? Readers’ Roundtable: What Do You Like in a Race Tee?

Just a few of the awesome Peachtree shirts of yesteryear

Keeping the lights on at Salty HQ means we need to appeal to sponsors here and there, but we’re committed to making sure we only bring you stuff we really think you’ll like. That’s why we were so excited when The AJC Peachtree Road Race approached us about sponsoring today’s Readers’ Roundtable. Not only is Peachtree an Atlanta 4th of July tradition, it’s the world’s largest 10k, the largest American road race of any distance, and attracts runners from all over the US and beyond. The AJC Peachtree lottery ends tomorrow, March 22 at 11:59pm, and AJC and the Atlanta Track Club want YOU to enter that lottery in hopes you will be one of the 60,000 runners who line up on race day. They don’t even charge you until you get in, so there’s nothing to lose!

One of the many reasons “The Peachtree” is so celebrated is that each spring there’s a t-shirt contest, in which Atlantans (and you!) can vote for the race shirt design. The winner is only revealed on race day, when runners finally receive the winning shirt after completing the race. Inspired by all the nifty designs throughout the Peachtree’s history, we want to know from you what makes a great race shirt. Is it design? What’s more important, the cut or the color? Does it have to have gendered sizing? Do you like a ringer tee, a cap sleeve, a longer hem? Does it need to be a threadbare “vintage” shirt from a race your mom ran in 1986 or do you prefer a brand-new tech shirt?

We want to know: What does your ideal race shirt look like? What makes a race shirt great?

Cinnamon made Salty Running, takes lots of pictures and drinks lots of coffee. By day she's a camera assistant for films and tv in New York, and by night she's on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is a mix of satirical humor, finding wholeness as an average runner, cheering for runners at all paces and more.

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  1. I like a good design, technical fabric, and definitely a gendered fit. I think you all did a post on this a while ago, but “unisex” shirts are really just men’s shirts, and they never seem to fit quite right. Also, I’ve seen races that charge extra for a woman’s cut shirt (Rehoboth Beach Marathon, I’m looking at you), which I find totally offensive, so that’s a no go for me. I should get a shirt that fits and that I’ll actually wear for the same price as the men!

  2. I want one I’ll wear or don’t bother. That means either a nice technical shirt for running or a nice fitting women’s shirt I can throw on after a run or to knock around in – I like the vintage looking ones for this. I do wear some nicer unisex tshirts in the summer with shorts or long sleeves in the winter when I’m out and about with the kids. I prefer the 50/50 blends. But cheap Ill-fitting tech shirts are the worst.

  3. Two options for me: 1.) a cotton shirt, good quality fabric with a bit of tech material, longer length, gender specific, and decent design so I can wear it on the weekends walking around; 2.) tech shirt, very light weight material, again- length please! Bright colored, gender specific, decent graphics. Reflective is a bonus.

    No matter what, I need a nice long length. I’m only 5’4” and have a shorter torso, but amazingly, half of all race shirts are still too short for me. If you are going to have long sleeves, make sure they are really long. nothing worse than a boxy shirt and exposed wrists.

    Also, no matter what you choose, please put an accurate size chart on your page for race registrations. It can minimize shirt trade-ins.

    1. Yeah, how come nobody uses a size chart!? Well…I bet often times the shirts that will be printed upon haven’t been selected when most people register, but once they do choose a supplier and a shirt brand/model, it would be really nice to know. I really like it when there’s a shirt ticket on your bib with a size printed on it (ahem, NYRR) so that athletes can only take the size they ordered. That way nobody who orders the RIGHT size gets screwed when a ton of people who didn’t order a medium take a medium size shirt.

      1. The thing is, though, you can *think* you ordered the right size shirt but then see them and realize that nope, that’s not gonna work. Especially since they don’t use size charts! So I’m on board with the size printed on the ticket, but please give me a way to trade if they turn out to be using children’s–or giants’–sizing!

    2. Yeah, I’m only 5’4″ too and I’ll tell you I have problems with shirt length too, particularly after having kids. I HATE short shirts!

      1. Oh good, so it’s not just me. I feel like I had to get rid of about half the shirts in my closet after having kids, because they were suddenly too short. I thought they were shrinking, haha!

