7.30.2010

Medals of races past

Borrowing an idea from Jess and posting pictures of where I keep my medals and which are my favorites.

I won't hide that one of my silent reasons for running is that I get big medal as a reward.  Sure there is an army of other more honorable and immaterial reasons to run, but let's face it, sometimes you just want the pony.  There is something special in getting a medal placed around your neck: it links your small accomplishment to the long line of human athletic achievements throughout the ages and well into the future.  It's arguably my favorite moment of racing (regardless that it coincides with the end of the race).

The first time I ran a race and didn't get a medal I was upset.  Really upset.  Since then I've vainly made sure the races I sign up for have a medal waiting for me at the end--especially since I now tend to travel long distances to races, I need to come back with a souvenir.

With all this talk of medals you would think that I had a dark room set aside for them outfitted like the Museum of Natural History with custom spotlights on each medal and an adjacent engraved plague with a description of the race .  But I live in New York, there's no such thing as a spare room.  I actually--and slightly ironically--store them in a green cardboard box on top of a bookshelf:



Opening up the box you see a salad of ribbons.  Underneath the medals is every bib number I've ever worn.  Since not every race yields a medal I've made it a habit to hold onto every bib number I've worn over the past six years.  But I digress.  This post is about medals.

My favorite medals based on looks are (below, going clockwise from the pink ribbon): Flying Pig Marathon, National Half-Marathon, Maple Leaf Half-Marathon, NYCM, and Disney World Half-Marathon.  The Pig and National medals are high quality medals and cool custom ribbons.  The Pig has the added benefit of having a flying pig on it, which gives it +10 style points.  The Maple Leaf medal is my only non-metallic medal.  It's blown glass, hand made and stamped by an artisan in Manchester, VT, where the race was held.  I can't pinpoint what makes the NYCM so badass it, I think it's because it the only race I've run with built in prestige and wow factor (therefore prestige + wow = badass?  I agree with that algebra).  It might also be the simple refined look of the medal: it doesn't have a four-color logo or a custom ribbon.  It's just a good size, well-crafted, brassy medal that has a subdued ruggedness about it. Finally, the Disney medal is my "big boy" medal.  It probably weighs a pound, is a real quality medal, and just reeks of "yeah, I just did that."


In going through the medals I realized that I have another kind of favorite.  These are the sentimental favorites (too lazy to rotate the picture below, so you'll have to rotate your screen).  Going clockwise from the top right: Breakers Marathon, NYCM, Baltimore Marathon, Delaware Marathon, Great Bay Half-Marathon, and Boston Half-Marathon. 

The Breakers medal is cheesy, I will readily admit to that, but I still fantasize about that race: how perfect the day was, how well I ran that race, how stunning the scenery was, how over-the-top incredible it was to see 20 minutes disappear from my Marathon PR.  I know I will probably never get to run "that race" again. 

The NYCM was the hardest race I've run physically and mentally.  It was a rough couple of months leading up to the race and I clung onto my running in order to keep some sanity.  I had built that race as the end all be all and it did not fail.  On the physical side it wasn't the worst course imaginable, but crowd management played a much bigger role than I expected (or prepared for).

Baltimore wasn't my best showing: I stopped and walked good long portions of that race.  The race wasn't itself wasn't particularly memorable: if you've been to Baltimore you'll know what I mean.  But it was my first, and there are way too many attachments to/lessons from MY FIRST MARATHON EVER for me to deny it a special place.

Delaware represents my current Marathon PR.  Great Bay represents my current Half-Marathon PR.  My two fastest efforts to date.  While both were good races, they will one day be replaced by medals from new PRs.

The last one here is Boston.  This is my number one dime (it's a Duck Tales reference, look it up).  It's a humble medal, nothing particularly cool about it.  The race itself was your archetype New England race with rolling hills and autumn foliage.  But it was my first athletic event, ever.  Before this medal you did not see sRod run, after it, you did.  This medal is more than metal and fabric, it is a symbol of a change in my life.

Those are the highlights of my collection.  They are now safely tucked back inside their box, with the bib numbers, eagerly awaiting new members to the fold.

3 comments:

Adam said...

oh man, you gotta get something to hang those on!! I too am a medal fan and I am always proud to look at my wall hanger dealie

FLYERS26 said...

nice job with the medals!
I have mine on display in my den, but I haven't saved every bib. I have saved my bibs from all the 1/2's & fulls I have run, but not the 5ks.

Laura said...

I have a very similar box (though mine is black), and I use it for all my bibs/race maps/course descriptions/etc. My medals are on the wall on one of those French memo boards.