St Brelades Bay

Medal of Honour?

This is possibly the most controversial post that I have written in nearly two years but…what is the point of post race medals and commemorative t-shirts?

They are supposed to be a reminder of the great day you had but in reality, they are going to end up at the back of the cupboard or on a shelf gathering dust.

Medals especially serve no functional purpose and usually don’t look good enough to occupy pride of place on a wall.

And as you continue to complete races, your hoard of medals grow as do their insignificance.

Why keep a medal from a corporate 5k relay you did 10 years ago?

It wasn’t the longest, the quickest, the most scenic, the most fun or even particularly memorable race. The people you ran with weren’t your favourites and the medal was bog standard cheap metal with stick on decals.

But you still have it taking up space in your bedside table.

Before it sounds like I hate medals (the horse may have already bolted on that), I really don’t.

I still have my medals from my first Marathon (London), my first marathon with my girlfriend (Stockholm), first Tri (Hever Castle) plus each of my ultra medals so far.

City of London Mile medal
Medal for a mile??

I just dislike the pointless ones or those where I didn’t enjoy the race.

Wouldn’t it be better if it was a bottle opener? Or one of those fake pound coins that you use for shopping trollies?

I’d at least like the option in advance, or even to order one in hindsight (in case you have an especially awesome race).

When signing up to most races, you’re given countless options about adding an inscription or a certificate or a cuddly toy but how about an option not to receive a medal and get a discount off the race entry fee? Or a charity donation?

ABP Southampton Half Marathon
When t-shirts get it right

Like medals, I’d like the option to view the t-shirt beforehand and decide whether or not to keep it.

They have a habit of being garish, ill-fitting or both (looking at you London Marathon #oneinamillion)

Usually I pick up the t-shirt just as a back up for the more technical garments I’ve bought but when moving house recently, I realised that almost an entire shelf was occupied by these back-ups, most haven’t seen action in years.

The New Forest Half Marathon last year was the first time I had ever turned down an event t-shirt – it was a bland, one-size-fits-some affair and wouldn’t even have made it as back up to the subs bench.

But because it was included in the entry fee, I felt an obligation to pick it up. Like having another bowl at an all-you-can-eat even though you’re stuffed because you’ve paid for it.

I’d much prefer to pay extra for a better quality shirt or again have the chance to pay less.

Personally it would be a nice touch to be able to donate your shirt to a charity.

There must also be an environmental cost to creating and disposing all of the medals and t-shirts for each race.

In a perfect world, a more memorable gift from race organisers would be a free photograph of your choice from the race.

With the astronomical prices that are currently charged for race pics, the chance to select the best (or more likely the least worst) would be a chance for you to remember your race at your most epic moment and it is also something you would be proud to have on display.

So please, race organisers, get rid of the mandatory medals and t-shirt unless specifically requested and give us something that we might actually want or use.


6 thoughts on “Medal of Honour?

  1. I love medals! But you’re right, they’re literally clogging up my bedside table and going a bit rusty. I have a vague plan to get a display thingy for them but in reality that’s not likely to happen…

    I’ve done one race where we had the option to add on the medal or not (I think the cost difference was about £2. This was the Trafford 10k). Our running bibs were colour-coded according to our medal preference so marshals knew whether to hand you some bling or not.


    1. I think there’s rarely any need for more than a top 10 or so medals? Especially when you do the same race more than once. Maybe there can be promotion or relegation!

      That’s a great idea regarding the colour coding!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree entirely. In the Netherlands, there are lots of walking events where you get a medal, but most give you the option for no medal, with a reduction. I’ve only taken part in 4 running events, two the same with the only difference being the colour of the T-shirt as they design a new one each year. A few years ago they had beautiful T-shirts and I’m really jealous when I see people wearing those. Now they’re not especially beautiful, the material’s weird and for those of us who aren’t really runner shape, the sleeves don’t fit. I don’t think you should have to have liposuction to fit in an XL T-shirt!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. 2 of my running events were just local 5k events, and the other 2 (with the annoying T-shirts) were a big ladies’ run called the Marikenloop. Again 5k – I’m no ultrarunner! The walking events were mostly local events with distances between 5k and 15k. The Dutch hold hundreds of organised walks every year, some of them huge. Last year I did one of the larger ones in the spring through the fruit-growing region of the Betuwe, the Rode Kruis Bloesemloop in aid of the Red Cross. I think you get the same feel of camaraderie as in a marathon, with less sweat and vomiting! And nobody’s timing you, so you can stop for a picnic or to visit a windmill on the way. Feeling jealous yet?

        Liked by 1 person

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