Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Heavy Medal Deprivation


Ok, all you runners! 
Tell me the truth. 
Do you run for fun? 
For the satisfaction of chasing a goal?

Or do you run for this: 
from the 2014 LRM
www.arkansasonlline.com
So many races are doing this, dangling ridiculous medals like candy in front of runners, who are eager to chase the bling. Heck, there are even challenges where you can run a series of races and collect even more bling. If you run Disney's Dopey Challenge, which consists of a 5k, a 10k, a half-marathon, and a full marathon, you go home with 6 medals. Would anyone do this challenge if their weren't medals at the finish?

Or would you feel deprived? 

I've written about this phenomenon before, this need for participation medals amongst runners. Don't get me wrong. I love nothing more than a volunteer slipping a medal over my head as I cross the finish line of a big race.

But do I run for bling? Do I choose a race based on the medal that they are offering? And would I feel deprived if I ran a race and there was no medal at the finish?

No, no, and no. It seems like I'm in the minority, though.


Did you know that finish times for all distances continue to increase? Could this be due to increased participation by runners? Maybe. Could it also be due to runners entering for fun and bling rather than the competition? Race directors, desperate to attract runners in the very crowded race world, are really upping their game with bling.

I choose races based on the distance, the location, and the reputation of the race. I look for races that I call "runners' races"--races that attract serious runners who know race etiquette. No color runs for me. I did one Hot Chocolate Race a few years ago and it was not my scene. Walkers lining up with runners. No, thank you. I did run the WDW half about 5 years ago, and it was for me, one and done. I found the whole experience anti-climatic. 

Don't throw your running shoes at me. This is just my opinion. And some food for thought. After all, what are you going to do with all those medals? Could you run a race just to run? 

Would you do a race if you knew there wouldn't be a medal at the finish?

I'm linking this post with DebRuns who hosts Wednesday Word. Today's word is deprivation. Let's go see what all the other bloggers are feeling deprived about...

91 comments :

  1. I look at a lot of factors for a race; medal would not be the deciding factor, but a nice medal is fun.

    I look at course time limit (important to me, not so much for you!), read reviews to see how runners liked it, look at the course (how hilly will it be? will it be scenic? will it be near water?), consider the time of year & whether or not it will be hot (and sometimes sign up anyway and hope for the best), look at the swag, yes; look at post race amenities, yes; look at how large a race it is (hubby likes the smaller ones but can be cajoled into larger ones too); and finally, of course, there's the state.

    I do think anything that encourages people to be more active is a good thing. Even if it means I've got to weave around those damn walkers 4 abreast.

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    1. That's a good point, about anything that encourages people to be active. Even if it is bling.

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  2. The only two medals I own are for participating (and completing) virtual 5Ks, so I've never experienced the thrill of having someone drape a medal over my head. I run only in 5K racesand I do them only for charity because I don't like events with a lot of people. I freak out. So, yes, my motivation is to chase my personal goals, almost exclusively by myself. I've run every mile of my current half marathon training alone. And for fitness.

    That's not to say I wouldn't enjoy a little bling!

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    1. You may have to sign up for a race, Connie!

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  3. I LOVE a medal... but I wouldn't say that is an exclusive reason I run. The only medals I have are from my half and full marathon and any age group awards I have (from SMALL races :0.) I've been surprised to see so many medals from shorter races in bigger cities.
    I would still run the race without the medal.... but I do really enjoy getting them. I don't pick a race just for the medal... location, distance and course def come first.

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    1. I remember running a half marathon a few years ago where there was also a 5k. The half marathon runners got medals, the 5k runners did not. Oh, the complaining by the 5k runners! I was kind of shocked by it, actually.

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  4. Sorry to double blast... but I remember my marathon...pull on those experiences... find joy from the memories... a lot more than I actually pull the medal off the wall and wear it :-)

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  5. My favorite medal is the RnR Las Vegas half that glows in the dark. Can't beat that right?!

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  6. Agreed, I could care less about the medal. I don't know what to do with them! I end up donating them to charity

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    1. I could see that. Except my marathon medals. Earned!

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  7. When I first started looking into racing, I was looking ONLY at races with bling. The cost of race entry was so high, I really wanted to be sure I was getting something to show for it, since I assumed I wouldn't be able to actually run the whole thing anyway. As I got more into the sport, and learned I was faster and stronger than I'd previously realized, the medals became less important. I was more interested in the course, the charity, the people I'd be able to run it with, etc. That said - I do still love me some bling, and I think longer distances (half and full marathon, for example) SHOULD earn a medal, but that's because it truly IS earned. But the bling no longer guides my race entry decisions!

