The Curse of the White T- Shirt – Running Swag

I think this simple item of clothing is a good indicator of when a person has crossed the threshold from newbie to fully fledged runner. Its nothing to do with your pb, times, training or even the number of medals hanging off your cork board,

Don’t believe me? Let me explain.

Remember that moment of sheer joy, of utter delight the first time you dipped into your plastic post race swag bag and pulled out that standard medium white tee? The one emblazoned with a cheaply slightly off colour, slightly off centre logo of the race you had just run.

Remember how you wore it EVERYWHERE! To the supermarket, to work, to the gym, to your friends wedding; even though it never fits properly, even though the cut made you look like you were likely to give birth to the entire cast of the Alien films. Still we loved it anyway because it told everyone we were a runner, and that made us hench. Every single one of us has fallen into this trap; on my second half marathon I managed to scam an extra one out of the marshalls.

Newbies of the world I did eventually learn that a true distance runner is not identified by their race t shirts, but by their neon trainers which can be seen from the International Space Station.

The white T shirts are taboo to the distance runner because of their cotton fibres. Cotton doesn’t breathe, it’s more likely to chafe and once it gets wet, stays wet. Yes the white tee can leave you hot, sweaty, sore and smelling like a damp dog. It doesn’t say that on the washing label.

So they stay in the drawer taking up space, when runners receive a new one we sigh and wonder just how we are going to cram it in.

The shine of the white tee eventually wears off, and when it does…… when you end up using them to clean your car, that’s when you know you’ve made it.

If there are any race organisers reading this, please give us something we can actually use….. like pasta. Pasta would be awesome.

Author’s note *we’ll be back to more tales of my early runs I promise but for now a quick rant. Check out the new Runner’s Glossary for Newbies.


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10 Responses to The Curse of the White T- Shirt – Running Swag

  1. Swags says:

    When I was managing races, I always spent the extra few bucks to give participants tech tees. They don’t fit perfectly, per say, but at least you’re less likely to die from being overheated! I think those of us who are Race Directors AND distance runners understand what runners will actually use in relation to how it’s going to effect marketing of the event. The more runners that wear the shirt in public, the higher likelihood of added participants for the next year’s event!

    • I got given a draw string bag in one race and I’ve used that loads, but myself and other runners I know have drawers full of white t-shirts that haven’t been touched. I can see reasoning behind the tech tees, but a cap or bag etc would achieve the same marketing results and perhaps be a bit more useful.

      • Swags says:

        Agreed! I got a blanket from my first marathon and LOVED it. Now, it doesn’t get visibility outside of my house but it keeps me happy. 🙂 Caps are tough because they’re pretty expensive if you’re getting a good quality and something that will actually fit a normal person. Backpacks are good too but I’ve gotten so many from races, that they’re suddenly turning into my ‘White T-shirt’

      • I would KILL for a backpack! We should trade.

  2. TartanJogger says:

    Brilliant post- you’ve said what loads of us think!

  3. A friend of mine has just made a duvet cover out of her old cotton race tee’s. I have about 20 technical t-shirts that I cannot wear just yet, but a lot of races will be getting belated publicity when I can wear them at Christmas 😀

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