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Alternate To Medals
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Race Directors - Thanks In Advance!

A few years ago the triathlon I help organize moved away from offering medals to our finishers. We offer a vintage t-shirt, socks, coozie, water bottle, full spread of food (BBQ Pork) etc, beer mug to top three in age group.

We aren't opposed to the medal, have just felt like our dollars were spent better elsewhere being it seemed like most of the participants didn't really care if they received one.

I would be more in favor of coming up with a unique idea that makes us different. Please share if you have any suggestions or cool ideas!

Thanks!
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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My ancestors allegedly used to drink from the skulls of their vanquished. I kinda like the idea of a glass, if you can get something that looks good and then put your event logo on it.

'It never gets easier, you just get crazier.'
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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It sorta depends on the race. If you are going to have a very beginner oriented race the symbolism presented by that medal can mean a lot to a large proportion of your customers. If it's a more advance race (half or so) you can spice things up with variety. Pint glasses (dont skimp on the screening of the pints... WTC pints are known for a couple of washes to wear the screen off) are great as are something that might be representative of the area. Get creative and unique and I'm sure your customers will appreciate it.

_______________________________________________________
@MarkyV - 31 kona qualifiers 2006-'14
"If you cannot devote the time required to fully maximise your genetic potential, then don't make believe your own science and re-write decades of history of coaching wisdom, and pretend that you can do some magical training program on 8hrs /wk instead of 12-20 and get to the same level in [any endurance sport]. Accept the reality which is that you just have to settle for a performance level which isn't the absolute peak that your body is capable of." - Nathan Townsend
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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Falmouth Road Race gave out coffee mugs printed with logo and year. I had a collection from year to year that was kinda nice b4 I started doing tri.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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Last year I did a race that gave out a winter cap and tumbler glass both with the logo. Used both over the winter.
I use a towel I got at a race few years ago a lot. Sweat towel that I cover the bike with while on trainer.

"I think I've cracked the code. double letters are cheaters except for perfect squares (a, d, i, p and y). So Leddy isn't a cheater... "

JasoninHalifax
Dec 1, 17 9:57
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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Medals are great for those that don't have many or any, the newbies. It gets them motivated to finish. So I wonder if it isn't always the actual item but when you get it.

Frequently when I get an item other than a medal it is given out at packet pickup. That's fine for me, I have tons of stuff from many races. But for a newbie it might not seem the same as "earning' it by finishing the race.

Socks, mugs, hats are all great ideas but maybe opt to hand them out at the finish line (okay maybe a bad time for a mug) even possibly incorporating a medal ;like log on to the item?


Ian
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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I had a manager that used to tell us frequently, "People work for money but they'll charge machine gun nests for medals." People really love finisher's medals.

I put on events and if I ever run out of medals, there is social media hell to pay (I was two medals short at one event). So, don't run out of medals.

On another note, I put on a marathon and half and tried a new race day check-in process. The athlete only got their bib when they checked in.

All the goodies and finisher's medals were picked up after they finished.

The athletes loved it due to no lines checking in on race morning and their prerace stress/anxiety was lowered---as was mine and the check-in folks (they aren't volunteers; everyone gets paid). The race started on time, and since they got a medal after their finish, they got the medal and a backpack at the same time.

SecondWindTiming.com
Triathlon and Running Race Timing
Athletic Event Management
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Re: Alternate To Medals [Leddy] [ In reply to ]
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Leddy wrote:
Last year I did a race that gave out a winter cap and tumbler glass both with the logo. Used both over the winter.
I use a towel I got at a race few years ago a lot. Sweat towel that I cover the bike with while on trainer.