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  8. For me, it's more about a memento so I can remember the half marathon and the effort involved. I'm OK with a medal since it takes up less space than some other items. I do feel like some of them have gotten embarrassingly big though. I could care less about getting anything in a shorter race. But I'll definitely take something if I placed! I think the course (scenic, flat, downhill) and the time of year (no hot weather) are the key factors for me.

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    1. Oh, yes the AG award is nice! I ran a half last year, got second in my AG, and no award. That didn't feel good...

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  9. I appreciate a good medal, don't get me wrong. BUT when I started racing there were no medals for half marathons. Heck I didn't even get a shirt at my first half because those only went to the first 200 to signup. Marathon medals were miniscule. I do believe the over-the-top bling attracts a different kind of runner and has a lot to do with the popularity of racing these days.

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    1. I am so with you in the over-emphasis on the bling. I too appreciate a good medal, but I'd be running anyway!

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    2. I agree--I like a finisher's medal but I'd run a race regardless.

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  10. Haha, Mr. T! I am definitely not a bling chaser - I just feel that if I pay a certain amount of money to run (when I could do it any time on my own for free), I should get some kind of souvenir of value. Medals are great, but I love technical T-shirts even more because it's a souvenir that I can wear and show pride in the race I ran. I think these big massive race weekends are a bit over the top - I did do a RnR weekend with a 5K and half marathon that gave me 3 medals, and they were great (the shirts were too!) - but I'm not sure I'd do it again. If I'm running a 5K, no medal needed.

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    1. I ran a 10k last summer and no medal. It was fine with me. I got a pint glass for an AG award and I really liked that!

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  11. I run to PR. And to win my AG. Too competitive? Perhaps. But that is the truth. I should have run as a teen and a young man. I was fast. But I wanted to party instead. Now I am trying to re-live what I missed out on. I know what I want to run each race and that is my carrot. I don't need anything else. I know lots of people think this reason to run is sad. But it is me. It is about the PR.

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    1. Those are some big goals, Ron! And some pretty good motivation to run a race.

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  12. I was never athletic as a child, so getting my first half marathon medal at the age of 47 was a pretty spectacular moment for me, and I loved having something to show for my training and race day effort. I don't run races FOR the medal, but I do like getting them.

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    1. Oh no doubt! like them too! Looking at my finisher medals always brings back memories of the race to me. But like you, I don't run them for the medal.

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  13. I don't mind when a 5k or 10k doesn't have a medal, but I want one for a half or a full marathon. Definitely a full! I lean toward your way of thinking about "serious" races though. Color runs and bubble runs and all that ridiculousness - no thanks. I'd rather have a traditional road race. Although I am doing a fun run on Halloween this year. Just because!

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    1. Well, you have to do a fun run every once in a while, right?

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  14. I ran a half marathon in Central Park in January and we didn't get a medal (but we did get a really cool hat). I will admit that I did feel like something was missing. While I don't run exclusively for the bling (the race course, location, and costs are bigger factors for me), I do enjoy looking at my medals as a badge of honor so to speak (if that makes sense?). I'm not the best or fastest runner so looking at my medals makes me realize all I have accomplished and what I can still accomplish.

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    1. I completely agree with you on this. Finisher medals are a nice memento of a race.

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  15. I love medals, when I sign up for a half marathon I would like to have a medal. But anything less than that I don't really need one such as 5K's or 10K's. Now if they give one, that a total plus! But I usually try to sign up for races that might seem like fun that don't have medals, at least that can be a factor!

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    1. Exactly! Some races give out other fun mementos--I still like the race shirts.

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  16. I like the medals too but the event is more important IMHO - I am not a big 'enterer' though so what do I know? hahahaa

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    1. I don't run a ton of races either--but I try to pick good races.

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  17. I've never registered or not registered based on medals... but I sure do love the bling when its there :)

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    1. Oh, no doubt, it is fun to get a medal!

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  18. Great topic! As one of those kids who was always picked last in gym class, I never did much for sports as a kid. I was active, but not really in a competitive setting. I was a bench warmer in basketball, and played some JV volleyball in high school, but never had any moments to shine (other than in art shows, etc.). It's not that I always yearned to be an athlete, I just never had anyone encourage me. I've only been running 10 years, and although my speed has improved, it's my endurance where I'm really seeing success. I love the hardware from the longer events (halfs & fulls), but once in awhile, if I'm able to earn a medal for placing in a shorter race.....that's all good! I have mixed feelings with finisher medals from 5K's and 10K's.....I know for some people those distances are huge victories, and the bling will often propel them to do another race (maybe even a longer race). But the fun "color, glow, bubble, etc." events are not really medal-worthy, in my opinion. And, I don't think those events are marketed as a competitive event, so why bother with the hardware? As a matter of fact, I'm kind of burned out on all the race shirts....I wish more events offered a discounted registration for opting to not get a race shirt. (hopefully no one is gonna throw their shoes at me either!)

