2:09 Events Limited

OUR MEDAL CONUNDRUM

Medals are a divisive subject. What is a collector’s item to one runner is an unnecessarily expensive addition to the race entry fee for another. But if you really want to divide opinion then start to offer a wooden medal at the finish line, as we have done at a few of our smaller events recently. It would be fair to say they were not as well received as we had hoped, but then we did spring them on runners without warning.

So we thought we should explain why we will continue to trial wooden medals at some of our events. It is not about finding a cheaper option – those made in the Far East are still cheaper per medal - although wasting fewer medals does save money in the long run.

The main reason for looking at wooden medals is our carbon footprint. As an event organiser, promoting healthy active living, we believe our events should have a minimal environmental impact. We try not to send numbers or race information in the post, we have dispensed with goody bags at the finish line – we still provide products but without a bag – and we’ve switched from on-course plastic  bottles to compostable paper cups to dispense water.

Medals are one of the areas we still have to tackle because those metal alloy ones sourced in the Far East, which predominate at UK races, are an environmental disaster area. Generally you have to order these medals 12 weeks in advance, at a time when you are guessing how many entries you will have, then ship them 6000 miles. Inevitably you over order to avoid the medals dictating the size of your field and as they can’t be recycled, any excess goes into landfill.

We know that wooden medals are far from perfect – they don’t have the heft of metal alternatives and the designs, which are usually laser etched into the wood, are more limited. But they are made in the UK from recycled plywood and as you can finalise the order days before the event, there is less wastage and any extras can be easily recycled.

Here is one of our latest wooden medals, which will be offered at the GRIM Challenge in December. Anyone who strongly objects to it will be offered a undated, traditional zinc alloy alternative, but we hope that most of you will think this is a worthy memento of your efforts on what promises to be a very wet and muddy 8 or 4-mile course in Aldershot.

Ultimately we are a business that is trying to attract runners to our events and if wooden medals are a significant barrier to entry we will rethink our strategy. So we’d love to know what you think on this subject, please send us a note to info@209events.com. We cant wait to hear what you think!