Friday, January 27, 2012

The PERFECT Race T-shirt (Is it possible?)

What makes the perfect race T-shirt? You know the one I write about....the one you pay an extra 5 dollars for in your race fee? Or if you get a special "tech" shirt, maybe it's an extra $10 or $15.

The tradition of "giving" participants a shirt as a souvenir for racing is well established. You have to search hard to find a race that doesn't have a shirt, though many smaller races don't, and others have opted to let people choose shirt, or no shirt, either to reduce the fee or the waste of unused or unwanted T-shirts.

I don't keep many. Do you?

Of the ones that I keep, usually they are NOT:
  • white
  • cotton
  • shaped like a box
  • covered in large distracting designs
  • too short (though I see I did not carefully review one of my shirts for the tummy test)
Although, I do make exceptions, especially since race directors seem to have trouble fitting in all these criteria at once.

Here are a few I have kept:
Sucking it in here. Definitely got it too small, but the length is nice! Cotton Prefontaine 10k shirt.

Not sucking it in (enough). Boston 2011 tech T. Should have got the medium: barely meets the jeans without bending over, sleeve length short.

Eugene 2010 tech T. Unisex shirt=I look like a guy. SO glad they got this corrected this year!
Most often, I would rather not have a T-shirt at all. I would rather have a lower entry fee. If I get a shirt that I don't like, it gets donated.

So...what would make the perfect race shirt for YOU?

Here's mine:


Do you have a favorite race T shirt? 
Or a particularly UGLY one?

65 comments:

  1. Prefontaine always runs small. I order up a size -- and LOVE them! I'd try to say that I'm not biased and the fact that he is plastered across the shirt doesn't sway me ... but come on, we know that would be a lie. But they are soft and cute!

    I like a shirt that has a ladies cut to it. I prefer short sleeves because I'd rather throw on arm sleeves on a chilly day than go with full long-sleeve shirts.

    And I think less is more. Like your Boston shirt. Simple, to the point. And striking. I like something that is striking to the eye. Definitely NOT into races with cotton. To me cotton usually means you're going to have some big loud, tacky graphic across the front and I'll never wear it unless it is to bed or working in the yard. Tech is my preferred style so I can keep running in it.

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    1. We are on the same page, Chicka! Maybe some maracas to go with that shirt too? :)

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  2. You can never go wrong with maracas! ;)

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  3. Definitely women's cut and enough length are big ones for me. My very favorite race shirt is a black cotton one from a race last year. It fits PERFECTLY, a rare thing indeed. I do think it's cool when they "give away" hat, arm warmers, whatever, instead. This winter, the "race shirt" was a wind vest--and the main reason I did the race. :)

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    1. A wind vest! That would be nice..

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  4. I have a lot of t-shirts from 5ks and a few unisex shirts from longer distance races but I like that a lot of races are doing both men and women's shirts now. At a 10 mile race last fall they gave out reflective vests instead of shirts, I thought that was creative and neat.

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    1. I am seeing a great vest theme. I need one, too! In safety yellow.

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  5. I just got one of my favorites from the Houston Marathon. The Finisher's shirt is an Under Armour cross between tank and short sleeve shirt. It's fitted and cute. Plus it says Houston Marathon FINISHER large across the front and back so that makes it even more awesome!

    I HATE large, cotton boring participant shirts. I recently started putting in my husbands t-shirt size for some races. I have so many race t's and never wear them. If I know it's not going to be one I like I just get it for him. (I just have to remember and order in an XL!) He doesn't seem to mind my race hand-me-downs. After all, he's the one "paying" for my racing career! ;-)

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    1. That is a MOST excellent idea! Also, I bet that Houston T is cute! Especially with the new PR to go with it. :)

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  6. We have a race here in town that has bins of running shorts separated by size that you paw through...kind of quirky and fun. I agree - they can keep their shirts, give a girl a HAT!

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    1. I like the idea of pawing through stuff....it could get crazy though! The first day of the expo would be a bloodbath! haha

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  7. Our run club recently started the "less entry fee, no shirt" option for their races, and I am so grateful! Like you, most of mine were donated, or stuffed in the closet never getting worn.

    I couldn't make this stuff up, but at a recent race my boyfriend did, the shirt was AIRBRUSHED with JESUS on it. I kid you not...

    Another classic was a drawing of stick runners with one holding a sign saying "You can do it." Good stuff.