  4. For me it’s all about the color! I admit it, I always really just want a black t-shirt, which is why my favorite cotton race tee is from the 5th Ave Mile back in 2012. That’s what I’m going to love forever and wear when I’m not running…but that’s just my personal style, I know not everyone likes to wear black all the time.

    Runner-up colors are jewel tones or fluorescents, especially yellow and orange (I LOVE the 1983 shirt in the collage above). My favorite long-sleeve is a mustard yellow cotton Turkey Trot shirt (It’s bright AND a jewel tone!) and my favorite techie is a fluorescent orange, really lightweight long sleeve from the 2013 Wineglass Marathon. I love that one so much I tried to contact the RD to ask where they sourced the shirts, but it turns out that the manufacturer changed the fabric and construction of that model.

    1. I got a feathery baseball tee for the burning river relay last year that I wear with jeans all the time. It’s black and gray and has a sweet flame logo on it. I just adore it. It’s definitely not a running shirt, but I so much rather have it than another cheap techshirt that’s either 3 inches thick or if it isn’t thick, gets a snag in it within 3 seconds of wearing it.

    2. Color is definitely a thing- because if I don’t like the color I won’t wear it….it will end up in a bad for race throwaways or goodwill. I’m always amazed when races pick certain colors…NO I don’t want a pukey colored shirt. NO, just because it’s women’s doesn’t mean it HAS to be pink while the men get black or blue.

      1. Oh yeah, I won’t wear a pink shirt. I like the tanks I’ve gotten from the New York Mini 10k, but I hate that they have pink words all over them and only wear them (inside out) when everything else is in the laundry pile. Also pastels…Yeah…no pastels, thanks. I did get a purple techie for a Cleveland Marathon (2010) when I think the men got…green? I LOVE that purple shirt, I have to say, but I kind of resent that the dudes got a different color.

  5. I’ve run Peachtree several times over the years, so fun to compete in such a historic race!! It is always HOT but you know that going in. And I know I read in an earlier thread about people running back along the course after they finish, well, this is a great race to do that. It’s so huge, if you start near the front, you can cool down the entire 10k backwards to cheer on later waves! As far as the tshirts- my top priority is that they fit, otherwise I end up giving them away, because you can only make so many tshirt quilts!!

    1. You’re making me want to spend July 4 in Hotlanta! Sounds like this one needs to go on the bucket list, especially if the shirt has a big old adorable fuzzy peach on it 🙂

  6. First priority is a shirt that fits. This may or may not mean gender-specific cuts; but, it definitely means a shirt cut with standard proportions (vs. some weird cut like small, medium, and large pieces that have been stitched together, something you’d only find in an outlet store as an irregular, manufacturing defect).

    Then, fabric feel and drape-ability. Not prickly or stiff. Not cheapy, wanna-be tech fabric that no retail tech shirt would be made of.

    These two things provide comfort and at least make a shirt functionally usable. If I can’t wear it, it doesn’t matter one whit how awesome (or hideous) the color and design are. (Although, it does heighten my disappointment if the shirt is gorgeous but un-wearable. So, maybe it does matter a whit.)

    1. Can always tell if a race went with cheapest option because they are typically the non- standard proportions. A few years ago I had a shirt that was basically a crop top on me…and I’m short. That’s saying something.

  7. I have friends in Atlanta and they all rave about peach tree! One of these years I would love to go down and run it!

    Race shirts, for me are very hit or miss. If it’s a short sleeve cotton shirt, it most likely ends up cut up for cleaning rags or in the goodwill pile. UNLESS it’s a long sleeve cotton shirt, I have a strange love for long sleeve cotton shirts- very few races do this though. These are some of my favorite race shirts (I’ll be sure to Instagram them later!). They are so comfortable and more practical being long sleeve. Otherwise for me, tech shirts should be available in women’s cut and a size chart should be available.Fun designs are good because it increases the chance I will wear it and not donate it.

    1. I love long sleeve cottons too! Although, those 50/50’s are the BEST. I almost would always rather get a good one of those than a cheap-o technical shirt! Except when the sleeves are all baggy on the cotton long sleeves. THAT is annoying.

    2. I entered the lottery. What the heck, right? Maybe this year. 🙂 I also weirdly love long-sleeve cotton shirts! I wear them all winter. With a techie under and a long sleeve cotton over I’m unstoppable in the coldest cold. Just…no white ones. If the only option is a unisex white cotton shirt, it’s better to just not have a shirt.

