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Thread: Award help/ideas

  1. #1

    Default Award help/ideas

    I'm fresh out of ideas. We have been managing races for about 6 years and we have went through every option for awards. Anyone have any creative ideas?

    We own a running store and can get good prices on screen printing and embroidery so in the past we have done:
    embroidered fleece blankets
    embroidered fleece hats
    embroidered backpacks
    custom-screen printed mugs/glasses
    running store gift cert.

    I try to avoid trophies and medals for adults but I may have to go that option for a couple of years. Unless someone has some good ideas...

    I always try to do 5-year increments and 3-deep. My award budget varies but usually falls between 4.50-10.00 per item.

  2. #2


    Medals are always a good, if somewhat cliche option. They're also fairly reasonable and easy to mail. Just get bubble wrap envelopes.

  3. #3


    how's this for creativity: $$$$$$$$$$CASH$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!

    If your runners are putting in good performances, then pay them! Raise the entry fees if you have to, but pay the open winners. You don't see the NBA giving the players embroidered fleece blankets and expecting them to live off of them.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Trailrunnerdude View Post
    how's this for creativity: $$$$$$$$$$CASH$$$$$$$$$$$$$!!!

    If your runners are putting in good performances, then pay them! Raise the entry fees if you have to, but pay the open winners. You don't see the NBA giving the players embroidered fleece blankets and expecting them to live off of them.
    Nice sarcasm.

    We do have several prize money races but I was asking about Age Groups Awards (not overall winners). Our gate fee can't afford Age Group prize money and most of our sponsor deals are in the 3 to 4 figure deal... which can't support NBA salaries.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2007

    Default Awards

    This is always an issue for me - I hate giving dust-catcher trophies or medals as awards, so I always strive for something different. Here are a few things we've come up with over the years.

    Tech shirts - imprinted w/ the race logo - you can usually have your T-shirt printer do these at the same time.

    Socks. We usually get patriotic-themed designs for for our 4th of July race (this year we got "Vote Republican" & "Vote Democrat" designs).

    Hats - ditto

    Christmas tree ornaments - I got some handmade wooden train designs for the Great Train Race I do in October.

    Food - I recall reading a sports psychologist saying prizes should be bananas, because you should only dwell on your accomplishment until the banana starts to turn brown, then it's time to move on.

    For the Bunny Boogie we hold on Easter Saturday, we give out chocolate rabbits (choice of dark or white), w/ bigger ones to the top 3 overall & masters M & F. These prizes never make it to the winner's home - heck, sometimes the first ones awarded are eaten before the last one is given out. I do get some strange looks when I'm going through the checkout w/ 60+ choco bunnies in the cart: "Some sweet tooth, eh?"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007


    Our club runs about a dozen races a year and almost never gives traditional awards. We never go to awards companies, except for the occasional label printing pr name plate job.

    We have a member who browses the magazines that try to sell you tacky junk to clutter up your home, and who also goes to the big lots and dollar stores. From this come a range of fabulous prizes, and sometimes some not so hot ideas. She has a keen eye for a bargain and looks at all the sale items in the catalogs to figure if they would make sutable, cost effective awards.

    Some times our awards only cost $1 to $2 each and they included free shipping.

    We try to make the prize match the race them and colors. So for a race for a local hospital that has a blue and white sort of star like logo, the awards were blue and white star shaped stained glass sun-catcher window hangers. The overalls and masters getting big ones, and age groups smaller ones.
    Run for the Roses saw the winners getting clocks with roses set around the outside and age groups getting glass paperweights with roses in them.

    Like you we try not to do the same award twice, so with a race on average every month or so, there is a constant hunt for unique and sutable awards.

    Often we resort to picture frames that match the race them (i.e. on the beach race the frame was decorated in 3D with umbrellas and beach chairs).

    Picture frames are then filled with a picture of race logo, and finisher plate or sticker is applied across the bottom. We expect that a lot of people remove the race logo and reuse the frame with their own picture, but it still retains the award credit stuck on the lower part.

    Frames normally come from the dollar stores or big lots store. When the local dollar store only has 30 and you need 400 we have the manager call around to all the other ones, and make a bulk deal. When the starting price was only one or two dollars, the bulk price we pay is often quite a bit less.

