Finisher’s Medals

Finishers medals cause a significant amount of drama and discussion in the runners’ world. Although I am far from being inducted, a browse of forums and other sites this weekend has introduced me to the issues which finisher’s medals can cause.


I am still extremely proud of the two which I received before I forgot to keep fit. The Nationwide one was for completing the Swindon 5 mile multi terrain fun run. This was a big thing for me. The first time I had ever run in any organised event, and I literally went from 0 to 5 miles over a few months. The drive to complete it was immense. I picked up a pretty drastic  case of shin splints at mile 4, and still managed to sprint across the line, although grimacing in pain. I completed it in aid of Cancer Research UK, and raised in excess of £250 for the cause.

After this, my partner and I settled down into life and I found out that I would become a father! Preparation became priority, and although she was due in July 2009, a colleague from work persuaded me to sign up for the Cancer Research UK Run For Moore. I raised a lot again for this cause, and worked hard building back up for success.

RFM01I think, in my roundabout way, that I am trying to say one simple thing. For me, I have two finisher’s medals. These both mean a lot to me. I have worked hard, finished what I set out to do, and have worked towards wearing the bling. Who cares if I box it up, never to be worn again? My son asks me what they are and I can be proud of my achievements, even if they are not in the realms of “real” running.

Why the drama?

This post is because I have read a lot about disbanding finisher’s medals. Pages such as Runners World and Lets Run have discussions and articles, both saying how the current trend for Finisher’s medals is A bad thing. Others have witnessed discussions where these medals have been accused of insulting real runners. Let me be clear. I do not doubt that for seasoned runners, the option to get a finisher’s medal is just “one” more to add to the collection of shrapnel. However, I can state with real confidence, that regardless of length, in 99% of races, there is someone to whom it means the world. Their success represents months of work, seemingly insurmountable towers of achievement and overall, quite a difficult time. To them, the medal is a memento to remember that by, wear with pride, and tell their children or grandchildren all about.

Some people do not understand the need for a finisher’s medal. Fine. That is their decision and choice. Others question the appropriateness of the whole finisher’s package, inclusive of drinks, food and coupons. There are also those who propose a recycling scheme for medals, presupposing that everyone who takes part in their event has a medal to hand in.

However, there are those who do appreciate the value of a finisher’s medal, and those who run only for those medals. The self titled “Medal Slut” has a blog dedicated to it, and even authors and editors of the Running Times & blogger Molly Pritz write eagerly about their desire for the medals.

What Is So Special About the Bling?

There are numerous pages dedicated to the best finisher’s medals of any given year. A simple web search can bring up The Top 25 Medals of 2012, The Best Marathon Finisher’s Medals 2009, and even an individuals favourite choice of their own medals. For some of these special medals, surely one would not call a ban?

Personally I like the finisher’s medal. In my early stages, I know that my achievement will be evident in my pride, but I can wear a medal to show my family, to demonstrate to others that I did what I set out to do. This is how I feel now, I hope I maintain my positivity in the future, because even after a few races under my belt, I will never be an elite. Hopefully I can maintain my humility and remember that everyone has to start in the same place, and that little bit of metal hanging off a cheap ribbon is worth so much more than its component parts.


2 thoughts on “Finisher’s Medals

  1. Alex, the blog looks great.
    I’ve run a lot of races and have a lot of finisher’s medals. As my collection has grown some medals are stand-outs and others are just a cheap medal. I know a piece of foil on a string means a lot when it is your first race. But when you have a box or draw full they are not so special anymore.
    I enjoy getting a medal, don’t get me wrong. But for a 5K or 10K I am happy with a cool shirt or hat, even decent gloves.
    Anyone who is running their first 5K should make sure they give a medal at the end. You will want that medal for the rest of your life. As they say, you never forget your first. 😉
    I don’t run for the medal anymore. If Harpoon or Smuttynose Brewery are sponsors, that gets my attention! It’s about spending time with friends and having a good time.

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