Saturday, June 9, 2018

Race Medals - What's the Alternative now ?

One of the integral aspects of Running Races is medal. In my first year of running, I had an aspiration for a medal. So when I was ready to move to the next level, I signed for a GiG2014 10K in April. As I finished that 10K, I actually asked the volunteer for the medal and she replied its only for Half finishers. That popped my balloon. So I promptly signed for a Half in June. I got over the medal-mania here, when I was handed the medal after this Half Marathan was cancelled for weather conditions and their mis-management. You can say I sobered up after that. The disquiet about not running a Half when I had trained, lasted for a few days and so I again signed for a different Half, which was in the next weekend. That way Lolas 2014 became my first Half which I finished well and hence have happy memories attached to its medal. That's about it about my medal-mania period.

There are many other things that are a given in road races now-a-days - free shirt, water-stops, food at the finish-line,  medical aid, and any free gifts coming from the sponsors. All of them very useful and reusable in regular life. All but the Medal.

Medals give the great feeling of accomplishment. I will wear it at the finish-line, through the ride back home. If I am exceptionally happy, then I will wear it through the weekend. But after that, the medal goes into the pile of past medals. I have even considered skiping the part of accepting it, at the finish-line. But the temptation of getting my pic clicked, with the latest medal on, is just too much.

I know I am not the only one thinking this. Frequent racers all face the problems of storage of the increasing pile of medals. I have seen numerous articles by run bloggers and discussion threads talking about the same.

Frequent racers have many reason why they run many races. Medal disposal headache is just a side-effect of this habit.
  • Upcoming race gives a deadline to continue training for. 
  • Friends and run club may have signed up for the same. 
  • Spending a weekend morning running through scenic routes. 
  • Or it could be the free t-shirt and other swag. 
I mean we paid so much for a race, we do need something to display. So what are the alternatives ?

(1) Medal is definitely important for a new runner or for a milestone race.Those are collectible which will be prominently displayed at home. In that case, medals should not be given out to all finishers. Only division winners. If they stop giving to those finishing after a certain time limit, it will make those runners bitter - I know I would be.

(2) A shared medal. Wear it & get a pic taken and return it.
Cons of this solution: The medal strap will go through so many sweaty (dried or sticky) necks, no one would want to share.

(3) Display on some lovely Medal hangers. They work well as a wall display. But for a frequent racer, I have run out of space for a beautiful display.

(4) There are numerous articles on how to DIY to reuse the medals ? But seriously how many can you do, even if you are inclined to DIY ?

(5) Alternates: Make the medal in the form of something that can be used - bottle opener, necklace, belts, coasters. These article are really creative in their lists: theclymb, running competitor, active endurance.
     Some races do it differently. City of Lakes race does not give shirts to all runners, but only to division winners. Instead they give a lovely tall drinking glass and medal to every finisher. They could easily swap the medal for shirt or something else.

(6) Recyle & donate - Here is an article which gives more details about Sports Medal Recycle and Medals 4 Mettle.

Road races are large in terms of participation. Sheer number of medals, their manufacturing, shipping and disposal costs are definitely worth pursuing alternatives.



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