Sunday, 2 November 2008


Running marathons should not be about the shirt. I get that. And I really don't obsess about them. But, while doing this morning's 14 mile training jaunt along the cloud-shrouded Berkeley/Emeryville shoreline, somehow my mind started rattling off the problems I have had just getting the souvenir shirts I've paid for in a few races. With a dozen races being planned for the next dozen months, I'd like to think that most of the event organizers will get it right. Holding my breath, not.

The first time it happened that it really disappointed me was the Loch Ness Marathon in 2004. To this day I think this marathon has the coolest marketing picture for a race, and, at least in 2004, it was on the shirt. It's a running shoe laced to represent Nessie, the monster in the lake. They completely ran out of shirts by the time I crept across the line. And they were none too worried about making any excuses about not printing enough. Did they not know I was coming? I contacted the organizers after getting home, and they sent me a number of full size prints of the logo, which was nice of them. But I really did want THAT shirt.

The next time there was a shirt snafu was just a few months ago. I ordered an XL from the folks at the New Mexico Marathon, despite the fact that I have lost nearly 20 pounds since I started running. If my shirts are anywhere near snug I won't wear them. Then a few weeks before the race in Albuquerque, the organizers sent out an email informing us that the shirts they were having made up were running a bit on the big side and giving us the chance to change our size request. I took the bait and changed to Large, please. Race day comes and my Large is by no means a Large. It's a medium, to be sure. Not for me, big guy. I emailed them and requested a switch. No response.

Thinking I'd learned my lessson, when it came time to order my Chicago Marathon shirt, I picked XL again, feeling fairly confident in my selection. Picked up my shirt at the Expo on pre-race Friday, got it back to my motel and took a look at it. Had I had a couple of poles with me I could have used it as a tent and saved the lodging costs for the next three days! Decided I'd trek back into downtown Chitown to attempt a trade the following morning. The volunteer behind the t-shirt counter shot my request right out of the sky, practically before I'd made it. She said all the shirts were accounted for and there were just enough for everyone if they took the size they ordered. I donated my shirt back to the cause...and bought one that I am wearing as I write this. Turns out, of the 45,ooo or so people who signed up for the race, only about 33,ooo showed up. Could that mean there are about 12,000 shirts that were never picked up? Might there have been a Large in there for this old dude from California? You do the math.

So, here's what I'm hoping for at CIM, Carlsbad and Austin (so far)......oh, never mind.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

Enjoyed your post! Reminded me of a race I did about a year ago, for which I'd ordered the biggest size they offered--can't remember if it was a 2X or a 3X. I'd lost a lot of weight by then (a few decades worth), but still like my training t-shirts pretty big. Well, the kid handing out race numbers for my alphabet looked at the shirt size and shouted, "Hey, what does "J" stand for?" The teen behind him shouted back, "Jumbo," and handed him the t-shirt to give to me, along with my number.

I decided to show them how "Jumbo" runs a 5K! I didn't win any ages group prizes or anything, but I did set a PR. :)