the sustainability of all their events, including the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run. The event is also working closely with councils in Westminster, City of London and Camden, along with all our suppliers, to reduce the impact on the environment our event has.

Our overall approach for the 2020 event is to reduce, re-use and recycle wherever possible. We’ve made a conscious decision to not make changes for PR reasons, or to appear disingenuous on the subject.

Environmental Policy / CARE

We are committed to taking actions across all areas to ensure our event is as sustainable as possible, whilst retaining the quality running experience we are famous for.

All Human Race Events adhere to our CARE policy, which stands for:

We’ll be covering more of the work of the CARE policy in future articles.

Human Race are also chairing a meeting of other leading event organisers to find solutions across the industry, and will be sharing feedback and insights into how we tackle our common challenges.


In 2020 we are cutting our use of plastic by over 58%. This includes:

  • Plastic water bottles at the finish line, and bottle given to the large team of crew and volunteers are being replaced with cans. This will remove 21,400 plastic bottles. We’re not confident of the safety of these in a high speed environment on course yet, but will continue to investigate
  • We are encouraging our runners to bring their own bottles with them to reduce the water required on course. We are ensuring that the size of the bottles at the drinks station is as small as possible so the minimum amount of plastic materials are used, and in order to minimise wastage.
  • Working alongside our runners by asking them to pledge whether they will want to take a plastic water bottle at the water station on the 10k course. Every year a number of participants do not need or take water, and many may decide to bring their own. Based on the direct feedback we receive from this email survey we will be further reducing the amount of plastic bottles we order.
  • Sending all bottles used on the course to be recycled. Please note this can only be done if the bottles are empty. If you take a bottle then once you’ve drunk what you need please help with this by fully emptying it out before you throw it into one of the recycling areas found after the water station (you can do this either by drinking it all or by pouring the remaining water out onto the ground as you run!)
  • Any leftover unused bottles on the day of the event will not be thrown away, but will be taken away and used at another event
  • We are investigating if a water station is required at all for future events, and will be asking participants for their thoughts in a post-event survey (sent digitally of course)

We have not made the decision to continue to use plastic at the water station on course lightly. We have been thinking long and hard about this and as part of this we have also looked extensively at other solutions that could be used to replace plastic bottles at the 2020 event. This includes (but is certainly not limited to) paper cups, water pods and refillable options.

Due to the distance, nature and size of the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run, we don’t believe there is currently a product or resource available that can successfully cope with the demands of our water station. We are using this year to learn further and to gather & share more data with the industry. We will continue to conduct tests and work with our peers to find a suitable long term solution, and not replace with something that is as equally as bad for the planet when you consider the wider consequences (such as transport, recyclability etc).

Sustainability Throughout

As responsible event organisers we have looked thoroughly at all areas of the event to find ways to reduce our impact on the environment. Below is an overview of each of the areas, and how we are progressing on our sustainability journey.

Race Packs & Pre-Event Communication

  • Our extensive event guide is 100% digital and sent to participants via email, removing the need for any printing
  • Participants register exclusively online, and all further event updates are sent via email and/or are posted on social media
  • Run packs are now posted out in a recyclable paper envelope, replacing the plastic packaging used in previous years
  • Your personalised run number included is made from firstron material which is recyclable, however the timing chip attached is currently not, so this will need to be removed before recycling the rest.
  • Each runner receives a drawstring bag that can be filled with belongings and left at our Base Camp in Trafalgar Square. This is made of polypropalene which is not currently recycled, however it is durable and is highly recommended that runners re-use this after the event. Alternative options are being investigated for future events, including the option of a sugarcane alternative.
  • Each pack contains a letter covering key information. This is printed on gloss finished paper (50% recyclable), and for 2021 we would like to use ‘bond’ uncoated paper which is 100% recyclable

Bag Drop

Those choosing to use the Bag Drop in our Trafalgar Square Base Camp will be issued with a wristband, and a corresponding sticker attached to the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run drawstring bag to identify it.

  • The wristband is made of Tyvek, and this is fully recyclable. For future events we are hoping to use a biodegradable version of this which should be available in late 2020.
  • Currently the stickers are not recyclable, however we are working with suppliers to find an alternative. One option is biodegradable, but struggles if exposed to water, which could be an issue on a February in London. We’ continue to investigate for the 2021 event.

Finish Line Items & Gifts

  • Medals are ordered early to ensure they can be delivered by sea rather than air freight. They are designed to be kept as a memento by participants. Any remaining medals after the event are recycled.
  • Nuffield Health will be offering warm drinks from their dome located in our Trafalgar Square Base Camp. The cups used will be biodegradable
  • Hugs offered by our polar bears are made of 100% pure love


  • Jumpers and other discarded clothing at the start line are collected and donated to charity
  • No leaflets or paper will be given out at the event
  • Plastic water bottles that are used on the route are sent to be recycled (as in above plastic section)
  • Working with the relevant stakeholders & councils the other waste from the event will be recycled where possible

Branding & Signage

  • Almost all branding, themeing and signage is created without a date on so it can be continually re-used, with much of the branding (where still appropriate) from the original 2015 event still in use