TAT CN Header

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Does Size Matter?

Below, from left to right, are the medals from the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2013 A1A Half Marathon. 

Notice a trend?

They seem to be adopting an American favorite: Bigger = better.

I'm not necessarily gonna transform this post into a Grumpelstilskin rant about how the world isn't as great now as it used to be, but I'll be honest, I kinda want to stand at the end of a driveway and throw empty beer cans at this most recent medal.  It's just so...obnoxious. 

Not to mention, inaccurate (there are no seahorses to be found off Ft. Lauderdale's coast).

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that race medals aren't totally rad.  You finish a race, and you want something to display that says, "BOOM!  I killed it!"  Medals, thus, are a wonderful, tangible symbol of a runner's accomplishment. 

But...I don't think a GIGANTOR medal validates the experience more than the regular-sized race medals of yore (equally, I don't think a bigger diamond on an engagement ring means that that couple's love is better than any other couple's; the symbolism is the same -- and don't get me off topic about that because I could, for sure, take a looooooong detour about how diamonds in and of themselves have zero symbolism; it's the ring that shoulders the symbolic weight of "eternity" -- anyhoo, so much for "not getting off track").

Disney has always had their trademark character medals, which are famously large and intricate, but Disney is a fantasyland, and their races seek to continue a fantasy atmosphere in their design, so big ole medals make sense for those venues, and you expect to pay a little more* for that experience.

But, I've observed that in the last few years, race medals in general seem to be racing each other for Disney-fication and one-upmanship.  To the point that I think they're starting to get absurd.  The progression of A1A medals point to this evolution.

Below, is the back of the 2008 medal (which is a seashell -- fitting).  Cool, right?

It's a nice, unique looking medal.

In 2010, they modified the original by making the shell open to display the interior info and design that was on the back of the original:

Ok.  A cool idea and still not a Hulk of a medal.

I liked the flip flops from 2012 (only pictured in the first pic at the top), but I said last year to Jerry that it weighed "as much as Caleb."  Also, notice how the 2012 ribbon suddenly got upgraded and fancified.

Which then leads into 2013's Monstro, which essentially combines a few qualities from the previous medal ideas into one: Hugeness, opening center, and a fancy ribbon.

So, the original medal got bastardized into this ostentatious sumbitch that weighs as much as Norah and Caleb combined; it's so heavy around the neck, I immediately removed it because it felt like I'd just been noosed with an albatross.
I'll grant that the design is pretty and the concept is cool...HOWEVER, how much does a mutha like this cost to manufacture?
Because, I for one (and, I may be the minority here), would rather a cheaper, smaller, more subtle medal and also pay a wee bit less in my entrance fee.  (I'd also opt out of a shirt for a more affordable race fee).  I want my race fees to go to the stuff that matters to me as a runner: Refreshment, safety, and porta potties.  And, I'd be willing to pay less for fewer frills.
Or, at least, I'd like the a la carte option (like Bolder Boulder does).
Geez, never mind my prologue about avoiding being a Grump on this topic; looks like Grump snuck in despite my best efforts.  Guess it's time to go buy some beer and get ready to yell at kids to "stay off my lawn!"
*Disney is getting redonkulous with their race fees.  I wanted to run their Tower of Terror 10 Miler in October, but Christ on Crutches, do you know what the entry fee is?  $135!  That, to me, is a jaw-dropping fee.  If the race were half that cost, I'd have registered as soon as I got the heads-up email; as it is, I think I'll skip it.


Debbi McNeer said...

I think you should rework this post and submit it to "Runner's World." I can see it generating a lot of conversation and, maybe, a rethinking of the bigger-is-better medals trend. I'd LOVE a flip-flop medal the size of the 2008 shell.

Anonymous said...

Jess, I came across your blog while reading a friend of mine's and you bring up some really good points.

I have to wonder how much of this "bigger medal" trend is fueled by the race directors and how much is fueled by the runners.

Think about it, the RD's get to brag about how big their medal is as a way to get people to do their race. In addition, a new or upgraded medal every year is incentive to keep doing the race. It's not "cool" to have the same medal every year.

The runners want big medals to show off to their friends or display. Most runners, when they are paying so much for a race kind of "expect" a big, nice medal.

As far as cost, most runners are so far removed that they have no idea what things cost and don't understand the concept of bulk buying. The bigger the race, the more expenses are spread out. With some quick research, I'd bet A1A probably pays about $8-10 *AT MOST* for your medal and ribbon.

I could go on and on about this honestly :)

runner26 said...

road races have just gotten out of control (IMO). seems like it's less and less about running and more about all the "frills." race prices are ridiculous (which seems so unfair) and race experiences tend to be disappointing (IMO). I hate to stay this, but I miss the good old days (late 90's early 2000's) when running was about running, and only running.

Crystal said...

I'd have to agree with you that the seahorse medal is a wee bit over the top. It's crazy big! I too would rather have lower costs than bigger medals.

Kevin said...

That medal is a real mess in so many ways. I only hope the RD will send me one that isnt broken.

Erin said...

I think this is a great topic.

When I used to skate, the medals were pretty much the same for most years in size and design, slight variations. I will never forget the one competition had giant leather medals. They were terrible. Who wants a softball size chew toy around their neck? If my memory serves me correctly, they reverted to real medals the following year.

Carolina John said...

We've gotten some medals that keep getting bigger. Nothing as gawdy as seahorses, but rather more flava-flav style medals in NC races too. It's insane I tell ya!