A few days ago James Harrison, NFL Football player stated on his Instagram page:
jhharrison92 I came home to find out that my boys received two trophies for nothing, participation trophies! While I am very proud of my boys for everything they do and will encourage them till the day I die, these trophies will be given back until they EARN a real trophy. I’m sorry I’m not sorry for believing that everything in life should be earned and I’m not about to raise two boys to be men by making them believe that they are entitled to something just because they tried their best…cause sometimes your best is not enough, and that should drive you to want to do better…not cry and whine until somebody gives you something to shut u up and keep you happy. #harrisonfamilyvalues
So, this got me thinking about endurance sports and the finisher medal. While few of us ever win or finish in the top-3 of an entire race, we often receive finisher medals for our accomplishments in a race. To be fair, most shorter distance endurance races like sprint triathlons, 5Ks and 10Ks don’t hand out finisher awards; most finisher medals are usually for completing a longer distance endurance event: half marathon, marathon, half Ironman, Ironman and endurance team relay, or an ultra marathon.
Swag vs. Awards
My question is do you expect the finisher medal? Do you look forward to it? Would getting cooler or more event swag make up for not getting a finisher medal for your last marathon or Ironman?
Does the memory of the event and knowing that you completed it mean more to you than the finisher medal? Or is the medal a symbol of your months (maybe even years) of sacrifice and hard work you put into finishing this race?
Could something take the place of the finisher medal you received for you last half Ironman? A framed picture or plaque (that you can usually purchase yourself after the event is over) of you completing the course?
Because you plop down over $100 (for a marathon) or over $600 (for an Ironman) do you expect the finisher medal as part of the registration fee? If the price was less for an event would you not be as worried about a finisher medal?
Do You Deserve One?
Do you always feel good when you get that finisher medal? Even if you are way over your expected goal time? Have you ever felt undeserving of a finisher medal? And, if so, why?
Personally, I’m on the fence on this one. To be honest, if I run a terrible marathon time I don’t really care about the finisher medal I am receiving. I’d also rather have a great finishing time and not get a finisher’s medal…But I may be the odd man out with these thoughts…
While I realize the incredible sacrifice, tenacity and journey many of you go through to complete your first 5K or first Ironman, I’m still not sure that getting a finisher’s medal is what you need. But finisher medals have become ubiquitous with longer endurance events – there are race series that give out different finishers medals for the various events in their series. I think we do expect a medal, but for so many various reasons.