Running Medals Losing Their Luster

Once upon a time when I was fast enough to place in my age group, and maybe occasionally place overall in a small race, I stuck around afterward eager to receive my well-deserved, hard-earned medal. I had to work hard to get to a place where I felt that sense of accomplishment. Now, you can sign up for just about any running event and receive one for just paying the registration. Everyone receives a finisher’s medal!

This has been the standard for most marathons and many half-marathons for years, but I’m also talking about the 5k. In 2010, I ran the Friday Night 5k in Fargo – received a medal. Later that year I ran the MLB All-Star Game 5k in Anaheim – received a medal.

But let’s look at the marathons, too. Even though they are longer, they are not exempt from this problem. Having run several marathons, I clearly have an understanding of the work and preparation that goes into finishing 26.2 miles. That being said, I will now break down my 2010 marathon and half-marathon medal count.

La Jolla Half-Marathon – Medal Only
Fargo Half-Marathon – Medal, plus extra medal for running the 5k the night before.
San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon – Medal Only
San Jose Rock N Roll Half-Marathon – Medal, plus another medal for running a Rock N Roll Marathon AND Half-Marathon event in the same year.
Los Angeles Rock N Roll Half-Marathon – Medal, plus another medal for running two Rock N Roll Half-Marathon events in the same year, AND another medal for running three Rock N Roll Marathon events in the same year.

That’s 9 medals after 5 events! Look, I appreciate all of the bling, and often times will chose a race based on how much bling I can get, so I’m not against the idea of more medals. In fact, all of the free medals, tech-shirts and other swag help justify the rising costs of runs these days, but the simple fact remains you don’t have to work as hard for them.