Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ultra T-Shirt Etiquette

In the ultra running community the wearing of race T-Shirts has become a sign of accomplishment and fashion. Choosing just the right T-Shirt for that special occasion can be a daunting and difficult task. The following guidelines have been compiled (in fun) to help the responsible T-shirt wearer avoid potential embarrassment and/or elevate their status.

1. A shirt cannot be worn unless the wearer has participated in the event. (crew, significant others and volunteers are exempt)
2. Any race, less than a marathon distance, shouldn't be worn to an ultra event. It simply doesn't represent a high cool factor and sends a red flag regarding your rookiness. If you set a PR at Pikes Peak Marathon, definitely wear that shirt whenever possible.
3. When returning to a race in which you previously finished, then wear the shirt from the first year you completed the race. Don't short change yourself by wearing the shirt from the year before. It doesn't adequately display the feat of accomplishment or the consummate veteran status that you are due.
4. Never wear a race shirt from the race you are about to run. It displays a lack of running integrity and might put the mojo on you.
5. Wearing a T-shirt of the race, while currently running said race, is discouraged. It's like being at work and constantly announcing "I'm at work". Besides, you wont have the correct post race shirt then.
6. Never wear a shirt from a run that you did not finish. To wear it is to say I finished it.
7. A DNF'er may wear a race shirt if... the letters DNF are boldly written on the shirt in question.
8. During a race the wearing of shirt from a previously completed year is acceptable. Wear the oldest T-shirt you have (see guideline #3). This is probably a good practice because you now have no excuse to drop out since you've done it before.
9. Runners should buy all crew members and, as appropriate, significant others (they let you run the race in the first place) T-shirts which can be worn without regard to running the race. (see guide #1)
10. Volunteers have full T-shirt rights and all privileges pertaining thereto.
11. No souvenir shirts therefore friends or anyone else not associated with the race may not wear a race shirt. If mom thinks that the Leadville shirt is lovely, tell he to send in her application early for next year so she can earn her own.
12. Wear the race shirt of your last race at the current race pre race briefing. The more recent the race the better. This is a good conversation starter. However avoid the tendency to explain how that it was a training run for this, and this is just a training run for the next, etc. It just sounds like your rationalizing mediocre performances. Sometimes it's best to live in the here and now. ("I've never been more prepared for a race! this is the big one!)
13. It must be clean (dried blood stains are okay)
14. If you've finished Hardrock 100 then wear it as often as possible, since the race is so damn hard.
15. Never wear a T-shirt that vastly out classes the event you're running (exception: see guideline #14) Example: Never wear a Western States 100 T-shirt at, say, Cool Canyon. Too many roadies will feel put down.
16. It's okay to wear a WS100 or Leadville or Wasatch T-shirt at ultrarunner cult events such as Gibson Ranch or Jim Skophammer 24. It's probably not okay to wear your Trans-America footrace T-Shirt to your local around-the-lake Fat Ass 50k unless you want to psyche out the competition.
17. A corollary: never wear a blatantly prestigious T-shirt downtown. People will just think you have a big head, which you do.
18. If you don't know what things like DNF, WS100 or Crew are then you shouldn't wear any race shirt until you know what they mean.
19. T-shirts must be used sensitively. Worn responsibly, they can help expand one's consciousness and immerse you in a great conversation with your ultra brethren. Worn stupidly, they can cause blisters, vacant stares, sprained ankles, and cause social anxiety.

NOTE: Publicly these guidelines will be denied and possibly ridiculed by ultra runners, but privately and when discussed confidentially, they sing a different tune.

Borrowed from Kevin Sayers.

FYI this is the one from AC100 collection.
At mile 80, a few miles out of Chantry Flats on the heavily canopied Upper Winter Creek Trail, he lurks around the next bend in the trail in the Danger Zone, the shirt reads: "Legend has it that the Rhino Chaser were a breed apart, fierce competitors who challenged only the toughest of big game"


  1. I was just reading that on Twitter. GREAT post!

    Your hat from last summer. Saved my sorry self today.

    PS-My sox save my legs. Thanks for the reviews.

  2. Running is getting really complicated!

    Having a DNF shirt would be kind of cool though.

  3. You forgot one... I think, I am tired. You may not wear a race shirt if you did not run due to illness or injury unless you put in big letters DNR/Injured...


  4. A lot of folks make special shirts for their crews at big races. I saw a few at Western States this year where they had taken a sharpie to their crew shirts to cross out "2008" and write "2009." I thought that made the shirts extra cool.

  5. Great post - I have at least one shirt I need to add DNF to

  6. The DNF shirt is a cool idea but I wouldn't want many in my person collection.

  7. Great post. I totally agree. I entered and attempted a marathon last year, and it was cancelled half way due to a hurricane. I didn't wear the marathon shirt from that race until I completed the next marathon.

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful email about sunglasses. Very helpful!

  8. Well, I don't think I'll ever have occassion to put these rules to the test, but they seem wise nonetheless.

  9. re: 2. Any race, less than a marathon distance, shouldn't be worn to an ultra event.

    Nah. I knew a hot runner back in the early '90s who'd wear 5k t-shirts to ultras...just to fuck with the competition. Good times!

    re: 12. Wear the race shirt of your last race at the current race pre race briefing....

    Ignore pre-race briefings whenever possible. Stay in the motel, order takeout, watch movies, sleep, get laid. You'll get a face-full of the course tomorrow.

    pix ahoy:

  10. haha i like #7.

    i've done #5 before. sigh. i always made fun of people previously for doing such too. i was at a november marathon and realized at like 10pm the night before that i forgot to bring my longsleeved shirt to run in, and a t-shirt would be too cold. the race shirt was long sleeved so... i had to. i'm a dork.

  11. I love the T-shirt Rules. The "DNF Rule" was the inpiration for this comic
    Also I have a contest going that anyone who posts this weekend gets a "Guy or Gal" likeness of themselves in an upcoming episode of Ultra Running Guy(if they like that is).

  12. How about, instead of "DNF" - "Tried Super Hard"?

  13. I think a caveat should be that you can wear a race shirt in which you DNF'd in only if you ran MORE than the distance of the race! ;)

    (yes, I like and wear my Skyline 50K shirt)

  14. 17. A corollary: never wear a blatantly prestigious T-shirt downtown. People will just think you have a big head, which you do.

    I always blow this one. I'm always wearing my 100 mile shirts downtown, thing is most people don't even know what it is.

  15. 19 (more) reasons to be a non-conformist :-)

  16. Lol! Great post! I think you've put it very clearly... I will be monitoring my use of race shirts very carefully from now on. Be it an art or a science.

  17. There's a local around-the-lake Fat Ass 50k???? THIS would be my kind of race!

  18. this is simply hilarious! :) You are too funny shiek one and I agree with these rules!


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