Running for Empties

Christie MacFarlane

July 2, 2013

Special to

Christie MacFarlane '16 is on the convict fitness plan. No, she's not working off a misdemeanor, but she is cleaning up Loudonville's streets and other public avenues one six-mile run at a time.

MacFarlane raised nearly $200 during her training runs as a freshman on the Siena cross country team through an unconventional running strategy that smartly doubles as community service.

"I started collecting bottles on my runs sometime in the fall of 2011, when I was a senior in high school." she said. "It always bothered me when I saw bottles and other discarded litter on the side of the roads when running around town, so I decided to do something about it. Instead of just leaving the litter where it was, I picked it up. After that, the habit just stuck with me."

MacFarlane eventually recruited her whole team to start collecting bottles during practice runs, and now the litter-free roads surrounding campus are yet another asset Loudonville can pride itself on.

"I can't say everyone takes it to as extreme of a level as I do, but I am happy everyone has contributed to the cause in some way," MacFarlane said. "I owe everyone for not only helping me with the project, but also supporting me and showing interest in the cause. There would be days I would get back from my run and several of my teammates enthusiastically came up to me with multiple bottles, saying something like: `Hey Christie! Look at all these bottles we've got for you from our run!' I noticed that with time, people really started to care about the bottle project and take pride in it."

MacFarlane chose to donate the proceeds collected to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. As a native of Delmar, she found it important to give back locally so she could see the results of her contributions, and keep her run route aesthetically pleasing.

"The money helped support educational programs run by the Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center," she said. "I also figured it would be a nice way to give back to the park, as many of my teammates and I go there to do long runs."



Macfarlane's eco-friendly efforts earned her a nomination for the 2012-2013 NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship award.

"I'm super pumped!" said the rising sophomore, "It's nice to be recognized for something you do, especially if you aren't looking for recognition when doing it."

The environmental studies major was the Saints top runner as a freshman, a season highlighted by her 16th place finish in the regional ECAC Championships. She's also excelled off the course, posting a 3.74 GPA while finding time to research samples she took at vernal ponds in the Hudson Valley, and balance other Environmental Club obligations.

MacFarlane hopes to extend her environmentally conscious mentality to the rest of Siena's athletic department.

"I like to think I set a good example for others in most of what I do, whether it is in running, promoting environmental causes, college classes, or the way I interact with others," MacFarlane said.

MacFarlane enjoys 'Siena's scenic campus, but some of her favorite running routes circulate the nearby neighborhoods of Latham and Loudonville. .

"I don't really have a particular route I run most often just because the distance of my run changes day to day," she said. "One of my favorite roads to run on is Hills Road in Loudonville."

Hills Road is likely the cleanest street in the Capital Region.

~ Jacque Medina '15