The clang of a cowbell and a distant cheer is often the first sign a runner is approaching an aid station. A long trail of scattered cups is usually the last thing a runner sees when leaving.
While volunteers do a great job of picking up after athletes, hauling cups in and out of aid stations becomes a chore when miles from the nearest road. It’s also wasteful to use cups once and throw them away.
UltraAspire, a company that makes hydration products, now offers an alternative for race organizers.
The brand’s soft plastic UA Cup folds down to nearly nothing, weighs just 0.3 ounces, and it can be reused and stuffed in a tiny pocket.
“They create less litter and work for remote aid stations,” said Bryce Thatcher, president of the company.
According to UltarAspire, a marathon with 5,000 runners uses 55,000 paper cups during an event. That’s a lot of waste.
At $6, the UA Cup is a small investment but still a lot more than the cost of a few paper cups. It holds six ounces of liquid.
The UA Cup is soft in the hand and very pliable, more of a pouch than a cup. It is easy to drink from and has a small plastic nob on the rim to help the user keep a grip on the otherwise mushy vessel.
It also features approximate volume markings, presumptively for adding drink mix on the go.
The theory is that each runner in an event would carry a UA Cup. Using the cup requires runners to actually stop to fill and then drink.
We can see this scenario being unpopular with competitive runners who need to “grab and go” with pre-filled cups.
But on longer races like ultra runs the UA option could have more acceptance or appeal.