  8. I’m pretty picky about the shirts I use for running. All of the race shirts I actually wear are the long sleeved Brooks shirts. They are a light material, good quality, loose, but not in a boxy-unflattering way. Great for cool weather running and for running errands. The local Halloween 5k gives out the Brooks shirts every year, and it’s actually the reason I run that race!
    If a race isn’t giving out a great tech shirt, then I love a soft vintage t-shirt. Our local running store has a 5k in the fall and their race t’s are the super soft American Apparel vintage t’s. So comfy!

    1. Yeah, 50/50 vintage-y shirts are GREAT – that’s how my fave black 5th Ave. Mile shirt is. I wear them at work all the time and I love it when I get a race shirt I can wear at work. It’s so rare!

  9. It must be gender specific. That is the #1 criteria. I don’t want it to have a lot of silk screen, because it makes it less breathable. Green Layer Tech Tee makes the best race day shirts. I think if they are going “unisex” make all shirts in a women’s cut and make the men try to wear them. After all, about 57% of racers are female anyway. Don’t want to bother with two genders of shirt? There’s your answer.

    I got a long sleeve very lightweight hoodie at a race. That was cool. It had Rocky Horror on the front, which was the theme, and dumb, but I like it anyway.

    I also like long sleeve t-shirts – they are handing for sleeping and/or lounging around the house, yard work, etc., hiking in cooler weather.

    And for god’s sake, no vanity sizing. A medium shouldn’t fit someone 6 ft tall!

    1. Yes! Some little races I do provide t-shirts, and I don’t care about them. Allow an opt out. I also agree with those who might like something else. I think socks are always good. Much more likely to fit. The problem might be getting a good pair that is reasonably priced for the organizers.

    2. I would buy a shirt, if I knew it was a “good” shirt. But, I’d presume it was a bad shirt and, so, wouldn’t buy one.
      Otherwise, I think I’d rather keep the entry fee the same and take my chances on maybe getting a good shirt. It’s been many years since I’ve actually purchased a running shirt (other than race singlets), and I wouldn’t want to have to start now!

  10. The only races I care about a shirt for are marathons because they require so much effort and commitment. No cotton, good gender-specific fit, or don’t bother. I did a race this weekend that only had large shirts, long sleeve cotton. I can’t even sleep in that. For shorter races, I get so happy when there is something other than a shirt – beer glasses, bottle openers, one local race gives away awesome soup mugs. One I did a few weeks ago gave away fleece blankets – awesome! I just don’t need another crappy cotton t-shirt. I would rather they save the money to donate to the charity they represent, or put it towards operating expenses (or make the entry fee lower).

  11. I. just. want. it. to. FIT!!!! That probably means gendered sizing, but mostly it means using size labels in a way that corresponds with how the rest of the world uses size labels. I have a picture somewhere of 2 shirts from the same race, stacked on top of each other: the free-with-reg short sleeved shirt, size L, is visibly several inches narrower than the size M long-sleeved shirt I paid extra for. Because that makes sense.

    Also, I pretty much have no use for cotton shirts, except maybe for pajamas. Tech, please!

  12. If it’s a t-shirt, I prefer a cute fitted cotton one that I can wear around like a normal shirt (perfect example? Avenue of the Giants Marathon shirt is fantastic– you got the cotton one for free and could purchase a technical one at the finish area). If it’s technical fabric, I want long-sleeves, I almost never
    run in t-shirts.

    1. Yeah I like a good long sleeve tech shirt if I’m getting a tech shirt. I like that plan – get a cute knocking around shirt for free with the option to buy a decent tech shirt. Because really, if I’m going to buy a race shirt I would not buy a knock around shirt, but I might buy something awesome I will love running in.

  13. I also want shirts that fit. I like when there is a size chart posted, or even better if they tell you what brand the shirt is. I know that I wear medium in Brooks, but small in Nike or Leslie Jordan.

    If it’s a tech shirt – NO BLACK (or navy)! I wear black shorts, so a black shirt will never get worn. I liked the design of the 2014 Twin Cities Marathon shirt, but I never wear it because it’s black. I like bright colors.

    If it’s a cotton or 50/50 shirt, I don’t care as much about the color but it has to be soft and have a good design.

    I also prefer my race shirts to not have a NASCAR style back. I understand they want to advertise/thank the sponsors, but I don’t like walking around like a billboard.