The awards ceremony is essential to the culture of road racing. However, much to the chagrin of this road racer, increasing numbers of race directors are deciding to do away with the traditional awards presentation in favor of a bureaucratic check-in process devoid of any ceremony. Not only does this marginalize the efforts of runners, but it suppresses the spirit of competition, and erodes camaraderie within the running community.
I’m not winning any road races these days, but I respect those who do. I want to see their faces, learn their names, and cheer for them when they receive their awards. I want to know who’s on my heels and who’s in front of me. And, if I run well enough to make the podium, I want to be recognized too.
The decision to stop making a big deal about winners seems to have come about from a confluence of factors. First, it’s easier on race directors to skip the awards ceremony. Second, awards are seen as something that benefits only a small minority of runners. Third, the general emphasis continues to shift from winning to participating across the spectrum.
Everybody gets a medal and a t-shirt these days. Winners earn a $20 gift certificate to a local running store where they’ll have to dig into their own pockets to buy anything other than energy gels or car decals. Call me a curmudgeon or a jerk, but winners still matter and competition is a good thing. Let’s do better.
[bctt tweet=”Don’t ask your winners to pick up their awards in secret like it’s shameful.”]
If you’re a race director, don’t ask your winners to pick up their awards in secret like it’s shameful. Celebrate their performances and create an awards ceremony that is entertaining and uplifting for everyone. Create some fun awards to involve kids, families, and local residents. Make it a party to remember.
Not every runner is going to want another tech tee or race medal. Offer it to those who want to pay a premium. Spend your money on food, drinks, and quality awards. Runners will come back to races that are fun and make them feel appreciated.
An awards ceremony isn’t just for the winners. It’s a post-race party for everyone who ran, cheered, and volunteered. And, if you’re one of the lucky ones who receives an award, have the decency to stick around to the end.