I learned last week that the Bean There, Ran That Marathon doesn't offer a finisher's medal. Seriously? I understand why there are no medals for shorter races but - call me superficial - when I make the effort to train for a half or full marathon, I expect a medal. The organizers say they've opted to forgo medals because the event is a fundraiser for the local hospital and they want to keep costs down. Which makes sense, I guess, except that they'd probably attract a lot more runners if they offered some bling. Like it or not, many runners are like me and prefer to run races that offer medals when they can.
The event does offer a pretty nice technical t-shirt but, as you can see, I've got plenty of those. In fact, I've got far too many. The largest drawer in my dresser is reserved for running gear and I haven't bought a new shirt in years. I just wear the ones I've collected at races - which makes me wonder why running stores bother to sell shirts at all.
Over the past year, I've done my best to get rid of stuff I no longer need, starting with unused running gear. Typically I run just 3 to 4 times a week so, even taking seasons into account, I need fewer than half the shirts in my drawer. The trouble is I find it difficult to part with any of them. Good or bad, the races I've run over the past 13 years are important markers along the road of my running career and I treasure the swag that helps me remember them. Even the worst races (Johnny Miles in 2011, for instance) made me a better runner by teaching me lessons I needed to learn.
I feel the same way about finisher's medals - but even more so. Most years, I only bring home 2 or 3 but they are affirmation that, against all odds, and despite thinking of myself as a non-athlete for much of my life, I am a runner - which is particularly important on days when I don't much feel like one. (Most days lately, I've been wearing the finisher's necklace I earned running the Nike San Francisco Women's Marathon in 2011. As I struggle to get back into a more comfortable running groove, that bit of swag around my neck and this pic remind me of all the great reasons I run!)
What about you? Do you pitch all those race shirts or wear them proudly? What about finisher's medals? Do they help keep you motivated, or do you just pitch them on the floor in your closet?
Happy running and writing friends!