Tuesday, December 13, 2005

T-Shirt Etiquette

In the running community the wearing of race T-Shirts has become a sign of accomplishment and fashion. Choosing just the right T-Shirt for that special occasion can be a daunting and difficult task. The following guidelines have been compiled (in fun), to help the responsible T-shirt wearer avoid potential embarrassment and/or elevate their perceived status in the running community.

Note: This is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek review of the sometimes superstitious regard runners have for their finisher shirts. My personal view: I don't care if you wear your shirts wrapped around your head in an ever-expanding turban...so please, no nasty-grams back to me on back-channel e-mail. Have fun.

T-Shirt Etiquette Guideline:
1. A shirt cannot be worn unless the wearer has participated in the event; (Significant others and volunteers are exempt).

2. Any race tee, less than a marathon distance, shouldn’t be worn to an ultra event. It simply doesn’t represent a high "cool factor " and sends a red flag regarding your rookiness. It's like taking a knife to a gunfight. If you set a PR at the Pikes Peak Marathon, definitely wear that shirt whenever possible; that one counts.

3. When you are returning to a race in which you previously finished, then wear the shirt from the first year you completed the race. Don’t short-change yourself by wearing the shirt from the year before. It doesn’t adequately display the feat of accomplishment or the consummate veteran status that you are due.

4. Never wear a race shirt from the race you are about to run. It displays a lack of running integrity and might put the bad-heebee-jeebee-mojo on you for the race. Wearing a T-shirt of the race, while currently running said race, is discouraged. It’s like being at work and constantly announcing "I’m at work". Besides, you wont have the correct post-race shirt then...unless you like to wear sweaty, pitted-out clothes on a regular basis. If you do, then go back to the swamp, Gomer.

5. Never wear a shirt from a run that you did not finish. To wear a race shirt is to say "I finished it". Exceptions: see guideline #1.

6. A DNF’er may wear a race shirt if... the letters DNF are boldly written on the shirt in question (using a fat Sharpie or a Marks-A-Lot).

7. During a race, the wearing of shirt from a previously completed year is acceptable. Wear the oldest T-shirt you have (see guideline #3). This is probably a good practice because you now have no excuse to drop out since you’ve done it before.

8. If possible, runners should buy significant others T-shirts which can be worn without regard to running the race. (see guide #1). Keep in mind, they support your "running Jones" more than you think. They also have ways of punishing you that you can't even imagine.

9. Volunteers have full T-shirt rights and all privileges pertaining thereto. So there. Remember, you can always volunteer for a race and get a shirt. I encourage this as your civil duty to be a member of the running community. Races don't happen without volunteers, folks.

10. No souvenir shirts: therefore, friends or anyone else not associated with the race may not wear a race shirt. If your mom thinks that your Boston shirt is lovely, tell her to QUALIFY for Boston herself, & send in her application early for next year, so she can earn her own shirt. A downside to this: she still has plenty of time to write you out of her will between her training runs for the big race. Note that your mom CAN wear your finisher's shirt under one of these 4 conditions- 1) you live with your mother; 2) she funded your trip to the race; 3) she recently bailed you out of the slammer; 4) All of the above. There is an exception to this guideline: (refer to # 1...If you are from Arkansas and your mom is your Significant Other).

11. Always wear the race shirt of your last race at the current race’s pre-race briefing. The more recent the race, the better. This is a good conversation starter. However, avoid the tendency to explain how that it was a training run for this, and this is just a training run for the next, etc. It just sounds like your rationalizing mediocre performances. Sometimes it’s best to live in the here and now. ("I've never been more prepared for a race! This is the big one!)

12. It must be clean, but dried blood stains are okay, especially if it is a trail race or a particularly tough event. If you're an ultrarunner, you can even leave in mud and grass stains, (and porcupine quills). Not washing-out the skunk scent is pushing the macho thing a bit too far, though.

13. Never wear a T-shirt that vastly out-classes the event you're running. It’s like taking a gun to a knife fight. Or like unleashing an atomic bomb among aboriginal natives. You get the idea.

14. Also: never wear a blatantly prestigious T-shirt downtown or at the mall among non-running ilk. People will just think you have a big head, which you do. You'll also get stupid questions, like, "how long was that marathon?" If it's a shirt to a 50 or 100-miler, they'll think it's a shirt for a cycling event or just think you're frigging nuts, which (of course), you probably are.

15. The Bryner Guideline: Never wear a shirt that has more sponsors listed on it than people that ran in the event. (Are you listening, race directors?) A shirt with too many logos on it is just plain ugly. By the way, you can let ANYONE wear this shirt; non-finishers and distant relatives, alike. If you respect your spouse or mother, though, you won't let either of them wear it. You can wear it to change your jalopy's oil or as part of a Halloween costume. It would also serve well as bedding in your kid's gerbil cage.

