Medals, Plaques, and Trophies – Useless Clutter or Treasured Momentoes?

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    • #63750

      Though I rather appreciated the medals that I won in high school, I no longer appreciate artifacts given to commemorate an athletic achievement. It’s a nice gesture, but as soon as the award ceremony is done, it becomes just another piece of clutter.

      Favorite race awards that I’ve received:

      * Handmade pottery cup — made by local college art department — which I’ve used for years as hot chocolate mug or just a drinking glass.
      * Garmin Forerunner
      * Nice ceramic statue of horse given by a “Stagecoach Run” (same race and same year as I won the Forerunner). It could be considered clutter, but it is clutter that my wife and daughter would have appreciated if I had not accidentally dropped and broken it in my attempt to surprise them — bummer)
      * Running jacket with embroidery indicating race and award
      * Running store gift certificate
      * Cash

      All of the above items are items that are either useful to me, useful as a gift, or could be used to acquire something useful. I actually most appreciate the mug and the jacket. The Forerunner was nice for a few years until it literally fell apart. The pottery cup will last forever so long as I don’t drop it. The jacket had a cheap zipper that broke within a year. I had it replaced with a good zipper this year. (The zipper replacement probably cost as much or more than the initial cost of the jacket.) I suspect that the repaired jacket will last longer than if I went out and bought another new jacket with a cheap zipper. The cash and gift certificates are nice. I was able to buy some running related items — mostly socks and shorts.

      Suggestions for race directors:

      1. Give useful or transferable items or gift certificates.
      2. If you need a trophy, just make one really nice trophy and use it each year for the awards ceremony. Maybe let someone take it home temporarily if they would like. Offer a nice framed certificate and/or picture if they want something to hang on their wall. Anyone like me could decline. If you wish to have a history of the top finishers, have a large plaque made and add names to it each year. Display it annually at the race. If the race has a title sponsor the trophy and plaque might be displayed in their office or store year round.

      I assume that after I move, I will start racing again and it will be likely that I will start winning some age group awards that I won’t want. I’m not sure if I will bug out before the awards ceremony or just pose for the picture and drop it in the trash on the way out or give it back to the RD and explain my position. I just know that after I get rid of the unwanted medals, plaques, and trophies that I have I won’t be allowing any new ones into the house after I move.

      As an aside, for a time, I used the ribbon from a medal as a lanyard for my work ID badge. But, I could only use one ribbon at a time in that way. I’ve not found any useful purpose for the medal itself.

      I’ve not yet decided how to dispose of the awards that I have. Recycling will incur shipping costs at the very least. On the other hand, it seems a waste to send them to the landfill.

      Thought for race directors:

      1. Useful items or gift certificates are better than awards.
      2. If you must have a trophy, instead of handing out a new trophy every year, create one nice trophy (or two for male/female) for use at the award ceremony and instead of giving it to the winner. Put it in storage for use next year. Perhaps allow the winner to take it home temporarily. Offer to send them a certificate with their name on it if they would like something to hang on their wall. If you’d like a history of the winners, create a large plaque and add names to it each year and display it annually at the race. If the race has a main sponsor, the sponsor could display the trophy and/or plaque at their business throughout the year.

    • #63751

      Interesting topic. I’m sure you are much like me, with many years of experience resulting in quite the collection of various finisher’s medals and awards, whether age group, overall, or whatever.

      I’m apparently surrounded by people who like to display these things. I’d have most of my old trophies and medals packed up in a box in the basement if it weren’t for my mother always getting on me to display them and my wife backing her up. So I have a collection of various awards on top of the upper cabinets in the kitchen. As for the medals, they are mostly in the closet.

      I have a few awards that do mean something to me. Things like team awards that were either decided by coaches or my teammates. A few things like medals for qualifying for state or winning a conference championship. Things like these have a deeper meaning because they signify more than just another race. They were things people I greatly respect honored me with or they are reminders of major goals accomplished. As for most of the rest, I have trouble parting with them but they just fill the background.

      I do recall once having to throw out a trophy after it fell and broke. Sadly, it was one of the relatively few trophies that meant something to me because it was the one which I earned by winning my hometown road race.

      Beyond that, though, I’m with you. The ones that can serve a practical purpose make a lot more sense. I have a few mugs that can serve some purpose. I have a few ceramic coasters I can put out on end tables. I’ve received gift certificates that I’ve been able to put to good use. These are the things that, these days, I appreciate most. Something that serves a practical purpose and doesn’t just become another dust collector.

      I do like the idea of a traveling trophy or some kind of plaque or something similar commemorating past winners. In fact, the Madison Jingle Bell Run did something like this for teams. The traveling trophy was pretty large with an inscription of each winning team (think of a small time version of the Stanley Cup). I believe the Hank Aaron State Trail 5K does the same for the team trophy.

      As for what to do with them, sadly, I don’t know. For me, they just continue to collect dust on top of the cabinets.

      As for hanging around for the awards ceremony, there have definitely been times when I just wanted to hit the road but I always try to honor the event. I personally don’t feel right skipping out. If they put the effort in to hold the ceremony, the least I can do is hang around to be a part of it.

      Of course, I’m a little more selective in the races I now run and awards is one of the considerations. One of the things I like about the Walleye Run I’ve done the past several years is that they give out things like the coasters they have the past two years. When I did Hank Aaron, one of the draws was the gift certificates as awards. Then again, I just signed up this past weekend for a half marathon with finisher’s medals and age group awards that I believe are medals. But it was only $20 for a well organized low profile event so that was the draw.

      Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. Interesting topic. Less clutter and more functional awards definitely is a draw for me at least.

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