Craig McSavaney is one of those quiet heroes. He is a man who loves to tinker with ideas, ideas that can make a difference for us all. In 2010, thanks to Craig, the Gobble Gobble Four Miler™ hosted the first cup-free race in Florida.
The idea for the Hydrapouch® came to Craig at a race in Jamaica that had no aid stations. Instead, he was handed two ziploc style bags of water to carry for hydration. It was an interesting concept so Craig developed sketches for the Hydrapouch® and began researching ways he could bring this idea to everyone.
Cup-Free Race System
His goals were to reduce waste while creating a device that made it easy to re-hydrate while running. He decided to use a lightweight rubberized material that works much like a coin purse. When squeezed, a split in the top allows a self-closing opening for filling and drinking to appear.
The top curves into a spout, making drinking simple by tilting and using the forefinger to cover the top opening. This vastly improves the way runners intake fluids on the run. Instead of gulping air from cups, attempting to partially crush the cup to make a “vee”, and then littering the track with dropped cups.
The partner to the Hydrapouch® is the Hydrapour® valve. It allows fluids to stream from a manifold or a cooler at 6oz/second. This means that you can keep running a 7 min pace or slower while filling the fluids into your vessel along the course. The Gobble Gobble Four Miler™ was the first race to introduce the unmanned water station (no volunteers). Other events have used this system with great success. There are some major events slated to use it in 2015.
How does it work? In a nutshell, it is a high speed, stretched out, valved, water fountain. With the help of pressure reducers, Craig’s idea was to intake from a water source via a large hose (food safe and filtered ) to a PVC manifold with Hydrapour® valves attached. The pressure reducer works as a shut off valve. Once full, it refills as needed to maintain proper pressure for the lines and to maintain the water level. You can secure the manifold to tables or build PVC stands for it.
Why is that such a big deal?
Imagine that you had to organize water distribution for 55,000+ people for 10k race. How do you get water so people can take it along the route on packed, crowded roads? How do you offer water often enough to be able to have folks not suffer dehydration on the route? Even worse, how will clean up be handled? In the near future you will see some very large events offering water stops every quarter mile of the route using this system. If you miss one, just keep running another quarter mile. This eliminates the worry of running out or not having enough cups.
While clubs and race directors may have been apprehensive at first, they are quickly starting to see the wisdom of using this system. It frees up personnel and allows them to offer more stations than were previously possible. In areas where the refuse caused by cups is simply not allowed, it solves a huge problem. This is a win/win for the participants, the environment, and for the event’s expenses and personnel needs.
While visiting with Craig, he shared a funny story with me about his daughter. In 7th grade, she became good friends with the son of the director of the Bolder Boulder 10k. For quite a while neither parent knew who the other was. Both sets of parents finally put the last names together and figured it out, what a small world.
Craig’s advice and encouragement has been a valuable resource to this event and countless others across the country. If you participated last year, you were a part of history. You can be proud that the carbon footprint for this event will likely be much lower than any other event you attend this year. Make sure to bring your preferred water vessel …or we just may choose to provide the Hydrapouch as part of your entry this year. Stay tuned.