I have been trying to contact the race organizers of a local half marathon, regarding the fact that they do not award finishers with a medal, as they do in other distance races. How can I convince them to include this amenity? - Tom in Chicago
While most full marathon road races do reward official finishers with a ceremonial medal, the cost associated with the production of these awards for smaller races is often difficult to reconcile within the price of admission.
It is easier to understand why a race committee might opt not to include trophies or medals to all finishers, when you consider the line item costs that a race director must afford.
Before we consider the list, know that a successful road race event is defined as (A) one where the incoming cost (price for runners to register) pays for all of the incurred cost to host the event and (B) one which attracts the largest field of runners. In the case of races where the proceeds are intended to go to charity, success is measured by the amount of profit raised for the charity benefactors.
But when you consider the line item costs for all of the things a race director must purchase, you can easily see why concessions are sometimes made in the number of amenities available to registered runners: registration processing; T-shirts; law enforcement and volunteers; water, sports drinks, cups; post-race refreshments; marketing and advertising; official timing services and results posting.
Your mission, Tom, is to successfully argue to the race committee that the inclusion of a finishers medal will ensure a larger field of runners and not "break the bank". If you can prove that by offering finishers a medal for completing the course, the race director will attract a significantly larger number of runners, without compromising the essential amenities needed to stage a half marathon, then you will likely be able to win your argument. You might even be able to suggest that many runners would gladly pay more money to cover the costs of a coveted medallion.
One note of warning however, is that many of the runners I know (myself included) run races, not for the T-shirts, medals or trophies, but for a reward which is less concrete. We are the runners who are primarily interested in our official finishing time as we seek to establish or surpass our personal records.
My half marathon PR is 1:49:43. Given the choice of gaining a medal or improving my performance, I'll go for the PR everytime.
Run long and taper.