Dash for trash: Runners get down and dirty to pick up litter in St. Cloud

Members of the Sole Friends running club in St. Cloud include, from left, Chris Chenoweth, Tricia Dymond, Misti Lundstrom, Brandy Daniels, Dayci Burnett-Snyder and Mike Snyder.

Tricia Dymond and a handful of friends made a special trash dash last month along the streets of St. Cloud. Armed with garbage bags, running shoes and good intentions, the Osceola County residents took part in a growing national trend known as plogging - or picking up trash while jogging.

It may sound a little zany, but Dymond said she and her unofficial band of running mates hope to make the outdoor endeavor a new habit.  

“It felt good,” she said. “You wouldn’t believe how much junk is just lying around.”

Plogging began popping up in running circles across the world last year, donning a catchy, hash-tagable name that found itself sprinkled into fitness blog headlines and social media posts.

The term “plogging” is a combination of the word “jogging” and the Swedish word “plocka upp,” which means to “pick up” – in this case, debris or litter.

The craze caught on for a couple reasons. Running around with a few extra pounds of equipment and trash helps intensify a regular routine, while the motion of squatting and bending to pick up litter ensures a full-body workout.

It’s also a nice treat for the environment, as joggers take a few moments to pluck roadside waste out of vegetation and scenic greenery.

Dymond and her running cohorts (they call themselves the Sole Friends) had heard about the trashy trend a few months ago, and batted around the idea of a plog night for weeks before finally taking the plunge.

The Sole Friends have been running around since 2013 and evolved out of a much larger – and now disbanded – club called the St. Cloud Pavement Pounders. Sole Friends are small in numbers but mighty consistent, often meeting up several days a week and seldom skipping a week. It’s a diverse group, Dymond said, with runners of all ages and a family-friendly atmosphere.  

“We welcome anyone who’s respectful and really enjoys running to join us,” she said.

When it came time to plog, the Sole Friends assembled at the Brews ‘N’ Blues restaurant in downtown St. Cloud the evening of May 21 ready to get down and dirty. The group took a BYOB approach – Bring Your Own Bags. Gloves were also dispersed and at least one member brought a litter grabber for easier reach.  

The group split up in different directions, combining a 45-minute jog with some extensive litter picking. Alcohol bottles, plastic straws and fast food drinking cups proved to be the most commonly removed rubbish, Dymond said.

In less than an hour, the friends returned to where they had started, only now a little more sweaty and trash bags nearly full.

“I couldn’t even put anymore trash in my bag,” Dymond said with a laugh. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of stuff you collect.”

The runners encountered encouragement along the way, including folks who had questions about plogging. Many thanked the Sole Friends for the kind deed and wished them luck on their junk-removal journey.

Dymond said the exercise felt good in more ways than one. Heart rates were raised, but so was awareness of the community and a commitment to keeping it clean.

It’s something Dymond said she’s looking forward to doing again – a chance to race and eliminate waste.  

“It’s a good community service,” she said. “It felt good to help out in this small way.”