All racers who have been around awhile have the array of finishers’ insignia that pile up as your history of events grows.
Medals. Dog tags. Patches. Challenge coins. T shirts, so many T shirts.
And many of us, in various ways, get questions of what all this is worth. Most fall into three categories:
1. “You went through all that and THAT is all you got for it?” “I’m debating signing up for that one. Is the bling worth the trouble?” “Racers go through fire, ice, electricity and barbed wire for a T shirt and a cheap medal.”
2. “Just want to get to the end. Just want that patch.”
3. “If (insert type of person here) can get a medal, then mine isn’t worth anything.”
1. All of these items are simple symbols. And a symbol has whatever power you give it, no more, no less. Its intrinsic worth, whether it is made of gold or aluminum, doesn’t matter. It is a reminder of where you were, what you accomplished, and who you grew into.
2. Cadre Big Daddy John addressed this during a GORUCK Light I attended. As soon as we are into a tough event, we just want out, just want it done. When what is really important is what we learn along the way, the barriers we have to push through to get there. While the tantalizing award at the end is a powerful motivational tool, it is worthless without the effort required to earn it.
3. Only you know the true value of the medal you hold. Because it was a price that you paid, and that it is likely that no one else saw. The months of training, the blood sweat and tears, the time, the pain. Someone else didn’t work as hard as you but got the same prize? Someone bought the finisher’s award on Ebay? Then you know what YOURS is worth, and they know what THEIRS is worth. Someone else’s slacking does not invalidate your hard work.
We also get the question of if, regardless of what satisfaction we attach to it, the prize is worth the cost. The time away from other activities, sometimes away from family, the monetary cost of doing the event.
Again, the answer depends on you. Who did you develop into while chasing this prize? Did you improve your health so you will be around longer for family and for other activities? Did you improve your attitude, your way of thinking, to be able to be a more powerful presence in the lives of others? Are you better able to lead your children to see what is possible in life, rather than just taking what is given and never reaching higher?
The prize at the end of the struggle is not what you get. It is what you become. And for many of us, including myself, who keep a dog tag, belt buckle, or challenge coin on them daily, the finishers’ prize is just a little reminder of who we truly are.