Thursday, November 7, 2013

Race medals

In case you didn't hear, at this year's Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. they ran out of medals for the finishers. When I read that, I felt horrible for all those finishers who crossed the line and didn't receive one.

On Twitter someone asked is it so bad that a race runs out of medals for all finishers? I responded yes. When I completed the 2011 Philadelphia Half Marathon I received one of the last four half medals they had. There were over 100 people behind me. It was an awful feeling knowing that so many people still on the course would not be given a medal at the finish line.

I realized just how much crossing that line and receiving a medal is when I ran Zooma Annapolis. I knew going in that you receive a necklace rather than a medal, but after running a grueling course and finishing in my second worse time, I wanted a damn medal! Instead, I received a necklace I can wear. Not quite the same thing...

To my impassioned response regarding medals, I was asked isn't it the feeling of personal accomplishment enough? That should be all you need. Yes. Of course. But, for a slow runner, many a time knowing that no matter how hard those last few miles are, there will be someone waiting at the finish line waiting with a medal to hand you BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T GIVE UP. You finished the race and while the brain and mind are reeling with all sorts of odd emotions, that medal hanging around your neck is an instant and obvious indication that you made it. All the training, sacrifice, hard work, and support came together on race day.

My hat's off to anyone who runs a race and barely cares about their medal. There's a whole non-profit that allows people to donate their unwanted medals to people with cancer (I don't get it on either end but...). To me, that medal may be just a gussied up participant ribbon, but for the girl who never ran, for the girl who runs slow, for the girl who always worries about finishing last, the medal means more than you will ever know.

What do you think? Is not receiving your finisher's medal at the race a big deal? Is the fact you finished enough?


  1. Oh, I didn't know they ran out. I would be pissed, especially after a marathon! There is no better feeling than walking around with a medal for one day. I also have a shadow box and every time I walk by I remember the race and feel good. I also got the Zooma necklace and I agree, it's just not the same.

    1. Yup. They ran out. I hate to be a jerk, but it's always the slow runners that suffer - running out of medals, running out of food, being accused of ruining the sport. It sucks!

      And I'm with you. That day, I don't want to part with my medal. I feel so proud of myself! Then coming home and adding it to the wall lets me know that I can do anything! And some are just fun! Like Shamrock's that is also a bottle opener! Necklaces are great, I have a couple I bought for myself, but they just aren't the same as a medal.

  2. I donated my medal. I'm sending the rest to our local organization as well. They recently sent one to a little boy with cancer that I know, at my request. It was then that I realized the medal didn't matter to me... just hanging on my dresser mirror. I will continue to send them my future medals as well.

    1. That's great that you want to and have donated your medal. With no malice, do not understand how the medal means nothing to you. I'm not trying to be an ass, please do not take my comment as being that way. The medal to me is extremely important and I cannot imagine ever there being a time when it means nothing. But, if you donating your medal to some else does good in this world, then let it be. There is enough pain that any bright ray of hope and sunshine is welcome!