Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I no longer race for the shirt

Many of us race in part for the swag. Those medals, all so nice and shiny and fun to accumulate. And those race shirts, colourful all technical gear. We all fall for it -- myself included.

Recent years, as registration prices have gone up and the next running boom got well under way, every race doled out MORE FREE STUFF (read: stuff you actually pay for). Technical shirts with a running company's brand all over it. Then they started handing out medals for every freaking distance. Raced a 5K, 8K, 10K? No problem, you get a medal. At some races, they hand out more stuff after you cross the finish, like extra hats, touques, water bottles, small towels. (Personally, my favourite 'freebie' after the finish is food, beer and a space blanket.) I shake my head as I fill out my drawers with all this stuff.

To be transparent, I do love quite a few of my medals, have my marathon hardware up on a random wall. I love some of my shirts. In fact, I do have some favourites.

Stay or go?
But -- and this is a big but -- this is not why I race. I race more for the bib, having the opportunity to be at the start line, run a distance with open road or trails, and actually race. The 20 minutes to four hours on the course, that's why I sign up. Sometimes, it's a way for me to fit in training runs for my eventual marathon, or other times, it's a goal race or a pace bunny assignment.

Fast forward quite a few years and those first shiny medals, those first sporty T-shirts start to not only accumulate, but take over your drawers and closets. How many shirts do I have? Well, not counting the random actual running gear I buy, I have raced in almost 90 road races in the last nine years.

Um, yeah. I've got a gear problem. Today, I resolved to solve it as I embark on a massive spring cleaning exercise and threw away a tonne of my race gear.

I owned these until a few hours ago. They've been donated.

If I hadn't worn the shirt in the last year, or planned to this summer, they are dumped
If logos are faded and the shirt is frayed, they are dumped
If I have six versions of the same shirt from the same race, most have to be dumped.

It was a trip down memory lane. My first half marathon shirt (Scotiabank 2005, seen above) reminded me of that race that spurred on my Boston ambition. My pace bunny assignment at the Chilly Half Marathon or one of my many MCM race turtle necks.

Of course, this paring exercise spared a few shirts I love. The Night Crawler 5 miler, which no longer exists, had awesome shirts and I kept one of four. And I kept three Around the Bay shirts, saving the other three for their final assignment as a warmup shirt for a future race. Boston gear is safe, as is a lot of my favourite training shirts. But the point is, if I don't wear them, why am I keeping them.

Spared, for now.
I was about to toss my Chicago Marathon 2006 shirt, below. I wore it once, the day after I ran my first marathon on the way home from Chicago. As I was about to throw it in the bag, I decided to bring it back to the Windy City this fall to run my third Chicago. In the Second City, it'd get its second wear, and final assignment.

The rest, yup, they're gone. And I've got plenty of running gear left.

Goodbye race gear!
I really need a new tactic, I think I have to refuse the swag at the race pickup. Or at least be more choosy about it.

Next paring exercise, those pesky medals.


Anonymous said...

I still have shirts from the late 80's under my bed. Not under the one in my parents house that I haven't lived in in 15+ years - under my actual bed.

I'm kind of a shirt hoarder. I've definitely used a bunch as tossable gear/given to goodwill...but probably only a couple dozen in 20+ years. I'm amazed you're that good with weeding out!

Andrea said...

I've only been running/racing since 2010, but I already have a ridiculous amount of shirts. I donated 3 to Goodwill this year that I've never worn.

I will admit that I do run for swag - if there's no shirt and/or no medal, I do take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to run a race.

Anonymous said...

lol...i can see u are tossing out the red Goodlife Toronto Marathon that jut happened 3weeks ago. That was fast!
Actually i don't blame u. The sizing was weird this year. I always get their Small size but this years shirt i CANNOT fit my head through it.

yumke said...

Angryrunner, I know you're so old school. I had to pare down, my condo can only hold so many race Ts. I want to see your old gear!

Andrea, just you wait, in a few years you'll see what I mean. Though it's good you're already paring down.

And yes, that Goodlife shirt really never fit well. The sizing is all out of whack and the material feels weird.

Ririnette said...

That was one of my most favorite posts of yours. I have kept every single one of my race tshirts, but now that I took pictures of all medals and shirts, I am ready to part with some, starting with the Goodlife Marathon. I didn't like that one at all and it does feel weird indeed. I don't have than many though, I think less than 15 and I've really been using them all.

Patrick said...

This is a reminder for need that I should do the same. My drawer is getting too full.

macnic said...

We moved in Feb and I did this. No way am I getting rid of medals or bibs though (I say now, at 36 when hopefully I'll be racing into my 70s).

I don't know if I could ever get rid of ATB shirts though. I so love the two I have (this years is not as comfy as 2012, but I just love the "I did it-ness" of wearing it and I lounge in them too or wear them camping.

I still have my first race shirt ever - white cotton from the Mississauga Marathon 5k in 2009. I wear it to bed.

Marky Mark said...

I have the same problem--I'm considering having a number of them made into a quilt!