No t-shirt option
By Fred Deckert
Is it time to retire the T-Shirt as a race entry staple? Probably not for awhile, but it has become so commonplace as to seem a race entry requirement. For those of us who have been running and racing for years, shelf space for more T’s has become non-existent. As one who has been blessed? with hundreds of them over the years, use is possible, disposal has become a necessity. That’s why wife Margarete and I opt for the “no T shirt option” whenever possible. Besides saving 3-5 bucks it relieves us of the unwanted burden of adding to our surplus. Several options exist for useful disposal of your extra shirts. Judy Alexander, Brian Corbin and Jere Moore collect them for donation to the needy. Some folks make them into quilts or bedspreads. Rational people would say, why get them in the first place? There are plenty of good reasons; new runners want a memento of their early races and all runners want mementos of notable events, especially those that are more unusual. Of course there are race sponsors whose main reason is to promote themselves or their organization via the T-shirt, the most ubiquitous mobile billboard available at reasonable cost.
Race directors such as David and Mary Jean Yon, Joe and Nadine Dexter routinely include a no T option in their race flyers, but most do not. Some say that most runners don’t avail themselves of the option. What if the option were reversed? How about this wording? “Race entry $7, include $5 extra if T shirt is wanted”. I’d bet that there would be a big change in the entry results.
Besides frugality, perhaps less reliance on the mandatory inclusion of the T’s and their extra cost would lead to greater race participation by families and those on limited budgets. That’s a priority, since races have for years been dominated by adults advancing further and further in age. There’s nothing wrong with older runners participating, there’s a lot that good about it, but the sport needs young blood to survive.
If you agree, the only way you’ll get results is to let race directors know that you want a change. They are like the rest of us, they won’t change unless there’s incentive. I plan to start writing to race directors asking for that option and advising that I’m not likely to be there if they don’t. Meanwhile if you want to get rid of clean, wearable T’s bring them to the races. Joe and Nadine Dexter, Margarete Deckert and myself will gather them for distribution to those in need.