Medals, bling and all different types of things

An otherwise uneventful Monday morning (despite the Steve Smith ball tampering cricket revelations in South Africa), was abruptly shaken alive with a lively discussion on the Book of Faces. The topic du jour was the awarding of finishers prizes, which started with an initial question posed as to whether prizes should be confined just to the podium or whether they should be more evenly spread around the field?

Now, this raises a bigger notion around rewards in life in general. Do we really need recognition in the form of a prize or even a medal for finishing race? On the flip side why shouldn’t we recognise people’s efforts in some way with a momento they can keep, look back at and cherish? There’s certainly a case for both sides, which I fully recognise.

As luck would have it, I’ve written about this topic vaguely in the past, – where there’s a social issue, I’m sure to have something connected to it!Ā As always, despite my own personal views on the topic, presented below is a balanced debate for others to pipe in and join the fun. Firstly, the case for…

Medals/prizes are an important way to recognise achievement

Every runner knows the sacrifices they had to make to even get to the start line, let alone finish an ultra. So in that regard collecting your medal at the end of the race is an important stage in that journey. It signifies the culmination of months of hard graft to get to the finishers line. For those people fortunate enough to stand on the podium and win races, prizes are another way to recognise the achievement they’ve obtained, as well as their talent and ability. It doesn’t mean to say they’ve worked harder than anyone else, it’s about highlighting ability in relation to others in the field on that given day.

Other prizes given out to people during the race, i.e. random spot prizes as well as to those who may have helped in an act of kindness are also great ways for the wider community to acknowledge people too. There are runners who give up their own race to help other people and to be frank, more races should acknowledge this type of thing. Coast2Kosci is one race that recognises these acts of kindness, be it a runner or crew member who helps others in their times of need. Having crewed C2K in the past and with the small number of runners, there’s a very tight-knit community traveling together for the best part of two days who form close bonds. Recognising this embodies the spirit of ultra running – it’s awesome to be part of.

There are also some people who like to collect their medals as a reflection of their running careers, or streaks in a certain race. Six Foot track is an example of a race that does this with recognition for those who complete 6, 12, 18, 24 and 30 Six Foot races. I’m the owner of a very nice six-time, Six Foot track finisher buckle, which now sits randomly in one of my six-year-old twin jewelry cases šŸ™‚ She has no idea really of the story behind it, other than she likes the fact that its big, weighs a lot in her little hands and is silver… which leads me onto to other side of the debate…

It’s just stuff…

That silver, metal heavy belt buckle is all rather nice, but it’s simply an item. An item I don’t need. Sure it’s nice to show people and tell them stories (should I choose to), but I’m not really hereĀ to tell people I’ve run six Six Foot Track races, it’s a bit dull if you ask me. You see, I have this rather great thing called a memory, and I can look back at each race I’ve done at Six Foot and remember a time when I was happy, or when the going was tough, but knowing that each time I ran it, I gave it my all. Even when I ran a diabolical 5hrs and 57mins having rolled my ankle severely in the first kilometre of the race and proceeded to ‘hop’ the remaining 44kms on one leg. That for me, was a sweeter finish than my PB of nearly two hours faster.

The main reason we don’t need medal or prizes is because we (generally speaking), don’t race for that. We race for everything I’ve just described above… the memories… the PBs… the heartache and the tough times i.e. we race for an experience. Now people may say that having a medal reminds you of that experience and I get that. But I don’t need a medal or a sponsor’s prize (which they only give as they’re too cheap to hand out cash) to signify that. As far as running is concerned, I’m not motivated by money or prizes, and neither are the vast majority of ultra runners, because hey guess what? Our sport is for the most part, amateur and very few of us win money – we do it because we love it and we gain an inner sense of satisfaction from it, which ultimately should tell us that prizes… medals… kudos… it’s all a bit meh…

Final thoughts – Six of one and half a dozen of the other

I recognise that people want and desire bling and that’s cool, there shouldn’t be any issue with that. For example, the silver medal in that feature image that accompanies this article is for going sub 30 hours at GNW. At the time, I set my goal to achieve that benchmark and getting that silver medal was very cool – but I couldn’t tell you now where that medal was. What I do have however are some rather great (if not painful) memories of that race, along with some immense inner satisfaction fromĀ running just over 29hours.

We’re already judged inĀ races through timing chips and for the most part, it’s simply a battle between us and our heads.

Like our articles? Take a second to support Ultra168 on Patreon from as little as $1 a month!
Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

Leave a Reply