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1. Free beer at the end, preferably unlimited, is pretty sweet. Everyone of age can enjoy, regardless of order of finish.
2. Group age awards are nice. I prefer gift certificates to nice eating places. Ones with a licquor license are sure to be used. Those without tend to go to waste.
3. The best prize is shattering a PR. I'm the only one who will know or appreciate that.
4. I like to see awards more people can participate in, something more than just the typical crowd who takes the age group things (even though I frequently get those, I'd like to see more people recognized). Something like a handicap system perhaps. People would need to have some verifiable record in a local area to be included.
5. Organizers liven things up around here sometimes with group prizes. Just simple fun type giveaways for being say a PSU alumni. I have one such "award" that is just a pint size glass that I pretty much use everyday and yell at the misses if she puts it in the dishwasher forcing me to get another glass. I love this glass.
I'm not a drinker, but do know a lot of folks like the free drinks...then again just as many don't.
Age group awards definitely make it more fun because you have a chance at possibly winning.
Costumed races are always more low key and give you an option win something via an outfit!
Gift cards to local running stores are great
Goodie bags with food samples are pretty much always a hit
I know it's not very romantic, but the "best" (ok, maybe most useful?) prizes I've gotten have been $$$. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's sweet.
Besides that, the best (and most unexpected) prize was from a very unorganized trail/XC race (2.6 miles?) that I entered because of the cause (a local HUMANE SOCIETY/animal shelter), and the fact that I could use my XC spikes. There was no indication from the flyers or entry forms that there would be awards of ANY kind, so I really didn't expect any. On race day, there were no other "serious" runners there -- I was considered "serious" because I actually warmed up and stretched before the race!. I was alone within the first 1/4 mile, andI finished first by a couple of minutes and started packing up soon afterwards, thinking that there was not going to be any award ceremony, and was very pleasantly suprised when the race director stopped me before leaving and gave me a gift certificate for ANY pair of New Balance shoes, courtesy of NB-Boston. After about a month of research, I mailed it in for a pair of NB1226's (which go for close to $150), and have been very happy running with them for the last month or so. I've never run with NB before, but I may actually spring for another pair when I hit my 500-600 mile mark with these.
I like the races that have a variety of after race food/snacks.Refuel without having to leave early.Most races here in the Golden Isles have group awards and my company is having our 2nd annual 4 mile trail run and we're going 3 deep with the largest groups awards.And there will be gifts awarded if your ticket stub is drawn.A good gift packet and nice shirt is great too.
I won $150 for winning a 5k, that was awesome! I've also won gift certificates to running stores, free gym memberships, and a $100 gift certificate to a restaurant.
Even with all that cool stuff, the most memorable thing was a simple marathon medal for the 2008 NYC Marathon where I ran 2:44. That means more than anything else.
if you notice at my times i dont get prizes or gifts but my daughter does..
very proud mother that i can say my 14 year old daughter did disney princess half last week in 1:59:29 ..
also proud of my 17 year old for doing it with a smile on her face the whole way in 3:15 with friends.
just getting out there makes me happy.
so point of the post id my 14 year old won a BEER MUG in the last ten miler she did.. even the race director was like what the...? when he gave it to her.. he saids we really need to change the prize for 14-19 age group..
also she has won running hats and towels she likes that.
disney princess half marathon march 2009--3:27
philly half marathon nov 2009-- 3:10
new york city half marathon march 2010-2:47
jersey girls tri- july 2010-- 1:31
long Island diva Oct 2010--2:42
navisink 15k nov 28 2010 -1:56 most hills outside mt Everest!!
NEW YORK CITY MARATHON 2011 HERE I COME!
Patrick - We Are.... class of 86
Lots of em running in races around here - probably explains why I think an overwhelming number of runners seem to Really Appreciate the free beer races, in sharp contrast to runtothefinish's experience that seems to suggest just as many folks enjoy free water. I ain't seen that in these parts for sure. Very few teetotalers in races I frequent.
