Morning, all! Did anyone watch the NYC Marathon last weekend? I love tuning in to watch the elite runners compete, in any televised marathon really. They make it look so easy!
What's even more impressive is how many people participated in this year's event. 50,000 runners! Isn't that insane?
Check out some of the swag from the 2013 ING NYC Marathon:
Dunkin' Donuts distributed 15,000 fleece hats to chilly runners at the starting line. Looks like they had plenty of takers!
The official T-shirt and finisher's medal.
(source for all above photos)
Sure, I might be particularly interested in swag because it's what we live and breathe at Sonic, but these items mean a lot to plenty more people. Libby James explains it well in this article from the Coloradoan:
Runners are on their own to purchase pants, but the T-shirts they wear are another story. Since the early days of the running boom, T-shirts have been the souvenir almost always included in the price of a race entry fee. And runners love them.
In a recent scientific survey conducted among a group of seasoned runners, I learned runners favor tech or synthetic, lightweight fabric T-shirts over cotton — the fabric of choice for so many years. Runners say they fit better, don’t get smelly, breathe, have a nicer texture and stretch enough to “cover a car” according to one respondent. The few who favor cotton complain tech shirts smell funny and don’t fit well.
The runners I questioned own anywhere from five to 200 shirts, and admit that T-shirts have a habit of accumulating in dresser drawers, making them collectors by default. Some rotate through their shirts as they train and race, others have old favorites they prefer to wear over and over. Favorites become loved because of color, logo, fit, fabric and “how I look in it.” Favorites recall an especially difficult race, a memorable travel experience or provide the owner with a subtle way to brag about having completed a status race such as the Boston Marathon.
Fit is an ongoing issue. “Unisex sizing means men’s sizes,” one runner said. “Even a small men’s shirt becomes a nightgown for me. If race organizers want me to wear their shirt to advertise their race, then I need to have one that fits.” Women runners appreciate women’s sizing and tapered shirts that fit them better. Several runners mentioned liking a no shirt option and paying a lower entry fee.
T-shirts can create a bond between strangers who strike up a conversation based on a shirt. It’s fun to learn when and where a race took place, and whether or not the experience was good. “When I race in my ‘Alaska, Land of the Midnight Run’ shirt, I often hear ‘go Alaska,’” one runner shared.
What happens when T-shirt storage capacity is maxed out? Shirts get thrown away, given away, cut up for rags, transformed into quilts or find new life halfway around the world. They arrive in huge bundles and get sold on the street for pennies in Third World countries. I once saw a young man in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, proudly displaying a shirt that read, “Detroit Dance Marathon, 1995.” Who would have thought?
Occasionally races offer hats, socks, a bag, jacket or sweatshirt instead of a T-shirt as a race souvenir. And sometimes runners appreciate a change. But in the end, it’s the T-shirt most race participants covet, and that can even become a factor in deciding whether or not to participate in a race.
If you're a runner, what are your thoughts on race tees? Do you have an entire drawer of them? And what did you think of the 2013 New York City Marathon shirt?
For more reading, check out these other Sonic blog posts about racing and race swag:
What WE Get When We Race
Successful Race Promotions