Towels of various sizes with a race logo are good ideas--I have a couple--each time I use it (full size is used for swimming and smaller ones cover the bike on trainer) it reminds me of the race so as a RD I'd think it's a good way to get return customers.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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I did an ultra a couple of weeks ago with no medals. Instead they gave out handmade custom mugs to all finishers. What was really cool is the post race meal was buffalo stew. You guessed it - the container for your stew was your mug. No mug, no stew. Of course being an ultra there was plenty of craft home brew around to wash it down.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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about 90-100% of the crap that i get at races ends up in the trash that night. I typically only keep the gels and LBS coupons. I would gladly give up everything but podium medals for one of the following: more timing splits, more road closures, more interesting course (not just the easiest or cheapest roads to not close), more sighting bouys, temp tattoo race numbers (i like those things), lower entry fees, drug testing, entry fee discount for skipping the swag, sizable discount coupon to another race by same race production company.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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I ran a 100 mile ultramarathon that gave out big rocks to finishers. You had to wait until the awards breakfast the next morning to get the rock, but they had someone sandblast the finishers times into them over night (I'm pretty sure they pre-blasted the race logo and participant name, as they had some leftover rocks from people who DNS).

The rock seriously weighs 35lbs. And I traveled to the race. Airport security looked at me rather strangely when they hand-searched my bag after it got flagged in the x-ray.

I don't care about race medals. I throw them in a box, never to see the light of day. This rock, however, sits in the living room.


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Re: Alternate To Medals [georged] [ In reply to ]
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I like my medals. I like to display them and they're reminders of the hard work I've put in. I like them especially for what I consider the important ones. First Half marathon. First full marathon. First triathlon. First half-ironman. etc. So from that perspective, it's hard not providing medals because any event no matter how small could be somebody's most important event. I will say that I would still do an event if there was no medal. For local events, I most likely won't care as much because I just want to race locally.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [TriTamp] [ In reply to ]
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"it's hard not providing medals because any event no matter how small could be somebody's most important event"

i agree, and i do like having a nice compact item to keep all in one spot as my reminder of the day.

http://www.PatGriskusTri.com
2018 Races: Sat June 16th (Oly/Du/Sprint) Wed eve July 11th, Sprint Tri (USAT High School CT State Championship TBD, New England Triathlon Tour Series). Sat July 21st Hopkins Vineyard Tri at Lake Waramaug http://www.HopkinsVineyardTri.com
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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I have a medal with a cut-out in it. I looks like it could be a bottle opener. Alas it does not work as one. It would not be hard to modify it to work. That would be a cool medal.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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One of my favorite post race gifts was at a race on Cape Cod, the hero triathlon (http://www.herocapecod.com/index)

The race goes onto an Air Force Base and in front of a fighter jet. They managed to get photos of all of us (there and other places) and gave away the digital photos.

I thought that was great. Essentially a FB medal.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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There's a lot of good stuff on here already. I second/third/fourth those saying that medals mean a LOT to some.

One thing I didn't see mentioned was custom water bottles. Specialized prints whatever you want on their Purist bottles. I'm sure other companies do too, but I really like the Purist bottles based on functionality. We got pretty good feedback from one event where we did those. We wrote the 'placing' on the tags to keep things straight. Specialized was pretty easy to work with.

Since they cost 10x as much as a medal though, we really had to get sponsor buy in. Having a local graphic design shop as a sponsor could be a good fit too unless you or other organizers have that background. Getting sponsorship worked out pretty well with some key logos and sponsor names on those bottles (among other things). You also need to order at least 200 bottles before you'll get reasonable pricing. At that point we were well under the cost of etched pint glasses. Personally, I have many pint glasses (that never wear out or see exposure outside my house) vs water bottles that get used constantly until they get lost or destroyed.

PM me if you want to know more about the process or see pics of the final product.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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A good middle ground is the bottle opener medal - that way newbies get their finishers medals, and everyone gets a bottle opener.

My medals all sit in a box under my bed, but the two bottle opener ones I've got are attached to a cooler and the fridge.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [dangle] [ In reply to ]
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dangle wrote:
One thing I didn't see mentioned was custom water bottles. Specialized prints whatever you want on their Purist bottles. I'm sure other companies do too, but I really like the Purist bottles based on functionality. We got pretty good feedback from one event where we did those. We wrote the 'placing' on the tags to keep things straight. Specialized was pretty easy to work with.