    Our frugal awards lady has, over time, built up a good working relationship with a number of store managers. This helps.

    If it is not picture frames then maybe this month it will be book ends. If the book end is suitably decorative you can give them out individually. Just turn them 90 degrees so they now face out. Ignore the blank back and the fact that they were originally 1/2 of a set. (2 for the price of one)

    One race done by a school had the kids paint stock blank face masks. They were all individual and were all laid out on a set of tables. It was first come first served based on the order in which the results were called.

    My house has a number of clocks that were awards, and a wooden key rack and an iron door stop. The iron doorstop is in the shape of a lighthouse, from a race by the lighthouse. You don't get much breakage with iron door stops, but watch your shipping charges!!

    I have a nut cracker in the form of a solider, (as in the nutcracker suit), from a Christmas race. Bouncing tin ghost on a spring from the SpookTacular, and quite a few garden ornaments, like frogs, lizards or butterflies on sticks. The garden ornament stuff works well if you can get it cheep enough and tie it into your race them.

    Around my front door are a few happy terracotta sun faces that came from race awards, and from a fall fling race, where the them is leaves, I have large terracotta leaves with smiling faces on them.

    Look at the various home decoration catalogs. While I would not personally spend any time or my money on the junk, their sale items can be a source of good race awards. If you can get a bunch of them, at low cost, and they some how match your race them, then go for it. When getting catalog items try to negotiate both a discount and free shipping.

    Also suggest you do not put the age group on the label. So item reads "Race Name, 1st Age Group" without saying 'which' age group. That way if you do three deep you just need three pools, 1st 2nd and 3rd and you give them out as needed. Some times with wacky prizes some items are broken in shipment or staff handling so without the specific age group on it we can easily substitute. (There will always be a few that are not picked up)

    Some catalog items come in threes, like three Irish gnomes, or a three part wooden train. These can be broken down into the individual parts and become 1st 2nd and 3rd in age groups.

    Glass sun-catchers seem to be the most popular of the awards, (ie fewest left uncollected at the end of prize giving). Popular styles include colored stars and from the 4th of July race sun-catchers in various flag designs. Watch out for glass tends to be expensive, and some break in shipment, so the key is to keep an eye open for sales and buy enough of them in the off season.

    We prefer to keep things of real value, (maybe coffee maker from a coffee sponsor, shoe coupons, give away clothing or running items), as raffle items. This gives everyone a chance, not just the front runners. It gives everyone a good reason to hang out during the awards, and keeps the party spirit going. Even if we get a cruse for two, it goes into the raffles, not to he winners.

    We NEVER give cash. We can use the money far more effectively else where. If you were considering giving the first man and women $100 each ($200 total), our frugal awards lady would use that money to expand the depth of the awards from 3 to 5 deep!

    The key is getting stuff cheep on sale. Preferably not just on sale, but on deep discount.

    If it is mail order, remember to get a sample before committing your entire awards budget to something only seen in a picture. Confirm the size and dimensions, not of the packaged box but the item it's self. When going mail order try to negotiate both a bulk discount and free shipping.

  7. #7


    We do have several prize money races but I was asking about Age Groups Awards
    I didn't see this specified in the original post.

    I know how difficult it can be to keep coming up with items for such awards. That's why I have stopped using things for age groups and now I usually do gift certificates to running shoe stores and medals/trophies for kids run participants. In addition to finding decent stuff, one of the issues was that the first place awardee would sometimes prefer what the 2nd place awardee received even though the awards team captain valued the first place award higher than the 2nd place award. The gift certificates offer a fair and uniform way of assigning value to good performances (faster times get higher value certificates). It also cements the relationship with the running shoe stores and qualifies them for a better sponsorship level (the value of the certificates is applied to their sponsorship).

  8. #8


    Good stuff... thanks JamesM.

    I've use the picture frame (and paperwight) ideas with a glossy pic of the race logo a few times. got mixed reviews.

    But I do like the idea to get a bunch of engraved plates and find unique things (that time into the race) at BigLots, etc.

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