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A look back on competition awards and how they've changed

Running and Fitness
Saturday, November 24, 2018

One of the nice things about holidays is that you get a day off to relax and enjoy visiting friends. It gives you time to clean out the house of some of those items that you have been meaning to either throw away or store someplace else. I found a few items that brought back some memories of past traditions versus what it is like today.

I found some patches from early races that I had entered. When you entered a race you often got an embroidered patch to sew on a jacket. I had one from the San Antonio Runners Club; Fiesta Mission Run, dated 1978. It was a rectangular patch with an outline of the Alamo in the center. Another one was from the Windcrest 10,000 from 1979.  The Austin Parks and Recreation Department had a 5K Turkey Trot patch but did not have a date. I am sure it was around that same time period.  

I found a circular patch with two runners on it that was from the ‘National Jogging Association.' It was probably the first organization that became the Road Runners Club of America. One other patch was from the bowling establishments. This patch came out at the 200 year celebration of America. It had the dates 1776 – 1976 embroidered on it and the number 200 across the center.  You got this patch if you bowled a 200 game or better in 1976.  

Those patches had me thinking about the change in the types of awards that people get from some event they participated in. The patches could be sewn on a jacket and you could wear that jacket for many years and still remember the event. Today you get a medal to hang around your neck.  Most runners will wear the medal the day of the race for photos and then go home and hang it on the wall. What do you do with these medals? Some runners have pegs with a couple dozen medals hanging on them. Have you ever seen a runner show up at another race wearing one of those medals? Or maybe as a necklace to wear to work. You could wear a different medal every day for several weeks to match your outfit.  

I see the Volksmarch walkers wearing vests and jackets with patches and pins from the different events they have entered, but no medals hanging on their necks. The Boy and Girl Scouts have banners across their uniforms with all the different merit badges they have earned. I was just wondering when race directors switched from patches to medals for runners to receive for entering their event. I know for the first Moe’s Better Half Marathon in 1984 we had small medals to hand out to finishers.  The medal was about the size of a silver dollar and had the race name and date on it. We did this for two or three years and several years later I still had sacks of those medals left over.  I donated them to some elementary schools to give to the students who ran a mile in a fitness test.  

Today the medals are just under the size of a dinner plate and have elaborate designs and colors.  They are very impressive for sure.  But after the day of the race I seldom, if ever, have seen a runner wearing one at another race later on in the year.

After thinking about the changes from the past to the present day I decided to open up an old sock I had in my drawer that had some pins that I had won from competitions. I placed in the State Track meet in college and got a medal (award) about the size of my thumb nail for third place in the low hurdles. I found a medal for first place in the New England YMCA Wrestling Championships that was about the size of a half dollar.  (That might be a bad comparison as you don’t see many half dollars anymore.) It is a little larger then one of those gold dollar coins you see once in a while. There were several others and all were small enough to put in a sock for storage. Most of these came from the 1960s.

Years later my son, Allen, entered a karate tournament at the age of eight. He came home with a trophy that was taller than he was. I entered a Master’s Bodybuilding meet when I was 50 years old. I got third place and got a trophy that was about 24 inches tall with four posts and eagles on the corners. You wonder how you can go from small medals to big trophies for competition over the years. The patches I can sew on a jacket, and the medals I can store in a sock, but where do you put big trophies from years ago? They really are not decorative items that you put in a living room for display, (or at least my wife has her own idea about decorations in the house). 

Enjoy the holidays, go for a run to take off the Thanksgiving calories, and maybe take some time to reflect on the changes that you have seen over the years – if you are old enough to see the changes. It seems the changes are occurring faster each year so it may not take as long as it did me to look back at how things were years ago.

San Marcos Record

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