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George Vlahakis
University Communications

Dana Cummings
IU Student Foundation

Last modified: Monday, April 11, 2011

IU students work to make annual Little 500 events more environmentally sustainable

Annual cycling races taking place this weekend

April 11, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- "Run, Ride, Recycle" -- green takes the black-and-white checkered flag this spring as student organizers work to make Indiana University's 2011 Little 500 bicycle races more environmentally sustainable.

Green Sign

This sign consisting of totally recycled materials will welcome spectators to this year's Little 500

Print-Quality Photo

The IU Student Foundation this year established a special class campaign committee which has been working with the IU Office of Sustainability and the student organization Volunteers in Sustainability. Among the new activities will be a greater emphasis on recycling, use of environmentally friendly materials, and finding creative ways to replace wasteful items that have been a part of the event for years.

"Little 500 is an essential part of the culture and tradition of Indiana University Bloomington. Kudos to the leadership of IU Student Foundation for taking this very public opportunity to highlight another part of the IU Bloomington culture and tradition of environmental conservation," said Bill Brown, director of sustainability at IU Bloomington.

"This year, as we celebrate the 61st running of Little 500, we also can celebrate IU Bloomington's designation as one of 20 Bicycle Friendly Universities by the League of American Bicyclists," added Brown, who will be driving a hybrid automobile during the pre-race parade.

The women's Little 500 -- now nearing the quarter century mark -- will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday (April 15), and the men's race will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday (April 16). Both races will take place at Bill Armstrong Stadium, located off Fee Lane just north of its intersection with 17th Street. A popular running relay race, the Little Fifty, will take place on (Thursday) April 14 at the Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex.

The 41st annual Earth Day will be celebrated one week later on April 22 around the world.

Students have arranged with sponsor Coca-Cola for several recycling bins throughout Armstrong Stadium. The official Little 500 program has been printed using recycled paper and environmentally friendly ink. The pit boards identifying the teams also will be reusable.

little 500 race

Photo by Heather Brogden

The 61st annual men's Little 500 takes place Saturday

Print-Quality Photo

The balloons released during pre-race festivities are biodegradable, and environmentally friendly paint will be used for the Little 500 logo in the track infield. Race timers, who have traditionally used numerous strips of paper to provide information to officials, will now use dry erase boards.

Instead of paper cups, race participants will get water from reusable plastic bottles. In addition to the hybrid vehicle being used during the pre-race parade, IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie again will ride a bike to promote healthy transportation alternatives to driving a car.

Even the sign on Fee Lane that welcomes race fans is environmentally friendly. Made from recycled aluminum cans and plastic bottles, it says, "Run, Ride, Recycle."

Members of the student committee also have planted trees at a local orchard to offset some carbon usage during the event.

Each year, IUSF student volunteers are divided by class year for special campaigns and are given $1,000 to work on any philanthropic project they chose to pursue. One group focused on sustainability.

"As a student, greening the Little 500 is especially important due to the significance of sustainability with our generation," said Rikke Fulkerson, an IU senior telecommunications major from Terre Haute, Ind., and the steering committee's chair. "The Little 500 is the world's greatest college weekend and attracts over 20,000 fans each year. The way I see it, there is no reason not to make it green. If the Olympics can do it, so can we.

"It only makes sense that a race built around green transportation should be green itself," Fulkerson added. "This is only the beginning of fully greening Little Five, and the difference that we have made is already more than expected."

Dana Cummings, director of the IU Student Foundation, said students have taken an increasing interest in addressing environmental concerns. For example, its Senior Challenge project recently awarded $12,000 to the Sierra Club's Coal Free IU project, using funds raised last year. The funds will be used to install a solar photovoltaic array panel on the Indiana Memorial Union.

The Little 500 is the nation's largest collegiate intramural cycling event and was featured in an Academy Award-winning film Breaking Away more than 30 years ago. Participants train all year to compete.

Tickets for all Little 500 events are $25. Go to for more information. Follow Little 500 on Twitter at and Facebook at A regularly updated blog, Inside the Track, can be found at