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Member's Musings

The Best (And Not So Best) Racing Swag Around

Road racing has a long and honored history. But why do we race? To compete? To excel? To test our limits?

No, it’s for the swag. Since the first sperm won the zygote, humans have raced for cool stuff. (For the record, life does not begin at inception. It begins when you run a sub 3:00 marathon). The early Greeks used to run 26.2 miles stark naked and the fastest man earned a loincloth. Unfortunately, he was too chaffed to wear it.

But loincloths are not a big draw these days, mostly because there’s no polite place to put sponsor logos. Here then is a modern day guide to some of the best (and less best) race prizes around…

THE ASHENFELTER MUG: Forged in the kilns of Valhalla, it is said to have magical powers. Allegedly capable of holding tea OR coffee, no one has ever actually put liquid in the mug for fear of breaking its powerful spell. This glazed chalice – given to the first 100 finishers – is supposedly dishwasher safe, but again, who would risk it?

NYRR HALF MARATHON FIVE BOROUGH GRAND PRIX PADDED LUGGAGE STRAP: Earning this prize is no small feat. First, you must run 5 half marathons in a calendar year. That means being healthy and available on 5 separate weekends, having your spouse say, “Sure, take the car, don’t worry about us” five different times, and having $200 bucks you don’t need to pay for cable. It also means finding a parking spot in Queens at 6:00 a.m. which is arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do as a runner. However, should you complete this Herculean task, you receive, free of charge, a padded Velcro strap that fits neatly around the existing straps of your gym bag so it’s slightly softer in your hand. This handsome item – worth at least 50 cents! – tells the world what you’ve accomplished, provided the world is reaching down to carry your smelly gym bag and can read the tiny print that hasn’t yet rubbed off from your sweaty palms.

THE FITZGERALD’S 5K PLASTIC STEIN: This lightweight cup is the perfect reminder that you tested your mettle on the mean streets of Glen Ridge in what some have called, “The Whitest Race in America.” Not only is this course fast and flat, it boasts the highest property taxes of any 5K. Fill your faux mug with faux beer at your next summer barbeque and toast your faux suburban street cred!

MONTCLAIR 10K RACE SHIRT: The graphic design and colors on this fetching cotton T is always spot-on making it the perfect sleep shirt. Should you be lucky enough to have a one night stand, you can give it away without sacrificing a tech shirt. If you’re lucky enough to have two one night stands in a calendar year, remember another beefy cotton tee is just a summer away!

MILLBOURN PRESIDENT’S RACE BEER: Honestly, what could motivate a human to run faster or farther than beer? Maybe a beer with bratwurst, but how much faster could you run for the bratwurst? Odds are you’re already making 98-99% effort for the beer alone, so while beer and brats may be better, beer alone is motivation enough for any runner worth his or her salt tablets.

BOSTON MARATHON JACKET: Few clothing items convey more power. MIT scientists have shown the jacket makes people a full 3 inches taller (though they measured them in centimeters cause they’re MIT dorks). Stylish in light blue/yellow or red/black, these jackets would be coveted in puce – that’s how awe-inspiring they are. Wearing one is like walking around with a big sign that says, “I’m fast,” but more socially acceptable. People who own multiple jackets can even sweat in one while running. These people are nothing short of Gods.

NEW JERSEY MARATHON LONG SLEEVE TECH SHIRT: No race prize screams louder that you had a free Sunday morning in May. It says, “I support local races” and “I’m a cheap bastard.” Plus, if you’re lost in Asbury Park, there’s usually a map on the back.

NEW YORK CITY MARATHON REFUND: No prize is more elusive or coveted than a full 2012 refund from NYRR. Allegedly drawn from Mary Wittenberg’s personal checking account, these rare treasures are often framed as collector’s items. Years later, when others have cashed their checks and wasted it on 7 items at Whole Foods, you’ll still have yours hanging around your neck. Proudly wear it to work the next day to show everyone you trained your ass off and could have run 26.2 miles if it weren’t for that bitch Sandy.

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Verona Labor Day Classic

Verona Labor Day Classic

NYC Marathon Bus

NYC Marathon Bus

Photo Highlights

Photos on flickr

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