Prizes at Races

I ran a race recently and was at the prize giving afterwards and thought, why don't we get prizes for being the last runner.

Surely we put it just as much effort as the quicker runners!

Not that I'm taking anything away from the quicker runners, just wish I would run that fast.image



  • The last person home at our local ladies 5k gets a bouquet of flowers.
  • I know some people dread the idea of being last, and to make a fuss of them for it wouldn't make them feel better!

    Besides, in longer races the winners have had their prizes and gone home long before I finish (and I'm not last!)

  • That sounds more like it!
  • I was suprised at this race cause I normally miss the prize giving too.  They waited untill everybody had finished before giving out any prizes.
  • You'd get the running equivalent of track stands, with people hovering just the right side of the finishing line for days, til everyone got bored and went home image
  • For IM races - the last person gets escorted in by the marshals and the fireworks go off. Its fantastic to watch. Most people come back to the finish line just to see it.
  • With a 5k that wouldn't be a problem, but a marathon might be a different matter image

  • cougie - is that the last person before the cut off, or the last on the course, i have heard that some races will allow people to finish outside the cut off time but are classed as DNF
  • Too easy to cheat! Wouldn't it be agony to watch?! image

    Quite a few races do spot prizes - make a sprint for the line and collapse over the other side and you're quite likely to get one of those in my experience.

    Actually, I would say on average the quicker runners have spent far more time training than those at the back so have made more 'effort'. That's not to say the relationship between effort and acheivement is straight forward.

  • Hard to say really - I've known some people to drop out when they realise they arent going to make the cut off - so usually all the finishers are within the limits. Certainly IMDE for the last 2 years - all the finishers were within the limit - they get the fireworks.

  • Yeah I suppose image

    Doesn't matter how much effort I put into training I am just a born plodder.

  • Mellifera: "I would say on average the quicker runners have spent far more time training than those at the back so have made more 'effort'"

    I'm not convinced of that.  As someone who's slow and does long distance my training sessions are often longer than those for someone quicker.  If we are both doing 10 mile runs, then I'm going to be out twice as long as some quicker runners.  Of course the actual figures will vary, but I'd say on average the slower you are the longer the time you spend training.

  • but look at the winners mileages though - paula runs something like 140 miles a week - so i think its fair to say that not many people put in that amount of hours. fast people as usually fast because they do huge mileages in training.
  • I think the clue is actually in the word 'race' image
  • Well really most 'races' everyone gets a prize, like a medal, T-shirt or whatever.  And of course there's going to be a few who really do live to train.  I still think that you can't say that the people further forward have always spent longer training than the slow people down the back.  If you've got two people using the same training plan then the slower person will have done just as much as the faster person, and spent a lot longer doing it.

    And if 'the clue' is the word 'race' then maybe all of us who are not going to win should give up and go home.  Be a lot less people doing a few 'races' then....

  • At the end of the day,running is meant to be a serious competitive sport. Just because-unlike most other competitive sports,where you can only compete against those of a similar standard to yourself-I can line up behind sub-30 10k or sub-65 Half Marathon runners,does not mean I am as worthy of a prize as they are.

    The level of dedication and intensity of training put in by the elites is WAY beyond 99% of us.

    That doesn't mean that anyone should "give up and go home".Sharing in the race experience and challenging your own PB's is reward in itself,but the prizes should be reserved for the winners.

  • I think they should be given roller skates or something image

    Just kidding! image 

  • should we also have prizes for all those who are last in their age category too, Male and Female ?

    and team prizes

     seems a bit elitist to me to give just one prize to the absolute slowest.

     and you'd need to have dope testing, just  to make sure they hadn't taken some kind of performance impeding drug

  • A prize for last place hardly makes it a race, IMHO, however I like the bouquet of flowers idea.

    My preferred way of solving this "mid-pack" dilemma, is to issue spot prizes to every 10th finisher. Just watch as two runners enter the final 50m and sprint for the line like the Euro Champs depended on it, only for the second placed person to get the spot prize.

    This is why I like the Hogweed Trot 10k, and the Cheddar Half. Apart from being mirror flat.

  • As I said before I consider my medal/whatever to be my prize.  Quite happy with that myself.

    However, I think people who are going on about 'races' being just about winning and only those who come early on deserving a prize... I think you are not being realistic about how races are these days.  If that were the case, then only elite athletes should be there.

