When I first started entering races the promise of getting a race shirt at the end was a big attraction. Now that I have a dozen or so of them it is less appealing, unless there’s something special about the shirt. After all how much wardrobe space can you really give to running tops and when do you wear them all?
Here are my three favourite race shirts and what for me makes a race shirt worth keeping and wearing.
The Double or Quit race shirt makes it on to my list for two reasons. Firstly it fits. I’m 5ft 2 inches tall and a size 8. Men’s Small size shirts tend to drown me but in a lot of races that is the smallest size there is. I’m unlikely to go out running in a shirt that comes down to my knees!
The second reason for including this shirt is that I loved running this race. It’s organised by Ilkeston Running Club in Shipley Park in Derbyshire. You run an undulating 5 mile loop of the park and decide at the end of the first lap whether to make it double (10 miles) or quits (5 miles). When I ran it in 2012 it was a beautiful sunny day and my family came to support me. It was my first ten mile race and my longest race to date. The first time you attempt a distance is always special and although I had a pace in mind I wasn’t putting myself under any pressure. I could just enjoy the race and I did!
The course marshals made it an enjoyable experience. Only 86 runners completed the 10 miles and because I was fairly slow I ended up running more or less on my own. It was like doing a training run but with marshals to encourage you every few hundred metres. It was three weeks after the end of the London Olympics. One marshal was at the top of a hill with two young boys. As we ran up the hill the lads shouted to us “Do the Mobot!” and second time round “Do the Bolt!“. I just about managed a Mobot but doing the Bolt whilst running uphill was beyond me!
I love this shirt from the Jaegermeister 10k race which is run by Formula One Circuit Crew. It fits and I liked the reworking of the Ramones design and the fact that if features the name of the race and the year. It’s cotton and I’m not a fan of cotton shirts as race prizes but this one is nice enough to wear when I’m not running.
This race was also memorable. That year it was the 10k County Championship race for Nottinghamshire. I didn’t run a particularly good time but as I crossed the finish line I thought that an official from Notts AAA said to me “that’s a medal position”. I looked at him in disbelief but later on it turned out to be true. I had won Silver in the County Championships for my age category (V45-54), something I never dreamed would be achievable for me. I also found out afterwards that I had been part of the winning women’s veterans team from my club so I got a bottle of wine as well. It just goes to show that it’s worth turning up for races.
The Sleaford Half Marathon was another memorable event. It’s organised by Sleaford Striders and took place at RAF College Cranwell. I can’t truly say that I enjoyed the race because it was so tough: the organisers themselves describe it as “testing”. However, it was a friendly, well-organised event and after nearly two hours of running, much of it into a cold wind, I really felt I had earned this shirt.
It’s the only orange shirt in my growing collection. I appreciated the fact that, despite it not being a mass event (under 600 finishers), the organisers had gone to the trouble of providing race shirts in smaller sizes.
The top three things that make a race shirt a favourite for me are:
- it has to fit (Men’s Small will not do!)
- it features the year of the event
- it represents an achievement or an event that I particularly enjoyed
Which are your favourite race shirts and what makes a shirt special for you?