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    1. I'm ok with the race shirts as long as they are sex specific...I hate when I get a big ugly man shirt. In this day and age when women make up 50% of competitors, it doesn't make sense to give mens' shirts.

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  19. Great post. I run for the finish and the feeling of accomplishment, the bling is just a nice extra.

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  20. definitely love medals but it's not the exclusive reason for signing up - cost, location and distance are all up there. If the cost of the race is high there better be some amenities though! I'm with you - I did Disney once and I'm so through with that racket. I also don't do color runs, glow runs, mud runs and don't think they should come with a medal either.

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    1. Last year, I ran a Zooma race and that was the priciest half I ever have run. The bling was nice but certainly not worth the cost.

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  21. Of course I would run a race without a medal. It does make me feel good having a volunteer put it around my neck though. But I have never signed up for a race based off of what the medal or the other race day perks that are given out. There is a lot of things more important to me like the course, distance, date, START TIME. I once signed up for a 10k simply because it had the best start time- 2:00pm! I was like, ooh I get to sleep in!!! I was actually just talking about medals to my husband the other day because he suggested I get one of those things to hang your medals on. My are just all hanging on ONE hook in my closet with the two belts I own! I don't have anywhere in my house to hang my medals. If we would ever move somewhere bigger with a nice finished basement or a room we used as a gym, then I would probably hang them. I am sure looking at them would bring back great memories and inspire me to run more races!

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    1. I love my medals but they are all in a drawer...

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  22. Each race I run is for a personal goal. I started off with simply wanting to finish a half marathon and now each race I do my goal is to improve my time. I enjoy races in the area but I do love to travel as well. The medal is nice but certainly is not the reason I choose to participate in races, running with my friends or family is what it is all about!

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    1. I think that's the best way to choose races!

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  23. Yes! For years my favorite race didn't have a medal. And the Army Ten Miler has a simple coin. I'm not motivated by bling or deprived without it.

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    1. We have a local race, Fort 2 Base, which is 10 nautical miles from an army base to a navy base. Very cool. I ran the inaugural year, and the medal was a coin. Believe it or not, people complained because it wasn't on a ribbon. The 5k runners complained because they got dog tags. No one seemed to understand the significance of this race. It was almost embarrassing to see the runners complaining about a medal!

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  24. This may sound like an oldster talking, but here goes. When I started racing, the only distance that gave out medals for finishing was the marathon. You had to earn any other bling by actually winning it. And that's fine with me. Yes, I love to score in my age group (and thank goodness for age groups!), but I don't need a medal just to finish. (Frankly, it's like when children compete and "everybody wins!" That's fine because they are children.) That being said, I still have every finishing medal I ever received :-). (Hung over a chair collecting dust, but still, I have them.)

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    1. It is like participation medals, isn't it?

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  25. Things are quite difference here in France. I haven't been to many races where there is great bling. Most of it remains pretty low key. So I can not say I run for bling... sometimes we get really weird things at smaller races that I would prefer race organizers keep ! LOL.
    (ps - color runs are not my thing either, I am afraid to choke on the color !)

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    1. I like that. Thinking I should race in France!

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  26. I've actually done a lot of races, the majority of them I'd say, where there was no medal at the finish. That said, it is always fun to do one where you get a pretty spectacular piece of bling at the end. :) One thing that was so sad about my apartment fire few years ago was losing my first marathon and first triathlon medals.

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  27. I agree - I keep my marathon and half marathon medals, but those are more of mementos and less of the motivation. I run because I enjoy it and I race to compete with myself. My first real race (a big 10K race in NW Indiana) didn't give out medals and I honestly didn't think anything of it until now. And the WDW races, color runs, and other races are so NOT my scene as well - I prefer the more serious races!

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    1. There's a local 10k I run in the town where I live, and there are not medals. There are pint glasses for AG awards, which I just love!

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  28. I have to admit, I would love to run one of those Nike half marathons where they have the Tiffany "medal" at the end. Whoooo! I enjoy my medals but the end of every running season, I put them all away. I like to get them and show them off at work, but they aren't the reason I run.

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    1. Ok, I won't lie, I'd like that Tiffany necklace....

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  29. There's a local $15 race series that doesn't give out medals that I LOVE. Though I must admit that most of the races I have been running in lately have been because I was sponsored by a brand to do the race. I do prefer the smaller races with no bling. They usually have race day kit pick up, free parking, no portapotty lines, and a good chance of making it onto the podium!

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  30. There are races you do for fun (I did a family color run and a chardonnay run with friends - and there was NO medal for either of those....they are 5K's)... races you do for the course and location, etc... Overall, I do the race to cover the distance, to see my progress, etc... I would run if there is no medal depending on what the race is... however, cute bling and shirts always help!

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    1. Of course they do...but I wouldn't do a race just for that reason...