    Of course, major races need 'the pack' to pay for road closures, policing etc.  So slow runners are basically financialy supporting the fast runners getting prizes.  Thanks guys...

    And as I said before, yes, there are going to be a few elites who live to train.  But if you take two runners using the same Runner's World marathon program for instance, then the slower runner will have put more hours in.  Therefore you cannot say the slower runners have trained less, they may well have trained more.  Sorry, but you can't argue with that.

  • of course you can argue that. I am probably mid pack and its pretty certain that if i ran more i would be faster. of course there may be exceptions to the rule but the vast majority of people in all sports get better with practice. Look at the sub five marathon training plans and compare it with the sub three plans - the fast people will be running for a lot longer and on more days. Ok it takes slower people longer to do the distance on their plans but they still wont be doing as much training either in hours or miles done.
    anyway very few do it for prizes - for the vast majority its probably just for self achievement and the joy of competing.
  • Actually I find if I train more I end up injured, not getting better.  But then I do long run/walks of up to 5/6 hours.  How long do your longest long runs for marathon training take?
  • PS: I do agree that often more training means better time, and it's for the achievment anyway.  Just don't like assumptions that those finishing last must be lazy gits.  I know how hard I've trained to finish last in a marathon!  I'm sure it's a lot harder and longer than a lot of people finishing ahead of me.
  • Rowan- I just quickly checked on your profile and it says you have been running for less than a year?

     Obviously I don't know how up-to-date that is but 2 main points really...

     1. Training isn't just measured in day-to-day or week-to-week training - it's something that's accumulated over a long time. It's not all that difficult to train hard for a few days- what is very difficult is maintaining high levels of training over long periods and in this I'm talking years.

     2. 5-6 hours run/walks? I know of very very few coaches that would advocate training that much for the marathon in single sessions - there's a massive difference between logging a single huge training run for a week and consistent effort over a week - I see lots of people begin training and their long run is over 50% of their weekly mileage! Much harder to split training up and be training every day than to put a couple of big days in each week but much more beneficial especially with regards to injury.

     Though I don't know your history do either of these apply to you?

     On a very general platform lets take an average "person" without gender or age.

     If our person is male they should ran faster than if they are female.

    If they are younger than the age of around 20 they should run slower than those over 20.

    If they are older than the age of around 35/40 they should run slower than those under 35/40.

    Otherwise the "differences" in a population raised in roughly uniform conditions (i.e. no point contrasting kenyans having lived at altitude) then the major difference will be the amount of training involved.

    Obviously there are problems and these are sometimes seen but on a macro scale the athlete who has done more training will run faster than the athlete who has done less.

     On a micro-level - i.e. say between the top 5 positions in a race - then this becomes less of a factor but generally the harder trained runners will be faster.

     There will always be a few exceptions of people who have trained hard not being able to accomplish or stuck at the back regardless but generally these people are "injured" or subject to the training problem I mentioned above- that they have only been training for a short period as opposed to a long time and so have they really been training "harder". The final issue which can come into play is the holistic attitude to training. Technically you wouldn't count say not drinking, eating a careful diet, ensuring you get 8 hours of sleep as being part of training but they clearly are together with more obvious examples such as plyometrics and core stability.

     The final reason is those who regardless "should not" be as fast as others regardless of training (age and gender) and these are rewarded at nearly every race.

    I disagree with "spot prizes" as there should never be a "greater" prize you can "win" for giving less than your best effort in a race but do think that encouraging the "masses" in the sport is an important issue- but rather than prizes value for money at races should be looked at.

     That said if there is sufficient demand handicap racing is the obvious solution.

  • did NOT realise that was going to be so long...

     sorry folks- really didn't want to do my management essay though!

  • It is a fine line between over training and getting injured and getting the most miles done in preparation. I'm lucky in that the only injuries I pick up are when I fall over or something - I'm too lazy(or clever ?)  to get the over use injuries.  

    My longest runs tend to be three, three and a half hours.

    I like the hot spot prizes - I've had a couple of those - they're nice and I didnt know they were doing them anyway.

    Just getting round a marathon is a major achievement - I dont think that anyone could call any marathoner lazy.

  • Hi Bryn.  Yep the profile is out of date: it's over 2 years, 2 marathons and 3 halves now.

