Racing Medals…Just for Half & Full Marathons?


I remember that first time I received a metal for a half marathon. It was my very first half marathon and I was so emotional as I neared the finish line because I had actually done it. I couldn’t wait to wear that heavy piece of metal around my neck and I didn’t want to take it off–I drove the whole way from Louisville to Lexington still wearing it around me neck.

For some of us, running in half and full marathons is partly for the bling, not to mention the sense of pride in your accomplishment of training. Tell the truth–Have you ever thought twice about entering a half/full marathon when the medal wasn’t what you expected?

ANYWAY, medals are a big deal. I believe they are your trophy of accomplishment. When I got a medal for finishing my first Warrior Dash, I thought, “OK, cool…this was a pretty big deal, even if it was only 4 miles” Same with Extreme Rampage.

But the only races I feel I earned my medals (and got them) were my half marathons.

Until I ran in the Noblesville Mini Marathon series over Memorial Day weekend. There were four races that day–1 mile “fun run”, 5K, 10K, and the half marathon. I chose to run the 10K, and then ran the 5K course to get training miles in for the half marathon I was training for. When I got an email last week saying my medal from the Noblesville Mini was ready for pick-up (they had run out of medals that day), I was confused, because I hadn’t run in the half marathon. So I replied that I ran in the 10K and she commented that I still received a medal for the 10K, and it’d be in the mail.

Well, I received the medal on Friday. It’s a beautiful medal, surprisingly for a first-time race. But I have mixed feelings about it.

 

The Noblesville Mini Marathon for the half marathon, 10K, and 5K

The Noblesville Mini Marathon for the half marathon, 10K, and 5K

Sure enough, if you finished the 5K or 10K, you received the same medal the half marathoners earned.

Now I know there are quite a few races that are starting to do that because they know that draws in the entries. And maybe for some runners who may never be able to run a half or full marathon, for whatever reason, that’s a pretty big deal to them. But to me, it feels like a medal is a right of passage, that you’ve spent 3-4-5 months training for that one day, to push your body passed the point of exhaustion and pain for a few miles of triumph and a lifetime of memories.

I will forever love these three half marathon medals I've earned (and hopefully earn a few more along the way).

I will forever love these three half marathon medals I’ve earned (and hopefully earn a few more along the way).

I ran in a few 5Ks before I attempted my first half marathon. To me, my badge of honor was my race t-shirt. I didn’t expect a medal–I looked up to those runners who had medals hanging on their walls because I knew the dedication they had to train for that wearable piece of art.

Is it because of the growing mentality in our country that everyone deserves an award? Nowadays it seems like every kid gets a trophy for participating in a sport, whether they won a single game or not. Growing up I showed horses, and we maybe would get participation ribbons in Mini 4-H, but we still earned placements of first, second, third, fourth, etc. I knew the importance of working hard and practicing my craft/sport because I wanted to win, I wanted to be recognized. Had I gotten trophies for every class I showed just because I walked through the entry gate, would I have worked as hard? Maybe not. So is that what we’re teaching our children now? Don’t worry about practice and hard work, we’ll reward you anyway?

I grew up understanding that if I worked hard and practiced, I would hopefully be rewarded. It wasn't expected, but I still tried. If I hadn't, would I have been awarded this World Championship belt buckle 10 years ago? Who knows...

I grew up understanding that if I worked hard and practiced, I would hopefully be rewarded. It wasn’t expected, but I still tried. If I hadn’t, would I have been awarded this World Championship belt buckle 10 years ago? Who knows…

I know I just went totally out of left field comparing running medals to children in sports, etc., but I think it’s all connected. And I really want to know what you think.

Your turn: Is it OK to have medals for races less than half and full marathons? How do you feel about the reward for just participation? 

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One thought on “Racing Medals…Just for Half & Full Marathons?

  1. This is a touchy subject for me because it reveals a duel I have in my head about the merits of rewarding everyone. On the one hand, a 5K could be a grueling event for someone and that medal could be a prized memento, while for someone else, a marathon could be easy. In each case, the medal’s “worth” is not the same to each person.
    However, over the years, I feel like I’ve run enough races to simply create a rule for myself: medals are for 13.1 miles and above. That’s just my arbitrary mark. Almost every 10-miler out there gives out finisher’s medals, but I’ve chosen the half marathon as the benchmark. I’ve run a few shorter races where they gave out medals and I went home without one. Some call it snobbery, and I wouldn’t challenge them on it. I won’t disparage anyone for proudly hanging a 5k or 10k medal — they trained and completed a goal and deserve to be proud of it.
    There are those who say that half marathons are too short — those who run 30, 50, even 100 miles. So it’s all relative.

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