    Another thing a different local club is doing is giving mugs, glasses, or steins instead of shirts. These are a nice change, too.

    A club in Birmingham did gloves once; that was kind of cool. I like the hat idea, too.

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    1. I Love Jesus. I would not wear him on a T shirt. :) Not even embroidered...unless I didn't have another shirt.

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    2. I have witnessed the airbrushed shirt...quite the item! I do like the idea of glasses and such-changes it up, especially for those who race a lot! :)

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    3. OOps, i replied to this as Nathan - below!

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  8. A women's cut option is essential - I'm short and have so many long sleeve techs that I need to roll up to use so, alas, trash!!
    Olympic trials medic tent caveat, we had to help our runners into dry shirts and all we had were old tee's from 08-09 that stated 'In Training' for some obscure half marathon. Pretty hilarious to see the elites walking around in them!!

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    1. I would have loved to see that behind the scenes in the "In training" shirts. LOL!!

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  9. The worst ones I have gotten are typically the rock and roll races I have done. I like the very recent Carlsbad HM. It is white (not my favorite either), it is a Tech long sleeve that seems to fit really well. Design simple, but nice.

    I really don't use the shirts once I get them. I do agree they are kinda a waste. I would rather have sweatshirts instead - hoodies. Fat chance of that happening.

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    1. Yeah, fat chance for hoodies in Arizona. :) You are in Arizona right? NO purple with a W either!!!

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  10. Ha ha! Our Boston shirts look identical on except mine is teal:)

    I like the gray T. I love plain gray long T's like that. My worst race shirt was from the Chicago Rock n' roll half which I didn't run because of my stress fracture but I still wanted my $130 shirt. So ugly!!! I've gotten some really nice pullovers from some MN races that I love. Team Ortho races here have awesome swag!!

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    1. I would want that 130$ shirt too!
      I am thinking I need to move to Minnesota so I can
      A) get a pullover
      B) Win a ham or a fishing package
      C) go ice fishing
      D) learn how to properly apply duct tape to my Launches
      E) all of the above

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  11. I actually think that first shirt fits you quite nicely! You have such a good figure that you totally can rock it a little tighter. :-)

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    1. Hah. That's as tight as it gets on here, girl. :)

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  12. I wish the sizing was consistent. If they are cut for fit people I need to go up a size. I think I win the ugliest shirt contest. It looks like someone vomited in techno color on it. I don't see a way to email it to you. If you are on twitter, I'll tweet it once I find the pic or take another pic of it. It's hideous!

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    1. I don't tweet! But I'd like to see the photo! Post it to your blog, or email me from the contact form on the top of my blog :)

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  13. I have yet to find a great one, mostly because the stupid expos seem to keep running out of my size or the shirt is sized too big!!!! Boo!

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    1. When you DO find a great one, post pictures!!! We will need proof :)

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  14. I finally made a blanket from the race shirts that were to weird to wear! Those all-cotton ones are the worst for training but work great for a blanket! I like the cap idea much better than a shirt! I wish they had more races willing to give out belt buckles instead of race medals for every race. I will have to run a ultra to get one of those I guess :)

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    1. A blanket would be a great use for those! But then I would have to have time for another hobby....:)

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  15. Oh so hard to get a race shirt that fits! Why is that? The race directors around here have switched almost exclusively to tech shirts in unisex sizing and they are always way too big. I love races that offer women's sizing in tech shirts! If they can't offer men's and women's sizes in tech shirts, I really would prefer cotton - at least you know you could wash it and make it fit.

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    1. Maybe it could serve as a belted dress? :) lol

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  16. I'm actually quite fond of my recent Rock N Roll San Antonio, despite the results and my Boston 2010 (even though a DNS)...the ugliest? Gotta be the polish pickle one I never once wore that became a dust rag!!

    Love yours picks!

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    1. The polish pickle? That actually sounds like a shirt to wear with pride!

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  17. I have yet to find a race shirt that I enjoy actually running in...they are always too big...too long...or way too cottony!! but...they make great shirts for sleeping in:)

    my fav for running is definately tech shirts...and my fav on you Raina was the Boston one...although I get the point of it being a bit short...but you can pull it off!

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    1. Thanks :)
      I have actually ran in the Boston shirt - once. HA.

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  18. I keep the ones I don't like for dirty jobs like painting. I wear the ones that are tech, long sleeve, made for girls and not ugly.

    I like getting nice hats to run in. I got one as a prize last year and have worn it so much. I like the Prefontaine shirt on you.

