15 Creative Things to Do With Your Old Race Medals, Bibs, T
By Cindy Kuzma
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Each race you complete comes with many intangibles: The thrill of accomplishment, memories of obstacles overcome, amazing celebrations at the finish, and ideas for what to do differently next time.
But they also tend to leave you with lots of, well, stuff: bibs, shirts, and medals, among other paraphernalia.
These items are cool individually and serve as visible evidence of your victories. However, if you do a lot of races—or if you live in a small space—saved items can quickly become less like memorabilia and more like clutter.
The answer doesn't have to be tossing them, though. In fact, there are a whole bunch of things you can do with your old race medals, bibs, and shirts. Some of these options can breathe new life into your race swag and make them display-friendly, while other options serve as a way to pass along your swag so more people can enjoy it too. Here are 15 cool, creative ways to display, repurpose, or recycle your race mementos.
A box of race medals shoved under your bed isn't the best way to showcase pride in all those accomplishments. If you want to display them in a more stylish way—ribbon and all—you may need some hardware help, which can come in the form of decorative hooks, posts, or brackets.
And no matter what type of runner you are—or your decor style—there's likely a display to match. Options include metal models with inspirational (or funny) sayings, like this one from Allied Medal Hangings that proclaims "Zombie Apocalypse Training." Or if you prefer something a little more rustic, the Woodinout store on Etsy offers a wooden carving with a scenic trail depiction. You can also get personalized designs incorporating your name, race locations or distance, or personal bests.
If you want to keep it simple, you can cut off the ribbon and nail race medals directly into the wall or peg board, through the hook or hole that once held the neckband. Grouping them together can create a modern metallic piece that doubles as a bragging wall.
Prefer a more artful arrangement, and don't trust your own interior designer skills to get there? Ohio-based Prestige Medal Displays will send you a stylish structure made of reclaimed steel, along with adhesive to stick your awards to mounting plates.
Prestige Medal Displays
Another alternative, after snipping the ribbons? Use glue to attach a small magnet to the back, so your medals will stick to your fridge or file cabinet. That way you’ll get a boost of pride each time you reach for the OJ or get your files ready for work.
Replace the ribbon with a plain keychain ring, or attach your medal to your existing keychain; smaller medals work well here, though larger ones will help you locate your keys in a large bag.
If the medal is already spoken for with any of the above options, but you still want to preserve the ribbon, try this: Use the ribbon itself as a lanyard after you remove the medal, and attach a keyring with a clip instead.
Here your medal can do double duty, reminding you of your achievement while keeping your post-race recovery beverage from ruining your furnishings.
The Kudos Coaster Plus has a clear snap-on top, multiple colors of foam lining inside, and a raised lip to keep condensation at bay. You can either snip the ribbon off or tuck it underneath before enclosing the medal inside.
Chicago runner Lizbeth Nieves folds the ribbons behind her race medals, then winds threads through the hooks or holes, turning them into ornaments that adorn her evergreen. Just make sure to pick study branches to hold them!
This involves some advanced crafting skills, but if you’re up for a challenge, you can use your medals to make wind chimes.
You’ll want to get something sturdy to secure them to—runners have used a dowel rod or the bottom of an old birdfeeder—and hang them on beading wire or fishing line, close enough to gently clank. (For more comprehensive instructions, check out this article in Austin Fit Magazine.) Or, for a bit of a shortcut, you could add a medal or two to the bottom of an existing wind chime.
With so many creative, colorful designs, race T-shirts make ideal material for a patchwork quilt (with batting in between layers) or simpler, lighter-weight blankets. Don't worry if you’re not proficient in stitching. Companies like Keepsake T-Shirt Quilts, MemoryStitch, or Project Repat will design, cut, and sew for you.
Keepsake T-Shirt Quilts
A few quick snips can also transform a race shirt into a sustainable vehicle for your farmers market or grocery-store purchases. This video tutorial shows you how to do it, no sewing required.
Order a keepsake running bib holder specifically designed to store them ($25+, Etsy). Or, slide them into the sleeves of a photo album or clip them into a binder—they already have holes for pins, so there's no punch needed.
Artistic runner Emelia Cellura uses Mod Podge to affix her bibs onto large, wooden letters spelling out "Run"—a project she describes in detail on her blog.
The website Bibs2Bags.com will take race bibs, shirts, or a combination of the two and use them to create bags of various sizes—backpacks, duffels, or purses. Or you can take photos of any race memorabilia—bibs, medals, shirts—and have them printed on a wide range of products, from clothes and shoes to towels, phone cases, and wall-hangings.
Search your local craft store or online retailer for a glass- or plastic-covered frame, usually lined with a soft material like felt, foam, suede, or linen. Pin or hang your hard-earned memorabilia inside, for display on a wall or shelf.
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Some custom-made cases also include spots for bibs and other mementos. And if you don't feel confident in arranging things artfully, companies like Roots Family History will build a memory box for you.
You can send the bling you earn to Medals4Mettle—a non-profit based in Indianapolis—and they’ll award it to a child or adult with a serious illness, such as cancer. In the process, you can share your race story too. We Finish Together has a similar mission.
Or facilitate your own personal transfer. Washington, DC–based runner Jennifer Hickey has run more than 200 races dedicated to a fallen service member, veteran, or first responder; she sends her medal to the family of the person she's honoring, or if she can, delivers it in person.
The appropriately named Sports Medal Recycling, based in Massachusetts, is a group of runners who will accept your medals by mail, scrap them at local recycling facilities, then use the proceeds to support their fundraising minimums when they run for charity.