Each year I sift through my closet and make a pile of clothes to donate to charitable organizations. Inevitably the pile includes a fair amount of race t-shirts. Some of them I keep — from races that were memorable for some reason or because I really like the shirt. Every race, no matter how big or small, seems to give out a t-shirt and I certainly don’t want to discourage the practice. We all love free stuff.
Granted, races need to get money for swag so either (a) items need to be donated or (b) race fees need to be higher to cover the costs. And deciding to pay money for races sometimes involves a cost-benefit ratio: What do I get for my money?
And so this week’s Top 5 Friday looks at my favorite race swag. What’s your favorite swag?
Particularly what’s known as “shoe bags.” I love them. Can’t get enough of them. Of course I say this and bags will soon turn into the t-shirt phenomena. But I inherited an addiction for all things carryable from my mother. Shoe bags are reusable and great for lugging around your gear to training and other races. Also a plus, they fold up small and are very easy to stash in your suitcase to use as a day bag on trips.
2. Arm warmers.
I could add general accessories here as I’ve also received gloves and socks but arm warmers are most unique. It’s an item you often forget to buy yourself but once you have them, you love them for cool mornings both on the run and the bike. They are so easy to take off and shove in a pocket if (or when) it gets warmer.
3. Finishers’ hat.
Perhaps it’s because I don’t have many of them, but I love the Headsweats finishers hats which are the rage at Ironman-branded races. First, it says “Finisher” and so, well, that means I had to do the entire race. Second, it’s a double treat on a run as you can quietly boast about your accomplishment and enjoy the benefits of the Headsweats brand which is light, keeps you cool and helps keep sweat from dripping down your face. Now a finishers’ toque for those winter weather runs would be a nice next step.
4. Water bottles.
Usually I end up throwing one away during a 70.3 bike leg so it’s nice to get a replacement. Special marks go to Musselman who gave out environmentally friendly Eco Steel bottles at the finish line — already filled with cold, icy water.
Not as part of an age group award but for participation. Last year when I did part of a six-hour ultra race, small bottles of Bully Hill wine were included in our swag bag. (For the record I didn’t “race” the ultra but used the supported event as a means to get one of my long marathon training runs in!)