A few days ago I saw a blog posting about ‘favourite medals’ from Neon Anonymous and was inspired to follow this up with my own posting (or rip-off) based on that post – please read the original at http://neonanonymous.com/2013/10/12/our-top-5-medals/. Although in addition to my top 5 favourite medals I was going to add my top 5 favourite race Tshirts too. I’ve now been racing for just over about 2.5 years (I’m not sure my single Preston 10km in 2004 counts as part of my regular racing) and in that time I’ve gathered around 40 medals and 25 Tshirts so picking my top 5 could prove a little bit difficult. But here goes…
Now as many of you eagle eyed types will have noticed this is in fact not a running T-shirt but actually a swimming T-shirt that I earned for swimming my first sub-hour mile. Now a sub-hour mile may not seem like much to you but when you realise I did it all breast stroke then you can see why it took me so long and therefore I wear this cotton T-shirt with a great deal of pride.
My second choice, and these are in no particular order is my Saxon Shore Ultra Trails White Cliffs 50 T-shirt, this was my first ultra T-shirt and brings back the memories of what I thought would be the hardest 14hrs and 54minutes of my life. Running on damaged feet, wet, cold and in the middle of a very frosty March I managed to wend my way to the finish and this lovely item, to be fair it’s not great to run in but it’s great for a cooler day when I’m hiking or walking the dog – and I do occasionally run it to remind people that I am an ultra runner and I wear this proudly.
This bad boy takes me back to racing against Mr. Ladds and the Bladonmore crew at the 2011 Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest and on that day I felt very, very fit and this t-shirt is also often worn with a great deal of pride, ideal for a run on a cooler day and decent wicking as you would expect from a Rat Race organised event – they do give away pretty cool stuff. I only ran the London but the shirt is also a reminder to me that there are a few others I should probably make the effort to get my arse too.
This one is a strange one, it’s not my favourite race, not even close as it’s a two lap course with a bitch of hill in the middle combined with the fact I vomited twice the time I did it, but the medal and the T-shirt are a delight. It’s funny with this because the colour and design aren’t my thing at all, it’s all a bit garish and the Hermes character on the front and reverse combined with a weird typeface should make this a design disaster but not so. Being of a creative leaning I can say hand on heart that this simply works, all the elements come together and give a T-shirt you actually want to wear again. Infact this shirt is one that I’ve seen being used at other races and given the start line only had about 250 people that’s pretty impressive.
‘Grim’ll Fix it’ almost seems inappropriate given what’s happened with Jimmy Saville but this T-shirt reminds me of being covered in dollops of mud, twigs, shit and blood – clay dripping out of every pore and water being expunged from every orifice. This T-shirt was the thing that started me running again, this was what I earned for being stupid enough to brave the icy waters of The grim Challenge.
As with the shirts the medals come in no particular order but I start in what was a very happy place – The Royal Parks Half marathon! not my fastest, not the best race in the world but not a bad one either. But this has a uniquely delightful medal, I believe made from the park itself and this was the first of my two medals and for my money the better of the two, slightly bigger and less well defined but informing the key characteristics of the future models. This medal has hung proudly at the front of my collection since October 2011 and it still makes me smile.
I didn’t take this one off for a week! I hurt a lot after my first ultra, it had been a crucifying experience but when I crossed the line I got a medal that exuded blingtasticness. This was a medal to wear with pride and while not the biggest (that’s later) it just felt so brilliant in my hands and the contrast between the medal and the black lanyard gave it a really classy finish.
This event and it’s matching medal for The Great North Swim remind me about the value of doing things other than running. With the Great London Swim also being my home medal race I could resist including this on the list of faves. The best bit of this medal is that it feels nice, looks antique and has lots of raised elements that just make you to oooooo. As I travelled home with my fellow swimmers we all clutched at this one and also wandered around Sainsburys with our medals proudly adorning our chests.
The biggest and heaviest medal in the UK, I think that says it all really. Great race too.
This one was special, special because it says ‘expert finisher’. Special because it was 111km in about 18 and a half hours. Special because I had earned it. Special because I had worked my way up to this, trained long and hard, been hugely injured in the effort to get there and this beauty is a special reminder to me of how much I love running.
So there we go, obviously I have lots of favourites and memories attached but these are from some of my favourite races, covering different distances and race types – but what’s your favourite medal?