Apr 24, 2023
Medals; they’re a staple part of the runners’ life. You run a race and at the end you get some water, maybe a banana or an energy bar, and a medal. Something to remember your achievement by. But what do you do with them after you’ve tired of having them hanging around your neck on the drive back home? Me, I have a couple of medal racks. I managed to get my original one mounted in the bedroom, the second one has been demoted to my mancave.
I counted my medals the other day. I have 35 of the little buggers now. I’m sure many of you reading this have dozens, maybe hundreds more. But how often do you actually look at them?
In preparation for my chat with Rob for the podcast, I started rummaging around my collection to try and prompt some memories so as to give me something vaguely interesting to talk about. I didn’t realise just what a rush of memories and feelings it would release. They’re just lumps of metal on a length of nylon, but each one is a key that unlocks something in your head and takes you back to the day you earned them. And that, well, that’s brilliant.
If you’ll be so kind as to indulge me, here are a few of my own;
There’s the first one you ever got. This one is a beauty. It’s plastic, it’s generic, its awful. But it marks the start of my running journey and if I didn’t have it, then I’d never have done the things I’ve done or met the people I’ve met. Therefore it is very special.
My first ‘big’ 10k in London, with crowds and cheering and all that lark. This was when I got truly hooked on running. I have a picture on my phone of me gunning for the finish line. I look like a right tool. I have wrap around sunglasses on, I’m wearing trainers (I ran for about a year in these, and couldn’t understand why my toes were bleeding every time I finished) and I appear to have a laptop attached to my arm. It was an iPhone 8 plus, and I reckon it added at least 25 minutes* on to my time lugging it about.
This was from my first half marathon. I trained for this, I was in pain for this. I can remember pretty much every step of that run, and the realisation I was going to hit my time goal. I cried when I crossed the finish line. Looking at it always makes me feel proud of what I achieved.
Sadly, Adidas have stopped the City Run series, but during 2018-19, these were my go to races. For this one, we ran 1km laps around central London; go as far as you can in 1 hour. It was innovative, it was amazing, with insane support. Everyone in these runs wears the same shirt, it’s a stunning sight seeing 6,000 runners all in black, taking over the Capital.
This has got to be the most bizarre medal I have. It’s a Cowbell, and I earned it doing the ‘Hawkeshead Hobble’, a 10k organised by the Royal Veterinary College. It’s the first run I did with a group of friends rather than ‘going solo’ and it will long live with me.
I genuinely have no idea where I got this one from. It could possible be from a karaoke competition I won, or it might be my son’s player of the season football medal. I’m bloody claiming it though.
This one will always make me well up. Pilgrims Hospice looked after my father in law in the months before he succumbed to cancer. I ran this with my kids to raise money for them on a beautiful October morning. We got covered in multi coloured powder and had the best day remembering Grandad.
Last, but certainly not least, these two. Two different events, two different concepts, but one thing in common; Fartlek Family meet ups. I got in to running as an individual, but since I met you lot, I’ve really appreciated the power of friends. We really are a family, a team, a group with a shared love. We support one another, we take the micky out of each other. We celebrate achievements together, we console and pick one another up when things don’t go well. It was a privilege to run both of these with so many of you and I hope that I get to fill another medal holder with memories of running with the WTF family.
I hope this has not come across as self-indulgent, it wasn’t meant to be (although I’ve loved reminiscing).
What I have been trying to say is this; don’t leave those medals hanging there unloved. Go and have a look at them, a real look. Pick them up and feel them, remember the feeling you had when you were earning them; the friends you ran with, the laughs you had, the blisters, the weather, the feeling of accomplishment when you crossed the line. In the case of the WTF runs, the hangovers the next morning!.
I can assure you, no matter what mood you’re in before you start, you will leave those medals with a smile on your face.
Boom, Orange Carrot xxx