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Why The Race Bib Is Underrated

The race medal is an almost ubiquitous part of running races these days. Don't get me wrong, I love my hardware collection, but there's something about medals that doesn't quite satisfy me.

Medals are a signal that you reached the end of the course or came in a certain place at the end of the race, both of which are great! There's a feeling that comes with the piece of molded metal hanging around your neck after you're done running, which is also great, but it's only part of the story.

Medals come after the work. They are a fair weather friend.

The bib, on the other hand, is the workhorse. Your bib is clipped to you from the time you cross the start line until you start disrobing after you finish. This little guy is the one that's there through the struggle and the fight. Your bib deserves more recognition.

Your bib gets crumpled, folded, ripped, stepped on, and sweated through, but that resilient little sheet sticks with you, even if it's only compelled by the safety pins continually threatening to quarter it. The bib is often the only foreign observer that is along for the ride with you and your usual running gear, telling you with every crumply stride that this is not a normal run; a constant reminder to pull out every bit of drive that you have to keep digging until you complete your goal.

And where is the medal? It's at the finish line, only willing to associate with you once you've already cleared the obstacles.

I'm missing one or two, unfortunately.​

Admittedly, I am just as guilty of neglecting my race bibs. For a while I didn't even really keep up with them and even when I started getting them together, I kept them in a file folder. But I intend to change that.

I have seen a few cool ways to display bibs online, but it took me until I was working through the Tuna Run 200 (top left bib) to think about how cool it is that bibs are sometimes the only thing that goes through the process with you. Particularly in the Tuna Run, I'd get fresh running clothes for each leg, but the bib was always there. When I was running through a Civil War battlefield, when I was getting in and out of the van at 3:00 in the morning, and whenever I was too wiped to remember to take it off, it was there with me.

I'm inspired now to display my bibs as prominently as my medals, because finishing the race is important and certainly an accomplishment, but remembering the journey and the process is equally as valuable.

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