    "5-6 hours run/walks? I know of very very few coaches that would advocate training that much for the marathon in single sessions"

    Exactly... I'm actually doing MORE in my training than many zoomy fast people.  But if I cut down then as someone who takes 7 hours to do a marathon I'm not going to get the miles in on long training.  If I do the couple of hours long run most people would expect I don't get much further than 8 miles.  That's not enough for a marathon long run training session is it?  I allow my body to recover by having more days off in the week than someone who does shorter (time-measured) long runs might.  I suspect I actually put more hours in training than the average person finishing ahead of me in a race.

    Of course I'm hoping I'll continue to slowly improve and maybe one day reach GFA standard.  But I'm not holding my breath.

    Bryn, I can also play the splitting people into catagories game...

    Imagine you have a group of 40 year olds following the Runners World beginners schedule, a group of 30's following the intermediate, and some 20 year olds following the advanced.  In each the slower runners would take longer to do the distance measured sessions, and therefore would put more time on average into training than the faster runners.

  • Bryn

    I think that you are fortunate to be an excellent athlete with all the chips stacked in your favour: youth, ability, some years of training, a hard work ethic, intelligence, and a hard training programme. I could probably say that you are good looking and a bit of a magnet, but that would be a guess. My point is that you are truly fortunate in that you are a serious contender for the podium, even the top prize. Almost 100% of the rest of us simply are not contenders. To keep interest amongst the remainder of the field there has to be some incentive. Gender and Vet categories help, as they invoke the competitive ethic. But once the first 20 people have finished the prize incentive has also evaporated.

    I don't think I have ever been to a race where a spot prize as had significant value, maybe a pound or two, yet the winner will have taken a proper prize, a trophy, and the plaudits. Spot prizes aren't normally announced but quietly collected from a side stall.

    My prize winning history includes:

    Several boxes of chocolate biscuits. For some vet category position in a x/c race when insufficient people turned up. Again.

    Some county medals. Again because insufficient people turned up. Very embarrassing.

    One spot prize (a round of goats cheese) - and I was very pleased and surprised by that.

    One real prize as 1st V45 in a proper 700 entry open road race half marathon. I really don't know where the whippets were that day, but I was really not expecting to have won anything. I was doing a few warm down miles and missed the prize giving!

    I'd like to be in the V45 frame again, but shall have to keep trying harder.

  • Blisters- I'm there right now but mostly due to hard-work. My first 10k was over 60 minutes and I've routinely been last at races at various levels as well as a "mid-packer". Concentrated and hard training has taken me to a good level.

     Even when I wasn't anywhere near to getting a prize, I've never wanted to receive a prize for not being good enough- I have always wanted to receive prizes for positive achievements and that's why I fundamentally disagree with spot prizes.

     Whilst the sport relys on the mid-packers and slower runners to shore itself up at the end of the day even if they don't receive a prize they should still be proud that they are there racing as hard as they can as after all- these are races at the end of the day! and if you receive a prize that's wonderful - but more important to runners at any level below elite - the reward of just plain racing well is enough.

    I'm also not convinced that nearly anyone with sufficient training provided they have no medical problems can't be trained to a level whereby they can win prizes at their local races.


    I'll deal with your last point first. Training by distance to my mind is ridiculous and it makes your own examples of 6-7 hour training runs ridiculous as you're only covering a certain level of distance.

    When working out schedules I always work in terms of minutes run and in that case the faster runners will be working out for the same time but covering more distance in the sessions than the slower runners.

    Secondly- you're missing a key point in that you're just looking at it immediately in terms of "the slower runners will be training more"- the key point isn't where they start- it's where they end! and if they are training more they will quickly get to the level of the faster runners who will not improve as much. Which is the crux of my argument- runners improve and the ones doing the most training will improve the most.

    On a more personal level- yes I'm sure some of the athletes ahead of you will have done less training but I believe that over a long period you will catch more of them and it depends on which categories you are in. Secondly I am strongly against having long runs composing a large percentage of your mileage and very strongly believe that running an hour a day at a harder pace would improve marathon pace and performance a lot more than 7 hours on a Sunday.  Too much in my mind is made of individual marathon preparation and I would much rather see someone become a "complete" and better runner than see them become a better "marathon" runner.  Comparing the correlation between 10k times and marathon performances strongly backs this up.

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