I’ve worn the race gear during a race twice. In both cases, the weather was a lot colder than anticipated and I would have done anything to stay warm, including throwing the race shirt on over my singlet and adding the race buff to my non-race buff. Gasp.
Whether a runner chooses to break this unwritten rule (don’t wear the shirt until you finish the race) is up to that runner and literally has no effect on me, my running, or my life. But I’ll write about why I’m not a fan, anyway.
I’m not superstitious, but I am a little-stitious. I cringe when I see people wearing race gear (notably, a Boston Marathon jacket before Marathon Monday) before the race. I see race gear as something you wear after you’ve crossed the finish line, and if you wear it before, you’re jeopardizing your race. But again, I’m a little stitious.
Okay, I’m sure this makes me come off as elitist. Sorry. But when you wear a race shirt before or during the race, you are screaming, “I AM A NEW RUNNER!” Not that being a new runner is bad. In fact, it’s a very good thing for our sport (and for you!). But it definitely makes you stand out to the more seasoned crowd. Again, this has literally no effect on me and my running. You do you.
But what if you were supposed to run and didn’t (maybe you were sick, injured, or had a family crisis)? Personally, I don’t wear the race gear if I didn’t run it. I couldn’t start the BAA Half Marathon in 2012 due to an injury. I gave the shirt to my sister who didn’t care what running gear she wore. But I didn’t run the race, so I didn’t feel right wearing it.
On the flip side, pregnant me wore the 2012 New York City Marathon shirt because it fit over my growing bump (this was the year before they started making women’s shirts for women). I thought this was okay because nobody ran that race. I wasn’t misleading anybody.
As for volunteering or other weird situations: I have one friend who has a Boston Marathon media jacket. She wore it while she was pregnant because it was the only running jacket that would close. But she was very self-conscious about it. “I didn’t run this race! And it looks like the official jacket!” To which elitist me said, “But you worked the race. And that’s a media jacket. Wear it.”
If you volunteer, first, thank you. Second, there’s a good chance you get a volunteer-specific shirt. If not, I can’t say I’d mind you sporting the race gear. You may not have run, but you certainly helped make that race happen.
Or maybe I’m just getting soft.
Do you ever wear your race shirt before the race? Why or why not?