Finishers Medals for Everything!

by Sara on November 21, 2013


Finishers medals.  Bling.  Race Bling.

For some people it’s a huge motivator for running races, and the cool part is everyone gets one just for finishing no matter your finish time.  Finishes medals (as far as I am aware) used to be reserved for longer races such as marathons and half marathons.  Every year they get crazier and more creative drawing more and more runners in with moving parts, glitter, and other fun features.  But more and more I am seeing them pop up at shorter races, 10 milers and most recently at a local 5k.  You can even get them for running a virtual race – just go for a run of a specified distance on your own, report your time and it’s a race! (what?)

I get it.  Racing is an industry.  Medals draw runners, runners pay money, and races make money.  And now that everyone has all these race medals hanging around it’s created a whole new industry of ways to display your bling.  But is it too much?  I’m probably going to get a lot of people who don’t agree with me here but I’m starting to feel like the more things people can get finishers medals for, the less value they start to hold.  Does a medal from an organized race mean more than a virtual race? Or are they the same value.  What is the point of making almost every run you do a “virtual race” and having dozens of medals.  If you receive a medal for every single race you do no matter the distance what makes any of them special?

Even Runner’s World might agree with me on this one.  (yes I know, this is an article from almost a year ago)

Then again, when I have a particularly good race that finishers medal serves as a constant reminder of the hard work I put in.  I may even hang a few of them at my desk to remind me of how far I’ve come and where I want to go.

It's getting a little crowded at my desk...

It’s getting a little crowded at my desk…

So maybe my opinion isn’t so clear after all.  Running is so personal, that what matters to some people does’t to others.  After all I’m sure for every person out there who runs solely to amass a collection of bling, there’s someone else who doesn’t even keep their finishers medals.  Some people run to beat other people, some people run to beat themselves.  In the end, what motivates us is different for everyone, and race organizers are either out to make money or raise money (you can’t hate on races that are for a good cause, and The Lemon Run is one of them.)

What’s your take? Finishers medals for all? Only half marathons and marathons? No more finishers medals? (even though we all know that will actually never happen…)

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Rebecca Swanson January 8, 2016 at 1:38 pm

YES! I started doing races in 2007-ish and did them hot and heavy for about 3 years, before pursuing other sports. I’ve recently started again (in 2015) and have immediately seen the changes. I used to get race medals for two things: longer races and Disney races (because they always charged so much to enter)…and now, you get them for everything. Prices have also been raised on most races too though.

Also – I have serious issues with “virtual races.” How has this even been allowed to become a thing?! Money?! Are race organizations THAT desperate for money that they are willing to cheapen everyone’s race medal? Sure – some people don’t care about the bling that do the race. They do the race because it’s a cool course – or because of the fun crowd – or the money goes to charity. Let’s face it though – if you’re paying money online for a “virtual race,” you’re not paying that money for those things. You don’t get the cool course (you pick your own route, which you could do for free). You’re not going to have the fun race-day crowd atmosphere (you’re alone or perhaps with a running buddy). You aren’t doing it for charity (you can go online at any time and donate to any of these organizations without getting the swag). Therefore – you are literally doing it because you’re getting race swag…for a race you didn’t do. You didn’t do the course. You didn’t get up early. You didn’t brave the elements on race day. Shoot – at this point, I wouldn’t even be shocked if people didn’t find ways to cheat the system entirely – getting medals for running in an event they didn’t run. Am I the only person who thinks this is insane? Lol, sorry I went off, but seriously, people!

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