Running Medals Explained
Many people have come over my house and have seen my "wall of medals". For those that are not familiar with the award system of running/triathlon the first impression is that I am some kind of incredible athlete. I am not vain enough to count the amount of medals on my wall but let's say I have quite a few. Now I am proud of "my wall" but I am not an incredible athlete. I have listed the three ways you can "win" a medal in the sport of running below.
There are 3 ways to receive a medal in the sport of road running. The first way is to actually win the race. The first person to cross the finish line is the winner and typically second and third are also recognized. This is great if you are good enough to compete with the top names in the sport. Most of us are not in this category and will never have the opportunity to be the first across the line. In other words there is no chance to ever win a medal in this fashion.
The great part about running is that there is another layer of competition. The second way to win a medal is the age group competition. The age group competition allows for a secondary competition within the race for all runners within certain age groups. Most races recognize 10 year age groups and award medals for 1st-3rd in each age group. If you don't place in the overall race then you are automatically moved into the age group competition. This is great because if you are 55 years old and have no chance to win the race you can still enjoy competing with other runners in the same 50-59 age bracket. In most races you still have to be very good to place in your age group but with the tremendous amount of races out there today once in awhile a mediocre time can still place.
There is also a third way to receive a medal. Most longer races such as a half marathon or marathon award a "finisher's medal" to all runners that can complete the event. This medal is not for placing overall or in your age group. This medal is simply for finishing the race within the time limit. Now is finishing a half marathon an incredible feat? How about a marathon? The answers to these questions really depend on who you are. Many people have completing a marathon/half-marathon on their bucket list. When they finally cross the line the personal pride and sense of accomplishment can be incredible. Others have completed the event many times. Either way, what do you think of the finisher's medal? I think the finisher's medal symbolizes an accomplishment but it also is a nice way to remember a moment in time. I consider the finisher's medal to be like a "postcard" from the event. I can look at the medal and remember the day I did the race and everything that was involved in completing the event. I am a big fan of the finisher's medal as long as it doesn't start creeping into shorter events. Once in awhile a race will give out these medals for sprint triathlons or shorter running events. I think keeping it at the half marathon distance or greater maintains a certain effort level required to earn a medal.
I have earned my medals all three ways above.....and you can see my "wall of medals". If you have been in the sport of running for awhile I know you have medals. Where are they? If you have a "wall of medals" please send a picture. Be proud!! Let's see your wall!!