It’s all about the bling…

We take our medals seriously here at White Star Running. You might have noticed. Over to Andy Palmer to tell you more.

A medal origin story

My mum said if you’re going to give someone something, make sure it’s decent.

Medals are a thing for some people; for others they’re irrelevant.

I, personally, have entered a race just for the medal. I bet you have too. For me it was the fabulous Seagull-themed Beat the Tide from Jase’s Sussex Trail Events.

So where did this medal thing come from?

Medals are not new. I remember doing cross country at school and getting an AAA finishers’ medal back in the 70s. Medals as a memento of an event are a great idea. 99%+ of the field don’t win, so why not have your own piece of winning by having a medal? It’s a personal thing, like I said. I’m sure we will get a pile-on from the middle-aged ‘Twitter running gatekeepers’ who know better than you and look down on medals. But hey, f… them. Medals are a reminder of an event that you took part in.

For some runners, it’s a memory of a first half or marathon or maybe a 100th. It might be a charity race completed, or a first trail run or a new distance attempted. In my book, that is important. How many people have done a race and looked at the medal hanging up and thought, “Gosh that race nearly killed me. I hate running!” – that’s a joke.

WSR medals

Running Imp, based in Lincoln, have made it possible to access high-quality highly engineered medals from China. They have led the way with design and innovation.

Now, over the past few years race directors have had some sort of arms war with size and weight and design with medals: spinning ones, light-up ones, ones that glow in the dark. We didn’t enter this race.

Yes, we have had big medals and ones with a spinning willy and glow-in-the-dark ones, but they were relevant to the events. It’s okay having a massive medal about kangaroos, but is it relevant if you’re running around an industrial estate in the East Midlands?  No, probably not.

All our medals are relevant to where you run. The Ox medals are cow related… Ox/Cow see? And they are Mexican themed because the race falls on or around Cinco De Mayo, the Mexican national holiday

The Larmer medals are linked in with the history of the Rushmore Estate and its peacocks. Giants Head Marathon has a picture of the giant chalk carving with massive spinning appendage – I make no apologies. Dark Moors and Dark Valley tie in with the logo of Moors Valley. They are all relevant.

Anyway, back to China. Most metal medals handed out in the UK have been made in China. This is not for monetary reasons. It is because there are only five or so factories in the world that can make them. To quote a teenager, ‘I am not even joking’.

The specialist diecast and work cannot be done anywhere but China. However… there is always a new innovation around the corner. We will get onto the Poles in a minute.  

The design process

So, when we order medals from the lovely people at Running Imp we first come up with an idea. Then we go through the idea with designer and artiste Dani Dixon. Then we fire it off to the guys at Imp, and a few days later they have made the whole thing into a medal design. A month later we get samples from China, and then they are made and shipped, arriving 16 weeks later.

This is where the fun begins. Some of you may remember the first Larmer races in 2015. We had beautiful peacock medals. Unfortunately, said medals were put on a ship instead of air freight, and the medals arrived in May instead of February [sighs deeply].

So, new kids on the block are Modern Forms in Poland. They also produce high quality medals, but they’re 3D printed onto metal instead of die cast. This means you can get almost photographic-quality medals. They are different to diecast in their feel and texture. They are made in the EU, so that means delivery time is shorter and therefore almost zero wastage. Brexit is making things ‘interesting’, but that’s another story.

Now, let’s talk about wood. Up until now, wooden medals have been rubbish.

Buuuut… we know a man.

Our mate Lee at Vinnys engraving produced some simply fab medals for our Lockdown Frolic and Trick or Treatathon last year. Sizable weight and sustainable wood as well.

So, what is the future? We are aiming to keep working with Running Imp, Modern Forms and gradually adding wooden medals when the designs suits – take a look at our hybrid wood and metal medals for Cranborne races.

Anyway. Medals are a thing.

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