The Best Finishers' Swag
Races are about more than medals. But it's a bonus if the medals are cool.
As trail runners, we would collectively like to think that we are in the race for a lot more than a finisher’s medal or t-shirt, or for the right to parade a white oval sticker on our car.
But still, when we put out a good effort, some of us like to be rewarded. Moreover, when a race has exceptionally unique swag or prizes for its runners, those prizes can become mementos of an already-memorable day.
So here is an ode to a few noteworthy races, whose organizers go the extra mile to make their finishers’ swag special.
What other races would you nominate? Let us know in the comments below.
Sinister 7 Ultra: Customized bottles of wine
A Sinister 7 finisher's kit: customized bottle of wine and microfiber towel. Photo courtesy of Brian Gallant.
The directors of this 100-mile race through Alberta’s Rocky Mountains offer a lot of prizes for finishers, but the most unique is the customized bottle of cab-merlot, complete with name, bib number and finishing time.
“The runners love it,” says race director Brian Gallant. “The ones who are still seeing straight, anyway.”
Race organizers obtain the special bottles, which can be relabeled, from one of their sponsors, A&B Liquors in Snowcrest Pass. A few weeks prior to the race, they order labels with each runner’s name and number, then keep them at the finish line. “When the runner comes in we grab their label, verify their official time in the system, then use a changeable stamp to make it official,” says Gallant. “We label it right there and…[present] it to the runner, who is usually sitting down or on their way to the medical tent.”
Runners also receive a microfiber towel to commemorate their not “throwing in the towel.”
“Most runners never open the wine and just keep it as a trophy,” Gallant says. “Some, though, have sent us photos of them cracking it open on special occasions.” He points out that 2013 champion Sean Meissner promptly drank his wine on a post-race camping trip.