16. The Spencer Guideline: If an event is cancelled at the last minute, but the event shirts were already given out, you can't wear the shirt unless you actually ran the race on that day. This means you will have to run your own unsupported event, through snow storms, hurricanes, or whatever lame-ass excuse the Race Organizers came up with for cancelling said event. If you still want to wear the shirt, you have to mark with a sharpie, "I didn't run this lousy event", across the front of the shirt.

17. Never wear a shirt that is so old, thin, and threadbare that you can see the color of your nipples or chest hair. This seems to be just a guy thing, especially and old-codger-runner-guy thing. Here's the test guys: if you're too scared to machine-wash your 1978 Tab Ten-Miler shirt for fear of it wafting down the drain as meer subatomic particles, then it's probably too transparent to wear in public. If you can (still) remember your great performance at that particular day and you want to save it for posterity, PLEASE have it framed so that you can keep it on the wall of your den or your "I love me" room, and (at least) out of public view. Better yet, have it sewn into a quilt. You can then sit on your couch and read back-copies of Runner's World, cuddled up with your "runner's binky", with a glass of warm milk.

18. By the way, if you don't know what terms like DNF, volunteer, or Significant Other are, then you shouldn't wear any race shirt until you know what they mean, and you shouldn’t have any meaningful relationships, either. You should probably become a hermit and/or New Age "Tantric" runner, sitting at home in the lotus position performing virtual marathons in your mind, while sniffing used GU packets, incense, and patchouli.

T-shirts must be used sensitively. Worn responsibly, they can help expand one's consciousness and immerse you in a great conversation with your running brethren. Worn stupidly, they can cause fright, horror, vacant stares, sprained ankles, and general social unrest.
This list was formed from using various tri and runners' submissions, and then acquired, exfoliated, and added to by me. You can send any suggestions of yours to me. If they are semi-coherent and not too offensive, I might add them. But then again, I might not.


Scooter said...

You clearly have way too much time on your hands. A corollary (my math and English teachers might be pissed at my spelling) to rules 6, 15, & 17 might be added, relating to acceptable use of DNF/ DNS/ transparent shirts - use as pre-race throwaways (like at a big marathon) does constitute acceptable use. When used in this fashion, there is no need to mark - people know you don't care.

Dirt Runner said...

This might be the best post of the year.

aaron (air-run) said...

wow, you defintely put some good thought and time into that one.

Ben, aka BadBen said...

I didn't waste any time to post this...I just cut and pasted.

It has slowly developed over the years from its original simpler version (from two different sources on the web). I put my own spin on it, then added to it and updated it over the years from suggestions. I've posted this and used it on my group site and on the DRS and Ultra Listserves for the last 5 or 6 years.

robtherunner said...

I have read a version of this list before, but you did an excellent jon expanding on it. This is the longest version I have seen. And alright I will stop wearing my Cascade Crest Classic 100 miler shirt everywhere I go now. The moment is over.

Bolder said...

#6 is a classic.

it has come to my attention, that there are "IN TRAINING" for Ironman Florida t-shirts available, i'm making a judgement call, and thinking you wouldn't approve...

i'm on the fence, after all, it is not a finisher's jersey.

also, i think there should be a corollary to a number of the rules re race t-shirts that are cotton vs microfiber. i think no cotton t-shirt should be worn either in race conditions, or in training... cotton is only appropriate for fashion...

also, any race t-shirt, microfiber or cotton that has your unique bib number digitally transferred onto it as part of your packet, should be worn during the race (Nike Runs as examples)

good post!

E-Speed said...

I broke rule number 1! But only because the shirt was AWESOME! And I know I will run the race eventually ;)

But I never wear it to any workouts where people that have actually raced that run are there :)

Jack said...

Excellent post, I thoughly enjoyed reading that. I find myself agreeing with most of it too, I must be one of the darn runners;-)

Dallen said...

This is a great one. A few years ago I somehow managed to have a Hardrock 100 shirt come into my posession. I felt guilty just owning the shirt. Some things are priceless and should not be desecrated by the unworthy.

Tammy said...

I proudly wear my "24 Hours of Adrenaline" fleece pullover all the time. But hey, I volunteered, at 2 #@^! o'clock in the morning.. on top of Mt. Whistler... in the #@^% freezing cold, and almost got hypothermia... So, I'm gonna wear the ^$@! fleece pullover! Hehe... :)

brent d. said...

OMG That's funny. I laughed out loud at the "Don't wear the shirt of the race you are currently participating in". That's just too much of a Jinx for me and one day I may just have to tell that to those individuals!

Rae said...

That's hilarious. I love #4 & #18. All the "I'm going to run this race while wearing the all cotton shirt I JUST got" kill me. What would they do if they were out of their size??? (Like they always are for me!) Would they go naked???