Can race goodie bags become even better bags..?

Is it possible to make the snacks in race goodie bags suitable for even more people, I wonder?

Yesterday I ran a rare mid-week race, Run the River 10k in London. Being a Tuesday night, I had to hastily change into my running kit in the loo at the office and walk the couple of miles from where my office is located over to the race start, straight after finishing a long day of work.

The run itself was quite nice, taking in some great, iconic sights of central London; the bridges, the river, the Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe theatre and also allowed participants to soak in the general buzz and excitement which I find comes from being Thames-Side in the early summer evenings. Unfortunately, I would say the downside was that there were no road closures in place and so, even though it was well organised – there was a waved start and the route was well marshalled – expecting 3,200 runners to navigate central London streets at 7pm on a weeknight, along with the buses, black cabs, commuters and tourists, made it a bit tricky to really get going.

However, the thing that prompted me to write this post was the goodie bag at the end. I have made it clear in the past that I don’t run for the goodie bag. I run for the medal, everyone knows that. And this one was pretty good, so credit where it is due. But I have noticed at each and every race I enter that the goodie bag contains post race snacks and nutrition that, being vegan, I just cannot eat. Most of the time I take the goodie bag and give the contents to the first homeless person I pass on the way home (being London, it doesn’t take long to pass one, unfortunately) and the last race I competed in, I gave the goodie bag back to the organisers as there didn’t seem any point in me taking it and I thought they could give it to someone else.

The reason that last night’s goodie bag finally spurred me to write these musing down is because the race was in the evening after work and I was definitely ready for a snack at the end of it. After riffling through the bag, I found the following items (aside from coupons) – M&S Percy Pig sweets, a twin pack of Costa fruit and oat biscuits, a sachet of instant coffee, a bottle of water and a bottle of shower gel. I couldn’t eat any of it. Yes, the water is great and actually, the shower gel is vegan-friendly, but I am referring specifically to the food items for this whinge.

It just seems that there would be a large proportion of people who couldn’t eat these either – the Percy Pigs have pork gelatine in them so exclude not only vegans but vegetarians too, and people who do not eat pork, and both the Percy Pigs and the cookies include milk and so aren’t suitable for people with milk allergies.

Biscuits and Pigs. Neither are vegan-friendly foods.

Biscuits and Pigs. Neither are vegan-friendly foods.

Most post-race goodie bags take this format too, with cereal bars or similar being included which almost always include milk and/or honey. Given that there are so many options available out there which are healthy and delicious even to non-vegans, I wonder if there is any way race organisers may take this into account when putting together goodie bags? Some Nature Valley bars, Clif bars, Nakd bars, Trek bars, some of the Bounce balls range, the list goes on… All of which would be suitable for a wider group of people, and would surely still be acceptable to people who, and I do hate this term, have what are perceived as ‘normal’ eating habits. Meaning the people who can eat Percy Pigs and cookies and pretty much whatever.

I know that the race organisers cannot please everyone. You could say ‘well, if they do this then they may be embracing the veggies but may still be excluding people who are gluten-free,’ for example. It doesn’t seem feasible to have different bags to cater to different people – way too much faff at the end of a race!

I understand that I am making this lifestyle choice and I cannot expect everyone to make ridiculous allowances for little ol’ me. I can, usually do, and probably should’ve taken my own snack along for afterwards. I know also that the goodie bag is often just a little ‘something extra’ at the end of the race, a nice little thank you bonus, often with give-aways from the race sponsors, like the one last night, and it isn’t really anyone’s main reason for taking part, me included. But, that being said, some of the races with steeper entry fees surely put some of that money towards the goodie bags, so perhaps we are kinda paying for it.

I am sure it wouldn’t be too hard to make it a bit more inclusive, is all I’m saying. I can’t see any logical arguments against swapping out a product which only some people can eat, for one which an even larger percentage of people could eat instead. For those who care about this, it would make a big difference, and for those who don’t mind what they get in that bag, then there’s no harm done.

Fellow racers, vegan or otherwise, what say you?


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