If you don’t get a medal did you really run that race? The allure of medals in running.

Hello one, hello all! Today I want to chat about the beautiful allure of obtaining medals that I have (and hopefully you have, as I don’t want to be alone) in races.

Nice race you got here, but where is my medal?

This thought crossed my mind a year ago when I was browsing through the fixtures of races in my country for the year. I went through the usual checklist:

Location? Nearby, nice.

Distance? Ohhh a marathon with an option of a half… I like it!

Date? Not too far away, but enough time to train efficiently for.

Price? Very fair! This is sounding like a good idea!

Medal? NO, why isn’t there a medal?! What are they giving to finishers instead?!? A T-SHIRT!? I have enough technical t-shirts, what about a medal? Why isn’t there a medal!? Might have to let this one go past until next year then..


I would like to say that this is made up and is a joke… But it isn’t. I really did think this, I really do still think this, and as much as I would like to just run a race, to run the race, deep down in that horrible little egotistical head of mine, I need the verification of a piece of metal or plastic or wood to make me feel like I achieved something, but why?


I first thought that obtaining a medal after you finished a race was because I wanted to emulate those brilliant humans at the Olympics who got their medals, to feel a small type of connection with these people who could run distances and times that 99.9% of the world could only dream of. But then I settled down and realised, that only three of those runners in each gender got a medal. What about 4th? They don’t get a medal and I usually finish a trillion places below that, so I shouldn’t deserve a medal either.

Then it came to me, I want to show off about what I accomplished, even in this world where there are more races and participants than ever before in the history of this planet. I want to show everyone, anyone who would look that I have achieved something. I finished that 10k, half marathon, marathon or even an ultra. I did it and this medal is proof that I did it. This medal that I can hang on my wall and look at and think I am amazing. Is that wrong? Am I selfish to think a medal is a be-all and end-all of running a race? Isn’t just running the race enough? Crossing that line, having your time logged, before cheered on at that finish or throughout the course by strangers, isn’t that what I kept running for?

So what if I only get a t-shirt for my efforts, I might not be able to frame it as easily or show it off to others and more importantly myself, but I completed the race and I should be proud. But after this happened after one race, I remember coming out of it deeply disappointed, to the point that I hang around too long after the finish (I try to stay a little bit to cheer on fellow runners). Thinking back now, that was truly stupid and I shouldn’t have let it affect me that much. It was just a race afterall.


Then came an even bigger problem, I had started to get annoyed at some big races, conjuring up these mediocre medals. In my head, I was thinking, ‘I have just run 26.2 (never forget that .2) miles and all I get is this stupid looking medal? I guess it will do but, jeez, way to care little for your runners’.

Again, another really thought that I had, I now know that this was very foolish and that if a big race with a budget only gives that type of medal then so be it. I got my medal and I shouldn’t be expecting the most wonderful medal in the world. I mean, for example, the two medals that I ran the hardest and most for are quite modest and in a way, thinking about it… I like that, they are modest and so should I be about my running. I am not the fastest, I did not truly earn a medal finishing as far back as I do. The fact that organisers give out medals is a lovely bonus, and it shouldn’t be a right. But, jeez, aren’t they great when you do get one?

If you enjoyed this post let me know and I can make it a little series! If you want to chat more about any of my posts, please follow me on TwitterInstagram and also to receive updates, Until next time, thanks for reading and I hope to see you again soon!


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