Plastic Oceans Continues Partnership With Meridian Adventure Race’s EpicBlue Swim-Run Race Series

Plastic Oceans International has long embraced the concept of sport as a powerful tool in the effort to reduce plastic pollution.

Through campaigns, projects and events, we continue to work with athletes and event organizers to use their platforms to engage local and global communities on the issue, raising awareness and inspiring change that can lead to real solutions.

Over the last couple years, our efforts have included:

  • Swim Against Plastic: Easter Island – South Africa’s Sarah Ferguson became the first person ever to swim around the entire perimeter of this iconic island, all done to raise awareness for plastic pollution, and now an official Guinness World Record.
  • Swim Against Plastic: Maya Riviera – This followup to Easter Island included an endurance swim, youth education, beach cleanup and the launch of our Rethink. Refill. campaign, bringing safe drinking water and refillable water bottles to two communities in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Run Against Plastic: Canada – The concept is for Andy Sward to run from the east coast of Canada to the west coast, picking up plastic debris along the way. Unfortunately, COVID has postponed this effort as planned, but we will look at rebooting it in the near future. For now, Andy continues running while cleaning up the roadways of Canada.
  • Kilometres for the Coast – A Run Against Plastic benefit fundraiser in honour of Andy Sward and in support of Plastic Oceans Canada. Participants are encouraged to run up to 10km while cleaning up litter along the way.
  • eXXpedition – We have partnered with this all-female crew that is sailing around the world to raise awareness for plastic pollution. Our CEO, Julie Andersen, joined the leg from Antigua to Aruba; and we are also collaborating on a film with organizers.
  • Patagonia: Surf, Science & Art – Our science director for Latin America tagged along with a group of surfers and artists exploring what should be the pristine coast of Chile’s Patagonia region. Sadly, it’s not what they found. A film is in the works.
EpicBlue swim-run race in Finale Ligure, Italy

The stunning landscape of the course in Finale Ligure, Italy.

Adding to this equation has been our partnership with Meridian Adventure Race, the team behind the popular and growing EpicBlue series of swim-run races. At last year’s event in Finale Ligure, Italy, Plastic Oceans International came on board as the official sustainability partner, helping Meridian Adventure to build on their goal of using their races to raise awareness for ocean conservation, but also assisting them in reducing the plastic footprint of their event.

“Our races go beyond just being a competition,” says Matteo Testa, Director of the EpicBlue series. “Our goal is to use aquatic sport to move the world to better appreciate our oceans and the environment. Plastic Oceans International was the perfect partner to come on board and help us make our events more sustainable and to better amplify the message we are trying to send.”

Through this partnership, Meridian Adventure has graciously provided funding support to Plastic Oceans International and is also donating an amount per registration for each race in the series.

“We are often approached to lend our brand to similar events, but they are typically loaded with a lot of empty promises, ‘what ifs’ and a scent of green washing,” says Tod Hardin, COO of Plastic Oceans International. “Thus, we vet potential partners very carefully and Meridian Adventure has proven to be a company driving systemic sustainability. This is a team that really cares about the ocean and ensuring that their races are as environmentally friendly as possible.”

After last year’s success, Meridian Adventure solidified plans to expand the series in 2020, adding races in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, as well as in Izmir, Turkey. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has caused the two new entries to be postponed until 2021, and this year’s event in Finale Ligure to be significantly scaled back.

“It will instead be more of a symbolic race,” says Testa. “One providing hope and inspiration for a return to the norms we are all accustomed to, but done so in an extremely safe and responsible manner.”

EpicBlue swim-run race in Finale Ligure, Italy

Swimmers make their away along the Finale Ligure coast in 2019.

Meridian Adventure recently met with local officials and gained approval for the race to go on, but with no spectators, limited participants, social distancing between athletes and organizers, mask requirement for staff at all times, mask requirement for athletes during registration, no awards ceremony and strict sanitation protocols in all spaces used during the race.

The race takes place on September 27 and will feature a long option (17.5km trail running/5.5km swimming) for professional caliber athletes, and a short option (10.5km trail running/2.5km swimming) for more casual competitors, as well as the ability to race as a team or an individual. In addition, Meridian Adventure is also planning two limited-capacity beach cleanups within the local community.



As is the case for all worldwide events in this age of pandemic, the future of the EpicBlue swim-run series is a bit up in the air, but planning will and must go on. Plastic Oceans will continue to work with Meridian Adventure to plan races that are free of single-use plastic products and those that reduce overall plastic integration as much as possible.

We’ll soon report on final results from Italy and stay tuned for updates on the plans for the EpicBlue races in 2021. In the meantime, here’s to all the athletes that choose to make a difference through sport by using their physical movement to join and support the movement to protect our planet.