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    1. I just love a great running hat too.

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  19. I like my shirt from the marathon when I PR'ed the best!

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    1. Of course! We MUST save those!

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  20. I so agree that I would rather have a lower entry fee! I just think most t-shirts they give out are ugly and a bad cut. I think simple is good....most race shirt designers disagree.

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    1. Saving money helps pay my next entry fee..

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  21. I've been wearing one from last Thanksgiving Turkey Trot -- it's a tech shirt and covered in ads and logo but I love it because it fits really well. I feel sort of guilty wearing it though since I didn't run the race but oh well -- I did pay the fee so I figure I just bought the shirt. HA!

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    1. Haha- no guilt! Your Tday shirt sounds so much better than the BRIGHT yellow cotton sweatshirt (not hoodie, or fitted) I got!

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  22. Funny... I was just writing about this on Friday, too! I finally have a race tech shirt that I like (from Houston, although is white, unfortunately) but it was so surprising that it fit and I liked it, that I wasn't even sure what to do with it! I have so few race shirts that I actually end up wearing to run in.

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  23. How did I miss this?

    OK, I never wear my race shirts, even the tech once. I wish more races had an option for not getting a shirt... I usually get a bigger size and give them to Chris though he is getting tired of being asked when he will run his next race. Maybe I need to sell my Boston shirts on ebay...hmm, that's an idea...

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    1. Poor Chris.....
      Ebay shirt sales? A new career is waiting for YOU! You could really make bank if you threw in some medals, I bet!!

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  24. i love race tees. my friend had so many that she was able to have 2 quilts made out of them...not THAT i would love to be able to do someday!

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    1. You should do it, Mel! I bet it turns out nice too :)

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  25. Okay, let me try again. I'm getting tired and my comment was full of typos!
    I like race t shirts. In fact I love them and sometimes it's the only reason I go in a race. Sad but true. But I only wear them if they're women's cut, a pretty colour, and long enough in body/sleeves.
    Enjoyed your post:)
    Barbara
    My Running Shortz

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    1. :) I do that too (re-type)!
      You need to direct me to these races you are finding with the pretty shirts.

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  26. Ha... if it wasn't for my race shirts I wouldn't have any T-Shirts!

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    1. In Hawaii, maybe you don't NEED a shirt! I would want a sweatband. Maybe some post-race slippers?

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  27. Of all the T-shirts I've been given, I only ever wear four. In Britain they seem to think most runners are the size of rugby players and provide T-shirts that look more like night gowns on the likes of me! I recently gave two carrier bags full to our local charity shop.

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    1. And I bet they enjoyed looking at every single one! Somewhere a rugby team is well outfitted for practice.

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  28. Great post! That Pre Lives gray shirt does look good. My favorite shirts are all of the tech tshirts that are given out when you do half marathons and marathons. I use all of those for training. My least favorite was from the SF half marathon 2011, the shirt was orange and long sleeve. Ugly!

    Crazy about Chip Kelly almost leaving Oregon, I bet he stays there forever. He is comfortable, and knows what he's doing there.

    Thanks for the link to that Johnson Jocks blog about a coach, I'll start following her...

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  29. Ha! Orange has to be the right shade :)

    Kelly - I am sure he has some plans coming.

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  30. I actually REALLY like that grey shirt Raina and it looks so cute on you!!!!!

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  31. The one from 13.1 marathon isn't very comfortable. I think I got too small of a size. But I actually haven't run enough races to have a super bad shirt.

    Btw, I tagged you in a 11 things questionaire that's been going around blogworld.

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  32. Yea, I'm really impressed with Davila. She seems to have come out of nowhere before Boston 2011. Then she almost wins it, and now I think she has a decent chance of medaling in the marathon at the Olympics. Her ability is amazing.

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  33. oh man i have a slew of awful shirts. it seems only a couple have actually caught on to the idea of making shirts that fit women

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  34. Totally agree the Boston shirts run small...so glad I tried it on right at packet pickup.
    My ugly race tees become my pjs. I'm sexy that way.

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  35. thank you so much. foosbobetr good Archive

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  36. I prefer food and typical local products instead of t-shirts.
    If I get t-shirts I prefer the tech even if I use to wear the cotton ones during summer (if they are not ridiculous or ugly).

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  37. Hi! I have been looking at your blog and you have some cool things on there, I love the T by the way! :)

    Racing Jackets

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