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  31. I do love a good medal but that's not why I run and actually a lot of the races that I run around here don't have medals, usually a sweet raffle at the end though. I think that its great to offer sweet bling if that helps people to get out there and get moving!

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    1. Oh for sure, bling races get more people moving, no doubt about that!

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  32. I love running because I am truly passionate about the sport! Medals are great, but I would run the race without a medal.
    I feel like the whole medal craziness has gotten bigger in the last few years...

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    1. I agree with that. I blame Disney. They've really upped the ante in races and bling collecting the last couple of years.

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  33. Yes. It's almost always about the bling and I think that's because it's a physical representation you can show off and wear and put up in your house to show yourself and others that you really did do it!!

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    1. The medals are fun to get but not the reason I pick a race.

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    2. I agree. Medals are fun but the most important thing is an competitive and well-organized race. I don't do fun or themed-races. They are a waster of money to me.

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  34. I've never chosen a race based on the medal. While I love getting a medal at the end, I chose races based on location, reputation of the race, and distance.

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  35. Especially as a new runner who only owns two medals, I am definitely not opposed to having a few more ;-) Maybe down the line I won't mind not receiving one at each race...but they really do inspire me right now! Want those medals!

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  36. I love the bling and display my medals proudly in my basement gym; however, I don't think I'd ever choose a race on the medal (or lack of one). I choose races on distance, who is putting it on, time of year, whether or not my friends are running, etc. Back when I ran marathons exclusively, I was almost insulted when I'd get a finisher's medal at a shorter race. Now that I don't run marathons any more, I have a different perspective. I realize that some people will never be able to run a full marathon, so why should they be denied the bling? :-)

    Love that you got me thinking on this subject! Thanks for linking up!

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    1. I'm still iffy on bling for anything less than a half. But that's just me!

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  37. I love the bling. For me, there are so many races out there to pick from that I feel like, why not go for the ones that offer cool medals, shirts, and the like? All else equal, I consider the bling to be a tie-breaker. But the bling is NOT the ONLY reason I select races. I definitely consider the entire experience. Timing, distance, course, location, organization, and value are huge factors!

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    1. I will admit that seeing your Chicago Bears medal made me want to do that race! I won't lie...

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  38. I like bling but dislike large crowds. Did the very first Chicago Hot Chocolate with my sister and it was great. Did it again with my daughter and it was too crowded and crazy. Scratch that one off. I don't need bling, just a well organized race, good volunteers, pretty route, and a banana at the end - and I'm good.

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    1. Yep, Hot Chocolate is a one and one for me!

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  39. I used to be a bling ho! I signed up for my first half marathon without doing any other prior races only because half marathons give out medals. And yes, I did Little Rock marathon (the year before you) and I love the Disney races because of medals.
    However, this past year, I've minimized my racing and emphasis on performance. So I've stopped chasing bling, but I still didn't take off my 70.3 medal for two weeks :)

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    1. Full disclosure...I didn't run LRM---but I did share that pix because the bling is so ridiculous!

      If I completed 70.3, I'd probably get a tattoo....

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  40. I definitely like the feeling of receiving a medal after a long race, but it's not that important to me. That being said, there are certain medals (like my Marine Corps Medal) I have received that both mean a lot to me AND look really cool. But these bigger, blingier medals? Meh. I could take them or leave them. Give me a race with special little touches and I'm good to go.

    Actually the 25K I ran last weekend did not have finisher's medals (nor did they tell us before hand). But when I crossed the finish line I wasn't even looking for one. I was confused, and then pleasantly surprised, when they handed me a pint glass. I wasn't expecting anything, but how neat! And their age group awards? Homemade jars of jam. My kind of race! :)

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    1. I like the pint glass! I have a few of those, and I always smile when I drink out of them!

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  41. I like medals but can do without it. Maybe it is because I have so many of them and have yet to find a good place to hang them. Yeah, the Hot Chocolate was too crazy for me and I only did it one. Now I like to do races for performance/time instead of the bling. However, I would love to run the Little Rock Marathon just for the medal. I did the half a few years ago but would love to go back.

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    1. Did you do the Chicago half this year? That medal was a big ass medal! I don't like that...personally, I love the Chicago marathon medals. They're tasteful and subtle.

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  42. I definitely don't choose a race for the bling. The bling is a nice bonus, but if it was a race that I loved the location and the distance, I would sign up even if there wasn't a medal!

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    1. Me too! Not saying I don't like bling but it isn't a deal breaker for me.

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  43. I always joke I love the bling, but I would be okay without it. A few local races I have run had no bling and I enjoyed them more than a big event. Mostly, I just like to run a course and feel "legit" with a time. Not that I don't trust my Garmin, but it seems special to have a race time. I will do fun races, but i don't take them too serious.

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    1. Like you, I do like the bling but I'd be ok without it too.

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