I was running the “Run for all Ages” in Wakefield, Mass. and a friend of mine was running the race with his daughter. She was probably 8 or 10 and still at that age where Dad is her hero and best friend.
As we ran along we chatted like runners often do. With great pride on both of their faces they told me this was her first 5K and first race ever with dad! The smiles on their faces and the look in their eyes told more than words can say.
It filled me with joy to see them sharing this experience and creating this wonderful memory. My friend Joe took up running later in life like I did and it changed his life and possibly saved it. To see him sharing his sport and the “thing that Dad did” with his daughter was awesome.
Having older children, I knew what a special moment this was for both of them.
I was running a little faster than Joe and his daughter, so we wished each other well and I took off ahead.
As I ran along, I realized that the “Run for all Ages” doesn’t give out finisher’s medals. Most runners at this race are veteran runners and running races isn’t about the medals for them. It seemed like a shame that my friend’s daughter wouldn’t get a medal at her first 5K. That just didn’t seem right to me.
My First 5K Medal Origins
I didn’t know anything about medals when I started this process. I was just a collector. To start with, I Googled race medals and found all kinds of inexpensive options. Some companies would customize a decal, but they still didn’t look worthy of a First 5K run.
At the high end were custom medals that marathons and half-marathons typically award. Since marathons and half-marathons charge more, they can afford custom medals.
Most 5Ks attract fewer runners than marathons and half-marathons. I learned that smaller orders mean higher prices per medal.
I also looked to see what experienced race directors had to say about 5K medals and the expenses of running a 5K.
In a 2005 Cool Running article Boston Marathon Race Director, Dave McGillivray, gave a detailed estimate of the costs to produce the average 500 person race. He included everything from t-shirts to toilets and came up with a cost per runner of $20.30. In 2005 the average 5K entry fee was $20.00.
Without sponsors, his race example lost money. His estimate did not include awards or finishers medals. Prices have increased since 2005, but the average 5K entry fee in 2015 was only $25.00.
Dave’s article indicates that in 2005 it was a long-standing practice not to provide finishers medals at 5Ks. Race Directors just couldn’t make the expense fit into their already tight budgets.
A New Concept in 5K Medals
It became obvious why 5K races didn’t give out medals anymore. Veteran runners don’t run for the medals. For a race to offer a quality, custom medal they need to charge every runner more money.
Surveys have indicated that most runners are more concerned with registration fees and less concerned with medals.
It dawned on me that perhaps a special 5K medal for first time runners would make sense.
I worked with Ashworth Awards to develop a new concept in 5K medals, the “My First 5K Medal.” Ashworth makes medals for thousands of races including the most famous race of all, the Boston Marathon.
I felt good working with a highly respected company such as Ashworth. They are the experts in the field and helped me design a high quality medal.
We designed a medal 2″ in diameter and 3.5mm thick. Stack two quarters and you will see the thickness of this medal.
Since 2014 I have been providing medals to runners and races across the country. I would be honored to send a medal to you for your child’s First 5K or your friend’s, spouse or colleague. Every runner deserves a great medal for their First 5K.
If you are a race director looking to add something new and special to your race, I can help. I work with race directors to offer the My First 5K medal for first time runners at no cost to your race, and increase fundraising.