There is a tri series here in Atlanta that puts on sprint & olympic distance races. At the finish, everyone is handed a water bottle with the series logo (they use the same bottles at all races) that is full of water & is pulled out of a trash can filled with ice so it is cold. Only podium folks get a medal. I see people with those water bottles all the time. They are not as nice as the Purist bottles, but they are not cheap POS bottles either. I think this is great idea for a sprint, olympic, 5k, or 10k race where giving out medals is silly (in my opinion).
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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Pay for the photographer upfront and include the cost of the digital prints (with your race logo clearly printed on every shot) in the race registration. People will put their images up on social media and you get advertising with a higher impact that T-shirts mugs ect. Use the rest of the money to put on a good spread of post-race food. You will please the experienced athletes with the food and the vast majority of this demographic don't care about another bottle, t-shirt, medal ect. There will group who is adamant and vocal about something to show friends and they will have the pictures.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [Meathead] [ In reply to ]
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Nice, I like that idea!

I suppose for anybody else reading, don't cheap out on the bottles. If they don't fit in a water bottle cage, have an obnoxious nozzle or leak in the slightest, they will go straight unto the recycling bin.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [dangle] [ In reply to ]
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dangle wrote:
I suppose for anybody else reading, don't cheap out on the bottles. If they don't fit in a water bottle cage, have an obnoxious nozzle or leak in the slightest, they will go straight unto the recycling bin.

To RDs: This cannot be emphasized enough if you give out bottles, but it really applies to all swag. If you give out a lot of cheap swag, it makes your race seem cheap even though you gave people a lot. It's even worse if you only give out one or two cheap things. But if you give people one really nice thing, that will be so much better than a bag full of shit that will go straight to the trash or Goodwill (like 90% of my race shirts).
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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I have all my medals in a bag in my basement. The only ones I intend to keep are podium finishes (of which there aren't many) and the ones that have some functionality like a bottle opener or wine stopper.


Last year I got a wetsuit backpack at a local tri. Not the highest quality but I appreciated something useful instead of a medal.

I wouldn't mind getting a good quality t-shirt (the vintage kind like you mentioned) but I'm fine if I never see another Hanes/Gildan t-shirt or cheap tech shirt again.

A bike multi-tool or even some tire levers with the race logo on it would be cool. Not sure if that's cost-effective but I'd rather get just that than a bag full of stuff I won't use.

Ideally I'd prefer to get no swag bag or anything when I check in, maybe a nice t-shirt at the end of the race, medals for the podium spots, and any net savings put back into race safety and logistics. As someone else mentioned, more road closures, course marking, buoys, better transition racks, etc.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [ernieinky] [ In reply to ]
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This is my favorite award (coffee mug). I won 3rd place AG in a half marathon and I use the coffee mug every Sunday. I am very careful not to break it as it is a large one and has the logo and my race placement on it. Better than any medals.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [unicat141] [ In reply to ]
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I like the medals that double as a bottle opener. They satisfy the people that like medals and the people that like beers.
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Re: Alternate To Medals [Dgconner154] [ In reply to ]
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That's a good point someone brought up. That your race could be someone's first therefore the medal might mean something to them. Or don't do them for short races. But what if some people only race short course. I've only done one HIM and have no plans ever doing a full, especially for a medal. But that's just me. Tough call for you RD's. Along the lines of t-shirts. I'd be happy if I never got another one. I've kept maybe 4 over the years.
I like stuff similar to CAC giving out bike number holders. If it's functional I tend to keep it.

"I think I've cracked the code. double letters are cheaters except for perfect squares (a, d, i, p and y). So Leddy isn't a cheater... "

JasoninHalifax
Dec 1, 17 9:57
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