I’m hurt. I’ve been hurt since December, and before that it was for more than a year.
Until, that is, I received my packet in the mail on Monday.
Inside the stuffed manila envelope was my bib (No. 740) and my medium-sized performance “Race to Wrigley” race shirt.
I frowned for a couple of minutes. I even tweeted about it:
Then I put the damn thing on. I wore it to bed. And when I woke up the next morning, I wore it to the gym to work out in.
Maybe I shouldn’t have.
You see, there’s this unwritten rule among runners that you shouldn’t wear a race shirt you didn’t earn.
“A race shirt is not a gift that you’re given, it’s an honor that you earn by finishing the race. The idea of a race giving away finisher’s shirts to nonparticipants is akin to the golf pro at your local course handing you a scorecard, a pencil and an air horn before directing you to the first tee box.”
On an ultra-running blog, Back of the Pack, a blogger answers questions in one post Dear Abby-style under the guise of “Mr. Know-it-All.” One of those questions deals with race shirt etiquette. A runner wanted to know if his friend was correct on insisting he writes, “DNF” (did not finish), on his shirt if he didn’t finish the race. The know-it-all had this to say:
“Since the shirt came in a swag bag, which you get for entering and showing up, you are entitled to wear it. It’s just a promotional shirt. You don’t have to finish to get one. I’ve bought such shirts for pacers, crew, and friends who wanted to come to races but couldn’t. Wear the shirt, and let it remind of you of the fun parts of the race which you enjoyed. And let it encourage you to come back and finish the race. And let it advertise the race to other people.”
Sounds good to me! My shirt could definitely be viewed as promotional swag.
But even if it weren’t, I’ve had a change of heart on this issue. I think hobbling around in a walking cast for months, doing physical therapy and keeping up my intense workout routine has definitely earned me the privilege of wearing a race shirt for a race I couldn’t do, let alone finish.
But I promise not to lie and respond in the affimative to questions of, “Hey, did you run the Race to Wrigley?”
Instead I’ll use it as an opportunity to talk about sports injuries and prevention.
What do you think? Am I wrong? Tell me in the comments; let’s discuss.