Everyone has a preference when it comes to running. From pounding the pavement to conquering trails, or from the local neighborhood park to the vast expanse of our National Parks, each footfall holds a unique significance. These choices, rooted in our connection to the environment, bring light to the profound relationship we share with the outdoors. However, these landscapes also unveil the undeniable truth about the rise of single-use pollution.

Earlier this year, running gear brand Ultimate Direction (UD) partnered with the environmental non-profit, Trash Free Trails, to help bring awareness to the ways outdoor enthusiasts can tackle the issue of pollution in these cherished spaces and in their own simple way. 

“At Trash Free Trails, we’re on a mission to (re)connect people with nature through the simple yet meaningful act of removing single-use pollution – aka litter – from wild places,” says Rachel Coleman, Trash Free Trails communications manager. “Through our partnership with Ultimate Direction, we’re able to inspire, inform and equip runners across the world to take action on terrestrial pollution in the places they know and love, building an incredible global community of conscientious trail users.” 

At the heart of this partnership is a new campaign, Purposeful Adventures, which launched in 2022, that encourages community members to leave more positive traces while out running, roaming or riding. UD made it personal while sharing with its community on how to get involved with a kickoff on Earth Day. The staff held a clean-up day in coordination with Protect Our Rivers and Enverus in Boulder, CO, and collected more than 918 pounds of garbage from area waterways in one day. 

UD has leveraged its connections to amplify Trash Free Trail’s mission and promote Purposeful Adventures in meaningful ways that engage runners where they live and run. 

On the international stage at the Western States Endurance Run in June, UD leveraged its sponsorship platform by hosting a cleanup during the Hoka shakeout run where the run sweepers were part of the trail cleanup crew. During UD athlete Joseph Gray’s inaugural annual Colorado Springs-Trail Running Camp in August, a camp designed for youth in Colorado Springs to promote diversity and create access in the sport of running, kids participated in cleaning up the camp’s trails, while learning about conservation and the importance of maintaining clean trails. 

Partnerships like these showcase how the running community, including brands and retailers, can contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future, redefining the relationship between outdoor recreation and environmental consciousness. Just as each footfall leaves its mark, each partnership has the potential to leave a lasting, positive trace on our planet.  

To learn more about Trash Free Trails: