Years ago, when I first starting running races I wondered whether or not I should run in my race shirt. I was told by some of my more seasoned runner friends that it would be a big mistake and I would look like an amateur if I did, so I never ran in one. Truth be told it wasn’t because other runners told me not to it was because I was terrified to run in anything I hadn’t pre-tested because I didn’t want any surprises on race day.
For a few years anytime I ran a race I’d hang the t-shirt up in closet and never think about it again. It sort of became like a race medal, a prize that you hang up and notice occasionally but you don’t actually wear.
I don’t know why it happened but at one point MacGyver and I were in a thrift store and I noticed brand new race shirts on the racks. I bought some to use during training because I figured at 1.99 they were cheaper than most of the running shirts I usually bought and they were moisture wicking so it was a win-win. It never occurred to me that I had some perfectly good running shirts hanging in my closet because in my mind those were trophies.
Wearing participant shirts that you got in a thrift store also presents a problem because inevitably someone will see the shirt and ask is you liked the race, or when you ran it, or how many times, and since you bought the shirt at a thrift store you can’t answer most of the questions. I would usually say, ‘I bought this shirt at a thrift store but I plan on running it this year’ or something like that.
I think it was MacGyver who actually asked me why I ran in participant shirts from the thrift store but now my own and it was about that time I realized I should go ahead and pull them out of the closet and add them to my rotation. Of course by that time some of them had yellowed a bit.
It didn’t take me long to choose my favorites. Living in Florida and the fact that I tend to get really hot, I typically run in tanks, but in the fall and winter I do add some of the short sleeves into my rotation, both my own participant shirts and ones from the thrift store.
The long sleeve shirts are worn much less often. Typically I wear them about 10 days when running in Florida and I take some of them with me whenever I head to any destination north of here.
I still buy participant shirts at the thrift store but these days I typically only buy them when I’m visiting another state and I find cool ones that I would normally never have the chance to acquire and I also run in them too.
People still ask me if I ran the race and when, because let’s face it most of the people who live in Florida aren’t from Florida and the person asking is usually from the state you got the shirt from. No matter, I still think it’s the most affordable option for running shirts and for finding cool running shirts with awesome slogans and graphics.
One of my favorites participant shirts has a bible verse on the back, it reads, “2 Chronicles 15:7 But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” I like to think that it gives encouragement to anyone running behind me and I don’t think about the fact that I never ran the race for which it was given out.
When my old race shirts are worn out and I no longer wear them for training, I throw them into a drawer in a dresser in the spare bedroom but I haven’t forgotten about them. I plan on learning how to make a quilt one day and then I’ll cut those old T-shirts into squares to use in the quilt. But that’s not gonna happen anytime soon, I have a lot more races to run if I’m gonna make a quilt that will actually fit a bed. In the meantime, I’ll wear my race shirts to train in and when I’m running a race, I think I’ll wear shirts like this one:
Do you wear your participant shirt when you run a race?
Would you wear a shirt from a race you didn’t actually run?
Do you wear your old race t shirts to train?
What do you do with your race shirts?