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Updated on July 10, 2013
There are a handful of variables that go into making a race perfect. Does the elevation chart resemble your heart rate 20 miles in? Or does it look more like you’re sitting on your couch marathoning your favorite show? Does the course follow a scenic route? Or are you left with out-and-backs for the majority of the run? And most importantly, what does the post-race party look like?
The race’s medal probably isn’t as hotly debated. By the time you fly/stumble/crawl across the finish line, you’re most likely thinking about other things than the bling a volunteer has placed around your neck.
Which is kind of a shame because there are some truly fantastic race medals out there. And if you’re going to put yours on display, it would be nice if the design had a little extra flair to it. After all, there’s probably a reason you sicked Mom and Dad with all your peewee medals, no?
Here, 12 race medals (in no particular order) that go the extra mile.
1. 2012 Portland Marathon
The obverse side features the state’s famous Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, also known as the start of the iconic Hood to Coast relay. The reverse showcases a rose, a nod to the city’s moniker, “the rose city.” The fact that both sides are equally as beautiful sets the medal apart.
2. 2012 Hartford Marathon
Not only do racers run past the state’s capitol on their way to the finish line, but they also get to wear the iconic image around their necks. The medal resembles a work of art more than a congratulatory piece.
3. 2010 Williams Route 66 Marathon and Half-Marathon
The medal is a winner on its own—it placed third in Marathon and Beyond‘s 2010 best race medal competition. But the best part? The tire actually spins. Kudos to the genius behind that idea.
4. Any runDisney medal
No matter the race you sign up for, you are guaranteed a medal that will showcase a character from your childhood.
5. 2013 Surf City Marathon and Half-Marathon
Surfs up, dude! For a race that leads runners right along the water, the board is highly appropriate. The races’ medals are always surfboards, so each year runners get to add another design to their collections.
6. 2012 Detroit Marathon and Half-Marathon
The design shows so many of Detroit’s motifs that finishers leave the race with the city in the palm of their hands/hanging around their necks.
7. 2013 Mississippi Blues Marathon and Half-Marathon
It hangs as if every finisher were a star-studded (sweat-studded?) musician, plus there is a pick hanging off each medal.
8. Quebec City Marathon
Similar to the Route 66 Marathon’s medal, this one is tricked out with a little extra flair—LED lights on the bottom. Not too shaby, Canada.
9. 2010 Fort Lauderdale Marathon and Half-Marathon
This one probably snags the award for cutest medal. It’s in the shape of a clam shell, which finishers can open like a locket; however, instead of a picture of their grandparents, they are greeted with the picturesque shoreline of the coastal town.
10. 2013 Little Rock Marathon and Half-Marathon
The Little Rock Marathon and Half-Marathon have practically made a name for themselves when it comes to their medals—they are always larger than life. The 2013 version was 8 inches long and weighed more than 2 pounds!
11. 2010 Rock ‘n’ Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and Half-Marathon
The marathon’s first year certainly set the bar high for its future medals. With glitter and beads, it absolutely captures the essence of the Mardi Gras celebration. Props to anyone who flaunts it as part of a Fat Tuesday get-up.
12. 2010 Wineglass Marathon and Half-Marathon
This medal is unique in that it’s made of glass, not metal. Congrats to whichever volunteer got them to the finish line without breaking them.