The best age group award package I ever received was for the Los Angeles Dodgers 5K in 2003. It included a license plate holder, cap, and...the best part...4 loge tickets (very good seats) to a game of my choice. Value of the tickets at the time was about $100 total. And the race finished inside Dodger Stadium. Really nice, especially for an avid baseball fan!
@ 5K: Ontario Mills Run, Ontario, CA, 25:19
Angels Baseball Foundation 5K, Anaheim, CA, 24:15
@ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, Los Angeles, CA, 51:44
Great Race of Agoura - Old Agoura 10K, Agoura Hills, CA, 50:31
Hi! Nice posts all! While not actually fully respond to the question of best race prize or gift, I'd like to make a couple of comments of what is nice to have as a benefit of doing the race:
1) I miss receiving post-cards in the mail that provide all your finisher details (race length, finish time, mile pace, overall, gender and age group place). These can be easily done by the timing companies and they could even use them to advertise their next events, but it makes a really nice "momento" of PRs and improvements.
2) Some of the comments spoke around this, but pull out overall winners from the age group awards (can be made clear on the entry information so no one is "surprised" but often it is the exact same medal anyway). That way you do recognize more people.
3) Tank top, hats, hand towels, key holders - anything different from the usual T-shirt. Why don't more races give tank tops - at least in summer? (yes, I live in Arizona) The Indy-mini gave a great hat in the goody bags last year (in addition to their long-sleeve shirts) that have a zippered pocket for keys & ID. I wear the hat way more often than the long-sleeve shirt. I do like the technical clothing now, but let's change up the colors some ( : ! Okay, I do a lot of races and like to support the range of good causes. I've had the quilt made, given t-shirts to all my friends and family, let people go "shopping" through my closet, and am now giving boxes of t-shirts to a homeless clinic so maybe I'm a bit biased on the t-shirt issue....I do like the runs where there is a reduced "no shirt" entry option.
4) Corporate support of races really has made me look twice and try something again - definitely influenced my attitude favorably. Gift cards and coupons have encouraged to try a place - and keep going back, love the rice and various other samples, even try the local pizza place when I am running in a different State. I look more positively upon companies that are supportive of local charity/cause events and try to thank them for their support with my business - and usually bring non-runner friends/family.
5) Why not provide finishers an additional "$5" off or something ID that can be used to enter the same race next year (as long as meet early entry deadline or something)? Just an idea.....
The only prize I ever won was a finisher's medal. But the best indulgence I ever had was at the Rothrock trail race in PA. They set up a virtual feast at the end with goulash, pizza, and various sandwiches. There was even what looked like an icre cream truck (I didn't go). Same people gave me the best shirt last year, one that was actually comfortable enough to wear to sleep. And two of the aid stations, in the middle of the woods, were like little oases- tents that had drinks and snacks. And all the gel packs you wanted, right from the start. Hope they keep up the fine work this year (the race was good, too).
Sunset Classic 5m, Bloomfield, NJ, 6/11.............................................:40:43
Grings Mill 10k, Reading, PA, 8/11.......................................................:51:15
Battle of Brooklyn 10m, Brooklyn, NY, 8/11...........................................1:26
Yonkers' Marathon, Yonkers, NY, 9/11................................................:..4:08
Blues Cruise 50k, Leesport, PA , 10/11....................................................6:23
The Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach is sponsored by Yuengling and is all you can drink after the race. Same deal for the half-marathon and relay, same day.
I run for the t-shirts and there is no better race for that than the Goofy Challenge during the Disney World Marathon weekend. You have to run a half on Saturday and a Full on Sunday, but you get 3 shirts, 3 metals, and a lot of fun. I suggest the hot tub afterwards.
I think my favorite prize so far has been in a German town in Michigan. I won a beer stein and got to keep it full for free. Although I didn't get 1st place, which was a 2 foot beer stein, mine proved to be big enough to have fun at the post race for quite a while.
I will outrun the storm and run faster than horses.