Green Racing Project – The Real World

Posted November 1st, 2009

This is the true story of six strangers picked to live in a house, train for ski racing together, work on sustainability projects, and find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. Welcome to the “Real World,” with the Green Racing Project in Craftsbury.
Well … almost. First off, none of us are probably good looking enough to make MTV’s first cuts for the show, and we are only on camera during long rollerski workouts, for technique analysis. But the on-going joke at Elinor’s Place, our renovated farmhouse-home on the ski trails at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center, is that our best bet for sponsorship is selling production rights to MTV.
Instead we’re trying Vermont Sports. This column won’t have the soap opera quality bickering you find on network television. But it will chronicle our team, the Green Racing Project, through the fall training season and the winter cross-country ski racing circuit, along with our constant efforts to balance the negative environmental impacts of a professional skiing career with green initiatives at the Craftsbury Outdoor Center and in our communities.
The Green Racing Project athletes are six skiers from New England, fresh off the collegiate racing circuit and looking to make the jump to the next level of Nordic skiing: international and Olympic competitions. We will race throughout the United States, focusing on the Super Tour professional circuit and the American Marathon Series. Unfortunately, this means lots of travel, lots of oil, and lots of carbon. Not exactly what you could call “green racing.”
That’s where the Projects come in. Aside from a busy training schedule, including summer running, biking, and triathlon races throughout New England, and training 30 hours a week at our Craftsbury base, we’ve been working hard on a number of green initiatives at the Outdoor Center, in our local communities, and in the greater cross-country ski community. Local food sourcing for the Craftsbury dining hall, an engineered composting system, a carbon inventory for the Outdoor Center, and research on community development and clean energy grants are just a few of the projects we have been working on all summer long.
Our biggest project this past month has been organizing the 350 Team Challenge. Climate change legislation is a serious issue on the international political stage this fall, one that is especially close to home for winter athletes who depend on consistent cold weather. The 350 Team Challenge is an effort to raise awareness in the international skiing and rowing communities for climate change legislation.
The Green Racing Project is pairing with Concept II to encourage skiers and rowers around the world to log the number of meters they row or rollerski (since we don’t have snow yet) in the 30 days between September 25 and October 24. Our goal is to collectively surpass 350 million meters, the same goal international grassroots organization is calling for as a safe standard for parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere. The 350 Challenge culminates on’s international day of action, October 24, to raise global awareness for aggressive climate change legislation before the international summit in December in Copenhagen.
As of this writing, over 1,000 skiers and rowers from more than 25 countries are participating in the Challenge. At the same time, on the homepage, there are 1,692 actions scheduled to take place in over 137 countries on October 24. Hopefully, the world and the media will notice enough for our politicians to actually do something about climate change.
As athletes, we can’t eliminate the negative impacts of our travel to ski races around the country. However, we can try to counter them by being conscientious about things we can control: the food we eat, saving energy at home, and taking part in a grassroots political movement for climate change legislation. We’ll probably never be an entirely “green team.” That’s why we call ourselves the Green Racing Project.
Over the course of the year, you can read here about our balancing act: our green mission on one side and our athletic goals on the other. Like I said earlier, no promises on drama, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll in this “Real World.” Instead, it should get you thinking about racing, and hopefully your own green projects as well.

Tim Reynolds

Tim Reynolds is a cross-country ski racer with the Craftsbury Green Racing Project. He writes from his home in Craftsbury Common.