Should faster runners refrain from wearing race medals?

I ran the Folkestone Half Marathon in 2011 with Jog Blog, Travelling Hopefully, Iliketocount, Jimmy and Helen 1. All being at different abilities, we all finished at different times with Iliketocount being miles out in front, not very closely followed by Jimmy. I was the next one home, about a mile behind Jimmy and I was struggling. It was hot, I was dehydrated, my foot hurt and I felt like I was going to fall over at any given moment. Coming up to the finishing straight, I was greeted by Jimmy who had started to walk back to look for me.

He was wearing his medal and ran part the way back with me.

Did I find it disrespectful? Absolutely not. He’d finished the race and was happy. Did I find it demotivating? No.

A friend of mine is running the London Marathon with her brother and as part of her training, she ran a half marathon with her friend. She suggested that I write this blog post after an early finisher wearing his finishers medal effortlessly jogged by her and her friend, who were still running further towards the back.

Carolyn thought “well done” when the fast runner jogged by her. Her friend on the other hand took a rather different view, saying it was arrogant.

Doesn’t he understand how demotivating it is for us back markers still struggling to finish?

Is it arrogant? Is it demotivating? Should faster runners refrain from wearing their finishers medals until they are off the course?

I agree with Carolyn. We all run our own races and shouldn’t be bothered by what someone else has achieved. And how do we define faster? I aspire to one day running a 25 minute 5k. Some would consider that slow. Some would consider that quick. The point is that running is personal to everyone. Perhaps this faster runner ran the race of his life and finished with a personal best and was proud of himself. Maybe he was just as pleased to finish as everyone else. I’m sure the thought that wearing a medal was arrogant never once crossed his mind. And are we really going to suggest that people don’t wear their medals at all, until well away from the race area?

I’ve certainly been towards the back of the pack in races before. And yes, I will admit to feeling a bit miserable when I’ve been lapped in the past, in a “I’m as red as a tomato and my make-up has smudged and I feel like crap and there are still a million miles left to run waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah and why does that person look so happy and unsweaty and fresh, it’s not faaaaaaaaaaaaair” type way. Perhaps this even extends to seeing someone with their finishers medal whilst I’m still plodding along, but I also think “well, they are more hardcore than me”. I certainly don’t think they are disrespecting slower runners.

I’d be interested to know what other people think!

Carolyn is running the London Marathon this year for The British Forces Foundation with her brother. You can sponsor them here.

7 thoughts on “Should faster runners refrain from wearing race medals?

  1. I wouldn’t want someone running to the end with me after they’d finished but only because it’s my race, they’d done theirs. But if I see runners with their medals on running around after, I think ‘yay, hardcore’. And I like it when I get lapped, I like seeing the fit blokes :-)

    1. I like seeing fit blokes too.

      He didn’t run to the end with me, for that reason, but I didn’t think anything of the medal.

      I’m off to look at fit man planks now…

  2. My friend took it as a big blow to his confidence and motivation, even though he ran an outstanding race and beat his PB by 12 minutes. I guess your opinion depends on whether you’re running against yourself or the other runners.

    1. A 12 minute PB is an amazing effort and he should be really proud of himself. I hope he was in the end.

      I run against myself as I know I can never compete with others, so I suppose that’s why I don’t think it demotivating.

  3. Fab post! I wear mine at the end of a race and for the rest of the day if I can get away with it! You get a very short time to wear your race medals (before you start looking a tit!) so make the most of it!! Also I love seeing the faster runners who finished before me … So I know who to push in the hedge next time to improve my race position …

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