Running Shirts: A Hierarchy

10 January 2007

If I am going to endure pain, summon mental strength to override my body’s honed instincts for leisure, or shell out 45 bucks for a typical half marathon, then I demand a quality race shirt.

Race organizers seem to think that my wardrobe lacks shirts of the “I was on the quad” Fraternity event genre. How else could one explain their generally garish design? Where on earth, except at races, would I wear such attire? Heaven forbid I should want to run in a race shirt. Most are made of heavy cotton.

Would you say I have a

I’ve only been running a short time, yet still I have a cavalcade of race t-shirts. What does one do with this stockpile of fibrous gewgaw? I’ve observed runners, and I now know what they tend to do with these shirts. Each shirt a runner owns falls into a sophisticated hierarchy:
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Revered Symbol – Never worn beyond race day or sullied by further human contact. Suitable for framing or homemade shrine.
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Esteemed Trophy – Worn only when you need to impress the right people at the right race. Archetype: The Boston Marathon long sleeve.
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Cool Running (long sleeve non-cotton) – Usually a marathon tech shirt worn proudly when running. Nice enough to be worn in some casual situations.
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Best-Case Cotton (long sleeve cotton) – Usually a major race shirt worn when running in the cold, but not as a first resort. Only worn casually if the design is decent.
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Standard Race Shirt (short-sleeve cotton) – The short sleeve is generally placed on lower status than the long sleeve, regardless of the design. Worn when nothing else clean is available.
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The Eyesore (short-sleeve cotton) – Kept initially, but the urge to donate or throw away is strong.
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The Smock – Given immediately to young children as over-sized sleepwear or weekend art project overwear.
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Strictly Yard work – Also the fate of worn-out running shoes (a similar proliferation problem).
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Oil Change Fodder – Nothing soaks up viscous fluids like cotton. Bonus if the intolerable design is obscured.
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Have I missed anything? Exactly what do you do with the endless supply of shirts?
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