The ten t-shirt commandments (adapted from “T-Shirt Etiquette”)
1. A t-shirt cannot be worn unless the wearer has participated in the event.
2. Any race t-shirt less than a marathon distance shouldn’t be worn to an ultramarathon event.
3. Never wear a race event shirt for the (same) race you are about to do. It displays a total lack of integrity and is like being at work and constantly announcing "I’m at work".
4. A DNF’er may wear a race shirt if the letters DNF are boldly written on the shirt in question, using a permanent marker.
5. During a race, the wearing of shirt from a previously completed year is acceptable. This is probably a good practice because you now have no excuse to drop out since you’ve done it before. But you must wear the oldest t-shirt you have from that race.
6. No souvenir shirts: therefore, friends or anyone else not associated with the race may not wear a race shirt. If your mom thinks that your Boston shirt is lovely, tell her to QUALIFY for Boston herself, & send in her application early for next year, so she can earn her own shirt. A downside to this: she still has plenty of time to write you out of her will between her training runs for the big race.
7. Always wear the race shirt of your last race at the current race’s 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 rationalising mediocre performances. Sometimes it’s best to live in the here and now.
8. Your t-shirt should be kept clean, but dried blood stains are okay, especially if it is a trail race or a particularly tough event. If you're an ultrarunner, you can even leave in mud and grass stains as well. And tooth marks, echidna spines etc.
9. Never wear a blatantly prestigious t-shirt downtown or at the mall among non-running ilk. People will just think you have a big head, which you do. You'll also get stupid questions, like, "how long was that marathon?" If it's a shirt to a 50 or 100-miler, they'll think it's a shirt for a cycling event or just think you're crazy, which of course you are.
10. Never wear a shirt that has more sponsors listed on it than people that ran in the event.
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