Friday, January 17, 2014

Race Awards - my thoughts and my favorites

We are excited to welcome a new triathlon to town - the Off the Rails Sprint Triathlon in Roanoke on May 31. The organizer was asking our local tri group about suggestions for top awards, generating considerable discussion. It got me thinking about the race awards I've collected over the last four and a half years and what I have liked the best.

I'd have to say my favorites are in the top photo - engraved stones from the Bath County Sprint Tri and Giant Acorn (both in Virginia), and the teak plaque from the USS North Carolina presented at Beach2Battleship, a full and half in North Carolina. I tend to like natural materials and things that are tied to the event or area.

It's also important to have the event name, date, division, and placement. That seems like a no-brainer, but not all of them do. 

The collection I have (partially shown above) includes trophies, bobble heads, plaques, trivets, coffee mug, travel coffee mug, wine glasses, water glasses, wine carafe, yoga mat, arm warmers, and socks. At this point I have plenty of drinking vessels. 

As much as I'd like to say awards don't matter at all, I must admit to a certain satisfaction as I pass by these shelves in the bedroom. They serve as tangible reminders that the daily efforts and choices add up to accomplishments - in racing and in life. Even so...I don't need LARGE reminders. Small reminders, taking up little shelf space, are just fine ;-)

If I could keep only one thing from each race, it would be the race bib. It was along for the whole journey and not just awarded at the end!

I'd keep the flags from worlds too.

I also like the collections from the races I have done in consecutive years - like my season-opening race at Smith Mountain Lake. I think it's nice if a race sticks to an award design like this year-after-year.

Still one of my all-time favorite awards was a series award from Virginia Triathlon Series - a customized bag with the VTS logo and our name. This has been my transition bag and gym bag, through thick and thin, for years!

I get a kick out of my Sharpie-d award below, with the age division corrected, and its neighbor with the paper printed label. Hey whatever. And in a shout-out to all my readers in the male 11-13 year old demographic (which would be none...not even my two kids read this), I have provided "banana for scale."  Yes, that is a plastic banana. Thank you to Spencer and Grant for introducing me to that valuable measuring concept.


To summarize my suggestions for those tasked with ordering awards, I would offer:
  • Tie the award design to the event or area
  • Include event name, date, division, placement
  • Keep them small - we are adults. It's just a token reminder of how we finished. We don't (shouldn't) need lots of stuff (or any stuff).
  • Keep the awards similar from year to year
  • And if you are awarding beer or wine glasses, consider providing the beer or wine to go immediately into the glass ;-)

And then there are t-shirts....that's a WHOLE other conversation for another day....

What are your thoughts and your favorite awards?


  1. My first ever Mountain Biking award. This summer, 3rd place for men 50+, I was the oldest at 56, the two finishers before me were 51 years old. It was a stamped out piece of metal that resembles a chain ring with bike in the middle. It really meant a lot to me, considering eight years ago I was 225 lbs and couldn't walk to the bathroom with out getting winded. Participation is great, but the symbol of your hard work is gravy. I put it on my our Christmas tree this year.

    1. THAT is a cool idea - the chain ring! Congrats on the race and the lifestyle change!!!

  2. I too have a Giant Acorn paperweight and Moomaw Madness rock that I LOVE! One of the few that have managed to stick around... Wine + glass never hurts either !